The paradox of US presidential elections
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 24, 2020 - 12:00am

It’s the season of electoral primaries in America. The process will start in February and end on July 13 to 16 for the Democrats who will hold their Convention in Wisconsin. The Republicans will have theirs on August 24 to 27 in North Carolina. My insights into American political processes include some surprises about discoveries that are intriguing and ironic.

America is perhaps the only country in the whole world where the winner in their popular elections may lose the presidency because of the mysterious processes in the Electoral College. This is a paradox because the USA prides itself as the most democratic country in the world, where sovereignty is supposed to reside in the people. It also projects itself as the most vibrant democracy with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Ironically, a small group of 538 electors decide for and on behalf of 130 million voters in a nation with a population of 327.2 million. And yet, this country assumes the ascendancy of teaching the rest of humanity on the meaning and value of democratic decision-making.

This year is an election year for the US, and the political exercise in that country had started as early as the third quarter of 2019, with the announcement of political campaigns for the presidencies. Fifteen Democrats have announced their candidacies and three Republicans have signified that they will contest Donald Trump’s right to represent the GOP in the coming November 3, 2020 presidential elections. The more prominent of the Democrat hopefuls are Joe Biden, 77, former vice president of Barrack Obama; the perennial bet Bernie Sanders, 78, senator from the tiny state of Vermont. Elizabeth Warren, 70, senator from Massachusetts, and Pete Buttigieg, 38, the millennial mayor of South Bend, Indiana. They have to slug it out in the caucuses and primaries competing for majority or plurality of the 4,760 delegates.

Republicans former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, former Illinois representative Joe Walsh, and California businessman Roque de la Fuente are challenging Trump in the GOP convention. But Trump is miles and miles ahead. In one day alone, he collected more than $24 million in campaign contributions. More likely again, he will lose in the popular votes but win the electoral votes. The latest polls conducted on December 18, 2019, Biden will beat Trump at a popular votes ratio of 49% to 44%. Sanders will also win over Trump by 49% to 45%. Warren will beat Trump a hairline, 47% to 46%. But then again, Trump controls the bigger states in terms of number of electoral votes, like Texas and Florida.

In 2016 Hillary Clinton won the popular votes with 65,853,514 while Trump only got 62,984,826. Yet, Trump got 304 out of 538 electoral votes, compared to Hillary's 227. The more controversial was the 2000 polls, where Al Gore won with 50,999,897 votes and only 266 electoral votes. George W. Bush with 50,456,002 votes garnered 271 electoral votes, after his brother, the Florida governor, delivered the electors from that swing state. In 1888, Benjamin Harrison was beaten by Grover Cleveland in the popular polls but Harrison was elected by the Electoral College. In 1876, Rutherford Hayes also lost to Samuel Tilden popularly, but was crowned by the college of electors as winner. The same was true with John Quincy Adams in 1824 who was beaten by Andrew Jackson but the Electoral College overruled the nationwide voters.

The Americans have a unique definition of democracy. All those who lost the popular votes but won the Electoral College were Republicans. I think Trump will again repeat this mystifying phenomenon. His opponent will trounce him in the polls with a much bigger margin than that of Hillary. But Trump will still be anointed by the Electoral College. History has a nasty habit of repeating itself. Sometimes, the American ways are really intriguing, paradoxical, if you will.

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