As many of my friends know, I called the election right around the time Donald Trump, often-time Democrat, announced he was going to run as a Republican. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you’d see the occasional post noting Brexit trends as well as the Bradley Effect. I judged this based only on sociological and anthropological triggers, rather than polls and other traditional indicators.
I began my academic education as a political science and history major. I went to seminary. Now, I am pursuing a career in licensed professional counseling. These paths are not all that different — they are all about how people think and hoping that they think (and in some cases, behave) better. They are about detecting patterns. Throughout this career path, I have learned that humans, as a species, are not fickle. They follow patterns, like any other animal. Granted, they do not migrate south for the winter (usually, not counting Canadians and Florida), but they do react in predictable ways during times of crisis (real or not). This is why some of us could predict a President Trump regardless of the polls.
History is full of patterns because history is populated by people.
Friends who still oppose a Trump presidency occasionally seek to turn to the Electoral College for help. For non-citizens and Americans who graduated high school in the last ten years, the Electoral College is provided for in the U.S. Constitution to preserve the minority of States against domination by the majority. We are not a democracy, but a Federalized Republic of independent States. While this is merged with a more democratic trend given the 17th amendment, States still hold some independent status because of the 10th.
While Secretary Clinton won the popular vote, and by all accounts, pretty handily, she lost the Electoral College. I realize some argue against this language, of “winning the popular vote.” I simply argue that while the popular vote matters nil in American presidential politics of the given election year, it does matter overall, if only for psychological reasons, and the more so in the following election cycle. The actual presidential election does not occur until 19 December this year. The mob of the people have spoken, but the will of the States will win out.
And it must. Because of history and the aforementioned trends of the human animal. Let me explain.
In 1824, Andrew Jackson won both the electoral vote and the popular vote; however, because no candidate reached the required 51% of electors the vote was thrown into the House. It was a crowded field, with four candidates. But, Jackson had won 41% of the popular vote to John Quincy Adams’ 31%. The House, led by candidate and Speaker, Henry Clay, threw the vote to Adams because they hated/feared Jackson’s populism.
Andrew Jackson would win in 1830, winning 56% of the popular vote and 178 out of 261 electors. History records what the populist, now with an undeniable mandate, did.
In 1876, Republican Hayes won against Democrat Tilden. Hayes had lost the popular vote by about 250,000 (per capita-wise, that is larger than Clinton’s win) although tied with Tilden in the Electoral college. This was the first time a Democrat had won the popular vote since 1852. Remember, the South was Democrat before the war. A compromise was struck. The Electors would swing the vote to Hayes in exchange for ending Reconstruction and its martial-law-like control on the South. When the Federal Troops withdrew, the South largely returned to her pre-1860 economic and politics, including disenfranchisement of minorities.
Trump was elected, not necessarily because of who he is, but because of who we are. Jackson was the first candidate who was not part of the Founding Father’s cabal to run, win, but then be denied. When he finally won the next quadrennium, he slung open the doors of the White House, nearly destroying it in the process. He won with such a mandate that he could threaten to invade South Carolina. Jackson’s part in the Trial of Tears is well-known. Yes, Hayes won and Reconstruction was over; however, without Federal troops to protect previously disenfranchised, the South resurrected itself in various ways — ways some still grimace at. Had Tilden won, would the outcome have been any different? Quite possibly, yes, given his pre-war views and the fact he still faced a Republican Congress.
History has given us several examples of denying or delaying populism’s rise as well as compromising against the will of the people in their States. Populism and demagoguery must be allowed and controlled, but not delayed. Like other reactionary movements, allowing it to exist in the sunlight will kill it. We are a nation of laws, with elections in two years. If, without significant cause, the winner of the States is denied his right to be president, I suggest what happens in 2020 will largely mirror 1828.
Imagine a President Donald Trump, or another in his mold, with a popular vote mandate.