Monday, November 7, 2016

Longshots and Likely Outcomes

The date that has been looming on our calendars for so very long is upon us. And then life changes. And we don’t know what our country will look like the day after.
Found on Facebook,
credited to 

I don’t know what is going to happen. But I thought it wouldn’t hurt to look at some of the least likely outcomes, and then look at what we can probably expect.

No One Gets 270 Electoral Votes

The 270 number is half of the country’s electoral votes. If the two major candidates are close, and a third candidate gets some electoral votes (wins in at least one state). Then no one automatically gets declared the winner. If this happens, then a weird rule takes over: the US Congress chooses the president.

This isn’t an impossibility. For the first time in half a century, a third candidate might possibly win a state’s electors. The most likely is independent candidate Evan McMullin, who has a chance of winning Utah, where he’s within the margin of error in the latest polls. (He was up by several points in some polls the week the audio came out of Trump from ten years ago claiming he’d sexually assaulted women with impunity.)

A less likely possibility would be Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson winning New Mexico, where he served as governor.

If it came to this standoff, so Congress has the historic opportunity to decide the presidency, what would they do? I think the assumption has to be that they would favor the candidate of their party, which is Republican.

Evan McMullin worked as a policy advisor to Congress. He is known there, particularly by Republicans. McMullin has been a conservative Republican all along, and is only running as an independent for the election—in contrast to Donald Trump, who is running as a Republican only for the election and has never been a conservative. Since the two main candidates are both strongly disliked by a majority of the country, it’s not inconceivable that there would be a sense of relief that we could choose someone else. So it’s not out of the question that Congress could elect McMullin. 

But it’s still unlikely. Pressure from the electorate would sound deafening. Many would fear to do anything except vote for their party’s nominee--unless something even more horrible comes out about Trump, like a sudden sexual assault arrest or some other provable accusation leading to prison.

The Electoral College Rebels

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t directly elect the president. We elect representatives of our state’s votes. This design was to protect the votes of all, rather than to allow large urban centers or particular regions from having all the say. Check out the Prager U video, if you need to review (here and here).

One of the less likely purposes for the electoral college is to address the scenario that the popularly elected president turns out to be unacceptable (new information comes out of criminal activity or moral turpitude). The electors wouldn’t be forced to vote for such a dirtbag; they could change their vote.

During the past week, this started to look like a possible outcome if Hillary got indicted between election day and the electoral college vote on December 19. Over the weekend FBI Director Comey came out again to say he didn’t recommend prosecuting Hillary Clinton for her multiple breaches of national security. In the meantime, a Democrat elector from Washington State has promised not to vote for her, regardless of the popular vote outcome.

Since her known crimes so far have failed to bring even an indictment, despite all the aides pleading the 5th (i.e., admitting wrongdoing), and because the corruption in the entire Department of Justice is led by the current administration, who is ideologically aligned with her, we can’t expect truth and accuracy. The likelihood of more electors stepping up and refusing to vote for this criminal is low, alas.

One of the Main Candidates Becomes President

This is indeed the likely outcome. I’m not sitting on the edge of my seat, anxious to know which of them that will be. My guess is that it will be Hillary Clinton—the most corrupt, most socialist, most unsuitable candidate ever to step into the Oval Office.
Found on Facebook,
credited to Being Libertarian

Here’s one more longshot: those rumors about her ill health turn out to be true, and she becomes incapable of carrying out her duties as president. That would leave us with a vice-president stepping up. Tim Kaine is probably not better in policy, but it would be hard to be as corrupt as she is, so that would be considered a slight improvement. Also, because he would be unelected, Congress might be willing to stand up to him, we could hope.

There is a pair of Daily News Editorials—one laying out the case against Trump, followed by one laying out the case against Hillary

There’s enough accuracy in both that it brings to mind the battle of wits scene from The Princess Bride. Vizzini lists the reasons “I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you,” and then lists the reasons “I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.” Clearly either choice was deadly, as Vizzini shortly learned the hard way.

But, since one of the two choices will be foisted on us, what happens from Wednesday on?

Four years ago, the morning after a disappointing election, which made me feel that America was lost, this scripture came to mind:

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
I’ve been trying to do that since. 

There are—and will be—things that are just wrong, that seem intolerable, things which should not be tolerated. But we cannot live our lives in outrage. We need to live. We can live as best we can, as most of humankind has had to do, without the blessing of the freedom, prosperity, and civilization we know we are missing. Whatever our circumstances, we can still live good lives.
Rising Sun Chair, Independence Hall

My Facebook friend Shawn Rogers wrote this prediction this morning:

My final election prediction: This election will end. The sun will come up on Wednesday, and again on Thursday. The consequences won't be as horrible as the losing side thinks they will be. And the results won't be as fantastic as the winning side thinks they will be. We'll have new political battles to fight. But life will go on. Families will go on. Faith will go on. Joy, hope, and happiness will still be within reach.
I think that we need a hopeful approach, for ourselves, our families, and our communities, even when w have less hope for our country as a whole. We need to live in gratitude, so that we can be guided to do what is best to do with our lives.

A couple of weeks I read an outsider’s perspective I thought was helpful. This is from Dan Hannan, a British conservative MEP:

Each presidential campaign thrives on fear of the other. Trump’s supporters tell us that Clinton’s judicial nominations will fundamentally transform America, tilting the balance toward authoritarianism. Clinton’s supporters retort that Trump is a quasi-fascist.
Both sides misunderstand, or affect to misunderstand, the Constitution. The United States was designed precisely to contain the ambitions of its rulers. Jefferson and Hamilton had seen arbitrary rule first-hand, and were determined to ensure that even the most Caligulan leader could not create an autocracy. We might almost say that they had Trump, or someone very like Trump, in mind when they drew up the rules.
Despite what Pelosi says, it is the Republican nominee who, in the unlikely event of his election, would be likely to face impeachment. There would be scant sympathy for President Trump in either House, and he seems to have as little concern for constitutional propriety as he has for telling the truth. Indeed, the only truly persuasive argument for electing him is the “Vote Trump, Get Pence” line.
What, though, of Clinton? … Is there not a danger that, by unbalancing the Supreme Court, she would transform the United States into an altogether more nannying and dirigiste nation?
Again, the Founders had her number. Barring some truly extraordinary electoral bouleversement, [Hillary] will not have a free hand in her first two years; nor, given the usual pattern of mid-term elections, is that likely to change in the second two years.
American liberty is too deeply rooted to be wrecked by a couple of judges. Take the most commonly voiced concern among conservatives. Suppose that a Clinton-made Supreme Court overturned the Heller verdict—that is, the ruling that interprets the Second Amendment as meaning that an individual can own and carry weapons.
The day after such a reversal would look just like the day before it. No state constitution would be amended. No legislation would be mandated at either federal or state level.
That’s what checks and balances mean: No president, no Supreme Court, has absolute power. The system, you might say, works….
I've never known Americans to be as gloomy about politics as now. And, looking at the two main candidates, I sympathize. But I can't bring myself to share in their pessimism. The United States has lasted for as long as it has, through foreign wars and civil strife, because the Constitution is bigger than any politician….
America [is] the wealthiest and the freest, because its system of government elevates the individual over the collective.
No single president, however demented, can undo the work of two-and-a-half centuries. That’s the true meaning of American exceptionalism.
It may be that he is right. It may be that, even with the most dire predictions, our lives will still go on, for the most part as before, albeit with more weight upon our shoulders as we go about the work of living.

But we can go on living. We’re still in a land of great freedom and prosperity, compared to most of world history. And we must enjoy whatever good we have, so that we know not to let that good be taken.

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