Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Counting Votes

The Presidential election is finishing up today, with the official count of Electoral College votes. It is still being completed, because, of course, the riot at the Capitol; I suppose that as we started four years ago with anti-Trump rioters acting as if the United States were a tinpot fake republic, it is less surprising than it should be to find pro-Trump rioters acting as if the United States were a tinpot fake republic. Notably the one thing that has been completely stable and unmarked by gross partisan bias through both idiocies is the Electoral College process. Not, of course, that anyone will give it its proper due; they never do.

As of my writing this, Congress is going through the states alphabetically. An official objection was taken over the Arizona slate, and rejected by both chambers of Congress (no slate can be rejected without the agreement of both chambers). There will certainly be one more official objection (Pennsylvania); each official objection has to be debated by each chamber separately, which will draw out the process. As the chances of any of the objections getting the agreement of both chambers is minute, there is no reason to expect any surprises, and any single surprise would not change the result. In 2016, I heard many nasty comments about 'proceduralism' -- by which they meant, in context, trust in the election process laid out in the US Constitution -- but an election is nothing but procedures; and the US Constitution is an immensely stable thing, difficult to manipulate, as it should be. And I suppose it's not really surprising in politics to find many of those very same people suddenly converted to absolute belief in the sacrosanctness of those procedures, at least as they imagine them to be.

The actual success of those storming the Capitol was a surprise, but as I've repeatedly noted (to deaf ears in this time of people repeatedly trying to give themselves a hysteria high), until today nothing has happened that is really unprecedented. Election Night regularly gives a major surprise; litigations, audits, recounts, inevitably ensue; people have come up with uncertified "alternative slates" before; formal objections have been made to slates before; we've had people protesting the vote count before. It wasn't even the noisiest process we've seen, although perhaps that was partly due to relatively light reporting on it. But even if you object to the noisiness of it, anyone in the entire process who used the word 'coup' or 'attempted coup' anything similar to describe anything in the process is an idiot and a moron and should be ignored on any political matter forever after. Nor, I suppose it should be noted given that the hysteria-junkies will say otherwise, is a few hundred people storming the Capitol building a 'coup', either.

The most serious thing today was not, in fact, the riot at the Capitol, but the discovery of explosive devices at the headquarters of both parties and on the Capitol grounds (all of which were discovered by law enforcement and safely detonated). Such terrorism is a more serious threat, and it is absolutely necessary to come down hard on any attempt to use terroristic threat against any part of the election process, as a warning example to any and all who might try it in the future. Unfortunately the precedent has not been as clear as it should be. 

And one suspects that no one will learn anything whatsoever; this seems the primary truth of American politics these days.

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