Friday, November 11, 2016

How Clinton Lost, by the Numbers, and More

In order to understand how Trump became president, it is helpful to look at the actual numbers. The following statistics are taken from the United States Election Project.

Voting Eligible Population1:
2008: 213,313,508
2012: 222,474,111
2016: 231,556,622

1. As distinguished from Voting Age Population, which is a much higher number.

Votes cast for highest office (nearly always less than votes cast):
2008: 131,304,731 (61.6% turnout)
2012: 129,070,906 (57.9% turnout)
2016: 119,500,978 (53.1% turnout)

It's important to note how voter turnout has declined since 2008 when the excitement for "Hope and Change" was fueling one of the highest turnouts (by percentage) in the last couple decades. Turnout this time was pathetic--seemingly representing the unfavorable ratings of both candidates (Clinton 59% and Trump 60% as of August 31, WSJ).

Votes Won:
2008: Obama: 69,498,516 (52.9%)
2012: Obama: 65,915,795 (51.1%
2016: Clinton: 59,861,516 (47.7%)

2008: McCain: 59,948,323 (45.7%)
2012: Romney: 60,933,504 (47.2%)
2016: Trump: 59,639,462 (47.5%)

In all three elections, the Democratic candidate took the majority of the vote--yet, this year, Clinton lost the Electoral College, echoing 2000 when Al Gore beat George W. Bush in votes and still lost the Electoral College. According to Derek Thompson at The Atlantic:
Donald Trump won the electoral vote due to a margin of about 100,000 votes spread across Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. This critical difference represents about 0.04 percent of registered voters, a statistical speck.
The real issue is that voters did not support Hillary Clinton as they had Obama. Trump received fewer votes than either McCain or Romney and still managed to win the Electoral College because Clinton, although receiving more votes than Trump, received a whopping 6 million fewer votes in 2016 than Obama received in 2012, and nearly 10 million fewer votes than Obama received in 2008.

This would seem to indicate that the most liberal or progressive voters, who long proclaimed their refusal to vote for Clinton, kept their word and stayed home (or voted 3rd party).

Third Party Role

Many had hoped this might be the year of the 3rd party candidate, especially in the spring. But the final numbers reflect an essential binary system in this country: Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson won 3% of the vote and Green Party candidate Jill Stein took 1% (both of these are considerably, however, from 2012, when Johnson received 0.9% percent of the vote and Stein took 0.3% percent). Overall, roughly 5 million people cast votes for third party candidates this year.

In Florida, with 29 Electoral College votes, Trump bested Clinton by nearly 129,000 votes in the state, while Johnson and Stein took home more than 268,000 votes between them. Winning Florida would not have been the difference-maker for Clinton, but this outcome was likely repeated in many swing states. There are echoes of the 2000 election that Al Gore lost (also winning the popular vote but losing the electoral college), when Ralph Nader (Green Party) won nearly 100,000 votes in Florida while Democrat Al Gore lost the state by just 537 votes--that was the difference maker in that election.

Here are the six states won by Trump where the 3rd party vote could have shaped the outcome (from the Hit and Run Blog at
Arizona: Trump beat Clinton by four points; Johnson and Stein between them collected 5 percent. But most of that went to Johnson (3.8 percent), so it's unclear whether Trump or Clinton was hurt more by the other options on the ballot.

Florida: Trump eked out a win by just 1.4 percent here. Johnson, Stein, Castle, and Rocky De La Fuente of the Reform Party between them collected 3.2 percent. Enough to cover the spread, but how many of those votes would have otherwise gone to Clinton? Stein got only .7 percent.

Michigan: Trump won this ordinarily blue state by about .3 percent, and Stein got 1.1 percent, so Democrats who feel all Green votes are rightfully theirs are going to be seething at her over this one. Meanwhile, Johnson got 3.6 percent.

Pennsylvania: Trump won by about 1.1 percent. Stein's .8 percent isn't enough to cover that spread; Johnson's 2.4 percent is, but again we don't know whether he was drawing more from Trump or Clinton.

Utah: Trump beat Clinton here by about 17 percent. Sounds like a pretty big victory, but it's still less than McMullin's 20.9 percent. In this case you could make the case that the real spoiler was Clinton: If she weren't on the ballot, nearly all of her supporters surely would have preferred McMullin to Trump, perhaps allowing the independent to deny the Republican six electoral votes.

Wisconsin: Here, on the other hand, Stein's 1.1 percent is just enough to bridge the 1-percent margin between the winning Trump and the losing Clinton. But then what does Johnson's 3.4 percent do to the results—or, for that matter, the nearly half a percentage point that Castle won while running to Trump's right?
It seems that between Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the 3rd party votes could have swayed the election in Trump's favor. But that seems less than genuine.

Clinton could not garner anywhere near the enthusiasm among liberals and progressives that Obama generated, and add that to her image (even among Democrats) as a liar who is both greedy and disingenuous about it, and she shot herself in the knee. Or rather, she shot her own party in the knee, and perhaps again in the groin and the chest for good measure. Because, in her mind, IT WAS MY TURN, DAMN IT!

Where Do Democrats Go from Here?

As a progressive and not a Democrat (I have no party loyalty--my vote is based on values choices), the biggest thing that cost the Dems the White House is Clinton's insistence that it is her turn, which began when she lost to Obama in 2008, upsetting her plans and forcing her to wait. So she waited, and over the next 8 years she locked the party down to the point that only Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley (who never was relevant) dared challenge her.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC), as Wikileaks as shown, was in Clinton's pocket to the point that DNC leaders were handpicked by Clinton, first Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who was later forced to resign), and then Donna Brazile (as interim-director of the DNC).

Wasserman Schultz was running the DNC when it cut off Sanders' access to the DNC voter database for a supposed access violation by the Sanders campaign. Sanders sued and was quickly allowed full access once again. However, emails made public by Wikileaks show that the DNC (which was in full support of Clinton) was also gathering info about Sanders voters for their database. Hmmmm....

Later, it was Brazile, while still working for CNN, who provided debate questions in advance (see here and here) when Clinton faced off with Sanders.

What would have happened if the system had been fair? It is quite possible, with the youth vote supporting him, Sanders would have defeated Clinton just as Obama had in 2008. But Clinton had learned her lesson, there was no way she was not going to control EVERY detail of the primary election so that she came out on top.

You can search by topic for specific emails on this at The Heavy. You can read ALL of the DNC emails made public here (July, 2016) and here (Podesta).

The Independent (UK) makes a strong case that Sanders would have defeated Trump in a head to head match. The numbers from polls taken in the spring support that conjecture. For example:
A poll by NBC News-Wall Street Journal on May 15 said Ms Clinton would beat Mr Trump by three points, but said Mr Sanders would win by 15 points.

A CBS News-New York Times on May 3 gave Ms Clinton a six-point advantage over Mr Trump, but said Mr Sanders would win by 13 points.

At the same time, Fox News said Ms Clinton would lose to Mr Trump by three points, but said Mr Sanders would win by four.
Emphasis added.

Ah, what might have been. Instead, we have at least four years of the most hateful, divisive president in my lifetime. If we thought George W. Bush was bad, we will soon be looking back at Bush as the "good old days."

If there is one lesson the Democrats can learn from the fiasco that was the Clinton campaign, it is to listen to the voters. The GOP did that (against the wishes of the establishment) and they won the White House. Will the Dems learn from this disaster? If history is any proof, likely not.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"It's Still the Same United States," Says Derek Thompson at The Atlantic

I saw this article on Google + so I went to read it, because it sure doesn't feel like the same United States to me. It does not even feel like my country, a place where my values and beliefs can be at least tolerated if not accepted or shared. The actual minority (fuck the Electoral College) who elected Trump are shouting down anyone who is concerned that Trump might actually, you know, do what he has promised.

And I know there are many who share my values, because we have talked and cried together over the last 36 hours. But we feel like such a small minority at this point....

The article is brief, so I am sharing all of it here.

It's Still the Same United States

What did Americans really learn about their country on Tuesday night? 

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

By Derek Thompson

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s shocking victory, many liberals woke up Wednesday morning feeling like strangers in their own country, or perhaps, as if they were the familiar ones and it was the country itself that had become the stranger. I heard it in the voices of friends. I read it in texts from family. I found it in newspaper headlines from some of my favorite writers and in tweets and Facebook messages. What kind of a country do I live in? they asked. Something important has changed. This is not the nation I thought I knew.

But America is what we thought it was. It is still a 50-50 nation, dominated by negative partisanship, in which about half of the country will reliably vote to defeat the other half for the foreseeable future. It is still a nation of propositional pluralism—“send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me”—crossed with ineradicable xenophobia—“go back to where you came from.” It is still a country teetering on the razor’s edge of both a social-democratic revolution and 1950s-era conservatism. That’s the country Americans knew we had at midnight Tuesday morning. And it’s the nation reflected in the votes tallied on Tuesday night.

Here is what happened 36 hours ago. Hillary Clinton seems to have narrowly won the popular vote, yet narrowly lost the election, because of the geographical distribution of her support. Donald Trump won the electoral vote due to a margin of about 100,000 votes spread across Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. This critical difference represents about 0.04 percent of registered voters, a statistical speck. One vote in 2,500 was the difference between electing a liberal Democrat and rewarding a candidate for the most openly racist campaign in generations.

On its own, this dramatic precarity is not an inspirational thing. But it is so much more inspiring than the prevailing idea that Trump’s victory is statistical evidence that the country Clinton-voters thought they lived in has disappeared, or utterly abandoned them, or never existed in the first place.

In some ways, the current liberal mood is the mirror image of how many conservatives felt after Obama’s win in 2008. While Democrats were triumphant, convinced that the cause of modern liberalism had finally achieved escape velocity, many conservatives were despondent, convinced that the country they thought they knew had left them behind. But the future was not an extrapolation of these hopes and fears, but rather a reversion to 50-50 divisions. Eight years later, the nation is as divided as it had been eight years before in 2000, when, after another popular two-term Democratic president left office during an economic expansion, the electorate delivered a statistical tie that surprisingly handed the White House to a Republican.

It is not self-indulgent for liberals to despair about Tuesday night’s outcome. They have many reasons to fear the near future of public policy. But it’s too early for them to despair about America. In a two-party system, the binary outcome of a vote will always be a simplified expression of the complex characteristics of the electorate. The arc of history is long, with many wobbles, and nothing about Tuesday’s vote suggests that the arrow will point in any one direction for very long.
I felt compelled to comment on the article as an antidote to the prevalent anti-liberal, anti-progressive comments that had been posted (and continue to be posted).

While there is merit to the idea that the country has not changed in any significant way, the outcome of this election was about the future of the nation--not merely the next 4-8 years, but the next 50-100 years.

It is in that sense that progressives are weeping . . . for their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

The winner of this election has been given the power to shape the nation far beyond his or her lifetime. That power comes through the ability to shape the Supreme Court.

Here is my comment, which has already been labeled hysterical by one troll.
Trump will have a GOP majority in the House and the Senate, will get between 1-4 nominations to the Supreme Court, and those justices will be there for the next 30-50 years. Add those justices to Alito and Roberts, both younger, ultra-conservative ideologues, and we will effectively be witness to the dismantling of most civil, environmental, and educational reforms enacted over the last 75-100 years, including Roe v. Wade.

With Trump and the GOP controlling Congress, we are likely to see the end of minimum wage laws, the destruction of the social safety net, and the demise of nearly every other government program serving the poorest of our citizens. The GOP seems unfamiliar with the notion that a nation is judged by how it treats the weakest of its citizens. Even conservative NYT editorial writer David Brooks gets that poverty is not a condition most people can escape, no matter how hard they try.

At the same time, corporate welfare likely will increase even more, while any and all regulation of Wall Street will end or be severely curtailed (Dodd-Frank will be gone), and most regulations protecting clean air, clean water, and preserving wilderness areas will be eliminated. Renewable energy investments will end so that the Arctic tundra can be drilled for oil. If you don't believe this, look at the people Trump is choosing to lead the transition at the EPA, FTC, etc.

Trump represents the end of American progress. If it were not for the damage he can do with appointments to the Supreme Court, it would only be a 4-8 year set-back. But he can shape the Court so drastically that it could take generations to undo the damage.

On ending progress, Trump's campaign slogan announced as much: Make America Great Again. I'm sorry, when WAS America great? Prior to the admittedly awful Affordable Care Act when millions of  people had NO health care? Prior to Roe v. Wade when women got abortions from unqualified providers, and often died from the procedures? Prior to the Civil Rights Act, when minorities could be denied service, prevented from using the same schools and restrooms, and prevented from voting? Prior to the New Deal when old people died in extreme poverty and workers had no protections from unreasonable work hours and unsafe conditions?

So WHEN was America great? When higher education was only open to the wealthy, when women could not vote, when minorities were not "full" people, when slavery was legal?

Anyone who proposes that the key to dealing with change is returning to the "good old days" has no idea HOW to change, what change is, and how change becomes successful. Trump is one of those people.

So progressives weep for the loss and wasting of American potential. For possible futures that are lost with a Trump presidency.

And just so you actually get it, Clinton was NOT the answer. She was only the slightly lesser of two evils.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

President Trump - The End of the American Experiment, the End of Decency

I blame the progressives who stayed home or voted 3rd party rather than face reality and vote for Clinton to keep Trump from becoming president.

I blame ignorance, fear, hatred, misogyny, racism, nationalism, and the Republican-orchestrated demise of the national educational system.

Only an uneducated and ignorant nation could choose an ignorant and hate-filled man to be it's leader. Well-played.

YOU wanted this - so deal with it.

Trump is not MY president

He will NEVER be my president.

I am anti-violence, and I cannot imagine taking arms against the government. But we have been moving toward this moment for years, and now it is here. We do not have government by the people and for the people - we have fascism.

Look it up - Mussolini defined fascism thus: "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

It's time for progressives and liberals to become as well-armed as the racists and the redneck militias. There will be a time, not too far away, when WE will need to retake America from the powers of fascism.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

2016 - Worst Presidential Election [Ever?] - Still Only One Choice We Can Live with as a Nation

"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." ~ Douglas Adams


What follows is an expansion of my penultimate Facebook post before I deactivated my page last week. Some of the comments to the original post were disturbingly blind to what I was trying to say. So I am saying it again, here, with more words and (hopefully) greater depth and span.

Here is the original post:
I used to believe that political differences should not be a reason to unfollow or unfriend someone. I am questioning that perspective.

This feels like one of those times in history where people will look back and ask where you stood when hatred and ignorance were chosen to lead the nation, when a ruler was chosen who brings division and destruction, bigotry and violence.

This is truly a "lesser of two evils" choice. One choice is evil as usual. The other choice is evil on a scale that we have not seen since the first half of the 20th Century.
To be clear:

Clinton is corrupt, greedy, and dishonest. She is politics as usual.

Trump is racist, sexist, hateful, narcissistic, greedy, and quite possibly a sociopath. Electing Trump is on par with the elections of Hitler and Mussolini, both of whom promised to make their respective nations great again.

What these two dictators from the 20th Century share with Trump is hatred -- of the "other." Oh, and they all three share many traits of the sociopath/psychopath.

Says Tony Schwartz, who was the "ghost writer" on their joint book (they split the advance and the royalties, nearly unheard of for a ghost writer), The Art of the Deal, the 1987 book that made Trump famous:
“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.” 
If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.” [The New Yorker, June 25, 2016]
Emphasis added.

Respected Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner considers Trump a "textbook" narcissist, one of the primary traits of the sociopath.
According to a number of top U.S. psychologists, like Harvard professor and researcher Howard Gardner, Donald Trump is a “textbook” narcissist. In fact, he fits the profile so well that clinical psychologist George Simon told Vanity Fair, “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops.” This puts Trump in the same category as a number of infamous dictators like Muammar Gaddafi, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Saddam Hussein. [Raw Story, January 12, 2016]
Trump is very clearly a narcissist, and his behavior, lifestyle, and collection of ever-younger wives shows this in stark, very public detail.

But is Trump a sociopath or a psychopath?
Sociopaths tend to be nervous and easily agitated. They are volatile and prone to emotional outbursts, including fits of rage. They are likely to be uneducated and live on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a steady job or stay in one place for very long. It is difficult but not impossible for sociopaths to form attachments with others. Many sociopaths are able to form an attachment to a particular individual or group, although they have no regard for society in general or its rules. In the eyes of others, sociopaths will appear to be very disturbed. Any crimes committed by a sociopath, including murder, will tend to be haphazard, disorganized and spontaneous rather than planned. 
Psychopaths, on the other hand, are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. They learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspecting people. Psychopaths are often well educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature.
So, based on this, he is a little of both--impulsive and reactive, but also able to charm and manipulate. This makes Trump a frightening prospect as president of the most powerful military on the planet.

And, no doubt, the anti-Clinton folks have dozens of examples of how corrupt she is, how she stole the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders (I believe she did), and how horrible she would be as president. Sure, I don't like her, either.

As I said, lesser of two evils.

Given the two options, I have more faith (belief without proof) that Clinton actually does care about some of the social causes she has taken up over the years (women's rights, children, families).

While, in my mind, there is no doubt Trump cares about no one and nothing but himself--his actions and words have proven it repeatedly over the last several decades.

Electing Trump may be looked back on one day as the moment America picked up a gun, stuck the gun in its mouth, and pulled the trigger. Let's not go there.