Electoral reform is direly needed in North America. Last year’s massive liberal majority here, Tuesday’s stunning Republican presidential victory are cases in point.
Funk & Wagnall’s dictionary defines trumpery as “rubbish, nonsense, deceit and trickery. As an adjective F &W has it as “having a showy appearance, but valueless.” The word derives from the old French tromper – to deceive.
The reactions by the (mostly liberal) media to the stunning and yet not unexpected victory of Donald Trump this week were predictable, seeing as just about everybody and their uncle were predicting a victory for Hillary Clinton. Some pollsters called it a 98.5 certainty. Nobody, except for Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com, who has correctly predicted the outcome of the last four presidential elections – in 2012 being wrong only in one state, correct in the other 49 - saw Trump’s victory coming so emphatically.
Why? Pollsters talked to the elite, not the disenchanted, who usually do not talk to people in ties with clipboards. Their numbers are large, their alienation from California, Illinois and New York, the Atlantic seaboard, where Clinton won convincingly, very marked. Trump focussed on the economy and it was heard in rural America and the rustbelt manufacturing states which have suffered thanks to the bankers and globalization. Trump’s claim to restore greatness to the nation reverberated in the heartland.
His populism, demagoguery and trickery will likely be held in check by – the admittedly Republican – Congress and the Senate. Voters south of the 49th parallel need to hope that the non-politician surrounds himself with sage advisors. The Republicans do indeed have them.
The Electoral College, however, needs reform. By winning a state, such as California, the candidate gets all the votes. Clinton, by expectedly winning California, got the 55 Electoral College votes – nearly a quarter of her total. But the votes should have been split by percentage. Even if Trump won 30% support in La-La Land that would have given him 16 or 17 EC votes.
The same applies to the close races in Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Had Clinton received her percentage in EC votes she would now be president-elect.
Yet the system failed thinking Americans. Consider if the same system applied here – Alberta and perhaps Saskatchewan would receive PC Electoral College votes, Manitoba NDP and the rest of the nation Liberal. Hardly fair. And this explains Trump’s stunning upset of the educated, thinking peoples favourite. By tapping into disenchantment with bombast and overblown rhetoric he swayed voters into believing him.
Time still to see what will take place. As noted, there are checks and balances present, and the rest of the world will hardly let the Donald run amok. The Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” applies today. Fear mongering is not the answer from either winner or loser. Democracy may be imperfect, but the U.S. is unlikely to become a totalitarian, racist and misogynist nation. There are too many citizens who will not let that happen.
The final world is H.L. Mencken’s. The legendary journalist, (1880-1956) was a voice against populism and representative democracy, He believed that the latter was a system in which inferior men dominated their superiors. He wrote:
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by an outright moron."
Trumpery and the U.S. (11)