December 04, 2015

Horse 2035 - An Open Letter To The American Voter: Your System Is Bonkers - Exploit It!

Dear America,
Democracy in the United States is busted. It's broken, damaged, befuddled and confused. It's gone more haywire than a hay bailing machine that's run out of hay and is now using haywire to bail other haywire into bails. You have two mad uncles yelling at each other in the attic and meanwhile the toilet has blocked up and there's rabid badgers running around inside the pantry.
Basically what I'm saying is that in any other country in the world, a candidate like Donald Trump would usually be considered to be a bit of a nutter but in the United States, he actually stands a serious chance at running for the job in the White House. The fact that that is the prospect we now face, means you've got some serious problems.
But despite all of this, the problem is fixable.

How? I don't hear you ask because a blog post is a text based medium and unless you have some sort of fabulous mind projection powers, then it isn't really possible to send your voice to me. How is such a thing possible? What gives you Rollo, the authority to decide who gets to become President for us? You great steaming git. We don't have to put up with this. We'll vote for who we're going to vote for. Stick you, your momma too and your daddy! To the polls!
Ahah! Get mad America. Get so mad that you won't listen to me. Go and cast your votes for the same two party machines which have been running the shop since 1865. Then tell me that you've really made a difference.

Owing to the fact that the United States selects a President and with them the executive of the nation, through a process so arcane and byzantine that its been adopted by literally no other nation in the world, it means that capturing the job of Presidency should be really easy for someone in theory, who is particularly skilled at running a campaign in only a few key states.
People kind of don't elect a President in the United States. Most states in the union run a winner takes all approach when sending in their electoral college votes. Of you're in California for instance, your 53 electoral college votes are sent in as a giant red or blue chunk. Every state sends in its chunks until someone ends up with at least 270 of 538 electoral college votes.
This has some really strange implications. If a candidate for President could somehow win the electoral college votes of just the 12 most populace states, they will become President. The problem with this is that the four most populace states are California, Texas, Florida and New York; winning all four of those is already so difficult that only on very rare circumstances do the candidates from the existing party machines manage to do that.

Bizarrely, an easier strategy involves winning the electoral college votes of the least populace forty states. I know that this sounds daunting but if you were a candidate from a third party who could split the Republican and Democrat votes, then because you only need to win the most votes in those states, assuming that the Republican and Democrat candidates were still taking the rest of the votes, then a potential president could be elected with just over a third of the votes in those states; which translates to just 15% of the total number of voters in the United States.

Even better, you don’t actually need to win that many electoral college votes. You just need to win the electoral college votes of 26 states. If you won those 26 states, you’d have 112 electoral college votes which by itself would win the job in the white house but the wedge that you’d drive would be so massive that if the two majors hadn’t got to 270, another weird mechanic happens.

The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that:
if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote
- Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 15th June 1804¹

If someone doesn't win 270 electoral college votes² then the House of Representatives gets to decide; not even on a member by member basis but a state by state basis. Instead of 435 voting members, they decide as 50 states; you only need the approval of 26 of them.
If this sounds outlandish, then think about this. In 1824 Andrew Jackson won more electoral college votes but not enough for a majority and the House decided that John Q. Adams would become the 6th President of the United States; despite having fewer electoral college votes and certainly not a majority.
If you are a third party candidate, you might very well be appealing as a prospective president to the House precisely because you aren't from the other party machine.

What does this mean America? It means that if you're smart, you could send a message to both the Democrats and Republicans, that their lack of cohesive work for the past 20 years has been noticed and you won't stand for it any more. The greatest power in an election is still and always has been the great sleeping apathetic portion of the American public.
Actually, in every election, the general public always has the power to throw the existing party machines out on their ear and into the street. You don't have to stand for the status quo. The "was" and "is" of elections never has to be the "is to come".

There is a saying in American politics that "Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line". I think that it will be pretty obvious that the entire of the DNC will be just am elaborate piece of theatre to out Hilary Clinton on the ticket.
As for the RNC, who knows? It used to be that Republicans would eventually pick the person who lost last time or who had been patiently waiting for the shot at the top job. Logically, that would have fallen to Ryan but he's not even running. You've not got Rubio, Cruz, Carson, Paul, Rand, Trump and others in a ten way spat that I don't think is even going to resolve itself until Super Tuesday next year.

America, you could bypass all of this nonsense and just vote for someone who is neither Republican or Democrat. Don't make the states red or blue, make them green, yellow, orange or grey.
There's been an actual actor in the White House before. How about electing a statesman or a visionary? You don't have to pick Democrat or Republican. You are allowed to switch the party machines off if you want to.

Love Rollo.

PS: I live in Australia. We chose governments on the basis of who can be the most cruel, incompetent or both.

²I used 270 to win for calculations:

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