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Thread: I Cannot Fathom This Election

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by noahs_ark View Post
    What I will say is that I believe the fact that Biden was didn't win as decisively as everyone assumed he would is going to hurt him politically.. and possibly send a message on how his message was portrayed/vp picked.
    At this moment, Biden won the popular vote by some 4,5 mln, and if projections on last states (as well as the expected recounts) don’t give surprises, Biden will have 306 electoral votes. Is that not decisive? Is that not clear?

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by Linger View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by noahs_ark View Post
    What I will say is that I believe the fact that Biden was didn't win as decisively as everyone assumed he would is going to hurt him politically.. and possibly send a message on how his message was portrayed/vp picked.
    At this moment, Biden won the popular vote by some 4,5 mln, and if projections on last states (as well as the expected recounts) don’t give surprises, Biden will have 306 electoral votes. Is that not decisive? Is that not clear?
    Unlike the OP, I have no problem with non-U.S. Citizens stating their opinions. It would be beneficial if they would familiarize themselves with how U.S. elections work though. Already we see news articles where German politicians are urging Trump to "accept the results of the election". Biden hasn't won yet (although I suspect he will). The news media does not determine the results of an election. States certify elections and their legislatures appoint their electors. Those electors cast their votes when the electoral college meets, and a President-Elect is determined. Right now, it is not out of the realm of the possible for Trump to be successful in some of his challenges; and win a second term. It's simply too early to tell.

    The popular vote is irrelevant. The Electoral College, like the Senate, is designed to protect the interests of rural areas and prevent metropolitan areas from having too much influence. It's why we're looking at what happens in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, etc... and not New York, California or Texas.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    I have familiarized myself with your system dneal, i even know that this year’s 14 december is an important date in that respect - i just jump ahead a few formal steps...like everybody (german politicians included) else i guess.

    “The popular vote is irrelevant.” Well, yeah, in your formal system it apparently is. But generally speaking? Trump thought it was relevant - he lied about losing the popular vote...

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by Linger View Post
    I have familiarized myself with your system dneal, i even know that this year’s 14 december is an important date in that respect - i just jump ahead a few formal steps...like everybody (german politicians included) else i guess.

    “The popular vote is irrelevant.” Well, yeah, in your formal system it apparently is. But generally speaking? Trump thought it was relevant - he lied about losing the popular vote...
    I'm not sure what your argument is. That I'm wrong because you and Trump agree on the importance of the popular vote (generally speaking, of course...)?

    Sorry, but you and the orange one's opinion don't matter. The popular vote doesn't decide anything with regard to the Presidential election. It remains irrelevant.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    It is not for me to say who or what is right of wrong. My initial reaction was a question to the statement that the election result was not decisive enough. I would think that the outcome of the electoral vote, de jura, is quite clear, and that the outcome of the popular vote, de facto, is also quite clear. But maybe the difference should be bigger to be decisive.

    The popular vote = the majority of votes = a relevant indicator of what the electorate wants. Regardless of playing no formal role in the election process.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by Linger View Post
    It is not for me to say who or what is right of wrong. My initial reaction was a question to the statement that the election result was not decisive enough. I would think that the outcome of the electoral vote, de jura, is quite clear, and that the outcome of the popular vote, de facto, is also quite clear. But maybe the difference should be bigger to be decisive.

    The popular vote = the majority of votes = a relevant indicator of what the electorate wants. Regardless of playing no formal role in the election process.
    Without making this into another partisan political discussion (or, at least, more so than it already is) may I ask if a determination of "decisive" is at all linked to the concept of having "met expectations?"

    If yes, than even the very liberal leaning, pro-Biden press and the very Democrats themselves are indicating the election was NOT decisive, as it fell way short of meeting their expectations. They were widely predicting a victory of far greater proportion(s) than we have witnessed. In fact, the poor performance of the Democrats at the polls has now created a severe fracture within the Democratic party; one which will be difficult to them to reconcile.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by Linger View Post
    The popular vote = the majority of votes = a relevant indicator of what the electorate wants. Regardless of playing no formal role in the election process.
    I understand why you get this wrong, and a great many Americans do as well. The United States is a Republic. It is a Union of States as opposed to one monolithic democracy. “The Electorate” is not 330M Americans. It is 50 States. It was always the idea for the States to be supreme in their sovereignty, with some powers delegated to a Federal government - by those sovereign States.

    That idea has been flipped on it’s head, primarily due to our education system no longer teaching basic civics. Nonetheless, the distinction is important.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    There is also the more fundamental issue of whether too much emphasis and authority is being pooled in the office of the president. One would think we are electing a king or a dictator, and the obsession lends itself to autocratic government. The office of the president as envisaged by the Constitution and the office as practiced today are not the same. Each successive administration brings in a barrage of executive orders that are effectively being used as a substitute for legislation. It is unclear to me how the process would be stopped because each presidential election seems to have a more an "end times" feel. There were a number of commentators on both sides of the 2020 presidential race who said that America would be "over" if the other side won the office. Eventually it will lead to a presidential office that has extreme and sweeping powers, only rarely checked by the courts or a rare rebuke from a divided and weakened Congress (and only then with a super-majority). I have more faith in my town's selectmen and town meeting government than in the federal one, and that has been true for some time.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by Linger View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by noahs_ark View Post
    What I will say is that I believe the fact that Biden was didn't win as decisively as everyone assumed he would is going to hurt him politically.. and possibly send a message on how his message was portrayed/vp picked.
    At this moment, Biden won the popular vote by some 4,5 mln, and if projections on last states (as well as the expected recounts) don’t give surprises, Biden will have 306 electoral votes. Is that not decisive? Is that not clear?
    I assume noah is referring to the lack of coattails for the Senate and House.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray-VIgo View Post
    There is also the more fundamental issue of whether too much emphasis and authority is being pooled in the office of the president. One would think we are electing a king or a dictator, and the obsession lends itself to autocratic government. The office of the president as envisaged by the Constitution and the office as practiced today are not the same. Each successive administration brings in a barrage of executive orders that are effectively being used as a substitute for legislation. It is unclear to me how the process would be stopped because each presidential election seems to have a more an "end times" feel. There were a number of commentators on both sides of the 2020 presidential race who said that America would be "over" if the other side won the office. Eventually it will lead to a presidential office that has extreme and sweeping powers, only rarely checked by the courts or a rare rebuke from a divided and weakened Congress (and only then with a super-majority). I have more faith in my town's selectmen and town meeting government than in the federal one, and that has been true for some time.

    It seems extraordinary that the winning party in a US presidential election may not enjoy a majority in the legislative house. In my view this is not how democracy is supposed to work, and this is supported by THIS WIKI LIST, which flags the US as a flawed democracy.

    The page describes it thus:

    "Flawed democracies are nations where elections are fair and free and basic civil liberties are honoured but may have issues (e.g. media freedom infringement and minor suppression of political opposition and critics). These nations have significant faults in other democratic aspects, including underdeveloped political culture, low levels of participation in politics, and issues in the functioning of governance."

    What is the point of having such a system where one side can constantly block the other?

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    It seems extraordinary that the winning party in a US presidential election may not enjoy a majority in the legislative house. In my view this is not how democracy is supposed to work, and this is supported by THIS WIKI LIST, which flags the US as a flawed democracy.

    -snip-

    What is the point of having such a system where one side can constantly block the other?
    Sorry if I don't take Wikipedia "flagging" the U.S. as a "flawed democracy" too seriously... :/

    The point in the U.S. system is precisely that one side can constantly block the other. It is to prevent the centralization of power and to protect the minority. Justice Scalia often made this point in his speeches / lectures. In a parliamentary system, the executive must agree with the legislative body; since they are a product of it. Don't like the Prime Minister? Just hold a vote of no confidence and replace them. THAT is a flawed democratic system.

    This video is the briefest one, but if 7 minutes is too long then start at 3:55.

    Last edited by dneal; November 9th, 2020 at 03:04 PM. Reason: stupid youtube format... :(

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray-VIgo View Post
    There is also the more fundamental issue of whether too much emphasis and authority is being pooled in the office of the president. One would think we are electing a king or a dictator, and the obsession lends itself to autocratic government. The office of the president as envisaged by the Constitution and the office as practiced today are not the same. Each successive administration brings in a barrage of executive orders that are effectively being used as a substitute for legislation. It is unclear to me how the process would be stopped because each presidential election seems to have a more an "end times" feel. There were a number of commentators on both sides of the 2020 presidential race who said that America would be "over" if the other side won the office. Eventually it will lead to a presidential office that has extreme and sweeping powers, only rarely checked by the courts or a rare rebuke from a divided and weakened Congress (and only then with a super-majority). I have more faith in my town's selectmen and town meeting government than in the federal one, and that has been true for some time.
    Excellent post. Justice Gorsuch's book "A Republic If You Can Keep It" addresses the consolidation of power in the executive, via administrative rules; and how he believes it is a clear violation of the Constitution that laws originate in the legislature (and that they therefore cannot delegate it). The regulations in the various CFRs are developed primarily by the executive - and they carry the weight of law.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    I don't particularly like or dislike either Trump or Biden, and to be honest I don't even care about US politics much, I'm only interested in Europe, but I am hopeful the political primitivism to which we have been spectators to will go away, as it has thoroughly infiltrated European politics, in particular my country's.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    I get it, a lot of people weren't happy with Republican Party politics. Some people weren't very civil, upsetting a lot of others. You get more support by using a pleasant turn of phrase to get your ideas across.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Well, yes. I'm not emotionally attached to political elite that doesn't care about me, so I can afford to look at it from a distance that allows me to be objective. Some things Trump was right about - NATO spending comes to mind, for example. We signed a contract to spend 2% of our GDP. But there are better and worse ways of getting that point across. Fracturing EU-US relationships by doing it is not the better way of doing it, I think.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by Linger View Post
    I have familiarized myself with your system dneal, i even know that this year’s 14 december is an important date in that respect - i just jump ahead a few formal steps...like everybody (german politicians included) else i guess.

    “The popular vote is irrelevant.” Well, yeah, in your formal system it apparently is. But generally speaking? Trump thought it was relevant - he lied about losing the popular vote...
    Trump has a fragile ego. It was hurt when Hillary Clinton got 3 million more votes than he did, so he claimed that 3 million Mexicans (or Martians?) slipped over the border from Canada to vote in the 2016 Presidential election. Trump did the same when he was inaugurated, forcing his press spokesman to claim that he drew more people than President Obama did in 2009 or 2013. It is Trumpist fantasy, and
    everyone knows it...except those who live in fantasy.

    The official election will happen on December 14, but that is just a formality. By now, every state presents a set of electors pledged to each presidential candidate. By state law, people choose from slates of electors, in winner-take-all votes. The framers of the US Constitution knew nothing of semi-permanent political parties; the framers expected that electors would be prominent men familiar with other prominent men from all the states. That is more or less how things had fallen out in the Continental Congress and the Confederation Congress (that is, the Congress that had led the US under the Articles of Confederation). Elections have never really worked that way, and certainly not since the election of 1800 in which Thomas Jefferson defeated President John Adams. Electors no longer exercise a choice.

    Yes, it is an odd system. The US wrote it's two constitutions after the English parliament won supremacy in 1688, but while there was still some sort of fiction that the British monarch was the executive power. The US President is a symbol of the country, like a European monarch or president, but also has real executive power.
    Last edited by welch; November 12th, 2020 at 02:35 PM.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Quote Originally Posted by Linger View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by noahs_ark View Post
    What I will say is that I believe the fact that Biden was didn't win as decisively as everyone assumed he would is going to hurt him politically.. and possibly send a message on how his message was portrayed/vp picked.
    At this moment, Biden won the popular vote by some 4,5 mln, and if projections on last states (as well as the expected recounts) don’t give surprises, Biden will have 306 electoral votes. Is that not decisive? Is that not clear?
    Yes, it is more decisive than Trump's victory in 2016. Biden has won the same number of electoral votes, by bigger margins than Trump in the swing states, and by an even larger margin of the popular vote than Clinton beat Trump. The Democrats maintained control of the House of Representatives, and control of the Senate depends on two elections in Georgia that will be held in early January.

    Why is a US President not necessarily backed by a Congressional majority?

    - The US Constitution was written before the US had political parties. At most, as in James Madison's Federalist 10, "party" was more or less the same as "faction": it shifted by issue and by area; it was impermanent. The first party system grew about ten years after the Constitution, was snuffed out with the election of Jefferson in 1800, and then recreated after Andrew Jackson began a vengeance campaign against John Quincy Adams after the 1824 election. That system fell apart in the 1850's, over slavery.

    - Until the 1994 election, when congressional Republicans ran on their "Contract with America", political scientists often said something like "The two parties exist only during the party conventions that meet every four years to nominate candidates for President. In between and day-to-day, we have state parties. There is no party discipline, and neither party represents a clear ideology". (That's from a course I took in 1971 on parties in the US, Britain, and West Germany).

    - While American political scientists grumbled and proposed "a more responsible party system" (title of a big deal book by a committee of political scientists in 1950), the country muddled along with a "four party" system...Northern and Southern, Democratic and Republican (subtitle of a book by James McGregor Burns in 1963: "The Deadlock of Democracy"). On most issue -- meaning everything except civil rights -- members of congress could shift from issue to issue.

    - That is, until recently, a President did not absolutely need control of House and Senate.

    - Is the current situation workable? Meaning an ideological Republican Party facing a distinct, but less coordinated, Democratic Party -- that is, a DP with two wings. I don't know. The electoral system plus American political tradition does not do this sort of thing well.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    For people around the world who might wonder what is happening in the US election, here is the situation as of November 18:

    - Joe Biden has won enough states to give him more than 300 electoral votes -- more than the 270 needed to win. The Electoral College, an odd relic, but one that will not be changed, if ever, will meet on December 14. That is the Presidential election described in the US Constitution.

    - In most states, the laws require a state's electors to vote for the candidate to which they are pledged; in those states where state law does not require this, each party selects a group of electors from senior party officials, so it amounts to the same thing.

    - The next step is that states will certify which party's electors were chosen in the election. Although a few states -- North Carolina for one, and probably New York for another -- are still counting ballots, the votes remaining to be counted are fewer than the difference between one candidate and the other. It is all over but the tidying up. While there are recounts in Georgia, and, perhaps, in Wisconsin, a recount never changes more than a few hundred votes. In Georgia, Biden leads Trump by more than 10,000 votes. In Wisconsin, Biden leads Trump by about 20,000 votes. The lead will not change in either state. In Pennsylvania, Biden leads Trump by about 65,000 votes, or more than 65 times more than any US recount has ever changed.

    - The Trump campaign has filed more than a dozen lawsuits in hopes of finding a judge who will over-turn an election. They have all failed. The Trump campaign, in the last week or so, has withdrawn suits and has narrowed their claims. The suits no longer claim fraud; in Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign has been reduced to complaining that election boards in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh allowed voters to fix technical errors in their mail-in ballots, such as failing to write a return address, which election boards in a few Republican counties did not. The state board of elections explained to the judge that state law allows ballots to be "cured" in this way. Republican voters should sue the Republican-led counties for failing to follow state law.

    That is about it. Here is a Washington Post summary that tries to guess what the Trump campaign is up from here on.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/polit...3b4_story.html

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    Mary Trump said on CNN that Donald Trump has always been able to bully or buy his way out of any apparently losing situation, but not this election loss. So, he appears to be thrashing around trying to find a way out. That does appear to be what is happening.

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    Default Re: I Cannot Fathom This Election

    For those keeping score at home, if your home is not in the US, here are the dates of the next steps in the US Presidential election, Roughly:

    - Between now and December 8, states will certify the vote counts

    - December 14: the Electoral College meets to hold the official election

    - Early January: the US Congress meets to accept the results from the Electoral College

    - January 20, noon: Joe Biden is sworn in as 46th President

    (Today, Georgia finished its re-count.) Details in the article from the NY Times:

    https://www.nytimes.com/article/us-e...gtype=Homepage

    Details,

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