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

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.


If Trump Wasn’t Right that DC Elites are Fuckups, Trump Wouldn’t Be President-elect


Why Many People Love Trump


  1. mc

    uh . . . the \”majority of voters\” wanted neither candidate. the electoral college was set up to deal w the selection of one candidate among many, as vaguely and tangentially mentioned above. \”first past the post\” is no more \”democratic\” than electoral colleges, and neither reflect \”the will of the people\” or all votes being equal. next time you talk about it, your \”more complicated\” should deal w this or your discussion of \”democratic\” voting will still be very weak even before anyone considers your analysis of Trump or Clinton specifically.

  2. Magnificent. Bravo. Hits the nail on the head.

  3. Ron Showalter

    However, there is more to it specifically this time around:

    What I find fascinating/disturbing in discussions of this election is the disappearance of the elite and their malfeasance in rigging the election.

    In the late 00s, the elite/billionaires created/funded the Tea Party as a foil for Obama that was entirely fictitious in its level of support and power. It was merely another propagandistic tool whereby the elite continued to sucker many of neoliberalism’s victims into voting against their self-interest, cf. Reagan Democrats. Many of today’s current crop of scum – Rubio, Nikki Haley, etc – were of the spawn of this fake movement.

    The Tea Party’s job was to sucker enough people into remaining in the Republican/far-right camp no matter what – i.e, use base racism, sexism, etc, etc. No lie, no amount of horsesh!t was too far for this group.

    After people started getting wise and the Tea Party brand got to be a little threadbare a new propagandistic vehicle was needed along the same lines: one with billionaire backing yet retaining all of the faux populist trappings, racism, sexism, nationalism, etc.

    Enter TV personality: Donald Trump – a man who was buddy buddy with loads of elite Democrats the Clintons included.

    However, like the Tea Party movement there wasn’t enough real – i.e., actual people – who supported Trump so there needed to be a way for him to claim the POTUS somehow.

    Enter the stolen nature of election 2016.

    And as soon as the dust settles and everyone’s amazed/shocked at the results, enter the MSM – and their unwitting fake-left assistants – w/ the BS narrative that there were just SOOOO MANNYYYY disaffected while people – cf. Tea Party – that this is what propelled Trump to victory. It wasn’t that voters were disenfranchised it was that whites were mad and everyone else stayed home, right? Um, no.

    In addition, any analysis vis a vis the fake Tea Party phenomenon totally and conveniently forgotten as this would call into question the sacrosanctness of the electoral process.

    So, while Sterling’s piece is very informative, let’s not forget that there is A LOT of disgusting/illegal chicanery that our scum POS elites have been engaging in over the last decade or so that should directly cloud and call into question what were are living through.

  4. The only thing I did not touch upon was Russian interference, on that I believe I at least mentioned the malfeasance involved in how a crisis point was manipulated by every side.

  5. shargash

    “A majority of the voters in the United States wanted Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump”

    No, a (very small) plurality did. IMO, even that plurality was caused by Trump’s campaign being smarter than Clinton’s campaign. Trump wasted very few resources on New York or California. Had he done so, he probably would have got hundreds of thousands more votes than he did, but it would have been stupid for him to do that, because the US Constitution doesn’t elect based on popular vote.

    Clinton, on the other hand, apparently thought Texas was in play, so they did spend resources there, and the Ds did much better than expected in Texas. I would guess that she got enough votes in Texas to pull ahead of Trump in the popular vote. However, it was stupid for her campaign to do that. If Texas is in play, she would have won by a landslide. The only reason to spend resources there would have been to “run up the score.” Those resources would have been better spent in, say Wisconsin.

    The electoral college is designed to prevent what happened in Maine, where an extreme Republican narrowly beat a Democrat and an Independent for governor. Had there been an electoral college, there would probably have been deals cut to keep the R out of power. Had there been a run off, the R would never have won.

    Even if there were a run off, I’m not convinced Hillary would have won. I think most of the Johnson voters go for trump, and at least some of the Steins (though many of both groups would just have stayed home for the run off). I just don’t get how Ds think that someone who got maybe 25% of the total eligible vote somehow is entitled to the presidency.

  6. tsisageya

    Trump says words just like Obama says words just like they all say words. All of it is bullshit.

    As long as he licks Israel’s anus, all will be well. That is the litmus test. Let’s be real.

  7. BlizzardOfOz

    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.

    Appealing to the principles of democracy doesn’t work, because the USA was never meant to be that. The founders were explicitly opposed to pure democracy. There are plenty of other dilutions of pure democracy in the Constitution (people don’t elect judges; the Senate is not proportional to population; etc, etc).

    many people who wanted to vote for Clinton, were purged from the rolls … legally they had the power to do this

    Just so I understand, the purging of voter rolls refers to felons, dead people, illegal aliens, and others who either don’t exist or have no legal right to vote. Right?

    While many commentators talk about GOTV – getting the vote out – at least as important is “KITV” – keep in the vote.

    Right. So what? Is the operative who drives around offering homeless people free food in exchange for their vote performing some kind of service to democracy, or engaging in the same partisan effort as any KITV operative?

    Overall I don’t see an argument here for abolishing the Electoral College. You want to make a procedural change to give your side a better chance of winning; why would the other side agree to that? Chesterton’s fence also applies here. There’s no acknowledgement of why the Electoral College was put into place, let alone an argument as to why its original purpose no longer applies.

  8. BlizzardOfOz

    Sorry — the first paragraph of my previous comment was meant to be a blockquote.

  9. Kfish

    This is not a constitutional crisis. This is an odd result that every electorate-based system will throw up from time to time. In any system where a candidate must win a majority of the regions rather than a majority of the overall votes, it is possible for a candidate to pile up large surpluses in a few regions and still fail to win the majority of regions.

    Systems that are based on winning electorates, rather than overall votes, are designed that way to avoid a tyranny of the majority. Clinton won a majority of the overall votes but her surpluses were largely in California and New York, whose concerns she addressed. She lost a lot of the midwestern and interior states because she ignored their concerns. In a system based on a simple majority of votes, that would be a winning strategy. However, such a system would reward candidates for focusing on California and New York and ignoring Montana and Wyoming, and as such would generally be bad for federalism.

    Clinton lost because she failed to attract a majority of voters in a majority of states. It happens regularly in elections around the world. In the state of Queensland, Australia where I live, it is possible to win government with 45% of the overall vote, because of the way the population is divided up into geographical electorates that a party must win.

    You are correct that this means that a vote in Wyoming has more weight than a vote in California in New York. This is the compromise built into the system from the beginning, necessary for federalism to function. It was known to all candidates going in, and Mrs Clinton’s failure to tailor her strategy to the known rules is not the fault of the electoral system or a sign of corruption. (I’m not saying that US elections are clean – it’s pretty obvious they’re not – but the majority vote argument is a non-starter.)

  10. Shh

    I appreciate how much effort went into this essay. I wish I could get past “In a democratic government, all votes should be equal…” but I can’t. This is a value statement, not a fact, and the words stopped me in my tracks. It will be hard for me to accept the conclusion, no matter how good the logic, built on this assertion.

    One way “democracy” may be implemented takes this manifestation, but it is by no means a necessity for better outcomes, nor is it terribly common in practice. In the same way, democracy need not be “representative.” You could make every vote open the the public but quorum would be tricky. Then again, you don’t necessarily need a quorum either.

    All features of any form of “self governance” take on features of philosophical models, through consensus, politics, and bloodshed, and over the course of generations. It strikes me that the assertion ” all votes must be equal” mistakes the model for the artifact it represents.

  11. Mike S.

    I greatly appreciate the substance of Newberry’s recent posts, but – for the love of god – proofread before posting.

  12. The losing side always claims the election was fraudulent and/or that the system doesn’t work. The Republicans made such claims in 2008 and 2012, and Democrats are making it now. The pauper walks away from the poker table accusing the winner of cheating. It was always thus.

  13. Daize

    I am sick and tired of this total nonesense about the “majority” of voters having voted for Hillary!

    1 – NEITHER candidate had a majority.
    2 – Hillary’s very very slight plurality amounts to approx. 1% at the most ie a wash, especially considering that the dead vote in the U.S. of A.
    3- On the other hand, the MAJORITY of states voted for Trump. Take a look at an electoral map.

    Stuff your poor loser whining, and start looking at the actual reasons why Hillary lost! A gander at this very blog, and what Iain has to say, would be a great start.

  14. Max

    The Democratic party got complacent because they bought their own bullshit; that people voted for Barack Obama because he was a Democrat, when nothing could be further from the truth. People like Barack Obama because he’s Barack Obama. The D by his name is almost incidental.

    What happened when they weren’t led by a strong and charismatic leader was that they achieved the lowest voter turnout since 2000, and lost to someone who Mitt fucking Romney could have whipped the pants off of.

    The Democrats have the demographics in the bag; the future IS theirs, but it’s not going to be an easy four to eight years for them if they keep forgetting that it doesn’t matter how much bigger your base is, if they don’t fucking show up and vote. Stop nominating boring old people. You’re sinking to the Republicans level, where they will beat you with experience.

    What happened in this election is not that Trump somehow conjured up a few million new voters who represent some sea change in the way political demographics work, it’s that those demographics just stayed home because Hillary Clinton literally bored them to sleep.

  15. Ché Pasa

    By now, it should be obvious that the system is the problem, not the voters. There have been far too many electoral crises and instances of gross presidential misconduct and/or extraordinary “transfers of power” (assassination, impeachment and so on) in my lifetime, and despite their efforts, the voters are unable to correct what’s wrong. I put much less blame on voters than I do on an electoral system that defies their will time and again, and on presidents in power who insist on governing contrary to the will of the people and the public interest come what may. It’s baked in. Hard wired into the system. And here we go again.

    The voters have tried to make course corrections again and again, and arguably the situation just gets worse. Twice now in sixteen years the popular vote for president is over ruled by the Electoral College; scholars and observers point out that this is more and more likely to happen in the future as Democrats become a shrinking minority in most states, yet hold a strong popular majority in the big population states (The Big Sort). Under those circumstances, it won’t be long before a Democratic candidate simply cannot win the Presidency, period. And under the system of apportionment for congressional and senate offices, it will be nearly impossible for Democrats to gain or hold on to a majority in either house, this despite the fact that more people in aggregate vote for Democratic rather than Republican candidates in election after election. Often far more.

    Too often we are told these inherent flaws in our more and more ridiculous electoral system aren’t really a problem at all. Of course those who are pleased by with outcome — no matter how it’s reached — would say that. They certainly did during the very flawed Democratic primary elections. The fact that the Democratic Pooh-Bahs really didn’t care how the outcome of the primaries was reached so long as their preferred candidate was victorious presaged their failure in the general election. Because they didn’t care then when they should have, they got bit in the ass by their own disinterest and hubris. It wasn’t the voters’ fault.

    They’re shocked and surprised like everyone else who expected Mrs. Clinton to win handily, but their own lack of concern in how an outcome is achieved is a big part of why the outcome is what it is.

    Sterling is right that there are ways to at least partially correct the system without blowing it all up and starting over, but so far they haven’t been successful, and taking that “correction” route is a long term project. On the other hand, if a Trump regime consolidates power, the question might become moot. There are signs they’d want to enhance rather than correct the flaws in the electoral system. As long as it’s to their advantage, why not? I’d have to agree that were the shoe on the other foot, the same sort of thing might happen, as political hierarchies are after the prize, not fairness. (The “prize” isn’t always electoral victory, but that’s another issue.)

    Sterling’s summary of what happened this time is pretty spot on in my view, despite quibbles over his choice of terms. How we got to this point will be discussed and debated for generations. It is a crisis, it has been a crisis, and if there’s no effort to correct the situation (doesn’t look like there will be one any time soon) it will get worse.


  16. Barry Fay

    I see that commentor Mike S is as disturbed as I regarding all the typos, wrong spellingS, bad grammar, et all. (e.g. “their” is a possessive adjective while “there” is a pronoun or adverb). I simply stopped reading – and not for the first time. It is not unreasonable to expect high quality texts on a site that is indeed ONLY text. Not proof-reading is a sign of laziness that belies a writer´s credibility! This has been an issue for years (I actually offered to proofread Mr. Welsh´s articles for free YEARS AGO (I do realize that this article is not by him, but he is often just as bad). For me, this is just another example of the decline of American culture.

  17. Ron Showalter

    My favorite part about living through more overtly conservative regimes is the proliferation of fact-free/evidence-free support among the enablers.

    Give them evidence that the election was stolen, they won’t read it.

    Tell them that HRC – even in the face of criminal electoral fraud – did win by a popular vote margin larger than at least a few other POTUS elections, they pout and huff.

    Show them that factually Trump is a living breathing piece of fraudulent garbage, they only love him more.

    Provide links showing the entire Trump phenom was a ploy of billionaires et al and they only scweam harder “Hillary!”

    It’s ok, I understand that I live in a country – the US – where being a “winner” is everything – facts, reality, etc be damned – and “winning” not only allows you to not deal with your own ignorance but actually makes you think you’re right but I hope over the coming Trump years that these enablers will understand why they are consistently mocked and embarrassed: those of us still stuck in the “reality-based” community want them to put away their glaring idiocies and rejoin us.

    Come back to reality, folks.

    You are enabling a criminal POS. You are enabling criminal conduct. You are embarrassing the lot of us.

  18. Randall May

    There is no way to prove that either candidate won or loss the popular vote. Not a single state counts every vote. Absentee votes are not counted unless the outstanding absentee vote count can overturn the vote difference on election day.

    In truth, we will never know.

  19. Ché Pasa

    @Randall May

    You might want to check your sources on that. All states count absentees; whether they count provisionals is another matter.

  20. @Che Pasa: Apparently you missed it.

    The losing side always claims the election was fraudulent and/or that the system doesn’t work. The Republicans made such claims in 2008 and 2012, and Democrats are making it now. The pauper walks away from the poker table accusing the winner of cheating. It was always thus.

    If the popular vote ruled Bernie Sanders would have won the primary. He then would have won the general. If the popular vote counted the candidates would have campaigned in California, which neither of them did, and who knows what the vote count would have been?

    Liberals are a bunch of five-year-olds, crying that since things did not go their way they want to pick up their toys and go home. It didn’t go my way either, but I’m a grown up.

  21. Ron Showalter

    More Trump-era nonsense to look forward to:

    Being a grown-up = shutting the eff up and sitting down

    No, really you’re not a coward. Oh wait you exactly are.

  22. Ché Pasa

    @Bill H

    The point here, which apparently flew right over your head, is that the system is purpose designed for fuckery of the people’s will and the public interest. Been that way since day one.

    And as long as the outcome is satisfactory to the winning team, no matter how that outcome is reached, nothing will be done about it — although plenty could be, even without blowing up the whole crazy apparatus.

    Thus, despite obvious and pervasive electoral fraud and worse in the Democratic primaries, it didn’t matter to Team Clinton because they won, get it?

    The general is, if anything, even more riddled with electoral chicanery, and it doesn’t matter to the Trump loyalists, because they won.


  23. Peter

    Trumps stimulus plan is aimed at creating working class jobs but he may need to earmark some funds for training more professional mental health workers. The dis-ease symptoms being displayed throughout the country by the true believers are troubling and with the help of powerful forces is becoming pathological.

  24. Trumps stimulus plan is aimed at creating working class jobs but he may need to earmark some funds for training more professional mental health workers. The dis-ease symptoms being displayed throughout the country by the true believers are troubling and with the help of powerful forces is becoming pathological.

    Your inability to understand or genuinely empathize with why people are angry and afraid, especially considering the sort of people who surround Trump and what they’ve said and done in the past, is a small contribution to the future resurrection of the Clintonism you hate, as a bond is forged in trauma between the groups that are afraid and the now-losing neoliberals. The promise of “working class jobs” will now be associated and remembered as an excuse to act and behave in an uncaring manner towards those who believe their families will be ripped apart, or that a license has been given to people who can now act out their class revanchism free of the psychological bonds of “political correctness.”

  25. Randall May

    Actually your more likely to have a provisional ballot counted before an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots are only counted if the vote differential is less than the number of outstanding absentee ballots.

    You may be confusing early mail voting with absentee ballots.

    In some cases, absentee ballots are counted if a down ticket race is too close to call, also. That can vary by district to district. A HoR race may be within the outstanding number of absentee ballots, and may get counted, but only that districts ballots, not the entire states.

    Neither major party wants absentee ballots counted for one simple reason, to keep third parties down. If third parties reach the percentage threshold for federal financing, then their duopoly is threatened.

  26. @ChePasa, “And as long as the outcome is satisfactory to the winning team, no matter how that outcome is reached, nothing will be done about it…”

    Sort of an incoherent conclusion, as the outcome is always going to be satisfactory to the winning side. Let me rephrase that for you. “As long as the corruption is serving our purpose we do not consider it corrupt and will use it to our benefit. We only consider it corrupt and want to change it when it works for the other side.”

  27. Olivier

    The grammar and spelling in this piece are atrocious. Did anyone proofread?

  28. Ché Pasa

    @Bill H.

    Sorry, I reject your rephrasing. That’s not what I said.

    I said it doesn’t matter to the winning side how the outcome is reached.

    Simple. Direct. True.

  29. Ron Showalter

    Here’s the thing:

    Are the fake-left elite going to officially tell the rest of us when our opposition to a POS like Trump is finally warranted? How long will the fake-left elite keep echoing their Tea Party brethren in calling everyone “crybabies” and keep on normalizing this POS?

    Do we just have too wait until their Bernie butthurt wears off and/or will they have some sort of proclamation?

    “Whew, pouted out. Now, I guess it’s time to start acting responsibly once again!”

  30. Tony Wikrent

    So, Trump’s election, as I predicted, has revived interest among some people on the left who have previously dismissed the value of the Constitution, to turn to some of the “anti-democratic” checks and balances:

    I am one of those 538 National Elector’s and yes the Electoral College is in play [edited with poll]

    Most of the framers expected that the powers and princes of Europe would constantly seek to meddle, hinder, hamper and even control the USA, including through interfering in the election of President, and members of Congress. So, I’m surprised no one has yet pointed out that the apparent role of Russia and Putin in this election exactly fits one of the primary reasons the framers created the Electoral College.

    Now, if you don’t think this is a Constitutional crisis, as Sterling explains it is, stop and think of what happens in the Electoral College actually does refuse to elect Trump. The Trump base will go nuts, and no small number of them will resort to violence and armed resistance. They will be fully displaying the complete rejection of general civic acceptance of the system, that Trump displayed when he said he would accept only one electoral outcome.

    How did we get to this point: that so many of our fellow citizens no longer accept the legitimacy of our Constitutional system? And note this is a problem not just on the right, but on the left also, as some commenters here have made abundantly clear in their insistence that the Constitution was flawed from the beginning because it was designed to protect wealth.

    I have tried to point out that at least for Hamilton, the intent was to protect the CREATION of wealth, not wealth itself. This goes to the heart of the economic process of any society: how are the goods and services required to sustain and reproduce the human species wrought from nature and made useful, then distributed? As Stirling wrote in his first post of Nov. 12, “Now in 2016, the rich want more. This is because the rich are not really the creative class, though they assume they are, and they need more money to enrich themselves.”

    Thus, the Constitutional crisis arises at the juncture of politics and economics – in other words, political economy. This is why a few months ago I wrote “The Historical Context of Mercantilism, Republicanism, Liberalism and Neoliberalism”

    “….that the creation the American republic and its Constitution must be understood in the

    context of the shift from the economic and political systems of feudalism, to mercantilism and modern nationalism…. The words “mercantilist” and “mercantilism” are generally used whenever government powers are used to promote a state’s economic powers. By specifying in the Constitution that government powers are used to promote a state’s economic powers in promotion of the general welfare, the American republic made a sharp break from European mercantilism, in which the welfare of a sole monarch or small group of oligarchs was often conflated with the general welfare of a state or nation….”

    I have concluded that the reason we have arrived at this Constitutional crisis is exactly because, for the past 3/4 century, since the first opposition to Roosevelt’s New Deal, the rich have poured billions of dollars into creating and propagating the modern conservative movement — and the central argument of that conservative movement is that “the general welfare” opens the door to the slippery slope of tyranny. As Frederick von Hayek (an Austrian in fact as well as economic doctrine, be it noted) titles his book: the general welfare is “The Road to Serfdom.”

    But if a state is not creating and shaping its policies and actions to achieve the general welfare, then WHAT is it doing? The modern conservative movement — and it has been created and cultivated not just in USA, but in Europe, South America, and elsewhere — thus explicitly and directly attacks the very foundation of the USA system. The conservative argument is that the greatest good for the greatest number is achieved through the “magic of the marketplace” and the less room for government action and intervention, the more pure and therefore the better the outcomes of the market. This, of course, taken to its logical extreme, makes it impossible for any government to serve as an agent through which people can determine their own economic destinies.

    I continue to be amazed at how people on the left fail to see all this. What I have read of republicanism, it seems to me that the American Constitutional republic was a perfect fit for many aspects of socialism. The great tragedy of American history is how we drifted from a republicanism holding the general welfare as its primary Constitutional mandate, to liberal capitalism.

    And if you don’t like the outcomes of the market? Now that both the left and the right have been inculcated with a hatred for the USA Constitution and its intended political economy, well, the only answer is: Constitutional crisis.

  31. Ron Showalter

    More on stolen election not that it matters to some, I guess.

  32. Ché Pasa

    @ Randall May

    Please check your sources. Your information is incorrect.

    Absentee ballots are counted; provisional ballots may or may not be.

    Kind regards

  33. BlizzardOfOz

    The people complaining about Russian meddling (is there a shred of evidence for this that wasn’t made up by Hillary operatives) never had a problem with Mexico and Israel’s open, constant meddling.

    By the way, the electors you’re relying on to change their votes are the same one you’ve insisted are irredeemably deplorable. Good luck with that.

  34. Hugh

    It doesn’t matter who won this election. We, as in the lower 80% of the country, lost either way. The question rather is one of legitimacy, and with shit choices, shit parties, shit process, and shit system, there can be no legitimacy. As Emma Goldman wrote so long ago, “If voting changed anything, they would make it illegal.” We were going to be screwed one way under Clinton and the Democrats. We will be screwed another way under Trump and the Republicans. Nothing fundamental will change, we will still be screwed. Why not concentrate on that?

    As for Tony Wikrent’s “protection of wealth creation”, he really needs to define what he means by “wealth”, “creation”, and the agents of this because what it sounds like is a license to exploit labor by a few for ends that may have nothing to do with the betterment of society, that is building and maintaining the kind of society we want to live in.

  35. V. Arnold

    November 20, 2016

    Hmm, I think Peter made a good point.
    Just where do you think the responsibility lays for this election and the candidates? Apparently not with the electorate?
    Anyone who cannot see the societal pathology in the U.S. is willfully not paying attention, IMO.
    The constitutional U.S. has ceased to exist; and a sickness, a malaise, has spread across the land.
    Trump is the symptom, not the disease. For that matter, Clinton was likewise a symptom and part of the disease, the malignancy.
    At this juncture I do not expect to see the U.S. getting any better; just a very rough ride down the drain.
    Usians have become infantilzed by the educational system (both primary schools and the universities), as well the neo-liberal political systems and the neo-liberal economic policies.
    The movement toward political correctness has been the coup de grâce…

  36. @Che Pasa: “I said it doesn’t matter to the winning side how the outcome is reached.

    But maybe it should. Hard to respect a group that says when it wins that, “We are perfectly okay that we won by means of a system that is designed to fuck over the wishes of the general public,” and then when it loses says that, “The system is fucking us over and therefor must be changed.” Hard to see such a group as anything but hypocritical and childish.

  37. Tony Wikrent

    Hugh: Thank you for the excellent question. I wrote this a couple years ago:

    “….what is wealth? Is it really hoards of cash, or stockpiles of precious metals? Consider: Why do we have computers now, when there were none 200 or 500 or more years ago? Certainly, 500 years ago, all the raw materials that go into making a computer were available. There was lots of silicon laying around, and there was a lot of petroleum, with which to make plastics, sitting in the ground. There was the same presence of germanium and silver, and copper, and whatever else is needed to make a computer, 500 years ago, as there is today. What is so different today that we can make computers now, but could not 500 years ago? The answer, of course, is knowledge – we first had to develop, acquire, and master, the various facets of science that allowed us to make use of those latent natural resources, then apply that science to actual physical processes of production, or what we call technology. So what wealth really is, is the human power of thinking: reason, investigation, hypothesizing, testing, figuring out why things are the way they are — and then figuring out how that new knowledge can be used to change the way things are.”

    The problem I have been struggling with is: if we define wealth as human power of thinking, what do we consider to be such thinks as an investment portfolio, or accounts in a bank, or the plant and equipment in a factory, or the land that factory sits on, or a stash of gold bars? Certainly, most anybody, including myself, would casually think of these things as “wealth.” And, clearly, “wealth” can be stolen, seized, exploited, defrauded, etc.

    So, what I’m trying to get at is that the origination of wealth is the human power of thinking, and the consequent ability to create science and technology, and apply that science and technology to the natural world. So, to avoid sounding as if I possibly mean that the ability to conceive and implement a stock swindle, or an interest rate swap, is what Hamilton sought to encourage and protect, I should write “Hamilton intended to encourage and protect the human power of thinking, and the consequent ability to create science and technology, and apply that science and technology to the natural world so as to increase that stock of goods and talents that improve the material, cultural, and spiritual conditions of human existence.” I hope that framing the issue this way makes it easier to identify the economic design of Hamilton as an important product of the Scientific and Political Enlightenments.

    I certainly hope people chime in on this question. I am beset by a number of questions I have myself. What then is the difference between capital and wealth? What is money: a form of capital, or of wealth, or both? Can scientists and engineers be exploited by not paying them what they are worth? How do you determine what they are worth? (This of course, brings up the issue Michael Hudson has raised: the mainstream economics profession has been largely successful in quashing the issue of unearned income as economic rent over the past century.)

  38. Hugh

    The human power of thinking doesn’t get you very far without labor, your own or someone else’s. Take Gates and Jobs. Gates lucked into MS-DOS through his mother’s connection to IBM. He then employed a bunch of people to develop it, created a near monopoly out of it, and became the richest person in the world. His intellectual input was marginal. His labor, almost non-existant. And the social usefulness of his enterprise more than doubtful, considering the whole endeavor could have been accomplished without all the social negatives and wealth concentration. You can say the same about Jobs and his connection to Wozniak and the workers at Apple. All you can really say about Jobs and Gates is that they saw (as opposed to had themselves) an idea which they exploited economically, not to better society, but to create a monopoly to enrich themselves. In so far as Microsoft and Apple created products which mostly incidentally bettered society, they created wealth. But Jobs and Gates had very little to do with this. And as I said, in so far as they created monopolies with their associated high prices and crappy products and wealth concentration, they took from society, and so while they enriched themselves they destroyed wealth.

    By the way, simply producing stuff for individuals or increasing GDP is not the same as creating wealth which is tied to the effects of these activities on society.

  39. Tony Wikrent

    Hugh – Yeah, yeah. Let’s indulge in some sample bias, shall we?

    For my sample, let’s start with Archimedes. Cuz I’m pretty sure there was no exploitative capitalism at the time Archimedes was developing the concept of infinitesimals.

    Or, how about Pythagoras?

    Too ancient for you? OK, how about Christiaan Huygens? Or Antonie van Leeuwenhoek?

    Oh, still no capitalism yet. Well, how about Louis Pasteur? Surely there must be some terrible Pasteur monopoly that was ruthlessly exploiting all those dairy herders and farmers.

    OK, OK, lets stick with Americans, then. Well, first name that comes to mind is Benjamin Franklin. One of the framers of that horrible Constitution. He also was the world’s leading experimenter with electricity. And the first person to ever map and describe the Gulf Stream.

    Or, how about Oliver Evans? He was the guy who designed and built the first automated flour mill. He also designed and built the first high-pressure steam engine, rendering obsolete the very inefficient low-pressure steam engines of British design.

    Here’s one of my faves: Benjamin Franklin Isherwood. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers says, on its website, that Isherwood was the greatest American engineer ever. As an officer in the US Navy, Isherwood designed, tested, examined and measured a wide variety of steam engine designs, from the USA and other countries. He convinced the Navy Dept. to help publish a 3-volume study on steam engine design and practice, which became the basis of mechanical engineering curriculum around the world for the next half century. Oh, and during the Civil War, he was made an admiral, and supervised the expansion of the Union fleet from around 70 steam powered vessels, to over 600.

    How about USDA agronomist Mark A. Carleton, who researched and gathered durum and hard red wheat varieties in Ukraine and Russia, and brought them back to the United States. Not only did the drought tolerance of these new varieties open up the Great Plains and the Northwest for wheat growing, the durum wheat tasted better in pasta, and the hard red wheat made better bread. Within a decade, wheat production in USA nearly doubled.

  40. Hugh

    I will leave you with your inexplicable adulation of Hamilton. I do not think you will make many converts.

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