What’s Happened Since Last Tuesday

The midterm elections were held way back last Tuesday, which seems an awfully long time ago, yet in some states around the country the results weren’t known until Monday, and of course in the great yet undeniably wacky state of Florida the votes are still being counted and hotly contested.
Not so long ago elections were almost always settled by at least the next Wednesday afternoon, but that was before the newfangled rules about vote-by-mail and provisional ballots and other get-out-the-vote innovations. We used to oppose these bleeding heart reforms on an old-fashioned Republican principle that voting should involve the small patriotic sacrifice of registering down at the county hall showing up at the polls come rain or shine, as it tends to keep out the riff-raff, but nowadays we have some aging and still patriotic parents who voted by mail because a trip to a polling place ad a wait in line is a rather onerous imposition, so we suppose we’ll put up the new rules so long as they are strictly enforced according the letter of the law, no matter how it turns out.
So far all that meticulous vote-counting hasn’t turned out well for the Republicans. On election night the Fox News Network was the first to call a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, all the other networks confirmed that a few cautious hours later, and since then the Democrats have padded that majority with several more seats, including one held by the unabashedly pro-Trump and pro-Russian Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in a usually reliable district of suburban southern California. On election night Republican senatorial nominee Martha McSally was leading Democratic nominee Krysten Simena, which gave the Republicans some brief bragging rights about their slightly padded slim majority in the Senate races where they should have done better, but by Monday afternoon McSally and her cute dog Boomer were giving an endearingly gracious concession speech with best wishes to her victorious Democratic opponent.
The Republicans might yet win the hotly-contested and already-litigated races for governor and senator down in the great yet undeniably wacky state of Florida, but no matter how it turns out we aren’t expecting any gracious concession speeches. So far as we can tell from this distance the Democrats running the show in Florida’s astoundingly populous and reliably Democratic Broward County areas usual utterly inept, but we’ve not yet heard any convincing evidence from President Donald Trump or any other Republican conspiracy-theorists that they’re corrupt. We’re hopeful
that those wonderful if wacky Floridians will have every one of their votes more or less counted accurately, and from this distance we figure the Republicans will win if that happens, and should be glad to have their victory approved by the courts and all objective observers, but the races are always so close down there that we’re not expecting any comity on either side not matter how it turns out.
Even so, we’re pleased to note that crucial institutions and rules of law and old-fashioned political traditions seem to persist in most places. That Arizona senate race featured an impressive centrist Republican against an impressive centrist Democrat vying to be the state’s first woman senator for the reliably Republican state of arch-conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater and swing-vote Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and maverick Sen. John McCain. We’re sure all those iconic Republican Arizonans would be proud that their Republican-run and law-and-order state counted all the votes, even if it did mean a damned Democrat won a Senate seat, and that their candidate showed such class in defeat.
The Republicans lost a senate seat in Arizona and a House seat and a governorship in Kansas, along with losses in several reliably Republican districts of such Democratic states as California and suburban districts everywhere, including some crucial swing states, but they should be glad the votes are all being counted and that old-fashioned Republicans are signing off on it,and upholding the party’s law-and-order reputation. Sooner or later, and we’re hoping sooner rather than later, that will work out for them.

— Bud Norman

Recounting the Inevitable

Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s quixotic effort to recount the presidential election results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where her quixotic campaign won enough votes to account for the slight Trump victories that won him a majority of the Electoral College’s votes, have apparently come to naught. The Wisconsin recount wound up yielding only another three hundred ballots to Trump’s previously announced win, and the courts in the other two states have concluded that a recount isn’t worth the bother. There’s still a slight chance that 37 electors in states Trump apparently won will not vote for him, and one has vowed in a New York Times op-ed that he won’t and several others are requesting intelligence briefings about Russia’s alleged involvement in the election, which suddenly seem plausible given the apparent president-elect’s announced appointments, but even in such a crazy election year as this that seems unlikely to change the already crazy enough outcome.
There’s a long and colorful history of “faithless electors” casting their votes against the will of the majority or plurality of their states, and depending on what state you’re in or what judge you wind up in front of it might be quite legal, and there are sound historical and constitutional arguments to be made on their behalf, especially in such a crazy election year as this, but they’ve never once changed the outcome of an election. Even in such a crazy election year as this it seems unlikely to occur, and even if it did it wouldn’t provide a happy outcome.
One highly unlikely scenario has those 37 electors switching their votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and making her the president, which would arguably be even worse than Trump taking the office, and we note that the country has wasted much of the past year and a half arguing about that very question and come to mixed results about it, so we can’t see that happening. The electors could also decline to vote for either of the major party nominees, as we did, in which case the matter would be left to the House of Representatives, where the Republicans hold a majority and would most likely wind up holding their noses as so many of our Republican friends did and vote for Trump. At this point in this crazy election year there’s still a one-in-a-gazillion chance that neither Clinton nor Trump will become president, and we will bitterly cling to that faint hope until it is inevitably dashed, but we’re already girding ourselves for what’s to come.

— Bud Norman

Recounting All the Craziness

Sometimes it seems this crazy election year will never come to an end. The weather around here has turned from a glorious indian summer to a windy chill since Election Day, but that awful presidential race is still being disputed and both sides are claiming its all rigged.
None of it is likely to change the apparent Election Day outcome that Republican nominee Donald Trump is the president-elect, and will be duly designated as such after the Electoral College meets next month, but in such as a crazy election year when something like that happens almost anything is still at least slightly possible. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s apparent Election Day lead in the popular vote has grown to nearly two percent as all the votes have been counted, Trump is “tweeting” that the popular vote was tarnished by millions of illegal ballots cast against him, three states where Trump won by 1 percent or less to give him is Electoral College majority are now being recounted due to a challenge by a third party candidate, with Clinton joining in on one of them, and as always there’s still a long shot the Electoral College will wind up doing something crazy like choosing someone less widely reviled than any of the aforementioned contenders.
Probably not, even in this crazy election year, but we’re bemused by the spectacle nonetheless. The third party nominee shelling out for the recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin is the Green Party’s Jill Stein, whose 2 or 3 percent of the votes in each of those state could have swung them all to Clinton, and we can’t imagine why she’d shell out a few million dollars of Green Party funds to highlight that embarrassing fact. Green Party nominee Ralph Nader’s 1 percent in the Florida presidential race of ’00 would have overwhelmed George W. Bush’s infinitesimal 500-or-so vote victory that won him the Electoral College despite a popular vote loss in that crazy election year, which wound up causing quite a fuss, but at least even Nader had the good sense not to be party to the ensuing lawsuits.
The differences in the contested states this time around are in the thousands rather hundreds, and there aren’t any hanging chads this time around, or at least none that have been reported yet, but we expect the next few days of melodrama will still provide plenty of fodder for any conspiracy theorists who want to theorize that Trump somehow stole the election. The races in the contested states are very close, if not quite 500-votes-and-a-few-hanging-chads close, and with voting being a government-run business there will always be a certain of margin of error. There will be renewed debates about voter suppression and voter fraud, as well, and yet more argument about the hard-to-deny fact that Clinton won the popular vote.
Trump denies that she did win the popular vote, of course, and has taken to “tweeting” that it only seems so because of millions of ballots cast by illegal immigrants, the deceased, and other ineligible voters. His source seems to be Alex Jones’ “Infowars,” which is also the source for all those stories about the Twin Towers terror attack being an inside job and Barack Obama being born in Kenya and reptilian shape-shifters running the Illuminati’s secret world government, and plenty of Republican election officials around the country share our skepticism of the claim. We’re strong advocates for photo identification requirements and periodic reviews of the registrations, as well as other common sense protections against voter fraud, and we’re not ones to put anything past the Democrats, but we find it easier to believe that Clinton really did win the popular vote than that such an inept candidate somehow managed to slip an extra couple million votes into the boxes.
No matter how it all turns out, even in the craziest popular scenarios, we’re sure that much of the country will remain convinced it was all somehow rigged. They’ll have ample reason for it, too, and even that shape-shifting reptilian Illuminati theory will seem slightly plausible. Which is for the best, probably, because at the end of such a crazy election year as this we have to start considering all the possibilities.

— Bud Norman