What "Really" Happened


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This week Secretary Hillary Clinton unveiled her new book labeled "What Happened". The reasons she mentioned in the book are up for debate since a lot of it is full of normative statements. History however will judge her candidacy and why she lost. This is the story not of Hillary Clinton, but the story of a system that is rigged against the American people. Hillary Clinton has never lost the trust and support of the people in the sense that people think. She didn't fail the people of this country; the system failed Hillary Clinton and many others before her. Not once, but twice did it fail her in particularly. This goes even long before 2016. I want to take you back to 2008 and tell you what really happened to her, and even go further than that.

Hillary Clinton was supposed to be the heir to Barack Obama. She was the woman for the moment. She was who Barack Obama wanted to succeed him to continue the era of Obama politics. But that shattered after midnight in the wee morning hours of November 9th, 2016. As supporters of Mrs. Clinton left her headquarters in New York in tears just a few blocks away another group of supporters of another individual were celebrating what was said to be impossible. They were celebrating what was said couldn't happen. That was the election of Donald John Trump as the 45th President-Elect of the United States. As the Empire State Building turned red the country turned dark in a moment of fear and uncertainty of what happens next. Trump ran on a vision of restoring an America that has been lost and needed reviving. It was on restoring a culture and way of life that many of his supporters feel has been stolen from them. That is white nativist culture. But I want to take you back to the year 2008 during the Democratic primary process and dive deep into the candidacy of the woman who left cracks in the hardest highest glass ceiling that she just couldn't break and go as far back as 1796.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton was expected to be the Democratic nominee, but then came a young vibrant Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama and that ended what could've been. Mrs. Clinton won 1,978 delegates in total. Mr. Obama won 2,275.5 in total. That's a 297.5 delegate difference. Why was it so close? It's because the super delegates who were supporting Clinton switched to Barack Obama at the last minute enough for him to clinch the nomination presumptively. By why is this a big deal? Because not only was Clinton robbed of the nomination she earned more popular votes than Obama and still lost. Clinton won 17,822,145 votes to Obama's 17,535,458. But here's the catch: the final popular vote total from Michigan wasn't counted on the convention floor as a result it caused Clinton to lose the nomination and the abandonment of super delegates at the last minute didn't help her. As a result Clinton's final popular vote total became less than Obama's because of Michigan, which was a state she won in 2008 and lost to Bernie Sanders in 2016. Hillary Clinton wasn't the problem in 2008. Party leaders rigged the system against her. Is this to say Barack Obama is a bad person? Absolutely not. But it does signal that the nomination process isn't fair. I would propose ending both the Republican and Democratic nominating processes to make them more transparent and more fair. It makes no sense that the person with more popular votes still lose because of what party leaders think is best for their party. The American people should decide their party's perspective nominees via a complete popular primary vote.

Now that we have gone over the primary process, which is unfair and rigged, lets get rid of the Electoral College. And I'm going to explain why. The Electoral College is not only outdated it has been wrong 40% of the time since the beginning of the 21st century. That's a bad record for a system that's supposed to be fair to all the states in it. Presidential campaigns are designed to win the Electoral College. But that doesn't necessarily mean win the most states or popular votes. It means just to win "enough" votes. Think about it most of the people in this country live in California, Texas, New York and Florida. But Democrats never campaign in California or New York because they know they'll win those states outright. Republicans never campaign in Texas because it's in the bag for them even when Democrats and the Hispanic population are growing in that state. Texas could be a purple state in the next 15-20 years. You watch. So the candidates don't ever really visit the states where most people live. The opposing candidates don't campaign where the most people live in the sense Republicans won't go to California and Democrats won't go to Texas. Is it a waste of money? Yes, but it's only a waste under the current system. It wouldn't be if the entire Electoral College were abolished. Sure Dems and Reps campaign in Florida, which is the third largest state recently surpassing New York. But that's because it's always a close call there.

If you made the Electoral College more fair in the sense that it wasn't a winner-take-all system and it was similar to the nominating process Hillary Clinton would be sitting in the Oval Office right now and Donald Trump would be finalizing his deal to make a Trump Tower in Moscow at the moment. If you made the Electoral College based on allocating electoral votes based on state percentages Clinton would still win. And the numbers would round out to be around 262 for Clinton and 257 for Trump. Under those results neither candidate would win the Electoral College and the House would have to elect the President and Vice President. But if the 270 threshold didn't exist Clinton would still be President. But that's not the case. This isn't entirely because Clinton was the problem because she won the popular vote overall, but because the system is the problem.

The way it is set up throws the American voter aside and replaces them with political party leaders in suits with money. It's not democratic as we think it is. For those who say the system has always been like this they are wrong. There was a time when the losing candidate of the Electoral College would become Vice President. That happened in 1796 when Federalist Vice President John Adams was elected the 2nd President of the United States and his opponent former Secretary of State and Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson lost the Presidency and was elected Vice President. Because of their two conflicting ideas and visions they were ineffective together in the White House during their single four-year term. If that system were still in place we'd be talking about President Donald Trump and Vice President Hillary Clinton. How about that?

Now does this article mean Hillary Clinton was the perfect candidate? Definitely not. She was not. But the point is the system has been rigged and unfair for years. This is more of a reflection on the system than it is on the person. What's worse is this can happen again not only in the primary process, but in the Electoral College. No one seems to want to change the process because it benefits party leaders and those in charge.

You're probably wondering this is because Hillary Clinton was this and that, and probably so. But what happened in 2016 wasn't the first time our system failed us. Let's go even further back than that. In 1824, Democrat Andrew Jackson lost to Whig John Quincy Adams, the son of former President John Adams. Quincy Adams was as qualified as Clinton was to be President too if not more. Quincy Adams won the Electoral College only because the House of Representatives chose him out of three other candidates. He ran against three other Democratic-Republicans being William Crawford, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson. Jackson won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College to Quincy Adams. But the crazy part isn't that Jackson lost because the House rejected him in favor of Quincy Adams. The crazy part is Jackson lost even when he had a plurality of the electoral votes! He lost even worse than Hillary Clinton. As a result, Jackson lost and Quincy Adams won and promised Speaker of the House Henry Clay the position of Secretary of State if he voted for him and got the House to lean in favor of him over populist Jackson. This was coined the corrupt bargain, and it all happened. In 1876, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was not supposed to be President. Because he won the Electoral College knowing he didn't have the popular vote he promised not to run in 1880 for a second term. In 1888, Republican Benjamin Harrison won the Presidency in the Electoral College and lost the popular vote to former Democratic President Grover Cleveland. And then there was 2000 and we all know what happened there.

This is the system I'm talking about that has not only been rigged for years, but for over a century, and it requires change. We must have the courage to change like we've had in the past. If not who will have the courage to choose change over the status quo?

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Patrick Murray