Followup on Faithless Electors

Four months ago, I wondered whether there would be faithless electors in this election. And as it turned out, there were. Nine of them, in fact, of whom six were successful. That seems like a lot: according to Wikipedia, these days there are usually zero or one faithless elector. There were 8 in 1912, and 27 in 1896.

When I wrote that article, I expected to be surprised, and I was. But I stand by my comment about the dumpster fire consuming the GOP.

Disorganized Post-Election Thoughts

1. Fuck. Seriously, what the fuck?

I realize this is a very widely-held opinion,  it today, I am not particularly contrarian.

2. Corollary: how did everyone manage to get this wrong? Polls, pundits, prognosticators all had Clinton in the lead, and comfortably so. Unless there were shenanigans, they all got it wrong in a failure of Dewey-defeats-Truman-es que proportions. And I haven’t seen any obvious signs of unforeseen shenanigans.

3. Could there have ban shenanigans? Could Anonymous or someone have rigged the election? I suppose anything’s possible, and I’m sure people will be looking into this possibility in the coming days, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Rather, this feels like a systemic mistake everyone made. Like underestimating how many bigots would come out to vote for one of their own.

4. In a way, this is understandable, because even though Trump’s an unabashed bigot and sexist who’s broken many of the rules everyone took for granted, surely some ground rules must still hold, right? Like, having a GOTV operation to get your voters to the poll helps you, and not having one hurts you, right?

And for this reason, I can’t really resent the people who voted for third-party candidates and handed Trump victory in races that turned out to be closer than expected. They probably didn’t think they were really going to change anything, and neither did any of the rest of us.

5. Looking forward, it’s possible that the Trump regime won’t be as bad as we fear. For as much as he’s talked about setting up horrible policies, he’s not Hitler. He’s not enough of an ideologue for that. He’s just in it for the attention and the glory.

Of course, that means that we need to start worrying about what de facto policymaker Mike Pence is going to do.

6. And related to point 5, since the Republican party is going to be in control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress, whatever happens over the next two to four years, they’re going to own it. If it turns out to be good, then great, although given recent history, I have low hopes for the Republican party.

But if it turns to shit, don’t let them forget it.

7. And as a follow-up, dust off your activism handbooks, because we’re going to need them. I’m not advocating an intransigent obstructionism like what Republicans have been inflicting on Obama for the past eight years. Oppose bad ideas, not Republican ideas.

8. Finally, no, I don’t have any uplifting parting thoughts, or even a picture of a kitten. Come back later.

“Spirit Cooking”: They Got Nothin’

The latest thing conservatives have got a bug up their ass about concerns something called “Spirit Cooking”. This is an art project by artist Marina Abramovic from 1996. It’s presented as pages from a cookbook, including such “recipes” as

3 glasses of water
that a ruby has been soaking in for 3 days
1 pomegranate

which looks to me like par for the course for a performance artist in the 90s. Other “recipes” call for “fresh morning urine” OR “fresh breast milk with fresh sperm milk”. According to the Washington Times article, above, she sounds like a mystic, somewhat crunchy-granola, and provocative. Again, par for the course in the art world.

So why is this suddenly showing up in the political news section? Because WikiLeaks has released an email message from Tony Podesta to John Podesta, relaying an invitation to Abramovic’s Spirit Dinner event.

So we have a weird-ass artist. She knows Tony Podesta, who’s the brother of John Podesta, who’s Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager and generally an important person in American politics. She uses her connection with Tony to invite John, as you do.

And apparently the conclusion to draw here is that John Podesta is into drinking urine or satanic rituals or something, and by extension, that Hillary Clinton is unfit to be president. Or something like that.

If that’s the best they’ve got, I’m not impressed. Or rather, I’m impressed that people so disconnected from reality manage to tie their shoes in the morning.

Will There Be Faithless Electors in 2016?

vg4647a-300-cat
Trump’s hairpiece in the wild. Photo by Valerie G. Bugh.

You may remember that during the run-in to the 2016 Republican convention, the #NeverTrump people were trying desperately to come up with some way, short of dynamite, to put out the dumpster fire that the conservative movement has been feeding lo these past three decades, and is now threatening to consume the GOP.

At the same time, it was pointed out that the Democrats didn’t have the same problem, in part because they had nominated a human being rather than a Monster From the Id, and partly because of superdelegates, party officials whose vote counts way way more than that of regular delegates from your state.

As universally-reviled as superdelegates are, at least they act as a firewall: if the ordinary people had nominated an obviously unacceptable candidate, like a bowl of granola, for instance, the superdelegates could have overridden the will of the people.

Which brings me to the general election: the way presidential elections were originally set up in the US constitution, we don’t actually vote for president: we vote for a guy who’ll go over to Washington, find out who the best candidate is, and vote on our behalf. In many states, electors are not bound by the popular vote and can, in principle, vote against whomever the people chose: so-called faithless electors. Apparently there have been two of them since 2000.

But this election feels different. Trump is not your run-of-the-mill Bad Candidate. Even high-profile Republican insiders consider him not just suboptimal, but unacceptable, even dangerous. So I wonder whether we’ll see any faithless electors in January.

In practice, it probably (hopefully!) won’t be necessary: if Clinton wins in the standard way, the electors will be able to go about their voting as usual, in relative obscurity and irrelevance. But if Trump wins, there’s that safety valve. It’s also possible that he’ll lose, and throw an epic temper tantrum such that not even the electors will want anything to do with him, and might change their votes in protest.

As usual, when dealing with predictions, I expect to be proven wrong about a lot of this. I’m not psychic, you know.

Paul Ryan Denounces Republican Strategy

You may have heard that establishment Republicans are almost as terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency as the rest of us. And since they haven’t been able to stop him so far, they’re getting a bit desperate.
So today, Speaker Paul Ryan opened his mouth and said some words:

The Republican party does not prey on people’s prejudices—we appeal to their highest ideals.

Are you fucking kidding me? He would have us believe that he lives in this country, has managed to become Speaker of the House, and yet somehow has never paid attention to electoral politics in the last twenty-some years?

Republicans gave us the Willie Horton ad. They gave us “welfare queens”. They made “9/11” the most commonly-repeated phrase in several conventions.

Republicans were the ones screaming loudest that gay marriage would undermine religious liberty, destroy the family, and probably rain on your Fourth of July barbecue. Ditto gays in the military. And gay scout masters. And now the fearmongering about trans people in bathroom bills is all coming from the right.

Who kept accusing Barack Obama of not being American? Which party gave us “blah people”?

I understand that Ryan doesn’t want Trump to be president. But he’s the culmination of years and years of Republican divisiveness and fearmongering. They, as the saying goes, built that. Preying on people’s prejudices and fears is what Republicans do. Does Ryan really expect anyone to believe otherwise?