September 17, 2020

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  • Since this is my Election Diary, I thought about tagging it "ED."  But as an old man with prostrate troubles, I was afraid that all my emails might go to your spam.  Plus, I'm depressed enough with this election at times, without being reminded of life's other troubles.
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  • It may take me a few entries to get the hang of this, so please bear with me for the first few editions.
  • Some of what I write may be "educational."  Several of you (some from other countries) specifically asked me to "explain" what is going on.  Therefore, I will put my comments in blocks and you can skip over the pedantic parts if you are not interested...or if you already clearly know more than me!
  • Happy Constitution Day.  On September 17, 1787, the Continental Congress approved the constitution that still governs the United States of America.  Included in our constitution is a provision for an ELECTORAL COLLEGE.  I provide a brief explanation of that below.
     
  • Again, thanks for joining me...here we go!
Feelings

This election doesn't feel normal to me.  
 
Of course, no presidential election is ever normal. Each one is different, forged by rogue characters, changing times, and curious dynamics of social psychology.  Each election is mutation from the ones that went before.  And yet...while no election is ever really normal, this one portends to be brazenly abnormal. 
 
Every election has its lies, its meanness, and its law-breaking.  And many elections have even had violence.  (Teddy Roosevelt was shot in 1912...and survived.  Robert Kennedy was shot in 1968 and died.) But some elections occur when the country is unusually divided.  And this is one of those years:  reminding us of 1860 and 1968.

Love him or hate him, this election features Donald Trump.  And Donald Trump has tapped into a movement that has been growing since the mid-1960s.  I'll have more to say about that as the weeks roll by.  But if there is ever a movie made of this election, there will be only one leading actor, whether he wins or loses.  After Donald Trump, everyone else is merely a "supporting actor."  We've had some elections like that before:  1788, 1828, 1904, 1936, and 1964.
 
George Washington was considered one of our greatest presidents:  mostly because he established a growing body of customs, standards, rules, conventions, and expectations.  And all the presidents who followed him built their own presidencies on the solid rock of Washington's precedents.   Donald Trump, however, has taken great pride in breaking all those customs, standards, rules, conventions, and expectations.  Does this make him the greatest president of all, as he himself claims?   
 
No other president has ever had a mental disorder named after him.  Trump Derangement is the term used by both followers and enemies of Mr. Trump.  It refers to his ability to send his opponents into a rabid frenzy.  All presidents have had energetic enemies.  But none have ever driven their critics so daffy.  Just watch the anchors on CNN try to talk about any news story that features Donald Trump.  (I generally like those guys...but even I have to admit that they're losing it over the past four years!)
 
Whatever else this election is, it is all about Donald Trump.  That's the way he likes things.  In an August 2020 poll by NBC/Wall Street Journal, 58% of the people who plan to vote for Joe Biden say they are primarily voting AGAINST Donald Trump.  Only 36% are voting for Biden primarily because they like the Delaware Democrat.  On the other hand, among people who plan to vote for Donald Trump, only 20% are doing so primarily to oppose Joe Biden.  A whooping 74% of the people who plan to vote "Trump" are crazy about him.  Add it all up: about two-thirds of the country is crazy about Trump...deranged one way or another.  
 
I'm trying to avoid getting deranged.  That is the purpose of this diary:  to write my way toward sanity; to think rationally about this election; to sort through the issues at play this year; and to ponder what all the anger is about. 
 
do have a preference.  Full disclosure: I'm planning on voting for Joe Biden.  Please don't hate me for it.  But merely voting my preference won't be enough.  Many people I love dearly will be voting for Donald Trump.  And when this is over, we will have to figure out a way to live together in this country...and on this planet.  This election is my time to listen and learn and prepare to do something responsible when it is all over, whichever way it goes.

I'll share more in coming days my efforts to get accurate information about what is happening (as opposed to propaganda and disinformation.)  I'll also be sharing some things I've learned over the years about dealing with "excitable" people, and how I try to filter out emotions from germane facts.  

That's all for today.  I've been busy at work at the church in Salem all day and haven't even read or heard the news since morning.  I'll be caught up tomorrow...and ready with some comments for you then.

Mike

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

A select group of 538 individuals, known as the Electoral College, will get to decide who lives in the White House for the next four years. And the winner of the electoral college vote isn't always the same as the winner of the most votes in country as a whole.  If this all sounds weird, it is.
 
The electoral college is a group of people (currently 538 individuals) who will cast their votes on December 14, 2020.  Those votes will then be sealed and sent to Washington D.C., where they will be opened and counted in front of the entire congress on January 6, 2021.  Whichever candidate has at least 270 of those electoral votes will be the president for the next four years, starting January 20, 2021. So...how did that rule get in our constitution?
 
It was designed in 1787 because people didn't trust each other to elect a good president.  People from the small states didn't trust people from the large ones.  Wealthy land owners didn't trust the common man.  Men didn't trust women.  Whites didn't trust Blacks or Indians.  You know the story.  It looked for a while in 1787 like we wouldn't be able to agree on enough to get our new country organized.  Impasses abounded.
 
And so, in a compromise, as a way forward, the drafters of the constitution decided to let each individual state control who would vote in that state.  They also established what they called the ELECTORAL COLLEGE. Each state was allowed THREE electoral voters.  Depending on population growth, states could also be allocated additional members in their delegation.  Collectively, those hand-picked voters constituted the ELECTORAL COLLEGE for that election.  Only the ELECTORAL COLLEGE could decide who the president would be...regardless of the popular will throughout the country.    The larger states always had more electoral votes, but because each state automatically started out with three, the people in the smaller states had more clout per citizen.
 
So, you ask...how does one get to be one of the elite "578" who get to actually decide the winner?  Each political party in each state determines its slate of electors, in case its candidate wins the popular vote in that state.  For example, Illinois gets 20 electoral votes this year:  three for simply being a state and 17 more for our 'extra' population.  (Thank you, Chicago!)  The Democrats have already selected 20 people to represent Illinois should Joe Biden get the most votes here.  Likewise, the Republicans have already selected 20 people to be Illinois's delegation to the Electoral College should Donald Trump get the highest total.  All we have to do is let people vote, tally the result, and announce which slate will cast Illinois's 20 electoral votes on December 14.  This same process will be repeated in each state and the District of Columbia.
 
There are a few asterisks that go with all this.  Maine and Nebraska have their own set of rules.  And if no candidate gets 270 electoral votes, we enter a whole new other kind of mess.  (It is possible that the election could end up in a 269-269 tie!)  But we'll cross that bridge later.
 
In short, we are all keeping an eye on the electoral college vote.  And if the election is really close, and it takes a long time to figure out the winner in certain states, we may not know the victor until mid-December.  

The following shows how many electoral votes each state will have in the 2020 election, and gives you an idea how it might be a tie!


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