Saturday, August 01, 2020

Faithless electors? Revisiting the Electoral College

Folks on both right & left rejoice over the near unanimous decision that states can force 'faithless" electors to vote as the state's voter majority declared, for president. Well, you'll not be surprised to learn that I have a more complicated opinion. This decision might - maybe - scotch scenarios where -say- Wisconsin GOP legislators try to steal the state's electoral votes from Biden. And yes, as-is the Electoral College is a travesty, not behaving like a "college" of sages, at all. 

OTOH, for Kagan to write that electors were never meant to be anything other than mathematical conduits is disingenuous. The very word "College" suggests that in the ideal case they might meet and deliberate to choose the very best person as Chief Executive.

Distance made that ideal impossible, in olden times. Today, it's a mockery because parties assign slates of names as electors pledged to their candidate... and in most states voters never even see the electors' names. But that doesn't have to be so! Especially in these modern, cyber-times. One could envision a dozen different ways that electors themselves might be chosen with voter input, making them more than honorary rewards for party service.

But something else. Back in late November 2016, I tried to circulate a notion... that one moderately rich person might rent a luxury resort hotel somewhere, provide extra security, and simply declare: 

"All recently elected Electors may come at free business class travel and stay for two weeks, unbothered by anyone except hotel service staff. They may do or say anything they like, relax, argue, be a 'college' or not. Hands-off."

Three sentences that would rock the nation. 

If more than 270 did show up, there'd be a 'quorum' of sorts for conversation and argument, though the voting would still come back home in each state capital, in mid-December. And sure, the electors would mostly be party loyalists, even hacks. Still, faced with the intolerable, a deal might be struck.

Still, picture it. Envision this had happened in 2016... and the subsequent Kaine-Pence Administration...

Oh, I agree with most of what Lawrence Lessig and his colleagues at EQUAL CITIZEN try to accomplish re electoral reform. Even when I disagree a bit, as in their Electoral College endeavor, I still urge you to swing by and give it a close look. 

Oh finally note this case was actually very specific: "Monday’s ruling upholds a $1,000 fine against Peter Chiafalo, one of three Washington state electors who cast their ballots for Colin Powell rather than for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won the state’s popular vote." 

Hence the Court declared that states may “punish” electors who decide to go their own way. It still doesn’t prevent the actual act of voting for someone other than their party’s candidate. Hence, an elector might vote against a monster as a willing, sacrificial act… or else take the penalty as the cost of a bribe. As usual, the Court has ‘clarified’ almost nothing.

== What this cathedral stands for, really ==

The new, 6 billion ruble Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces, in Moscow, is a grand statement of Vladimir Putin’s vision of what is most important in Russia: Russian Orthodox faith, national pride and the armed services. Steps are made of steel from captured Nazi tanks.

And yes, Papa Stalin was a wise leader and father of the nation who never signed any pacts with Hitler! Try to put it all together. Putin's glorification of the Eastern Orthodox Church while keeping the Soviet KGB intact, except for its name, and filling the ranks of Russian government and billionaire oligarchy with former commissars who were raised for decades reciting Leninist catechisms as sacred scripture. Putin once declared that the fall of the USSR was "history's greatest tragedy."

What do these contradictions mean? It's simple. Marxism-Leninism was always just another "potemkin" surface of symbols and incantations to justify a streltsy-feudal system - augmented by secret police - that has gone unchanged since the czars. So they switched symbols and incantations quicker than a Vegas magician backstage between scenes? So?
They had tried and utterly failed to suborn the Western left and trade unions for 80 years. But switching emblems and chants to "traditionalism," with strong mafia flavors and by flattering/blackmailing western aristocrats, they have swiftly and completely take over the Right in America and Europe.

Again, these are the very same men, using the same tools aimed at the same end, with different lipstick. And the western Right has thrown themselves at their feet. 

Alexis de Tocqueville predicted - long before there was a Karl Marx - that the final struggled over humanity's fate would be between Russia and America. It was understandably narrowminded to leave out China! But impressive, nonetheless.

PS... Get and read Sorokin's amazing short sci fi novel "Day of the Oprichnik."

Here’s a link to the Obama Administration’s pandemic guidance booklet - and then to a line by line comparison vs. the fumbled, murderously incompetent actual behavior of the entire GOP establishment and Fox-zone.

== They are on our side, get used to it ==

My longstanding assertion that we can count on the US military officer corps is backed up in powerful stuff by Luncian Truscott IV - a West Point graduate - who is scion of five generations of American military heroes (including one featured in the movie ‘Patton’). He’s also a Jefferson descendant (like many black folks). This Truscott article about the military’s loathing of Trump concludes with:

“It's getting serious out there, folks. The word "treason," as in giving aid and comfort to the enemy, is being thrown around not only on op-ed pages but in Congress. This may turn into yet another Ukraine aid scandal, in which Trump commits impeachable offenses and simply gets away with it because Republicans refuse to confront his treachery, let alone  do anything about it. But he's surrounded by people in important, powerful positions who are privy to big, important secrets, and they want him out of office. With their leaks about the Russian bounties, they have in effect put a bounty on Trump's head. He has been wounded by the coronavirus, he's wounded by the economy, he's wounded by Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the streets and he's getting grievously wounded by this. 

“You know he's desperate when he starts calling a real threat to the lives of our soldiers fighting on foreign soil a "hoax." Trump is a threat to our national security. He's not a president. He's a co-conspirator with dictators who are enemies of this country. He's a traitor, and he needs to go."

Oh, it's not just Kremlin "bounties" on US soldier lives, or the endless "deep state" insults or the slavish devotion and kowtowing to Putin or the relentless destruction of our alliances. The officer corps is furious that this miserable narcissist ordered an entire valuable, irreplaceable West Point graduating class to congregate and risk infection by a disease with longstanding CHRONIC repercussions just so he could yammer at them for 20 minutes then stumble down a ramp.

Any of you lefties who kneejerk refuse to accept as allies the brave women and men who wear crewcuts and hairbuns... you are too stupid for words.

== Last chance for unusual tactics? ==

We're getting locked in to the campaigns for November. I have tried everything to get my book of political ideas - Polemical Judo - before the eyes of anyone who might be interested in agile, new tactics (any one of which could have made a big difference, this year), and have got nowhere. Alas.

Well then, some humility. I'll do what I can, like urging many of you to step up, across the next few months. For example, this site offers not only ways to donate, but direct methods  for you to volunteer. Voter registration, for example. Phone banks. (Now you can do however many hours you feel like, from your own home.)  Or watch Trevor Noah who will give you links to volunteers as a poll worker, thus helping to thwart the coming wave of cheating.

== And finally… ==

A professor in Shanghai has offered a controversial solution to two major problems in China, an excess of 34 million males, plus a reluctance of Chinese women to have more than one child. The “solution”: allow women to have multiple husbands, and they will have multiple babies. What starts out almost sounding woman-liberating soon gets spoiled, however: “Plus, it would just be more efficient, he continued, suggesting that women would have no trouble meeting the physical needs of multiple husbands…. It’s common for prostitutes to serve more than 10 clients in a day,” Ng wrote, before taking off on another offensive tangent. “Making meals for three husbands won’t take much more time than for two husbands,” he added.

Okay, one starts to see a pattern why Russian, Japanese and Chinese women have been going on a low-simmer reproductive strike.


Mark Olbert said...

I enjoyed reading the section on the Electoral College since I was an elector (in California) in the 2016 Clinton/Trump election.

Personally, I'm fine with binding electors to the popular vote. The concept of the Electoral College was heavily influenced by fear the populace might choose a President who would bring down or otherwise seriously damage the republic. The French Revolution, which started around the time the Constitution was being drafted, demonstrated the risks of popular rule...particularly in the minds of those persons of property who had the most to lose. Which included many of those supporting the Constitution.

Letting electors, even transparently chosen ones, use their own judgment is pretty fundamentally undemocratic, IMHO. Jefferson said it best: democracy doesn't guarantee good government; done right, it guarantees representative government. If the people want to tear up a constitutional compact and do something stupid they're going to be able to, one way or another. The system can't defend itself from itself. That's up to each and all of us, by choosing to follow the rule of law and agreeing to accept the laws the rule of law enables us to codify. At least up until such time as we agree to change them :).

The duty of our chosen leaders to maintain the rule of law is why, personally, I fear Trump. As an individual he's not much more than a low-grade idiot who wouldn't have gotten where he was without his daddy setting him up for life in exchange for becoming the kind of sociopath his father apparently wanted. But his narcissistic personality and belief in his own destiny undermine the rule of law...which, if enough people become attracted to (for whatever reason) will doom us all when a competent Trump comes along. The rule of law rests on a shared belief, and beliefs are subject to change, sometimes rapidly.

The only thing we can depend on is each other. There is no divine presence (IMHO) that will come along to rescue us from ourselves. We all need to be willing to admonish each other when one of us goes off the rails (which, let's face it, we all do from time to time). It's the social part of being a social primate.

The interesting thing is that history -- for all it's horrors -- shows that's enough. If we remain committed to building a better shared future for all of us.

- Mark

p.s. -- Funny sidebar: When the Constitution was being pitched to the public many supporters referred to it as part of an ancient Western tradition, tracing back to Plato's Republic, which supposedly demonstrated how the desire to found a self-governing republic was a deep-seated desire of humanity. Which caused one supporter (I forget which one) to write another and say (updated to 21st century English), "Dude, have you actually read The Republic? It's about breeding and training a group of philosopher kings, and is about as far away from a democratic political system as you can get!" :)

Daniel Duffy said...

Many on the religious right love Putin and see him as a defender of White christian civilization from surrounding brown hordes of Muslims (or Hispanics). He has shown his willingness to slaughter Muslims in Chechnya and Syria while including the Orthodox faith as part of the government while instituting oppressive laws against women (and emphasized increased child births) while persecuting gays.

To the religious/cultural right Putin's Russia is their utopia.

How Russia Became the Leader of the Global Christian Right

The former speechwriter for Richard Nixon and intellectual flag-bearer of paleoconservatism—that authoritarian strain of thought linking both white nationalists and US President Donald Trump—wrote that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “entering a claim that Moscow is the Godly City of today[.]” Despite Putin’s rank kleptocracy, and the threat Moscow suddenly posed to stability throughout Europe, Buchanan blushed with praise for Putin’s policies, writing, “In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity.”

Why the Christian Right Shares Trump’s Affection for Putin

In almost every case it has been his distinctive combination of homophobia and Islamophobia that has made Putin one of the Christian right’s favorite international figures. The cultural conservative preference for authoritarian Christian Slavs who are fighting Muslims has, as Beinart notes, carried over from the Serbs to their traditional sponsors in Moscow, and most especially to the former KGB officer who has revived Russia’s pre-communist tradition of militantly traditionalist Christianity.

Putin’s attacks on “gay propaganda” have been particularly heartwarming to Christian-right folk, probably because of echoes they hear of their own longtime warnings about a sinister “homosexual agenda” pervading U.S. politics and culture.

scidata said...

Don't know which is cooler: 150m hop or 1st crewed splashdown in 45 years. Both could happen tomorrow.

Larry Hart said...

Mark Olbert:

Which caused one supporter (I forget which one) to write another and say (updated to 21st century English), "Dude, have you actually read The Republic? It's about breeding and training a group of philosopher kings, and is about as far away from a democratic political system as you can get!"

That reminds me of my reaction to the foreword in George Bernard Shaw's "Man and Superman". For someone writing at turn of the century (19th-to-20th), he sounded awfully progressive in his ideas that men and women should be free to choose who they reproduce with without artificial constraints like class and race and religion. And yet, his desired end of this experiment was to produce superior demigod-like "supermen" who would theoretically be wise and strong enough to be fit rulers of humanity.

Ahcuah said...

Dr. Brin wrote: Hence the Court declared that states may “punish” electors who decide to go their own way. It still doesn’t prevent the actual act of voting for someone other than their party’s candidate.

With all due respect, this is incorrect. On the same day, they also decided Colorado Department of State v. Baca, in which the petitioner presented the case as:

Like most States, Colorado requires its presidential electors to follow the will of its voters when casting their Electoral College ballots for President. In the 2016 Electoral College, one of Colorado’s electors violated Colorado law by attempting to cast his presidential ballot for a candidate other than the one he pledged to vote for. Colorado removed him as an elector, declined to accept his ballot, and replaced him with an alternate elector who properly cast her ballot for the winner of the State’s popular vote, consistent with Colorado law. The removed elector later sued Colorado for nominal damages.

The Supreme Court reversed the 10th Circuit's decision that that was not allowed. Thus, States also have the remedy of removing a faithless elector and substituting the vote of a faithful elector. So, as long as it is part of their state law, they can prevent the act of voting for somebody else.

Larry Hart said... actually printed and answered my question about why everyone suddenly agrees that the the Speaker of the House doesn't have to be a House member.

The last part of their response makes two points. "The first is that the Framers made a point of spelling out requirements for several offices (presidency, Senate, House); if they had requirements in mind for speaker/pro tem, they presumably would have done the same." Well, if they thought that it was self-evident that the Speaker would be a House member, then there'd be no reason to lay out separate qualifications for the position. The bit immediately after about the British House of Commons and about the Senate parliamentarian and sergeants at arms not being House members is a bit more compelling. But I'd also ask, if it's such a no-brainer that the Speaker doesn't have to be a House member, why has no such case ever happened in 240+ years of history?

A: Let's start with the question of "who is qualified" to be Speaker/President Pro Tem:

Article I, Sec. 2 says: "The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."

Article I, Sec. 3 says: "The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States."
The wording is almost identical, and includes no limitations on who might serve in those positions. That means that if the speaker need not be a member of the House, then the president pro tem need not be a member of the Senate.

As to L.H.'s assertion that it is "a qualification that goes without saying," we disagree (and nearly all legal scholars are with us on this). We've all spent the last 3+ years learning that there is a wide gulf between "what the law actually says" and "how we expect people to behave, based on common sense, civility and tradition." Ir the law does not actually lay out rules that "go without saying," then those rules do not exist.

Further, there is a strong argument that the Framers did not wish to limit these positions solely to the membership of the chamber they serve. Two arguments, in fact. The first is that the Framers made a point of spelling out requirements for several offices (presidency, Senate, House); if they had requirements in mind for speaker/pro tem, they presumably would have done the same. The second is that the models they were looking at (most obviously the Speaker of the House of Commons in the U.K.) were largely not partisans, and were not always elected members of their chambers. It was (somewhat) expected that the speaker/pro tem in Congress would perform mostly functional roles, and not that they would acquire actual political power. It's worth noting that most other functional roles within the two chambers (parliamentarian, sergeant-at-arms, etc.) are performed by non-elected non-partisan individuals.

And as to Pat Leahy, yes, we were being a little tongue-in-cheek when we wrote that. If the presidency really hung in the balance, the senators would take their choice very seriously. And it is quite likely they would choose Biden since, again, the pro tem need not be a member of the Senate.

David Brin said...

Mark olbert thanks and you are welcome here. Very interesting stuf & well-written.

Alas, the Electoral College is so badly flawed by the inherent gerrymandering of the distribution of states re rural vs urban that simply saying "you must vote along with the state voter plurality" is not much of a partial solution.

BTW since you clearly have political connections, I hope you'll get some of them to read Polemical Judo - my new ‘political book - is filled with 100+ original and effective tactics that no pundit or politician seems yet to have come up with. And if you really want better generalship in this political phase of Civil War, then get folks in high places to read it. You can download free chapters (!) at

And I'll gladly send full pdfs/

David Brin said...

And yes, Plato was a monster.

Daniel Duffy said...

The most immediate problem with the Electoral College is the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929, which fixed the number of Representatives at 435.

This created all sorts of distortions in the EC and congress, and is why the Wyoming delegation has proprtionally 4x the power in congress, and 4x the power to elect a president, than California does.

If we adopted the "Wyoming Rule", where the state with the smallest population (in this case Wyoming) gets one representative and becomes the basis for assigning congressmen and electors, then the total number of representatives would increase to 567 (328.2 million / 579,000) - with most of those increase going proportionally to states like California (from a current House delegation of 52 members to 68 members), Texas and New York.

For those who say that this would hurt small Red states I would say of course it does, but the House was always supposed to be democratic. It's why each state, large or small, gets two senators in the intentionally undemocratic Senate - and two extra electors - no matter what their population.

Daniel Duffy said...

As for the EC (which was intended to protect under populated slave states and now protects underpopulated Red states), that can be neutered by the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

Simply put, the member states of this compact have pledged (once enough of them have joined to equal the minimum 270 EC votes needed to win the presidency) to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia no matter what the vote was in their own state.

As of July 2020, it has been adopted by fifteen states and the District of Columbia, which have a total of 196 electoral votes counting Colorado, or 73% of the 270 votes needed to give the compact legal force.

It is pending in 5 more states with a total EC delegation of 64 - making a total of 260 votes, only 10 votes shy of the 270 needed to trigger the compact.

That leaves only one more blue state (Michigan?) or son to be Blue state (Arizona, Texas?) to put it over the top and make the EC the political equivalent of the human appendix - an necessary relic of early evolution.

It is perfectly constitutional as the constitution leaves it up to the individual states how they assign electors and how they vote.

P.S. And grant statehood to DC and Puerto Rico, making 52 states. The stars on the flag can be neatly arranged in 4 alternating double rows of 7 and 6 stars (13 x 4 = 52) = and give Blue states permanent control of the Senate. Something for President Biden and the Democratic majority in the senate to approve once they get rid of the filibuster (like the EC, another racist relic of slave/segregationist state protection).

P.P.S The populations of rural prairie red states (like Nebraska) are falling. There is a certain minimum number of people a territory needs to become a state. If the population falls below this minimum, does it revert back to being a territory?

TCB said...

@ Larry Hart, your answer makes it clear that the House could choose a Speaker who is not a member, but history indicates that they never actually would. It's the job they all want and it's all but unimaginable that they would ever have a sufficient motive to choose outside their own.

Re: Putinism and fascism, I'm sure I have mentioned the 1997 book The Beast Reawakens by Martin A. Lee. It details how fascists survived World War 2, laid low for decades while making money and cultivating conservative friends in high places all over the globe, and by the late 1990's were finally becoming bold enough to emerge from the shadows. When I read it, I found the chapter on Russian neofascists to be the least interesting part... but I should find a copy and read it again. It turned out to be important.

Zepp Jamieson said...

First, I'm delighted "Good Omens" won the Hugo for best television broadcast. It's a delight to watch, true to the spirit of the Gaiman/Pratchett collaboration, and David Tennent is an absolute joy.

If the officer class aren't "on our side" America is finished. I've been saying all along that with Trump, it's going to be Us or Him. And sometime between now and January, the military will play a deciding role.

Zepp Jamieson said...

About two years ago I wrote a thought experiment on how to reduce the disproportionate representation in the Senate and the EC inherent in the Senate gerrymander. And yes, it is a gerrymander, even if enshrined in the Constitution. In an effort to reduce the inequality, I worked with the notion that the ten most populous states be given a third Senator (and EC vote) each, and the ten least populated reduced to one senator. I then compared it to the Senate and relative populations of the states as existed in 1800, and discovered that with my scheme implemented, the disproportionate array of vote weights was still greater than what the Founders came up with to protect the South. If anyone is interested, I can link to the article in which I show my math.

Jon S. said...

"And sometime between now and January, the military will play a deciding role."

Or, more importantly, will decline to play a deciding role. We do not want a military coup, no matter what some folks have been saying lately. Those seldom work out well.

Ahcuah said...

Here's an article from the History News Network that gives the background on how we ended up with the Electoral College. Short answer: there was a lot of vacillation before they settled on what they did. What the Faithless Electors Decision Says about SCOTUS and Originalism. Also, while they were a "college", it was never intended that they meet, or even do any sort of coordination. This was supposedly to reduce "intrigue". Obviously, they never even guessed at near-instantaneous communications. (Or Facebook :-) )

David Brin said...

"And sometime between now and January, the military will play a deciding role."

If they must do so openly or loudly or overtly, then real damage will be done.

Far more likely, they will use retired officers to approach eminent Republicans and hint strongly that enough is enough. Ideally, we'll never know the details... as we'll never know how they finally got rid of that monster, Donald Rumsfeld.

Zepp please offer up the link to your experiment. Each of you should feel free to do an occasional blog that we can point people to, when appropriate.

TCB said...

I liked Good Omens, buuuuut Watchmen on HBO is a masterpiece and it got robbed. (It was nominated twice in the Dramatic Short form category and lost to what I assume is the final episode of The Good Place, of which I haven't seen the last season yet. Maybe it's that good, too, but I find it hard to imagine how.

Donald Rumsfeld... now there is a name I have not heard in a long time. (strokes chin Kenobi-ly)... My position is that Dubya and his crew were stage 3 cancer, Barack Obama was a temporary remission, and Trump and his minions are stage 4 with metastases everywhere. At this point the doctors all say "If we throw everything we have at it, chemo, surgery, radiation... 50/50 is the best we can do."

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jon S: A very important distinction, that. Ideally, the military will quietly refuse to carry out illegal and unconstitutional orders. Anything else brings us into the realm of milltary coups.

Robert said...

Jon, remember Lord Falkland's rule. Declining to decide is still a decision.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Thank you, doctor. I'm happy to take you up on that:
Senate reapportion article here:

Larry Hart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

FYI, this is what I get when I click on that site using Chrome:

Here’s why could be risky
We scanned this site and found that it’s not as secure as it should be. Please click with caution.

About this site
Website category:

A German Nurse said...

Apparently, Deutsche Bank started a review of some of the DeBa/Trump/Kushner Deals...

Perhaps they hear the clock ticking.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Yipes! Thanks, Larry. I'll try and track that down.

Larry Hart said...

On my fourth reading of Earth, this bit struck me. It's on page 117 of my paperback edition, just after the old gremper Joseph tells Remi, Roland, and Crat how girls used to be back in his day--that they would do anything for a boyfriend as long as he promised he loved her.

Remi suspected Joseph was exaggerating. But that didn't matter. Even if it was all a load of bull semen, it was great bull semen.

And that, I suspect, is precisely the attraction his followers feel toward Donald Trump. They love his narrative, even if they don't entirely believe it to be factual.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

Thanks Zepp. (I had no Chrome sign-in warnings.)

AGN I know how a mid-upper management person could rise rapidly in a company like Deutsche Bank, that has an already-ruined reputation. Step up and announce:

"I was up for a big promotion." (It helps if you were.) "But I was told that no one gets into higher ranks in this company unless they have given the puppet string holders control over them with blackmail ammunition. I was told that I would be invited to a certain place at a certain time and given opportunities 'to enjoy myself' in ways that might prove devastating, if the video were released. Then, knowing I could be trusted, they would give the promotion. I have since then delayed complying and tried to find a way out. And doesn't this method of control explain so much in the news? But it is now clear I have no choice. I love this company. I love my honor even more. We deserve better leadership that is beholden to stockholders and customers and our fellow citizens, not to secret mafiosi."

Imagine the reaction? Of course he'd be fired, but would management’s frenetic denials be believed by anyone? And there'd be a good chance he'd get that promotion when a housecleaning seeks honest employees to put up top.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: Couldn't replicate the issue, including Windows version of Chrome, and my malware scanner came back clean. Nor did I spot any "potentially unwanted programs", security is good and the usual irritants (cookies and trackers) tightly controlled. You ought to be safe to proceed. If you or anyone else experience any such warning, please let me know.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Deutsche Bank is up against the wall, and looking for scapegoats to save their skins. Not a good time for a junior employee to wave arms and shout, "I'm a potential adversary who needs to be discredited and can be easily dismissed as a disgruntled employee!"

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Larry: Couldn't replicate the issue, including Windows version of Chrome,

I think the warning came from McAfee, not from Chrome itself. In any case, it's good to "know" someone well enough for a certain amount of trust. I clicked through anyway.

duncan cairncross said...

I thought this would be interesting

From the "Political Orphans" - skullduggery from the White House - what a surprise!

Larry Hart said...

I said:

"Remi suspected Joseph was exaggerating. But that didn't matter. Even if it was all a load of bull semen, it was great bull semen."

And that, I suspect, is precisely the attraction his followers feel toward Donald Trump. They love his narrative, even if they don't entirely believe it to be factual.

My next question was going to be what we can do to fight this? Can we come up with our own narrative that is more compelling than Trump's?

For me personally, the answer is obvious, and perhaps why I'm immune to the Mule's charms in the first place. The narrative I love even if I don't entirely believe it to be factual is the myth of what America is supposed to be. Hamilton, Camelot, Casablanca, All The President's Men, Yankee Doodle Dandy, heck even Superman and Captain America are the stories which instill a reverence for democracy and justice and freedom from tyranny. All of which inoculates me against any temptation to pine for someone to "Save your white suburbs", especially since, in the era of "suburban housewives" he evokes, neither Catholics nor Jews were allowed in those suburbs.

But for those midwestern white Trump voters who don't share my reverence for the American Ideal, what stories can we give them to wean them off of the willing suspension of disbelief that allows them to buy into Trumpism? I'm really asking the question.

David Brin said...

Zepp there comes a time when the writing's on the wall and you have a lot more upside by pulling a stunt like that than the downside of having to move on.

Alfred Differ said...


Depending where that disgruntled employee lives, they could push for a wrongful termination lawsuit. If they line up the legal advice early and make a side deal with a willing manager to ensure they are 'wrongfully' fired, they'd split the winnings with that manager who would (of course) also get fired.

This scenario happened with one of my early employers when a performance eval was doctored after the employee signed off. That employee was fired for something they didn't do, sued, and won since they had their own dated copy of the eval. The manager was fired too. Later, they met and split the award. [Obviously they had to trust each other, but the award was pretty decent... and motivating.]

Never underestimate what employees will do when trust gets broken or doesn't exist. Someone revealing what is going on at DeBa could probably open a GoFundMe site and get quite a payday.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: "I think the warning came from McAfee, not from Chrome itself. In any case, it's good to "know" someone well enough for a certain amount of trust. I clicked through anyway."

That trust is appreciated, and I hope earned. These days you can't be too careful.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dr. True that. It's a quandary faced by nearly anyone who mounts a high-profile challenge against a powerful opponent. Cue Karen Silkwood.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Bit surprised your employer was foolish enough to give the employee a dated true version of the eval. I have a sneaking suspicion they got away with it often enough that they felt immune to possible consequences. Kudos to your erstwhile fellow employee!

A German Nurse said...

@Electoral College:
I just wondered if, in a Sci Fi scenario, the Electoral College system might see a revival if there were two set conditions: Faster-Than-Light Travel allowing to colonize other stars, and the absence of a technology to communicate directly between the member worlds of the governing interstellar republic. Normally, this situation is used to explain neofeudalism, especially with "slow" FTL travel times (for example, traveling from one system to another taking days or weeks, and possibly months for a tour from the center of the republic to the fringes). Perhaps it would take a year or so to determine who becomes the next interstellar president, the post ships carrying the electors to the capital world where the actual presidential election would take place.

A German Nurse said...

"Imagine the reaction? Of course he'd be fired, but would management’s frenetic denials be believed by anyone? And there'd be a good chance he'd get that promotion when a housecleaning seeks honest employees to put up top."

Hmmmh. If he made it loud enough, he might get fame for a few weeks, getting invited to talk shows and such, perhaps even get the opportunity of publishing an autobiography, the public opinion would either see him as a hero or a narcissistic self-promoter. His days in normal banking could be over, but, with a bit of luck, he could enter politics and re-enter the Deutsche Bank via the Supervisory Board when he retires from politics.

Or, even better, is elected as a parliamentary secretary to oversee the Finance Department's regulatory agency. It takes a thief to catch a thief, as they say.

But otherwise ... the chances for ever working in the financial sector are dim. Your idea of benevolent, enlightened billionaires offering a prize and protection for whistleblowers sounds better and better each day. But where are they?

A German Nurse said...

@Alfred Differ: Might work in the US, but not here. Compensation for job loss is fairly limited (usually 1/2 monthly wage per year of company affiliation), and the money is subject to taxes and social insurance payments.

Some conspiracy theory:
Since the government is somewhat entwined with the DeBa, I could also think of the review as a threat: "Let's talk again about your withdrawal of troops from Germany, Donnie, or we might 'review' your other deals with us."