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FAITHLESS ELECTORS 11/10/16 76 PM
The secret racist history of the Electoral College
By Andrew Joyce
In the early morning hours after Election Day, in 2012, Donald Trump tweeted:
At the time Trump falsely believed that Mitt Romney had won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College. Trump’s English is a bit off; he appears to have meant that “the loser” won, not, as he had it, one. Trump later deleted the tweet, but others like this one remain on in his twitter feed:
Trump sure was right about that—as we’ve all too painfully seen now that Trump won the presidency while, if the current numbers hold, losing the popular vote.
The Electoral College is an embarrassment to our nation, and not just because it subverts the will of the voting majority. The Electoral College was designed to protect an evil American institution, slavery.
As Yale constitutional law professor Akhil Reed Amar writes in his latest book. The Constitution Today, “The Electoral College was designed at Philadelphia and was revised in the wake of the Jefferson-Adams-Burr election of 1800-1801 to advantage the slaveholding South.”
Many history books will tell you that the Electoral College was devised by the founders because they feared that the electorate was too ill-informed to make the decision themselves. But there’s plenty of evidence to show that protecting the institution of slavery—and not a fear of low-information voters—motivated the decision.
As Amar points out, Northern politician James Wilson made the case during the Constitutional Convention for directly electing the president. But Southern slave-owner and future president James Madison shot down Wilson’s idea on the grounds that southern states “could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes.”
Madison was referring the infamous “three-fifths compromise,” which allowed the South to count each black slave as three-fifths of a person for determining how much representation that state got in the nation’s capital. If the president was directly elected by voters—a category that was limited at that time to white property-owning men—then the South would have less say in electing the president. Only by relying on the Electoral College, with its electors allocated using the skewed math of the three-fifths compromise, could the south maintain a strong voice in selecting the president and protect their interests. That’s why, as Amar writes, the Electoral College “was an integral part of the odious pro-slavery three-fifths compromise.”
Years later, it would become even more apparent that slavery was a key reason for preserving the Electoral College. After an Electoral College fiasco in the election of 1800—yes, the one you remember from the Hamilton soundtrack—Congress passed the 12th Amendment, revisiting the concept of an Electoral College.
Amar notes in his book that, by that point, the emergence of political parties in the United States had erased the problem of an uninformed electorate. With parties, voters did not have to decide between a roster of men whose values they were unfamiliar with. They could, instead, select candidates from two parties with defined visions for the country. But despite this fact, the Electoral College persisted. And why wouldn’t it? The extra Electoral College votes that the southern states had earned from the three-fifths compromise had given them just enough votes to make Thomas Jefferson, a slave-holding southerner, the president of the United States.
It took another 60 years and a civil war to abolish the institution of slavery. Who knows what it will take to get rid of slavery’s dogged cousin, the Electoral College.
Story TagsTagsNEWSELECTIONSDONALD TRUMP2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONELECTION DAY 2016
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TABLOID TRAUMA 11/10/16 2:53 PM
A portrait of media venality in the Donald Trump era
Twitter; People; AP
By Alexis C. Madrigal
If you’re an editor of a publication, the most important job you have is protecting and advocating for your people. That’s the alpha and omega, the most important thing, the cherished principle of the guild.
Which brings me to the case of People and Entertainment Weekly editorial director, Jess Cagle.
That’s him sympathetically nodding as he interviews former People reporter Natasha Stoynoff about the time Donald Trump allegedly groped her while his pregnant wife Melania was in the other room.
Stoynoff, recall, published a piece in People about the experience:
When we took a break for the then-very-pregnant Melania to go upstairs and change wardrobe for more photos, Donald wanted to show me around the mansion. There was one “tremendous” room in particular, he said, that I just had to see… We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat. Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.
Cagel wrote a statement to accompany the story, saying the magazine was “grateful” she’d come forward.
Ms. Stoynoff is a remarkable, ethical, honest and patriotic woman, and she has shared her story of being physically attacked by Donald Trump in 2005 because she felt it was her duty to make the public aware. To assign any other motive is a disgusting, pathetic attempt to victimize her again. We stand steadfastly by her, and are proud to publish her clear, credible account of what happened. It is heartbreaking that her fear of retaliation by Trump kept her from reporting the incident when it happened. She has carried this secret for more than a decade, and we hope that by coming forward now she is relieved of that burden.
The story, most certainly, was People‘s biggest of the election. Cagle was honored later in the month with a “Visionary Award” by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network in which he gave a speech about his experience growing up gay in Texas and the “painful reminders” of bigotry he encountered. No doubt he was given many a shoulder clap at the reception about his bravery in running Stoynoff’s story and standing up for the magazine’s reporter to Donald Trump.
And here is the new cover of People magazine.
Inside, you’d find a bunch of ass-kissing and “pandering,” if you were to pick this magazine up off the newsstand, which I sincerely hope you won’t.
This is venal. Venal! Shameful. Unconscionable.
How could you sit across from Stoynoff, feeling her pain, and then put her alleged abuser on the cover of your magazine?
Sure, I know it’s People. It’s not the voice of the opposition. And these are hard jobs and most people don’t understand the stresses that come with them. But you took the Stoynoff traffic. You posed from the moral high grounds. You accepted the congratulations on your bravery.
And then you sold out the magazine’s reporter—and the rest of the staff, too.
There are lines you cannot cross. If the powers that be want you to run something like this, Jess Cagle: fight or resign. That’s it.
In your first moral test of the new administration, you got an F.
Story TagsTagsNEWSMEDIAPOLITICSWOMENDONALD TRUMP
HOW THE SAUSAGE GETS MADE 11/10/16 2:10 PM
I spent Election Night with the regular-ass suburban white people who elected Trump
By Molly Osberg
It was about 2 AM when the bartender at a Staten Island dive turned up the volume on Fox to hear the astonished newscasters name-drop the deplorables, and then the Brexit. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” the anchors informed us. “It’s a whole country just going, ‘We’ve had it with y’all.’”
I had just been arguing with Jimmy, a 24-year-old with a helmet of slicked-back blonde hair and a satisfied grin. Jimmy had also had it with y’all. He jumped out of his seat and across the bar to flag down another beer, caught up in the moment. Though he told me earlier he hates Trump, Jimmy did vote for the guy: “If we weren’t such sheep then we’d have someone better than a moron and a murderer,” is the way he put it. Though I don’t agree on all the particulars of his analysis, I do see where he’s coming from.
Jimmy’s a businessman himself, he told me proudly; he has a business degree and works in accounting. “Obama, Dubya, Clinton”—he counted them on his fingers—none of our leaders have been men who move money around. Maybe, he said, we should just try a change of leadership and “see how it feels,” as if this were a middle-management shakeup or a second date. Or maybe, he suggested, we should have all just refused to vote. But of course we didn’t. Jimmy cast his ballot, and I did too, and less than an hour from this moment Trump will be named the president-elect.
Maybe, he said, we should just try a change of leadership and “see how it feels,” as if this were a middle-management shakeup or a second date.
Spending the evening in one of New York City’s only Republican strongholds felt like a better idea at 8 PM on Election Night than it did by the time I started talking to Jimmy. I had a map of the handful of pubs I wanted to visit, and a plan. Around dinnertime a crew of retired guys who’d been drinking together since grade school put a Budweiser on their tab for me. We were in the oldest bar in the borough. The pot-bellied seniors suggesting they voted for Hillary did so without using her name. “Usually I don’t talk politics with a drink in front of me,” a Vietnam vet in aviator glasses leaned in to say. “But I have eight grandchildren, and I’m afraid for the world we’ll leave them with.” As I walked towards the door he told me he was glad I was an American, to which I replied, awkwardly, “Thank you, you too.”
At my next stop, around 9 PM, I found slimy pizza on the table and green Christmas lights snaked between bottles of booze. I pulled out my notebook and wrote that the bar was between a Chinese restaurant and liquor store. I wrote down that Obama was running up the national debt, but not that the guy who thought that tried to explain what debt was to me. I wrote notes on the dudes in matching black shirts and star-spangled Make America Great Again hats—they were arguing about whether “Proud to be an American” is too slow and for pussies. (It wasn’t; they played it on the jukebox twice.) It was still pretty early, but they were doing shots of Jameson, and one said he’d only talk to me if I brought more girls to the bar. I wrote down that there were no girls there, except for me.
They were arguing about whether “Proud to be an American” is too slow and for pussies. (It wasn’t; they played it twice.)
Actually there was one other woman, the bartender. She was middle-aged, tiny. Her hair and her eyeliner were exactly the same color: jet-black. As she slid me some peanuts she glanced at the TV and said she hasn’t been this nervous about a presidential election, ever. When she was in the Air Force politicians came to the base in Colorado year after year, but she was usually unimpressed. The most intense electoral feeling she’s ever had, up until now, was about Bill Clinton: “I have no use for Bill.” When he reduced the force she was “involuntarily separated.” Now she’s a carpenter by trade: “When he gets in, I want to help him build the wall,” she told me. I wrote down everything she told me, because it’s my job, but also because I was supposed to be writing a story about what it was like in the Republican bars when Hillary Clinton became the first female president.