Monday 31 October 2016
Faithless delgates - and faithful MPs?
I claim no special understanding of the underlying rhythms of American politics. But it does seem to me that the release of the tape a couple of weeks ago demonstrating that Donald Trump believed that his wealth and fame enabled, even legitimised, his groping of women, and the opening of investigations over the weekend of yet more Clinton Emails, are both put up jobs, artfully engineered by the respective party apparatchiks at the times their respective campaigns needed a bit of a boost.
Perhaps both parties still have quasi-revelations in reserve to be released in the final week of the campaign.
Both gimmicks have so far proved very effective The "Gropegate" tape increased Mrs Clinton's lead to a level that seemed unassailable, the Email investigation has brought the contestants dangerously close (neck and neck, according to our Daily Mail.)
Happily there is a constitutional device, written in by the Founding Fathers, to avert disaster should Mr Trump win the popular vote. It is not the popular vote which elects the president, but the votes of the delegates of each state, numbered according to the population of each state and chosen by the parties, who are sent to an Electoral College to decided who should be president and vice president.
Laws and customs relating to the delegates vary from state to state. Some states have a winner takes all rule, so that even if the popular vote in that state is as close as 51/49 per cent the party with the popular majority takes all the delegates: in others the delegates are shared proportionately. Some delegates are "pledged" or "bound" to vote according to their mandate, others are "unbound" and can use their judgement. For more details of the variations see here.
So in the event a Trump popular victory the world can be saved from the enhanced possibility of nuclear devastation by sufficient delegates rejecting the role of automaton and voting with their minds. There will be hell to play, but that's better than Armageddon.
There are parallels in Britain.
Clearly Mrs Clinton, pretty obviously to the rest of the world the most suitable, or least unsuitable, candidate, though inevitably tainted by her long term association with power, is receiving the backlash vote of those who wish to strike a blow against the establishment. This aligns to the apparent motivation of many of the Brexit supporters. Similarly Trump supporters are attracted by his populist bluster just as Leave voters were dazzled by the disingenuous panache of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. The mendacity of both campaigns was and is dismissed as irrelevant compared with the satisfaction of kicking the complacent powers-that-be in the teeth, even if this does turn out to be self-harming.
The Brexit vote is nowhere near as serious for Britain, the EU and the World: all will survive, which may not be the case if Donald Trump gets his finger on the nuclear button.
Nevertheless, as argued earlier, Britain, Europe and the World will be economically and culturally richer, our societies more civilised and healthier, and our planet safer, if Britain's MPs are faithFULL to their function of using their judgement for the good of the nation, and refuse to trigger the moves which will lead us out of the European Union.