Sunday, March 27, 2016

Forget the Presidency For a Minute, This May Be A Historic Congress

I read two articles on 'The Hill' and 'Politico' last night and it got me thinking about some crazy shit. The first article was all about Paul Ryan setting up the narrative for the GOP leadership to ignore the popular vote and not nominate D0nald Trṳmp. The second article was just a breaking piece about Bernie Sanders demolishing Hillary in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii on Saturday.

The latter was the 'Politico' article, so of course it blew off Bernie's wins and diminished their value in light of Hillary's delegate lead . . . typical Politico.

Thinking about both of these things made me realize that the next Congress (the 114th to be exact) may actually be selecting the next President of the United States. In fact, it may be a bunch of rookies in the legislature, doing something unprecedented in American history as their first order of Congressional business!!!

Consider the following timeline:

July 18th, 2016 'The Republican National Convention'

We have a 'brokered' convention, wherein no GOP candidate secures the required 1237 committed delegates going in to the convention. According to their own rules (which the leadership can change at their pleasure by the way) they conduct a vote right there at the convention wherein each delegate votes according to their pledge. If a majority is not gained, there's another vote wherein each delegate votes however they want.

If it gets to this point, literally anyone could become the GOP nominee. It's as if the whole primary process didn't happen and the entire candidate nomination is decided amongst the fights, protests, blockades and maneuvers of the party elite. In that mayhem and panic over the prospect of losing to Hillary, a name like Paul Ryan starts to sound pretty damn good to the party power brokers.

By the end of the convention, when the dust has settled, Paul Ryan is the GOP nominee in the general election for the office of the President.

There is great wailing and gnashing of teeth among angry white America!

D0nald Trṳmp declares himself "the only real winner" and immediately announces his independent bid for the White House.

July 25th, 2016 'The Democratic National Convention'

Bernie charges in to the Democratic convention on a wave of small donor cash and cult-like popularity - even though he knows the deal is sealed. Despite losing the popular vote to Sanders by a noteworthy margin, Hillary Clinton easily secures the Democratic Party nomination on the backs of the totally unaccountable 'super delegates' and settles in for a cruise-control ride through the general election against a totally disintegrated Republican base. But . . .

Taking a look at the massive piles of cash still in his campaign coffers, and realizing that electoral votes may be easier to come by in a multi-way general election than a two-way primary, Bernie also opts to continue his candidacy as a third . . . no,  fourth party candidate.

November 9th, 2016 (2am PST) 'The Dawn After Election Day'

In a stunning turn of events that causes Reince Priebus, Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich to break out into a WWE melee during Fox News' live election coverage, and which also causes Wolf Blitzer to self-flagellate while laughing maniacally on CNN, the following electoral vote count is revealed:

D0nald Trṳmp: 96

Hillary Clinton: 137

Paul Ryan: 144

Bernie Sanders: 150

Ladies and gentlemen, we DO NOT have a winner!

The 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires a simple majority of the electoral college to assume the Presidency. There are 538 electoral votes up for grabs. Divided evenly, that's 269 x 2, which means if nobody gets to 270 we do not have a majority and we do not have a President . . .

Well, shit. What now?

And that, among other reasons, is why this Congressional election is so important.

January 3rd, 2017 'The Swearing in of the 114th Congress'

The U.S. Constitution mandates that each new Congress convene at noon on January 3rd. Historically, the first thing a new Congress does on January 4th after a Presidential election is tally the electoral votes and declare a winner. This is usually a relatively simple process. The winner is known, there is nothing left to contest, so the vote is certified, the gavel drops and that's it. But what now?

January 4th, 2017 'The Brand New Congress Picks the Next President of the United States'

Back to the 12th Amendment. If no majority of electoral votes is won in the general election, the House of Representatives selects the President from among the top three vote winners, based on a quorum of the state delegations - not by member. That's a mouthful...

This means that while there 435 Representatives in the House, each of them will not get their own vote. Instead, all the Representatives from California will get one vote, all the Representatives from New Jersey will get one vote, same with all the other states . . . all the Representatives get a say in their delegation, but in the end it's one vote per state.

That means that the delegation from Wyoming, consisting of one person (Cynthia Lummis - [R], bless her heart!), who represents a total population of less than Raleigh-Durham, NC, will have the same power in selecting the President as does the entire state of California - home to almost 20% of the USA, whose GDP would be 10th in the world (between India and Russia) if it were a country.


Don't ask me what happens if this process results in a 25/25 tie because I don't know. The only time the House has picked a President since the passage of the 12th Amendment was in 1824 and at that time there were 27 delegations, making a tie impossible. U.S territories and D.C. are 'at-large' members of the house and have no vote outside of committee so they don't factor in.

So, yeah . . . um

While it's easy to be completely drawn into the spectacle of the Presidential race, we should all remain very tightly engaged with the Congressional contests in our given states and districts. It's not at all crazy to suggest that the newly minted 114th Congress may be assuming the full responsibility of electing the next President. For fuck sake!

If that happens, I think we can all agree that regardless of our individual affiliations or ideological leanings, the popular will should prevail in a democratic system. As such, we should all be prepared to vote for candidates whom we would trust to honor not only our preferred agenda, but the core principles of popular sovereignty.

This would be a great time to throw some bums out and install a legislature who'll pull it's head out of it's ass and get to work. It may be really, really important to get this batch right.

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