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
In 1948 this might have been
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
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
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
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 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,
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
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!
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
So what might be equitable
and actionable solutions?
votes on the same day or days (with the exception of absentees;
an option that would remain for obvious reasons).
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?
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.
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
A few things immediately strike
one (or at least me) in that tweet:
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).
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.
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?).
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
There you go! That’s
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.
Quote of the Month