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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Democracy or Tossing a Coin?

To all intents and purposes, Clinton and Trump picked up 60 million votes each and because this is an American election, you can forget about the two other candidates. It's the kind of result which could have been achieved by tossing a coin 120 million times and, that being so, it could have been simplified by tossing the coin once. If that seems arbitrary, then bear in mind that in American democracy you can win more votes than your opponent and still lose the election because of the Electoral College system which has a small bias towards all those small mid West states. Al Gore had more votes than George Bush first time round and Hilary Clinton may end up with more votes than Donald Trump. But who cares? When was democracy about winning more votes than the other lot?

I interpret the fact that American presidential candidates run neck and neck in my own way. I just think it shows that the average elector has no idea at all about what will work out best for them or for their country and so they effectively choose their pig in a poke. They would have done no worse by tossing their own individual coin. I am simply not prepared to describe American voters as rational actors who have weighed the issues, weighed the evidence, added in their likes and dislikes and so on. And that's where democracy has failed. The whole idea of democracy was that voters would be at least a bit rational, a bit well-informed, a bit dispassionate. It ain't happening - that's the main thing to take  from the American dead heat from which Winner-Takes-All is the consequence.

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