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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

illegitimate, Not my president. Not OUR president

There are a lot of words that people apply to the Donald.  Some are true.  Some have a ring of truth.  Some are just amusing, but may not be accurate.  So you can say "crazy" or "misogynistic" or "racist" or "pompous" and they may or may not stick.  But I'm going to go with what John Lewis said, and this one can't be argued: illegitimate.

The problem here is quite simple: there was some kind of election hack by a foreign power.  And through partisanship, stupidity, or negligence, some of our countries finest leadership have decided that it just doesn't matter.  Shame on all of them.  This should be the top of the list, number one thing EVERYONE should be talking about.  A foreign power set out to disrupt the election.  It doesn't matter which candidate won.  The election is tainted, and there was no winner.

Let me 'splain.  At this point, we, the people, don't know what happened.  We have heard that there was an attempt to influence and know that Russia was behind the DNC hack, was providing disinformation, and may (or may not) have played a larger role in shaping the outcome.

I want to look at this two ways: the first is supposing that Russia altered the outcome in some physical way.  That tampering occurred and the results were changed.  We have no evidence whatsoever that this may have happened.  But, there were a couple of interesting findings right after the election that several counties in Michigan and Wisconsin experienced anomalies: the counties had the exact same win total for the Donald.  But everyone declined to investigate further, and in the near-term we can't know for sure what this means.

Jill Stein attempted to force a recount in those states and a few others, and the outcome of that was not surprising: based on convoluted legal rules about recounts, states rights, and limited evidence to support the claim, the recount efforts failed.  So again, we can't know.  But there was one county that did report an over vote, and it was corrected.  And several election workers anecdotally said that they weren't seeing the results quite as they were reported. This suggests that more investigation is required.

But to be clear, the fact that these recounts failed based on a legal challenge is not the same thing as saying they uncovered nothing.

Also, I should point out that after the 2012 election, the hacker group  "Anonymous" reported there was an attempt by someone to alter the outcome of the election, which they thwarted.  Who's to say that this wasn't another effort to do the same thing?  We just don't know.

And finally, the polling numbers. Look, I realize polling is an indicator and can be inaccurate at times. But this was wildly inaccurate, to the point where it makes you question the methods. But yet, the methods were sound in other races, and other topics - just not at the presidential level.  At this point, we can't know if there was any problem there, but we can wonder a bit what happened.

On the one hand we kept hearing about "hidden Trump supporters" which seems like utter nonsense - they were all pretty vocal in their support.  And on the other, what if the hidden voters weren't voters at all, but hackers who altered the results?

For me, the math didn't work.  I live in Florida and was looking at the results as they were coming in.  Around 35% of the vote was in when Comey made his bid to influence the election (more on that in a moment).  That would be about half of the ultimate voter turnout.  I did the math at that point, realizing the election results might change.  To that point, Clinton had a sizable lead. I looked at the results by county, realizing that there are 7 counties in Florida that are very large and swing elections, and 60 that are much smaller, but high voter turnout can have some play.  I did some calculations, and determined that if the smaller counties turned out heavily in favor of Trump, and the larger ones went from 20% for Trump to 40% for Trump, he could win - but by a slim margin.  He won by a fairly large margin.  That just wasn't logical.  It makes no sense.  So perhaps there was some tampering?  It surely makes me scratch my head.

Now to the other side of the scale.  Lets assume there was no tampering, only an attempt to influence.  Misinformation, hacking of servers to gain an advantage, and general negligence on the part of some other elected officials.  And all of this directed by a foreign government to influence the outcome.  Yes, we still vote.  And what the actually did didn't directly change the outcome.

But the hint of influence of someone outside of the country interfering with our free and fair elections is not acceptable.  Ever.  Surely McCarthy is rolling over in his grave: we allowed Russian interference in our politics.  He sought to root out the commie influence at its core. We're more or less saying "meh"...

And if the net effect isn't bad enough, we have stupid people saying things like "well, we live in glass houses, so we shouldn't throw stones....we do it to other countries, so it happening to us is whatever."  That is someone supposedly representing US.  Ignorance is dangerous.

And then there's the Comey factor.  One week prior to the election, he makes a public spectacle of saying "there's nothing to see here."  Whether he was acting on his own, or if he was a pawn (or more) in a bigger game of misinformation remains to be seen.  But given we have heard - from the CIA no less - that the Russian intent was to disrupt and influence the election one could rightly question Comey's motivation.  He did disrupt and did influence in some way.  Even if he cast enough doubt to sway the outcome back in Trumps favor just because he felt like it (with nothing else as a motivation), it still was an influence, and free and fair went out the window.

So, I submit to you that the Donald did not win this election.  And he will never be my president.

I am a big believer in democracy.  When W won in 2000 by the slimmest of margins in Florida I didn't like the outcome - but it was free and fair and the voters spoke.  Shame on those who didn't vote, or whose ballots were not counted because they couldn't punch a hole.  But there was no interference and no tampering.  I respected the office of the presidency and may have loathed most days that W served, but he was our president and history tells us that while he wasn't the best, he actually tried.  And cared about the citizenry he was elected to represent.

One thing I found interesting in that case was that congress wasn't quite as partisan at that point - well not to the point of treason anyway - and the legality of the election wound up at the Supreme Court.  Ultimately, they decided the election. (and as a side note: several newspapers went back and reviewed the ballots with the rules set forth for what counts by judges, and Gore probably would have won by a slim margin, so really this could have gone either way).  In our current election, I was surprised to see the Supreme Court not get involved.

Its a shame that in an effort to get their agenda - whatever it is - the Republican party sold itself out in many ways.  On the surface, it surely seems like an articulate african american man was too much for some to take.  And a white, self-interested inarticulate man is a better choice to lead "them"

But he doesn't represent everyone.  Only those that prop him up, financially or with adulation.  He lost the popular vote by a LARGE margin, and has told us again and again that he is only in it for himself.

We don't know his position on a single issue. We don't know where his actual interests lie. He tends to run behind the scenes with 140 character comments that seek to confuse and undermine established policy. According to many reports, he speaks to world leaders on unsecured lines about whatever is top of mind - and apparently that's often his own business interests.

And as far as the hacking, the position for a rational person to take would be "hey I won, and it's terrific, but I welcome the intelligence community to look into it further because someone hacking the election weakens our democracy" rather than being an autocrat and admonishing anyone who doesn't agree with his point of view.

One other thing I'd like to mention in all of this is the electoral college. Our founding fathers set out to make us a worthy democracy. They established the electoral college as a means to distribute the votes in the same way that congress allocates itself. Proportional votes based on population. The intent was not to make each state hoard the votes and give them all-or-nothing to a candidate based on some silly rules made up in the last century.

We can debate the constitutionality of whether "all or nothing" by state is valid.

The electorate were always to come from the population at large and be appointed by their party. But their role was to protect and defend the constitution. They could be "Hamilton electors" and vote differently if the constitution was to be damaged.

Federal law, ahem, trumps, the state laws. Various state laws hold criminal penalties for the electors who don't vote the way they are supposed to. But the laws are invalid because the constitution calls for them to protect the document. In this election they were reminded they could be jailed for not rubber stamping the result, and so most just voted as they were "required to" rather than challenging the status quo.

And, as you may be aware, they can't hold other office. But a population of the 529 people did hold other offices.
 
In summary, I would argue they constitution was not followed, further underscoring the illegitimacy of the win And it also leads me to this: the electoral college has been abused and needs to be abolished.  It serves no real purpose anymore.

But back to the main point: the Donald wasn't elected freely and fairly. He has no mandate. He has his wide-eyed opinions, his businesses, and what appears to be a lot of baggage.

I won't give in to his petulance. I'll stand strong with those who see it similarly to me. Since he craves attention, I say we don't give it to him. Snub him. Ignore him. Without sacrificing your right to stand up to him.

I don't wish for him to fail, because if he does, then we all do.  But I do hope we find a way to right things - I'm willing to have hope and give him a chance in general to prove me wrong about who he is and what he stands for. But I'll be watching.  Always watching.

 He's not my president. He's not our president. We need to hold onto that as we march through a different part of history - and hope our democracy holds up.

Godspeed, as they say.



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