Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Trump being elected President: My reaction.

I am sorry that this blog has come a week late.  My excuse is this; I was on a trip to Berlin organised by our University's history department, from the Monday to Friday of last week while since then I have had to complete two assignments.  Hopefully I can finish and publish this blog tonight, meaning that of Tuesday 15th of November.  

I think you can guess what my views on Donald Trump are, assuming that you have read my earlier blogs on Brexit.  Pretty much the entire world has said something resembling what I think about the President-elect, and so I won't waste too much time on regurgitating my mind.  I suppose the only positive is that it might reduce tensions between the West and Russia and bring the 'Second Cold War' to an end.  Given that it was reported that Russians were celebrating Trump's victory, my fingers are crossed that America and the West will no longer be the bogey-man in Russia's eyes.  However, that is seriously the only plus I can think of; a xenophobic demagogue who, as Michelle Obama has said, brags about sexually assaulting women is no joke when anywhere near power.  Threatening a neighboring country to pay for one's own projects (in this case, his wall) along with the unapologetic xenophobia of his rhetoric should have put off enough voters to make a Trump victory an impossibility but of course, it didn't.

Of course, Hillary actually received more votes than Trump.  As Wikipedia states, this is now the fifth Presidential election in US history where the candidate with the most votes actually lost the election. 7% of all Presidential Elections, according to CPG Grey.  However, if you only include the five Presidential elections that have taken place in the previous 16 years, we have 40% of such Elections resulting in the candidate with the most votes not becoming President..  And it's not as if such a discrepancy has effected both main parties evenly; in both cases, it was the Democratic nominee with the most votes and the Republican winning the Presidency and not the other way around.  Is this a coincidence? No.  Bear with me while I explain why:  In American Presidential elections, it is the Electoral College which elects the President, not the American public, while it is the Electoral College which is elected by the public on polling day.  Each state is given an amount of seats in the EC.  However rather than distributing the EC seats fairly to each state according to their respective population sizes, each state is given three seats to start with before the rest are distributed according to population size. This means that states with smaller populations are over-represented while states with larger populations are under-represented.   And, of course, because more thinly populated states and rural areas in general are more likely to be pro-Republican, and urban areas, pro-Democrat, the EC's misrepresentation inevitably favors the Republican party.  Thus it is no co-incidence that both George Bush in 2000, and now, Donald Trump in 2016, were both elected President despite loosing the popular vote in those two elections.

Thus, the Electoral college is, by design, not fairly representative, and in 21st century America, this favors one political party over another.  What, of course, makes it worse is that the vast majority of states have a Winner-Take-All system for Electoral College elections meaning that, if, for example, there are two candidates running in California, one only needs to win 1/2 +1 of the popular vote there to win all 55 of California's votes in the Electoral College.  If there are 3 candidates running in California, you only need 1/3 +1 of the popular vote in the state to win all 55 votes.  There's no other way of putting it; this is not Democracy rather it is indefensible

A better Electoral System For America
I therefore propose a better system for electing the President which does not involve abolishing the Electoral College: 
  • Each state would be fairly represented according to their population
  • Elections shall be by Proportional Representation so that if a candidate, say, gets 30% of the popular vote in California, he/she will win 30% of California's votes in the Electoral College, 
  • If no candidate gets more than 50% of the Electoral College votes nationwide, he/she will need the support of a fellow candidate with enough votes to get them over the 50% line.  Therefore, a candidate with 53% of the EC votes will need a fellow candidate with at least 7% to agree to endorse them, in order to become President.  
  • If the smaller candidate with, say 8% of the EC vote, feels that the candidate he has made President has not being keeping the promises he made to him, he can withdraw his endorsement at any time during the subsequent Presidential Term.  Should this happen, the EC from the last election will either have to either elect a new President within a certain period of time, or face re-election by the public.
I also believe that it is disgusting that Third party candidates are excluded from the Presidential debates.  Neither Presidential candidates from the Green or Libertarian Parties were allowed to participate on stage despite the fact that the were on the ballot in majority of states.  Any presidential candidate on the ballot paper in enough states to be available to a majority of American voters should be allowed to participate in the debates no matter how few or many votes they received at the last election.  Not allowing such candidates to participate is a blow to democracy because it keeps the American public in the dark about the choices available to them.    

        We can only hope for the best in my opinion.  I personally am trying to avoid thinking about what the consequences of his opinions and subsequent policies are going to be for relations between the U.S. and the Hispanic and Islamic worlds.  As one article I read put it, it would undo many ties of goodwill that the US has with countries in both regions.  I hope that whatever undesirable consequences there are, are, a) temporary, and that, b)people across the world know that most Americans did not endorse him at the election. 
        I mentioned at the beginning that reduced tensions with Russia might be the only positive result.  There is, perhaps, another, which is that NATO, which Trump has described as obsolete, might be disbanded.  My opinions on NATO are quite simply this, it is a Cold War relic that should have been done away with when Iron Curtain came down.  Since then, it's expansion eastwards has only antagonized Russia and I believe it is one of the, if not, the reason behind anti-Western sentiment within that country.  
         As I also said in the beginning, I was in Berlin right through the election. Whilst there, I read this article which argued that temporarily at least, Trump's victory could result in Merkel's Germany acting as the new 'leader of the Free World.  Or certainly, Germany would be the leader of the still Liberal countries within it.  I agree, and believe if there is one country that can play such a role, Germany is best for the job.  One only has to take a look at Germany's leadership role within the EU and equally towards the refugee crisis, or how stable the German economy has been relative to other economies within the EU.  Germany has become a land of opportunity, not just for refugees, but for economic migrants within Europe, and its importance is this regard is only likely to increase further with Brexit.  Germany, although without a 'Holywood factor', does appear to have influence in areas besides politics and economics; German TV series, such as Deutschland 83 and Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter have proven popular in other countries, such as Britain.  German is the fourth most popular second language in the world on the popular language learning app, Duolinguo.  Not bad considering that Germany is a country with under 100 million people and without the post-colonial influence or organisations such as the Francophonie and Commonwealth that Britain and France have, respectively.  Germany certainly came across as a very pleasant and progressive country whilst we were in Berlin, and I see more people looking to Germany as a leader during Trump's presidential term.  In short, if there is any country which can be surrogate America while Trump is serving as President, that country is Germany.

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