Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Distibution Devil and the Swing State Ding Dongs

By Bob Ferris

One percent is not huge.  On some level that percentage is really quite insignificant.  But let’s think about that for a moment—particularly in light of folks talking about this election and criticizing the DNC and Hillary Clinton for losing the election because “they” lost sight of the importance of the Electoral College.

There are 365 days in a year and 24 hours in a day.  That means that there are 8760 hours in a year.  One percent of that is 87.6 hours.  Try not breathing for 87.6 hours, 8.7 hours or even 52 minutes and you will start to understand that the distribution of that percent or even a tenth or hundredth of that percentage can be extremely critical or even fatal.  Breathing and elections, particularly with the Electoral College involved, share some of the same characteristics.

Noam Chomsky, Bernie Sanders and others recognized the diabolical destructiveness of distribution in this election and warned those who supported Dr. Stein or the ascendancy of the Green Party to vote for Hillary rather than a third party candidate if they lived in swing states (1.2,3).  It is hard to tell how many in this cohort listened to that plea, but unfortunately enough didn’t that we now have President-elect Trump.

Dr. Stein’s response to Chomsky’s caution was to call him a “coward” which he is certainly not (1,2,).  She was also critical of Senator Sanders and offered herself up as a Sanders surrogate which she was certainly not in terms of electability, experience or grasp of governance.

So now Dr. Stein is calling for audits in three states.  This is commendable and appreciated.  But it should be pointed out that those three states are all important swing states where in at least two of them votes cast for Dr. Stein significantly harmed Secretary Clinton’s prospects and helped Trump.   In the other it was a combination of third party votes.  Somehow this brief sense of affection for Dr. Stein feels similar to what we feel for Glenn Beck after his recent admissions that he might have been on an errant track and caused some damage.  In essence, you want to embrace the person but it is more ceremonial than heart-felt.

The embracement hesitation above is reinforced by Dr. Stein’s current rhetoric and how she unremorsefully slips back into her “two equivalent evils” oratory which seems so indicative of someone who has not absorbed any lessons from this dreadful experience.  In regards to this, the unkind part of me thinks that she should contact Carly Simon and see if the singer is willing to let Dr. Stein use her song “You’re So Vain” in any upcoming campaigns.

Is the above a cheap shot?  Maybe, but for two things.  The first is that Dr. Stein has climbed onto the publicity wagon of this recount and is bathing in the attention that she appears to think is about her.  My sense is that she needs to remember that she raised more money for the recount in a handful of days than she raised during her entire presidential campaign.  Since Dr. Stein or the Green Party can gain nothing material from the recount, perhaps this isn’t about her per se but really about that other “her?”

Moreover, throughout this campaign Dr. Stein has enjoyed considerable support from a certain element of the media.  Some of this was ultra-liberal and some ultra-conservative with quite a bit of foreign mischief thrown in for good measure.  When looking at many of these pieces and sources this was much less about trying to forward an inexperienced and un-electable candidate and much more about the #JillNotHill thrust of Dr. Stein’s campaign.  If you want to argue against this and claim that those elements were four-square behind Dr. Stein rather than simply anti-Hillary, then why are so many of those same sources now attacking Dr. Stein for this recount effort (1,2,3,4)?

Although it is easy to lay blame on Hillary or the DNC in this “loss,” I am not sure that is absolutely warranted or deserved.  Secretary Clinton won all the debates handily and earned endorsements from nearly every major newspaper in the nation.  She also won the popular vote by a substantial and growing margin.  She wasn’t a “lazy” candidate as some have characterized her and it should be remembered that she did all of this while burdened by the unfortunate baggage of her gender, a misinformation campaign of massive proportions, active voter suppression, and an adversary who won hearts with lies and well-fertilized fears.  And Hillary had little control over those acting on misinformation or unbalanced reporting in critical swing states, but Dr. Stein did and should have taken steps before the fact rather than just after.

1 comment:

  1. Bob,

    You represent the "spoiler" argument, which ignores two salient facts. First, that the American people do not benefit from having only two inadequate choices for the presidency, offered to us by the two entrenched pro-corporate parties. Second, that the current electoral system excludes alternative-party candidates from federal funding and ballot access unless they can achieve 5% support, and that requires fielding a candidate for every national election in order to build a constituency (which becomes impossible with so many progressives crying "spoiler" - several analyses indicate that Nader did NOT prevent Gore from winning in 2000).

    You also ignore the simple truth that a well-orchestrated campaign - which does NOT take for granted and ignore states such as Wisconsin, as the Clinton team did - should be able to achieve more than a 1% margin, which would obviate the effect of minor candidates who have something important to say, such as the perennial Green Party selections.

    Clinton's loss cannot be blamed on Jill Stein and the Green Party. It was due to a combination of an inadequate campaign (which engaged in its own disreputable practices to sideline Sanders); failure to motivate young, black and Hispanic voters; the vicious attacks by Trump and his surrogates (including the FBI); and the usual voter disenfranchisement and registration roll purging of the GOP states (which Clinton has refused to call out).

    In other words, the bulk of responsibility falls on the Clinton team and GOP operatives, within the context of a corrupt electoral system that no longer serves the American people (particularly the antiquated Electoral College system, which was meant to prevent a demagogue like Trump from exploiting populist anger in order to seize power).