Paris. 13th November, 2016 at 16h00. Husband and wife are seated face to face at the dining table, finishing their dessert. The baby’s asleep, the cat is quietly feeding, the skies are gray and neither man nor spouse felt like cleaning up right away. A conversation begins:
Husband (H): I read an interesting article today analyzing the result of the US elections.
Wife (W): Huh (smirks in anticipation of a long political and heated debate)
H: Well according to the article, any given Republican candidate in the last 4 elections have always garnered a “sure” and “fixed” amount of votes. So there, we already see it’s actually the Democratic Party voters who hold the more decisive factor in determining the victor. In the case of Trump, it’s not as much of a Republican “win”, but more of a Democrat “failure”… Ummm, you know how the US election system works right?
W: Uh-huh (nods). They hold elections, and depending on who wins in each State the assigned electors for the winning party will then cast their votes. It’s like elections at two levels: the people vote for the electors and the electors vote for the President. Then, whichever of the candidates first garners 270 or more electoral votes, wins the elections.
H: So you know that it doesn’t matter that more people actually voted for Hillary Clinton?
W: Ye-es? (shifts uncomfortably in her chair, thinking “Here we go! We’ll be fighting in 3, 2, …”)
H: The thing is (Distracted he thinks, “Why is my wife putting on a weird face?”)… as I was saying, the article I read featured three very simple bar graphs comparing the performance of Democratic and Republican candidates during the past 3 American Presidential Elections.
The total number of popular votes for any of the Republican candidates amounted to around 60 million, more or less. In fact this year, Trump garnered less than Romney in 2012.
Anyhow, the Democratic Party voters on the other hand varied a whole lot more. In 2008, around 69 million voted for Obama; that figure went down to 65 million in 2012 and it crashed to more than 61 million this year. Conclusion is, less Democrat voters voted for Clinton.
W: So that’s why they were talking so much about the”Swing States”! (visibly relieved)
H: YES! In other countries, these States are equivalent to smaller states or provinces where one person’s vote “weighs more” than one person’s vote in bigger states or provinces.
W: The American voters should really be vigilant with their votes. I mean, look at what happened to Florida when Bush won over Gore… So, what you’re trying to say is that there were less Democrat voters in those States that made the most difference? So the results “flipped” to the advantage of Trump?
H: Exactly. (getting more and more excited) And the political analysts are saying that Trump’s campaign had A LOT to do about it.
W: Yes, of course! They practically slung mud at Clinton every single waking hour they had. But you can’t blame it all on Trump. Clinton should have reacted just as aggressively- not exactly to throw shadow at her opponent, but to reach out to those swing voters.
Do you remember how aggressive was Obama’s first presidential campaign? MY GOD! It rocked the whole world! She shouldn’t have relied on people’s apparent judgement, she should’ve fought back, but oh well!
H: Yes, BUT…
W: But what?
H: According to the analysts, the swing voters and consequently the Swing States were actually convinced by Trump’s mud slinging tactics. It appears that during the debates, Trump did not do well in responding to the issues at hand but he was the whole time telling Clinton how she should go to jail, how bad she is, etc…
W: I guess social media did a lot of hurting as well. I mean, you should see my Facebook wall! People posting so much unverified “news”! How can we be so irresponsible?!
H: Yes, social media whatever. But dig this- the media outlets used to sling mud to Clinton and to promote Trump’s causes are “owned” by the man himself!
W: THERE YOU GO!
H: He’s really shaping up to be the Berlusconi of that side of the Atlantic…
W: I think Berlusconi would revive his political career. He’d find bosom buddies with Putin, Trump and Duterte.
H: Well, Berlusconi’s already ancient. It might not be feasible.
W: ‘Ya think? I wouldn’t be so sure. Le Pen, though…
H: Oh yeah! Le Pen would surely win in France during the next elections. (scoffs) But what I’m trying to say is, we’re doomed! The very communication and information channels we use are being more manipulated than ever so basically, we’re all going to hell!
W: Oh, honey! The moment people stopped questioning any kind of information fed to them through any broadsheet, online site or television newscast- was the day we all deserved to go to hell! It’s like what we talked about the other day with the Spanish rightist voters listening ONLY to one radio station, reading SOLELY one newspaper, watching NOTHING BUT one TV channel. I mean, you said it yourself: it’s voluntary brainwashing.
We should always, ALWAYS be very vigilant of the information we gather and share. Whether we agree with it or not, we should always question ourselves the sensibility and the validity of such information. Because honestly? some information could actually be contested with common sense.
For instance, remember when some people in Spain started to panic that the long-haired guy would be elected president? because they were afraid Spain would turn to Venezuela? (snorts twice) HELLO! Unless you turn the jamón ibérico’s grease to petroleum substitute, I don’t think that will ever happen. BESIDES, SPAIN IS A MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN UNION! Did they really think Brussels would let that happen? Really, Spanish people should take more Vitamin B to enhance their memories… geesh! How could it slip their minds that ANYTHING they do must have Brussel’s OK stamp?
H: Okay, okay, calm down! (raising both hands in protest)
What you’re saying is true… but I’m not finished about with my article yet. Actually, there’s another hypothesis as to Hillary’s loss.
W: Hear, hear!
H: Apparently, Clinton gave the impression that she “relaxed” during the campaign because every single poll predicted that she’d win. And so, according to the defenders of this idea she relied on the poll results and just allowed Trump to and ruin her reputation. And look how that turned out!
In fact, I don’t know if you’ve watched any SNL-type sketches? Well, they would usually depict Clinton stretched out on a sofa, legs up and in a very relaxed manner. As if she’s over-confident of her victory.
W: Hmmm… I’m not sure about that, I haven’t seen the sketches. But as I’ve said earlier, it DOES seem to me that her campaign was less aggressive than that of Obama’s first one. I actually expected a lot more from her and her squad, what with her potentially being the first female president of the United States and all that hype.
From my point of view, she lacked connection to various segments of voters. I mean, come on! She’s clearly a WASP- White Anglo-Saxon Protestant! Very Eastern Coast type…
H: Yes, I’ve read comments about her seeming so stuck-up…
W: Exactly! it’s a pity Michelle Obama’s support wasn’t used to the fullest to reach out to the African-American community. Hmm… I really wonder how she could imagine they could relate to her? And the Latin community? I felt she didn’t reach out enough.
But what do I know? I guess this is my way of questioning the information I was able to gather about the campaign.
H: I agree with you. She’s clearly from the elite and it seems she didn’t do more to get herself closer to the masses.
W: The conservatives are regaining the power, huh? I wonder how France would be with Le Pen as their leader? Hehehe!
H: Kidding aside, I honestly believe Le Pen has a serious chance of winning. Besides, if the terrorist attacks don’t cool down for a long period of time, her propaganda could really end up convincing the French to close their borders and apply very strict measures when it comes to second or third generation immigrants.
W: My outtake in this matter, from the economic perspective is that people have acquired so much wealth in so little time that they want to keep it all for themselves. They’re afraid to share it, to share the fount of such wealth because they want it all for them and their families.
H: Not all of us have turned into Richard Branson types over night, have we? (smirks teasingly)
W: Noooo, but what I mean is that over the last few decades the we have witnessed a fast and HUGE growth of worldwide wealth, never before seen ever since the Industrial Revolution. The rise of the ICTs… they don’t call it the Second Industrial Revolution for nothing.
So, inequality aside… A great amount of wealth has been amassed and those lucky enough to have had a bit of it are now feeling protective of their possessions. And naturally, they want to protect it and assure themselves and their children’s children’s children that there would be enough of it where it came from BUT NONE FOR THE OUTSIDERS.
This is what your mom told us about: how low-middle class Spanish families who were able to buy an apartment in Benidorm are now supporting the rightist Popular Party because they’re afraid the leftists would steal their properties and distribute it to the poor. Pfft! (makes a face)
What’s to steal? I mean, you know what I’m talking about? the typical neighbor we had in Madrid who was able to buy an Alfa Romeo car- on credit!- and thinks he/she belongs to the class of the new rich, so he starts voting for the rightists to protect his interests.
H: Remember when Jordi interviewed people from the working class neighborhood? agreeing to privatize the health sector? It’s disgusting, but that’s life!
W: I know! they wanted to vote for the rightists so they won’t have to pay more taxes. What they don’t know is that those taxes contribute to a social savings or a common piggy bank to which they themselves could access, should they need it. Tsk, tsk! (shakes head) I don’t understand…
H: Hmmm… These people simply believe what’s being said to them through the TV, the radio, the newspapers… they don’t even understand what they hear. They just hold on to the fear that’s being implanted in their heads and all manner of analysis is gone.
W: Hey, on the bright side- with Trump as president, it seems that at least the TTIP doesn’t stand much chance to be signed between the EU and USA. So not everything is bad I guess?
H: Of course, this life is not strictly black or white.
W: In what world did we bring our son? (smiles and feels thankful they didn’t end up fighting each other like in the past)
H: Well, it’s the world he will have to survive in!
- “President Trump, the appropriate liberal response”, blogpost by jnickmount, availabe at: https://jnickmount.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/president-trump-appropriate-liberal-response/
- 270 to Win website: http://www.270towin.com/historical-presidential-elections/
- “Marine Le Pen: Trump’s win boosts my chances”, Europe, BBC News, available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37964776?post_id=196726970768450_210416832732797#_=_