Monday, February 27, 2017

La La Land, Tragedy and Farce--The Electoral College and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

For a brief, embarrassing moment, the movie that got fewer votes was announced as the winner of the 2017 Oscar for Best Motion Picture.  Moonlight got the most votes, La La Land was announced the winner.  The error was quickly corrected, and everybody's having a good time mocking their choice of culprit--Warren Beatty's too old vs. Price Waterhouse can't count.  From the academy's point of view, it sure beats the aftertaste from OscarsSoWhite.

For the next four years, the country is going to endure a president who was inaugurated after losing the popular vote by over 3 million votes.  This is not going to be such a good time.  Now, two out of the last three US presidents took office after losing the popular election.  The first time the guy (Bush) lost by about three hundred thousand votes.  His years in office did not end well.  This time the guy lost by ten times the margin, and the ending of his regime is likely to be an order of magnitude worse.

The immediate reason for this is the Electoral College, an institution of indirect election that weighs the vote of a white skinhead or Aryan Nation follower in Wyoming or Idaho and a bit more than twice as much as the vote of a housewife or engineer in New York or California (the overweighing is far, far grosser in terms of Senate representation, but that's a topic for another day).  Now, the Electoral College was this system devised by the Founding Fathers to protect the republic from demagogues or unqualified rulers when electing a president.  We were all taught in school that the Electoral College is an anachronistic formality.  We were taught wrong, and it is not.  The results speak for themselves.

Unfortunately, unlike last night's farce at the Oscars, no one is going to come forward and admit the mistake.  At least not until some more cards have turned over.  The frog is comfortable in the pot, and the water temperature is getting pleasantly warmer.  Until  the tragedy boils over.

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