18 November 2016
All through the summer and into the fall I had to listen to one old lady who called into my newspaper's opinion line to rant against the Electoral College. Obviously Donald Trump was right about the election being rigged, she'd say, because the media was saying that Hillary Clinton had already cinched such-and-such a number of electoral votes. As far as she was concerned, election analysts were telling her that the popular vote didn't matter, only the electoral vote, which somehow Clinton had already won. But there would be hell to pay, she vowed, should Trump win the popular vote yet lose in the Electoral College. As everyone knows, the reverse took place on Election Day. As of the latest count, Trump trails Clinton in the popular vote by just over 1.1 million votes, yet he is President-elect thanks to his success in less-populous states that still get a minimum of three electoral votes for their Senators and Representatives. By the rules set down in the Constitution, Trump has won fair and square and, just as the old lady warned -- she's one of those who claims not to like Trump, by the way, but voted for him anyway and expects everyone else to kiss his ass now -- the popular vote didn't matter. But she can't let the matter go. Too many people are calling Trump a "minority President," making that an excuse not to give the poor man a chance. So now she calls questioning the legitimacy of the popular vote. If the Democrat got more votes, it must be due to fraud: repeat voting, dead people voting, illegal immigrant voting, etc. She happens to think that that's how Barack Obama won both times. She claims to have once been a Democrat, but now believes all the old propaganda about Democratic election fraud -- not all of which is fraudulent -- that Republicans have been peddling ever since there have been Republicans. I suppose that tells you that it's not the party but the voters that make you believe those stories. But why get worked up about it when no one's going to stop Trump -- who in another vindication of his sterling integrity has agreed to a multimillion dollar settlement of the Trump University suits -- from taking office in January. Why worry whether Clinton won the popular vote -- and let's note that she didn't win a majority of it -- when winning it is meaningless? There are probably two reasons. One is that on some level the old lady still thinks of the Electoral College as illegitimate in some way, or at least as an insufficient mandate in the face of Trump being physically outpolled by Clinton. The other is that people like her, despite their own professed reservations about the man, simply do not want to see or hear anyone on the other side say anything bad about Donald Trump. They may even have thinner skin about it than Trump himself has, but the heart of the matter is that they want to see the "elite," the liberals, the "mainstream media," all humbled if not cowed into submission, but while many in these groups are chagrined, they are not yet humbled in any submissive sense of the word. Trump's voters are definitely more interested in this outcome, I think, than Trump is, because they feel these elites and their clients have lorded it over them in a way Trump can't really empathize with, and the longer their enemies remain unhumbled the less Trump's inauguration will calm them. They want scores settled, and not just with the Clintons, and they won't feel that they've won along with Trump until they see the entire liberal establishment laid low. They had better not hold their breaths.