The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Category: 2016 American Elections Page 1 of 4

How to Stop Russian Election Interference

Let us take as a given that Russia interfered in the last US election (though many of the accusations are unconvincing, some appear to be be true).

I’m pushing this back to the top, for what I assume are obvious reasons. Originally published Feb 1, 2018.

Why did they interfere?

They most likely did so because having a President in charge who was somewhat favorable to Russia is in Russia’s self interest. Remember that Russia is under US-led economic sanctions.

There is a case to be made that what Russia did was simply what Russia should have done: Act in its own self-interests. Russia should do what is in its self-interest.

Moreover, it is the same as the US does to other countries, all the time, including to Russia. When the US thinks that a country should have different leadership, it tries to make sure that happens. Such operations include political support, propaganda, and often support for violence. Money is funneled to opposition factions. The color-revolutions were US supported and so were the Maidan protests which overthrew the elected Ukrainian government and caused the most recent big crisis with Russia. There are many, many examples, including extensive support for anti-government forces in Iran.

The US does this because they think it is in their interest. If they think a democratic party is good for the US, they support it, but they have supported dictators and anti-democratic coups as well.

So what Russia is doing has a lot of precedent. The US is not some trembling innocent suffering some unspeakable crime. The better analogy is a serial bully who got his eye blacked by a past victim.

From the outside, Americans screaming about this look like a bully screaming, “How dare you do to me what I do to everyone else. I’m going to bury you!”

This does not induce sympathy.

Still, we can make a strong case that countries shouldn’t interfere in other countries’ internal political affairs, including–especially including–elections.

I think that the Russians might be willing to agree to that.

So the sane method of dealing with this issue, to which which virtually everyone will agree, would be to begin negotiations towards that end.

Americans and Russians get together and have frank talks, which amount to a peace treaty: We won’t do it to you, if you don’t do it to us.

They might even extend the notion to not doing it to other countries.

This is the actual road out, though it’s laughable because it really seems impossible to imagine. Both the US and Russia have been interfering in many countries for a long time, though the US has been the champion for the last 30 years or so–and by a wide margin.

But if you don’t want someone to hit you, perhaps you shouldn’t hit them?

The problem here is that this can’t stand alone. If the US retains the ability to sanction other countries economically, in ways that are so damaging that they kill vast numbers of those countries’ citizens and impoverish even more, which the US does, who is going to agree to just sit there and take it?

And the US does have this ability, for now, due to its control over the world payments system. The US Treasury can unilaterally sanction countries and firms, and no one can stop them, because banks outside the US feel compelled to obey as any transfer that touches on the US triggers US law, and the payment system is US built and controlled.

Most foreign debts are also subject to either US or British law, as the Argentinians learned to their great detriment.

But then, doesn’t the concept of sanctions fall under the general idea of interfering with other countries? Perhaps the US might also wish to stop sanctioning countries. Almost every case has done more harm than good, and the sanctions almost always hit ordinary people harder than leaders, even when they are targeted at the richest.

The way to have peace, is to leave other people alone.

I know that this runs exactly against the American character which is, “Hurt them until they do what I want.” It runs directly against how the US disciplines its own people, which is, “If you don’t cooperate, you’ll be poor and miserable.” (See how felons are treated after their incarceration for the most direct example.)

But perhaps, just perhaps, the best results in this world rarely come from hurting people until they submit, however long that takes. (See Cuba and Iran for how long it can not work.)

Oh, sure, sometimes it does “work.” The US has overthrown many countries’ governments, and they have gotten many other political parties elected. No one can deny this. But somehow, doing so often leads to even worse situations down the line. It seems that if you hurt people enough, they resist and start hating you, act against you, and try to get a government they like that doesn’t like you, and so on.

Sanity is saying “Okay, okay. Let’s stop this cycle of reciprocally hurting people.”

But that has to start and be credibly initiated by the worst abuser. And though most Americans won’t admit it, that worst abuser is the US.

This has been another episode of “Kindergarten-level Ethics for Adults.”

If you don’t like it when someone does it to you, don’t do it to other people.

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The Mueller Indictment

So, we have the latest indictments from Mueller. Twelve GRU agents are named and indicted for hacking into a variety of servers, including those belonging to the DNC, the Clinton campaign, and voter registration centers. They also got the Clinton campaign’s voter model.

The indictment is very detailed–down to hours and minutes. Donald Trump said, “Russia, if you are listening. I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by the press.”

On the same day, Russian military intelligence apparently started hacking. They released their results through Guccifer 2.0, Wikileaks and DCLeaks, among others. Guccifer 2.0 contacted Roger Stone, who was in contact with the Trump campaign, but the exchange was brief.

If the indictment is correct, then this is serious interference in another country’s election.

It is worth pointing out that the indictment offers no proof, only assertion, and because Russia is hardly going to send GRU officers to the US to be tried, proof will never have to be shown in a court of law.

And I think it is also worth noting that the US routinely interferes in other countries elections in attempts to get the candidates it wants elected. Assuming it doesn’t back a coup to overthrow an elected government, of course.

To non-Americans this looks like the US squealing about grievances much less serious than those they regularly impress on others. Still, even bullies don’t like it when someone hits them, and assault is assault.

The best solution would be for various countries to stop interfering in other countries elections and domestic politics. “You don’t interfere, we won’t interfere.”

This suggestion will strike most as clearly impossible: The US isn’t going to stop meddling and neither is Russia.

But if you won’t stop doing it other people, outsiders can be excused for not being super-concerned when it is done to you.

I will, finally, point out that, in as close an election as 2016, everything made the difference. Clinton not prioritizing swing states, the emails, the hacking, voter suppression, etc…

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The CIA Lies and So Does Putin

Vladimir Putin Official Portrait

Vladimir Putin

So, Trump said he believed Putin when Putin said he did not meddle in the US election. He was criticized for it, because the American intelligence community says otherwise. He backed down.

Newsflash: The CIA has the track record of a pathological liar. Putin lies as well.

Maybe the best thing to do is disbelieve both, and make up your own mind based on the evidence (which, by the way, is far weaker than the news articles, which assert but do not prove, would suggest.)

The CIA and the rest of the US intelligence establishment are not due benefit of the doubt.

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Election Interference

So, Obama put sanctions on Russia, ostensibly for interfering in American elections.

The argument has been made that keeping them under these sanctions “disincentivizes” Russia interfering in other countries’ elections.


I think this falls to the level of schoolyard ethics.

Russia should stand down when the US stands down. The US has interfered in multiple elections, and recently helped the Maidan overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government in a coup.

As for electronic spying, what is known is this: Americans were tapping the German Chancellor’s phone.

There is nothing that Americans want Russians to stop doing that they themselves do not do, with the possible exception of annexation. (And there’s a strong argument that the US still annexes what it wants, de facto, if not de jure.)

The schoolyard bully telling others, “Only I get to hit people” doesn’t go across really well.

It is simply impossible to take the US seriously on any form of “don’t spy,” “don’t fight,” or “enforce human rights.” Just impossible. Of course Russia will try to get friendly governments elected when the West has it under economic sanctions. Of course Russia will try and get friendly governments in power: Just like America does.

Two wrongs may not make a right, but people who unilaterally disarm and refuse to fight get a lot worse done to them than having their faces shoved in the dirt.

America supported a coup that overthrew a democratically elected government. There is no question about this. Then, when the Russians intervened in the Ukraine, they insisted on punishing the Russians.

Think this through a little.

At most, Russian interference in the US election involved the selective release of real, true, information.

The rest of the world wishes American interference stayed at that level.

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I Can’t Imagine Why People Are Willing to Gamble On Change

They just don’t know all their self interest. If only they understood everything that has been done for them.

“Poor people in the U.S. may not be many times better off than people in Africa or in India,” said Deaton, who added: “Many areas of Appalachia and Mississippi Delta have lower life expectancy than Bangladesh.”

I, uh, have lived in Bangladesh, albeit a long time ago now. I understand things have improved, still, you have to work really hard to go lower than Bangladesh.

As I’ve said before, people in these communities (and others in decline) know what the status quo offers, and pegged Clinton as a status quo continuation. Thus, they were willing to take a chance on Trump.

That doesn’t mean he may not be bad for them, it means that their lives are already unbearable, their futures moreso, and they’re willing to take even bad gambles for a chance at improvement. (This is also why poor people often buy lottery tickets. The odds are terrible, they’re pissing away money, but they have not even a miniscule hope otherwise of a better life.)

Trump and the Republicans’ repeal of the ACA will kill a decent chunk of people due to the end of the pre-existing conditions clause (assuming that isn’t kept, which seems likely, though Trump has said he wanted to keep it). Tax cuts for the rich and corporations will be bad for the poor and the middle class. But Trump also promised to shake up other things, like trade and tariffs, which may benefit them.

In any case, sometimes a roll of the dice seems like the only option–especially when the option of keeping things as they are is unbearable.

*While the poor and working class did not make up the biggest chunk of Trump’s voters, the shift in their votes was part of what allowed Trump to win. In an election as close as the last one, a lot of things are “the cause.”

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2016 In Retrospect

There seems to be a general belief that 2016 was a particularly bad year. Part of that is the twin political events of Brexit and Trump, and part of it seems to be that a number of particularly beloved celebrities died.

But unless you were in a few specific places, like parts of Syria, and certainly if you were in most of the developed world, your odds of having something bad happen to you were about the same as they had been in 2015.

Certainly Brexit and Trump are both, potentially, earthquakes, though their severity remains to be seen, and I regard both as consequences of decisions that were made over a period of decades.

What made them seem so severe, I think, is that they were, to the liberal classes, surprises. In both cases, polls indicated they wouldn’t happen; and it was conventional wisdom among certain groups that both events were absurd.  Trump, in particular, was treated as a grotesque joke when he announced his candidacy, and right up to the last moment, almost literally, icons such as 538 and the New York Times insisted he was almost certain not to win.

When he did, an entire world view went away.

Because they thought it had been impossible for Trump to win. He was a joke, according to that world view, and those who held it have seized, in particular, on “Russia did it!” It was a deus-ex-machina, because their world model simply cannot accept that it happened.

And, in both cases (Brexit and Trump), there is a great deal of shaming and othering of those who voted the “wrong” way. They are castigated as stupid and immoral, people who are too dumb to vote in their self interests, to understand how the world works, motivated almost entirely by racism.

Bad people.

So many liberals in America and Britain now believe they live in countries where half the voting population are evil, stupid racists and that those people are now in charge.

Oh, and the big, bad Russians are also responsible.

While some are willing to admit that perhaps, just perhaps, the policies that even they voted for and/or supported (under Blair, Clinton, Obama, and the EU) might have something to do with all of this, the metaphysics of most essentially boils down to the notion that bad people (Russia, racists) combined with stupid people, are destroying our world.

Because they can see little responsibility for themselves (either in past policy or in the specifics of the campaigns (Clinton’s was notably incompetent)), they have eviscerated their sense of their own power, and thus their ability to create change.

Responsibility and power are exactly equal to each other. You have exactly as much power as you have responsibility, any mismatch is a denial of reality, and if society abets you in denying that reality, as it often does, by giving you more credit or less blame than you deserve, it does not change either your responsibility or power.

It is also true that an accurate perception of blame enables correct action. When Clinton and her team completely fumbled their campaign, not removing them from all positions of power indicates a willingness to tolerate failure again and again. Indeed, after Clinton, the presumptive front-runner, was defeated by Obama in 2008, perhaps the realization should have dawned on us/her that she and hers were incompetent and that she should not be the presumptive candidate. She started with a vast advantage and lost it.

Meanwhile, in the eight years Obama has led the Democratic party, vast losses have occurred in State Houses and Congress.

As for policies which have lead to vast numbers of Britons and Americans being willing to vote for Brexit and Trump; well, I have written on those subjects more than enough.

Liberals and centrists, as a group, deny responsibility, and thus deny agency. They refuse to put the locus of responsibility in those areas over which they have control. Instead, they blame forces over which they have no control (Russia) or over which they have less control (the current racism that is ex-nihilo, completely unrelated to the policies they have championed for decades).

It is not the crisis, as such, that predicts the future, it is the response. I was able to accurately predict the shape of America and Europe’s economy because I saw the response to the crisis in ’09. The day the outlines of Obama’s stimulus were announced (he’d already fumbled the bailouts, by bailing out the rich rather than ordinary people), I wrote that American jobs and wages would not recover for 20 years. Eight years later, that’s still looking accurate. (The unemployment rate is not what matters here, the jobs/population ratio is.)

So, seeing the liberal response to 2016’s political crises, it is clear that, at least so far, liberals have not learned the necessary lessons. Thus, trends will continue in the wrong direction. Locating the problems as beyond their control, liberals have self-emasculated.

There is still time for that to change, and perhaps it will. So far, however…well…

Happy 2017.

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The Person Most Responsible for Clinton's Loss

Everything Cost Clinton the Election

When the result (in popular vote margin in the key states) is as close as it was in the US election, every factor in play contributed to the result.

Did the Wikileaks release cost Clinton the election? Probably.

Did Comey’s last minute letter to Congress about Clinton’s email cost the election? Probably.

Did Clinton choosing not to campaign in Wisconsin cost the election? Probably.

Did Clinton’s neglect of the Rust belt cost the election? Probably.

Did the Clinton campaign’s refusal to listen to locals cost the election? Probably.

Did the Clinton campaign’s flawed model cost them the election? Probably.

Did Trump’s superiority in earned media cost the election? Probably.

Did Jared Kushner’s innovative ad campaign cost Clinton the election? Probably.

Did voter suppression cost Clinton the election? Probably.

Did calling a quarter of the electorate “deplorables” cost Clinton the election? Probably.

Right. Hopefully you have understood the point.

What is happening right now is hysteria. An attempt is being made to overthrow the election by saying Russia influenced it, through Wikileaks and Guccifer 2.0.

So far there is no hard evidence for this, and Wikileaks, at least denies it. That US intelligence believes it to be true is nice, but almost irrelevant to anyone with enough memory to remember what they believed in”high confidence” about Iraq.

I seriously suggest you READ the NIE on Iraq from 2002. It was essentially ALL WRONG.

So, if the intelligence community and Obama want to make this charge, they need to release the hard evidence. Their word is not good enough, especially that Putin was personally involved.

I point out, once more, that even if true, this amounts to “overturn the election because a foreign government helped release TRUE information about one of the candidates.”

If it actually occurred, I would regard it as a neoliberal coup, similar to the ones which occurred in Greece and Italy, meant to insure policy continuity in the face of someone who doesn’t agree with all the tenets of neoliberalism.

I don’t think faithless electors will throw the election (but who knows), however I note something else important: creating this as the primary storyline mitigates, hard, at looking at stuff which Democrats can actually control: like their own abysmal campaign, at virtually ever level from basics like canvassing (“we don’t need literature”, said the Clinton campaign), to their model, to their message “America is already great”, “deplorables”, to clearning the field so a candidate with huge negatives would be annointed the candidate.

If Democrats had gotten even one or two of the things listed above which were in their control right, and which did not depend on their opponents actions at all (and the list is incomplete) Clinton would almost certainly be President-elect today.

Running against Russia in the election was stupid; the act of a Goldwater girl who doesn’t understand that the USSR fell almost 30 years ago. Making them the primary actor in Clinton’s loss and Trump’s win pushes attention away from the things which can be fixed by Democrats unilaterally, and is dangerous to boot, both domestically, by degrading political norms even further, and internationally, by hyping a heavily nuclear armed state as an enemy when America has almost no actual interests in opposition to Russia’s. (Syria and the Ukraine are unimportant to the US’s interests. Period.)

Meanwhile, the Democrats have spent the last eight years being slaughtered at the State and local levels. In February of 2009, I wrote that Obama was planning to ditch the 50 state strategy, and received a torrent of abuse (mostly from Kossacks.) The Whitehouse said that was bullshit; their hero wouldn’t do that!

He did.

Self-goal. Something completely under the party’s control that they chose to do, which hurt them.

In the end, whether or not Russia released some derogatory–but true–information about Clinton and other Democratic candidates, that act was only one of many factors which cost Clinton the election.

Concentrating on it is stupid, demagogic, and dangerous and allows people whose fuck-ups were far more responsible for the loss to largely slide.

Democrats should concentrate on what they can control, and understand that, as the side with less guns, constitutional norms protect them more than they do the other side.

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The Historical Context of Clinton’s Popular Vote Victory and How It Shows a Constitutional Crisis

(This article is by Stirling Newberry)

The election was not stolen, but it was massaged. A majority of the voters in the United States preferred Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, but that is not the way the election was decided. If we, the people, of the United States want a different system, then there are steps to get one. First we have to look back at the election of 2016, and see the many different avenues that converged to allow Donald Trump, who clearly did not win the majority of votes, to nevertheless claim the presidency. Again these are not suppositions, but facts that have two be dealt with, or in the future they will be used the same way to get a minority president. Remember that several times this has happened, and in some cases a good president has won out; for example, Lincoln won with only 40 percent of the vote.

It is also not the case that Trump was the only factor; this is why it is a constitutional crisis, but one that the elites can ignore, because they have the wherewithal to weather the storms, whereas a large number of the populace does not. In Rome, they called the elites “patricians,” and the populace were called “ plebes,” and it may be useful to recognize that in American society we are not that much different from Rome, but that there are important distinctions. Or as Orwell once wrote, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

The Division of the People

In a democratic government, all votes should be equal. Thus, the first step towards making an undemocratic government is to divide the people, so that the vast majority of them do not really have an effective vote. This is true for the majority of people in the United States–so much so, that it is part of the primer on presidential elections. A Democrat in Wyoming or a Republican in New York might as well stay at home, for all the good their presidential vote means. It will be counted, but it does not mean anything. It is, for all intents and purposes, a wasted vote.

What matters is that there are more wasted votes on one side than the other, and again, this is part of the system; states, not people, decide an election. In 1787, the states–not the people–were the ultimate arbiters of the presidency (this was modified by the 12th amendment, but still had the same thrust). This has remained true even though we would like to think that the people elect the president. And in most cases they do, but there are exceptions.

In the five times a popular vote winner has lost the presidency to another, the first time, in 1824, was different. In that election, no candidate attained a majority of the vote. Jackson won a plurality of the electoral college, and was also the winner of the vote, but it was John Quincy Adams who took the presidency, because if no one had won the presidency through the popular vote, the election was thrown into the house of representatives, which voted by state. The other four times however, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016, the situation was much clearer. While the winner of the popular vote may not have commanded a majority, in each of those elections, the president-elect commanded more than the winner of the electoral vote system.

In fact, in 1876, there was a case of the presidential vote being “massaged.” On election day, the polls opened, and when they closed, Democrat, Samuel J. Tilden seemed to be elected president. But a single man looked at the results differently. That man is Daniel Sickles, and he is now no more than a forgotten footnote. But at the time, through sheer force of will, he pushed the 1876 election to a crisis point.

While there are many versions of this story, the upshot was that the election was not decided by constitutional means. The result of this constitutional crisis resulted in the passing of a law which would decide the presidential election. The law formed a 15 man committee, and that committee decided eight to seven in favor of the Republican, Rutherford Hayes, as the winner of all 20 disputed electoral votes. In reality, several of the states’ votes would not be treated “fairly” as we would define it, in that several decisions were made by an elected official, who somehow managed to make a decision which was in accordance with their party. Eventually, this incident heralded the end of the Reconstruction Period (the period during which Southern Confederate states were brought back into the Republican union).

In the past, there have been constitutional crisis points, this is not the first. But while these crisis points can happen, they require a spark – both a running spark and an ignition. Or to put it another way, there is an argument between the people deciding the Presidency, and the states deciding the presidency.

And 2016 is such a point.

The Deep Background

First, an election like in 2016 does not occur in a vacuum. The election of 2000 also featured an indecisive result. The important thing to remember is that if the result is thrown to the House of Representatives, the inevitable result is a Republican victory. This is because the result is not based on “one representative equals one vote,” but one state equals one vote. That is to say, Alaska has the same weight as California. Thus, the pressure on the Democratic Party must be that the election was decided by the popular vote, or George W. Bush would win any contest in the House of Representatives.

But there was a hidden feature: The Republicans had rigged the vote through a variety of means, and they knew how it was done. But the Democrats did not have this information, so they had to guess which votes in Florida needed to be recounted, and they guessed wrong. The result was decided in the US Supreme Court as Bush v. Gore. While the people thought that the election was theirs to decide, in actuality it was between the Democratic presidential candidate and the Republican presidential candidate. The difference is that if the election was the People’s to decide, every length to correctly determine the winner would have been pursued. As in this case, it was a struggle between the two presidential candidates, thus, there is an agreement, and that agreement will be rubber stamped by Congress. The agreement, though never put in to words, was that the Democrats would have one chance to contest the election in Florida, and no more than that.

Gore thought that counting the “undervotes” would be enough. But in fact there were three sets of problems with the ballots. The first was that Florida was run by Republicans, and officers of the Republican party would often go into a county election board, and would fill out Republican voters absentee ballots. In one case, some 5000 of these ballots were submitted. The problem with this from the Democratic party, is that these votes were all legitimate, and one could say that the Republican party was correcting the voting rolls. And this is true in so far as it goes, thus these votes were counted. The problem is that Democratic votes were not counted, and thus Democratic voters had no such help in getting their absentee ballots counted.

The next problem was with “undervotes.” These were ambiguous votes which could not be decided by machine. Much of the time, the voter had made a clear decision, but often it was the voting equipment was unable to determine what the decision was. In Florida, the “under votes” needed to be counted by hand. This gave rise to an additional problem: There were multiple kinds of voting equipment. So in one county, one vote would be registered, and in the next county over, one would not be recorded. The problem is, “How do you know?” and in many cases, it comes down to a point of diminishing returns. If a human vote counter cannot tell, then a vote should not be counted. When totaling up the human counted total, there is a slight difference from the machine-counted total. But this, alone, did not give Gore the additional votes that he needed. So under the elite agreement, the winner was Bush.

The final problem is with the “overvotes,” that is, a person wants to be sure that their vote was counted, and so not only did they punch the ticket for whichever candidate they selected, they also wrote it in. Again, the machine throws the battle out, however the law says that the vote should be counted if the name in the writing section is the same as the punch section. And this is important because, with overvotes and undervotes both counted, Gore would have won.

But the key factor is this: Who is deciding who wins the election? And the subterranean decision was that the two parties would decide the election, not the people.

However, this is not the end of story. Because at the end of his presidency, Bush basically wrecked the economy, not as in a recession, but The Great Recession. The problem was that the elites thought that it was up to them to decide, and the decision was 50-50, one would be acceptable whichever one the people chose. But that was not the case. Bush ruined the economy, and brought America into two wars which, while it did not lose, it was a struggle to see them to their conclusions. In other words, the elites picked Bush, and the elites were wrong. There was a difference between the two candidates, and it resembled catastrophe theory in its result.

The Big Sort

There was however a deeper problem. Americans were sorting themselves in to Democrats and Republicans. This was documented by a book: The Big Sort, by Bill Bishop. In this book, Bill Bishop lays out the way which the two parties sorted themselves, and how the Republicans came out the better for it. This means that any election could be the trigger–only an overwhelming Democratic surge keeps this in check. And in 2008 and 2012, this surge quieted the undercurrent of “the big sort.” The other problem is that before the sort, their were many more democratic counties which could be described as “landslides” and afterwards there were many times more Republican counties that could be described the same. This meant that the Democrats relied on a few large counties to offset the overwhelming majority of likely populated Republican counties.

This meant that in 2016, a problem emerged – a few razor thin Republican states, could overwhelm the popular preference for a Democratic candidate. Thus, Hillary Clinton is winning by some 1.43 million votes.

But “the big sort” is not the only problem, because on the ground level, the Republicans have twisted the election system so that many people who wanted to vote for Clinton, were purged from the rolls. This made a difference in the rust belt states. Again, legally they had the power to do this, but ethically it is questionable for one side to skew the results – because not only did Trump win the states, he won by a lot. Also remember, there is always the chance of cheating at the local level – after all the results are going to be enormous – and people who count the votes are often intertwined with their candidate. Again, this happens in most elections, it is just that with the Presidency of the United States, the consequences are tremendous.

Some examples of this can be seen from the number of polls in 2012 vs. 2016. One came to an 868 count in The Nation magazine. There were also purges of voters in key states, such as Michigan. Enough so that the result could quite probably have been different. While many commentators talk about GOTV (“Getting Out The Vote”), at least as important is “KITV” – Keep In The Vote. This has been done in almost every election, it is just that at the presidency, the results are larger than in any other form. Is also true that KITV largely does not matter. But this time it did.

The other problem was with the Democratic party – almost all of the officeholders wanted Hillary to be their president. In hindsight, this was bad, because Hillary did not mobilize enough voters to score the “down ballot” races. In Indiana and Wisconsin, the “sure thing” Democratic candidates lost, because of the low turnout on the Democratic side. Sanders was clearly a better candidate, because the electorate wanted change, and Hillary was not a change candidate. The problem with Sanders is that he was overwhelmingly not the favorite of the Democratic party establishment. So much so, that he was an outsider. This is a problem, because if had been only a slight outsider, he might well have persuaded the Democratic party to nominate him on his merits. But just as Trump was not well liked in side the party, Hillary was overwhelmingly the insiders’ choice–even though they knew that she was widely disliked among the electorate. It may not have been fair, but that is not the point. Changing the public’s perception of a candidate takes years, or you can go with someone lesser known.

The other problem however is the media almost no media outlet gave Trump their support and, much more importantly, no media outlet forecast Trump as the winner even on the day of election. So this was not just a matter of the Republicans stealing the election, it was the Republican, Democratic, and media spheres which were involved.

Remember, the public was crying out for a different form of priorities, ones with which Obama and Hillary did not seem aligned. Obama was not on the ballot, and thus Clinton could not count on the African American vote in the same way they he had. This is documented: Hillary did not turn out the African American vote the way Obama did.

But still in all, she won the popular ballot. The problem is there is more than one piece of the electoral puzzle – imagine that a candidate could score a small victory by counting on a few counties, such as New York, and leave the rest alone. In other words, imagine that the positions were reversed – a Democratic candidate who got just a few more votes in a few more cases, but the over whelming majority wanted a Republican. So it is not just the case that we have to juggle the system so that the popular will of people determines the vote.


A great deal of the media wants Election 2016 to be swept under the rug, primarily because they are mostly for-profit companies. In the mid-20th century, there was an agreement that the news was treated as an public service, not a center for profit. Those days are over. One also used to be able to make a case that the Democratic Party was the People’s Party, and that time is also over. Instead, with a new generation of political thinkers, some who were there before Bill Clinton came in to office, the Democratic Party became a means for enriching its members. Again,this is not unusual. LBJ enriched himself as Senator.

The problem is that enriching oneself came second in the mid-20th century, and this ethos was reversed in the early 21st century–one first figured out how to enrich oneself, then asked how many people did one need to do this. Unfortunately, Hillary Rodham Clinton miscalculated, and Donald Trump already had money, so he could massage the election to his advantage.

Under neoliberalism, getting rich became the reason for winning, not the side benefit, and this was one of the reasons for neo-liberalism. Instead of making a few industries open to trade, it became a mantra among Democratic party economists to open everything. The problem with this is that a great deal of the trade deals outside the US rely on a lower wage scale for their competition. And in this time much lower wage scales.

So the massaging of the 2016 election rests on a large problem, namely the big sort, which the government should have realized was a significant problem. It then filtered through a corrupt Republican party, which spent years on stacking the deck, even though a single election might be out of reach. Finally, these factors converged in 2016, when the big sort filtered through the Republican party – and the Democratic party and the media were not aware of just how large their mistake was.

I wish I was telling the story of a great person who was brought down. But that is not where the facts lie. Every person involved, even some of the greatest, had disadvantages which meant their ruin. The next time, I will talk about what we have to do, and it is more complicated than most people realize–and even though many media outlets understand the problem, they do not comprehend the solution.

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