Electoral College ‘Victory’
October 27, 2012
Here is a link to an article in the Washington Post about what is, apparently, the very real possibility that Romney could win the popular vote and Obama could win the Electoral College vote and, hence, the presidency. I doubt this will happen simply because close calls in this regard are more common than people suspect. And there is the fact, as some see it, that Nixon won the popular vote in 1960, while Kennedy won in the Electoral College. [See a book entitled The People’s President for an explanation of this outcome.]
But other than underestimating the likelihood of a close call, as some call it, the article makes it seem as if this is a result that candidates for the presidency try to avoid – whereas I suspect that is less true than most suppose. Our politicians love to talk about their “powerlessness,” that is, their alleged inability to do what they really want to do because of the alleged “conservatism” of the people or the power of interest groups that seem able to control our political process. Of course, this line of argument assumes, often without examination, that what politicians actually do they don’t want to do! Reference to Vietnam as a “quagmire” comes to my mind, the image apparently being that our politicians got dragged into a war they never intended to get dragged into. It is, of course, quite vague as to who or what did this “dragging,” while people overlook or minimize the clearly militaristic rhetoric of JFK’s inaugural address and his fascination with “counterinsurgency theory.”
Anyway, such a stance is even more popular in times of significant popular anger, such as we are experiencing now, because if our politicians are relatively powerless to effect meaningful changes, then they can, without blame, perpetuate the status quo and, of course, their own power and prominence. So, perhaps, one reason the election is so close is not due to forces beyond the candidates’ control but is due to actions of the candidates themselves. Or, if one remembers it, due to a candidate’s “inaction” or “passivity” in, say, a presidential debate, a passivity that no one, including the candidate himself, is able to explain.
See also the following: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/10/19/did_jfk_lose_the_popular_vote_115833.html