It’s the Electoral College, Stupid!


Counterpunch recently published an article by Dave Lindorff The Push To Make Sanders The Green Party Candidate.

The enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders is phenomenal. His meteoric rise in popularity and influence is astounding. From being an asterisk in early polling, Sanders has now eclipsed Hillary Clinton in popular support in every major opinion poll.

Sanders has effectively fought the entrenched establishment candidate and her allies to a virtual tie. There remains a path to victory, albeit extremely narrow and unlikely.

Sanders has from the outset promised he would support the Democratic nominee. Many of his supporters, caught up in the euphoria of backing a candidate they love and admire, are urging Bernie to run as a write-in candidate, an independent, or on a third party ticket, rather than support Hillary and remain a Democrat.

Lindorff’s is another voice in that choir. A choir, unfortunately, without a clue.

His article is certainly passionate, but is very short on analysis. The Green party is only on the ballot in 25 states, according to the article. Let’s assume for the purpose of discussion that it is on all state and territories’ ballots. Or assume Sanders could cobble together ballot positions through an assemblage of minor parties in states where the Greens are not on the ballot. Assume Bernie has no problem in being ballot qualified everywhere as a third party or independent candidate.

Now what?

The wisdom being shared in the Counterpunch article conveniently avoids discussing the mechanics of the election process. Our electoral system is not even close to being democratic. To win the presidency, a candidate must win a majority of the votes in the Electoral College. Even were Bernie to perform spectacularly, the likelihood of his being able to assemble the 270 Electoral votes necessary to win is negligible in a three way race.

With no candidate in possession of 270 Electoral votes, the election is thrown into the House of Representatives. Each state has one vote in the presidential election process. And each state’s vote is determined by the votes of the state’s congressional delegation. The Republicans control the majority of state delegations and would elect the next president. Bernie might win Vermont.

In that effort, Bernie will have forgone any chance of being the most important Democrat in the country, which he would be if Hillary loses the presidency and Bernie remained a Democrat.

The upside of the Bernie third party effort would be a vitalized Green party. The downside would be abandoning the Democratic party.

With the defeat of Hillary, Bernie’s revolution would continue unabated and unchallenged by Wall Street Democrats. Progressives would control the party, grow its base, attract new voters, primary conservative Democrats, and nominate a true progressive in 2020. Elizabeth Warren, Alan Grayson, Russ Feingold, or another member of the Democratic wing of the Democratic party would be our nominee.

It is infinitely easier to take over an existing national party than it is to create one. With Hillary’s defeat, the Democrats will become the new progressive party, and would advance policies presently advocated by Greens, Peace and Freedom, Socialists, Humane party, etc.

The Democrats have the opportunity to become a party of the left. To become THE party of the left.

But only if we ensure that Trump beats Hillary.

All other scenarios and game plans are smoke and mirrors.



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3 thoughts on “It’s the Electoral College, Stupid!

  1. STUPID certainly is an excellent way to characterize this gaslighting disinformation attack article.

    Author Roland Vincent’s main thesis is that the realities of the Electoral College make it impossible for Bernie Sanders to be elected as a candidate of the Green Party in 2016 if he does not win the Democratic Party nomination. He bases his entire case on several FALSE, completely UNSUPPORTED contentions about how the college works, proving for the all the world he’s about as ignorant of his subject as a fence post. He literally doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    He’s certainly not alone in that regard; few American know much of anything about this arcane holdover of an institution from feudal times. So let’s examine and analyze his arguments.

    His first dumb assumption is that it would be necessary for the Green Party to have or acquire ballot access in all 50 states. A quick glance any any of the maps displaying electoral states won by all democratic presidents in the last 30 years quickly shows just how ridulous such assertion is. All were elected by winning in a group of typically “Blue” states along the two coasts plus a band across the northern part of the nation. None won anywhere near all 50 states.

    Ballot access is necessary only in strategically important states that are likely to vote Blue plus a a few battleground swing states. All of the rest likely will play no role whatsoever in electing any left leaning candidate. Yes, the Green Party currently has secured access in only 25 states, BUT it also has access petitions in process in all of the other strategically important states. With a little help from an army of Sanders supporters, completing the ballot access petition process in these additional states in time for the 2016 general election is quite feasible, readily do-able.

    His next completely unsupported contention, that it’s extremely unlikely that Bernie Sanders would be able to assemble the 270 Electoral votes necessary to win in a three way race, is highly arguable. I’ve seen several projections based on the most recent polling data that suggest Vincent is completely wrong, that Bernie Sanders could well win 270 electoral votes in a three way race. Most prognostications indicate Trump would net around 200 electoral votes and Clinton would garner only a smattering to finish in a rather distant third place.

    His next absurd contention is that if no candidate finishes in possession of 270 electoral votes, then the election is automatically election thrown into the House of Representatives for a decision. In point of fact, the House actually deciding a presidential contest is only a remotely possible but extremely improbable event. Such is a Constitutional fail safe last resort mechanism that almost never actually occurs. While there have been numerous close calls; however, the House of Representatives has chosen the president only twice: in 1801 under Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 and in 1825 under the Twelfth Amendment.

    There are many strategies and tactics that might play out to conclusion post election and before Congress assembles in joint session to count electoral votes and declare, or possibly decide, the winners of the presidential and vice presidential elections on January 6, 2017.

    For example, when George Wallace ran for President in 1968, his strategy was essentially the same as that of Dixiecrat candidate Strom Thurmond in 1948 in that the campaign was run without any realistic chance of winning the election outright, but instead with the hope of receiving enough electoral votes to force the House of Representatives to decide the election, something many observers thought might happen.

    An alternative theory holds that had Wallace achieved his aim he could have pre-empted an election in the House by instructing his own electors to back one of the major party candidates – there was no legal or constitutional impediment that would have prevented him from doing so, and he had in fact bound his electors to him by contract. This would have allowed Wallace the opportunity to negotiate directly with the major candidates to determine the outcome of the election.

    A similar strategy is possible in 2016 to prevent the election of Donald Trump if Bernie decides to run as a third party candidate. If Clinton and Sanders were to run on separate tickets in a 3-way race with Trump, and bound their respective electors to themselves as Wallace did under contract, surely the two left leaning candidates would between them capture more than enough electoral college votes to prevent Trump from being elected. It would then be a matter of which was the weaker of the two candidates as determined by electoral votes won, and was thereby obliged to instruct his or her electors to vote for the other.

    This simple strategy completely sidesteps any possibility of the presidential election contest ending up in House of Representatives. The only way this scenario doesn’t work is if Clinton and Sanders are totally unable to cooperate with each other. They both say they’re absolutely committed to keeping Trump out of the White House, so I don’t think either will let blind ambition prevent them from accomplishing what they have both set out to do. Bernie certainly won’t!

    The author’s remaining contentions are all pure wildass doomsday speculation that are not even worth mentioning. His entire article is highly flawed nonsense, a lot of unfounded speculative gibberish.


    • Permit me to correct your highly flawed criticism.

      Firstly, I opined that we assume the Green party is positioned to wage ballot contests in all jurisdictions. None of my analysis is dependent upon a lack of ballot access.

      You cite unnamed and curiously anonymous projections showing that Sanders would win an Electoral majority, a likelihood I find preposterous. A right of center Democrat (Clinton) and a leftist (Sanders) would guarantee every red state breaking for Trump, and many blue states as well. In states Trump would not be viable in a match-up with Clinton alone would become possibles with Sanders removing a large percentage of liberal votes from Clinton.

      That the House is the final arbiter of a deadlocked Electoral College is a constitutional reality. That it is infrequently invoked does not mean it would not be employed.

      While Sanders and Clinton would have the power to join forces against Trump, the likelihood is that Trump would be elected outright with Bernie in a three way race.

      Many Sanders supporters’ hopes are being raised by illogical and poorly thought-out strategies involving running as a Green or an independent. Aside from the fact that Sanders has repeatedly rejected running as other than a Democrat, there is no credible strategy which would place Bernie in the White House absent winning the Democratic nomination.

      Further, Bernie’s revolution itself is the bigger prize than the White House. It is unreasonable to expect a political revolution in one election cycle. But the revolution will flourish in the absence of Hillary Clinton and her cohorts controlling the White House and the Democratic party.


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