November 2016
Post Election Edition


The Process and Aftermath Through a Looking Glass



If you write a monthly piece called a Muse-Letter and you are approaching the month of November in the year 2016, you cannot avoid musing about the election that was upcoming in just nine days. So you wait to see what happens before daring to put hunt-and-peck fingers to keyboard. You have seen enough to know that “things” happen every day, which can instantly change the narrative. Not to mention the polls.


One day it’s about what was said on a bus. Another day it’s about what was said and left unsaid, not on a bus, but in the press. By the head of the FBI no less. That inevitably couldn’t help but leave a vapor of intriguing innuendo. Which if you waited just a week, would turn out to be much ado about nothing. Or perhaps, much “adieu” about Hillary.


Much has been discussed about the shortcomings of the candidates leading up to the election, and how that played out or mattered, in the many post mortems following the stunning results of this election. The reasons, the “whys,” the “wherefores” and “therefores,” are in fact still being debated. It’s complicated. And will continue to be for some time. And frankly I have nothing new to add on that score.


But equally intriguing and baffling for me, is the process leading up to, and right on through, the election of a president. In no exact chronological order, these four aspects of the process, continue to jump out at me. And if I had my druthers, they would be rectified. (What are druthers anyway? And why does no one ever seem to have them?).




In 1948 this might have been understandable:





Back then, we were still living in an industrial age (i.e. one in which you made things), and not in an age in which you count things. In the absence of sophisticated technology and numbers crunching capabilities, not to mention polling techniques that had not as yet been honed, you could understand how Dewey could defeat Truman.


But in 2016, how could this happen?



Of the top major and reputable polling sources indicated above, and in their final national projections prior to the election, only the USC/LA Times got in right in predicting Trump’s victory. And yet they were also way off in having him win by 5 points! Whereas he actually seems to have lost the popular vote by two-tenths of a point (at last count) but more on that in a moment.


And so, while what Hillary accomplished as the first woman candidate of a major party was historic, we will have to wait yet another day (or another decade? or two?), until we hear that shattering-of-the-glass-ceiling speech, coming from the mouth of a woman TBD. One who could still be in college at the moment, cramming for a test tomorrow morning.


The explanation given for all this bad polling was so feeble. In effect, “…there were many hidden Trump supporters that the polls did not take into account, etc.”


But isn’t that the job of polling? To unearth what might not be apparent to the naked eye? To find what is hidden? Otherwise, counting lawn signs might be the better way to go. And if you went that way, there were more lawn signs for Trump (or so I’ve heard; in my new life in a new bubble, I don’t go near lawns any more), than for Hillary. Certainly those Trump baseball caps were hard to miss. As were the crowds he was drawing in “come to Jesus” mode.


Bottom line: can you ever trust a poll again? Or the talking heads interpreting their meanings? Those seeking a career in counting chickens before they hatch, should perhaps seek another profession. I wonder if pollsters counting sheep when trying to fall asleep, get that wrong as well.


That said, the Clinton staff knew through their own internal polling at the end, that they were in trouble in the “Rust states.” This was evidenced by their late rush into those places. They obviously had a more accurate picture of what was going on than the public pollsters did. But all to no avail. Too little, too late.


The Popular Vote


As of this writing (the inevitable qualifier these days), with returns still dripping in, Clinton holds a 600,000 lead in the popular vote. Assuming that this will hold, she will have been the fifth candidate in U.S. history to win the popular vote yet lose the election. And the second in only the last sixteen years.


Elections are decided by an antiquated system called an Electoral College; a group which meets on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December— the 19th this year—to cast their votes for President and Vice President of the United States. We are the only democracy in the world to decide elections in this way.


This annoys (and embarrasses) me, not only as an American citizen, but as one who spent a career based on mathematical veracity when counseling clients as to how they should invest their advertising budgets.


As I expounded at some length on the incongruities of such a system—mathematical and otherwise— in a piece I did earlier this year, which makes for fascinating bedtime reading, (The Curious Math in Our Election Process MARCH, 2016 MUSE-LETTER), I’ll simply cut to the chase here: every American vote should have equal weight, no matter where you live. And it doesn’t.


As I concluded then, our voting system is ensconced in “a realm in which 2 + 2 implies 4.” Try explaining that to a foreigner? Someone vying for U.S. citizenship? Your kid? (Though your cat will get it.).”


It ought to be abolished. Tomorrow is not soon enough.





It was never more obvious than this year, with Trump at center stage, that presidential debates have turned into reality shows. They have become an entertainment genre and not a news program. How long will it be before presidential debates become a year-round series? Is it too early to start for 2020?


With Trump in the race, I too got caught up in all the hoopla of this new reality TV show, that kicked off with its first episode in August of last year. (A Bull in a China Shop; SEPTEMBER, 2015 MUSE-LETTER).




It soon got old and cringe-worthy as it deteriorated into battles of insults with candidates playing to the audience in the hall, to elicit reactions that could sway viewers at home in their feelings about what they were seeing, and what legitimate points were being made.


Instead points were scored on one liners and ensuing audience response, which were evaluated and parsed by talking heads, as they threw body language into the mix in their assessments as to who got the better of whom. (Or is it whom got the better of who?). Forget facts and figures and issues. “Wasn’t Carly Fiorina’s comeback at Trump great?” Forget her vile lies about Planned Parenthood.


Beyond the reality show genre, it went even further at times, deteriorating into a World Federation Wrestling event. Something in which our president-elect himself, had once been an active participant. But this would all change we were told, when it came down to a one-on-one between Clinton and Trump. It did to a degree, but not really.


Trump being Trump was baited, went off message, and lost that first debate decisively. And his tweets thereafter offered only further proof of that. And in the final analysis, it was accepted by a majority, that Hillary had won all three debates. Yet, in still another final analysis, of course that didn’t matter.


Televised presidential debates first started in 1960 with Kennedy vs. Nixon. It was a rather somber affair, with focus totally on serious newsy issues. As it was telecast in black and white, I guess that added an element of seriousness to the proceedings. But most importantly, there was no live studio audience. The candidates were speaking to the people at home, not playing to a crowd in a hall.


It is time to return to that. No, not black and white TV, but to the absence of a live audience. In so doing, it will bring some sense of decorum to the proceedings which have run even beyond amok. It will give the viewer the chance to digest what is being said and what they are hearing, unfiltered through hoots and laughter, cheers and boos. It reminds me of canned sitcom laughter telling me that something just said was funny. It will also tend to bring down the volume. It’s hard to scream and rant and rave into a TV monitor, without seeming to go off the rails.


But of course, not only would the more showy candidates balk at the absence of a live audience, so too would the various TV networks. News and entertainment have long since intertwined, and it’s about ratings. So if we want to blame the media for bias, blame them for their bias in trying to make big bucks. Something for which Hillary was also criticized, while a billionaire was given a pass on both making and losing big bucks beyond belief. Sorry, too hard to resist.


Anyway… debates geared to the folks at home. What a concept!


Election Day(s)


Can someone explain to me, why certain states are allowed to have early voting and others are not? I understand absentee voting, but voting that occurs weeks before an election has ended? And in a 24/7 news cycle, when new developments in a presidential race are unfolding almost on a daily basis? “Come on man!” (With apologies to Obama who got more and more colloquial in his rhetoric, the closer the election got.)


There is no doubt that Comey’s public announcement, “absent facts but full of innuendo,” as someone said, and coming just 11 days before the election, persuaded a significant number of voters to make a move. And by the time he returned a week later to tell the people there was “no there, there” damage had been done to the Clinton campaign. This is not the only reason she lost. As I noted at the outset, it’s complicated. Her loss was based on a myriad of factors, many of her own making.


Further, regarding the “when” of voting, most now know the story behind why the second Tuesday in November was originally chosen, and why it has no relevance in today’s world. Yet it still applies to those of us not given the privilege of voting early, and on a day of our own choosing.


So what might be equitable and actionable solutions?

•    Everyone votes on the same day or days (with the exception of absentees; an option that would remain for obvious reasons).

•    If it’s on one day, that day should be declared a holiday. And as with most of our national holidays now, it should fall on a Monday.


It only happens once every four years, so it shouldn’t put any undo strain on commerce, and would have more impact potentially than what has become a bland generic day called President’s Day. (Which has downgraded poor Lincoln and Washington, who now find themselves in a presidential basketful of deplorables that includes Harding, Grant, Tyler, and the like). It would offer us a chance to create a celebratory atmosphere around having the privilege and duty to vote. Not to mention a three day weekend.


In fact, in the year an Election Day occurs, it can replace President’s Day. What better way to honor and remember presidents and the presidency than on a day where we are actually in the process of selecting one?


•    Better yet, make it a three day period over a weekend. Voting would begin say Friday morning at 7am and conclude on Sunday at 3pm. The counting would immediately ensue. This would give most people a chance to vote easily as it falls on a weekend and polls could be kept open late on Friday and Saturday nights. Which no doubt would be accommodating to millennials who are out and about on those nights doing whatever.


By way of some sort of conclusion, I guess what strikes me, is that there is so much in our election process, that seems as if out of Alice Through the Looking Glass. And yet



no one seems to find any of this odd. Or important enough to fix. Yes, eliminating a twenty-trillion dollar debt, is hard and certainly beyond my comprehension. But making the election process more user friendly, more sensible and equitable for all voters? That should be easy. But somehow it isn’t. Why? Go ask Alice.






The First “Twitter-elect” in Response to Protests



Donald Trump will be our president. And whether one voted for him or not, lost sleep over him or not, slit wrists over him over not, one can only wish him well. For as was said in extremely gracious words by both Hillary (“we owe him an open mind”) and Obama ("we are now all rooting for success in uniting and leading the country”) in the aftermath. Kumbaya time.


Yeah, right.


Immediately, people in opposition to his presidency took to the streets in protest. This to my knowledge, is unprecedented. And as of this writing, they, mostly millennials, continue to grow in numbers. And in response to when these impromptu protests first broke out, Trump being Trump, went with his first impulse. Which often needs to be walked back. By him or surrogates.


Immediately off message and moment, and plunging hair first into his first post-election crisis tweet, this is what he posted at exactly 9:19PM (EST) on November 10th; the very same day he had his first White House meeting with Obama to begin the process of peaceful transition of power:

“Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair.”

A few things immediately strike one (or at least me) in that tweet:

•    That the system is not rigged after all (i.e. a “very open…election,” is now acknowledged by the man who had maintained just the opposite throughout his 18 month campaign).


•    That these protests were not organized by “professionals.”


For one thing, Hillary was clearly expected to win. In light of such unexpected results, it would be hard for “professionals” to organize something of this magnitude so quickly and so expansively.


As these protesters marched right past my building, I had gone downstairs to check it out, and huddled for a while in their midst across from Trump Tower on 5th Avenue.


As one who once marched in the 60’s, it all seemed rather amateurish to me. What I found here, close to home, in the main, was a nice bunch of kids really. Mostly driven here by fear and frustration, and idealism that is a hallmark of youth.


•    The media wasn’t inciting these protests, but reporting on them. The crowds were rather hard to ignore, given their scope and passion and exhibited across a diverse number of cities as they were. (Tempe, Arizona?).


•    His skin remains rather thin (“very unfair”…aah, poor baby), and not somehow miraculously transformed into something more hard-shelled, via his rather spectacular victory. Hardly “presidential” or even “president-electial”…hardly conciliatory in any way.


To this last point in particular, even Trump, or more the likely, some wiser head within his inner circle must have prevailed. For this tweet by him followed at 6:14 AM the next morning (does he ever sleep?):

“Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!”

There you go! That’s better!


Although, I hate to quibble but… small correction: the groups were not “small.” And if, in his own words, we have a “great country,” … already…why all the talk over the last 18 months of making it great again?


It’s so easy to get sucked into trying to apply any rational thought process to the man and his rhetoric. Which is what has so many people freaked out; protesters and non-protesters alike.


Time will tell. But as of this writing (there’s that qualifier again), Trump is now involved in a tweeting war with The New York Times. Speaking for myself, I don’t want to see my president at war, a tweeting one or otherwise, with the press. Attempted battles and suppression of the press, is something that should be disturbing to all Americans. I don’t remember Obama or Clinton engaging in tweeting wars with Fox News. Let it go Donald. You are the President now. Take your game to a higher level. Let it go. You won. Be a gracious winner.






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