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10 November 2016

The Results are the Results. Get over it.

By the simple standards of normal democracy, Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Presidential Election (but only just!). But she lost it.

But America (like Britain) doesn't operate by those simple standards. Clinton won the national popular vote, and one would think that this would decide who becomes the national President. But it didn't, because the result of the popular vote in each individual State was translated into a certain number of Electoral College Votes by a formula designed to make some States' votes more powerful than others, according to the population number in each State. And it is the Electoral College votes that decide the winner. (At least, that is how I .. as a foreigner .. understand the system. No doubt some friendly American will correct me if I'm wrong).

Similarly (though not exactly the same) in Britain, electing one MP from a long list of candidates by the "First past the post" system almost guarantees that the winner does not command an overall majority.

So, the results are in, and the result is President-elect Trump. There is absolutely no point in all these anti-Trump demonstrations currently going on in America, with people holding placards saying "Trump is not my President". I'm sorry, but yes he is! The result is the result and you have to live with it. Get over it. That's democracy according to the American system. You should have had demonstrations long before this, campaigning for a different voting system.

Similarly in Britain, it is no use complaining about the results of a General Election that gives you a so-called majority government because one Party returned more MPs than another Party, and most of those MPs didn't actually represent a clear majority in each constituency. For most of my life I have belonged to a Party that espouses the cause of Proportional Representation. Meanwhile, I am obliged to accept the results of an electoral system with which I disagree.

The Trump phenomenon has been compared to the recent "Brexit" phenomenon where there appears to have been a general popular uprising against the status quo, concern over jobs, prejudice and fear over immigration figures, and a dislike of the "ruling elite". I voted to remain in the European Union, as did nearly half the population, but slightly more than half voted the other way. This saddened me, but I have no option but to accept the result with good grace and hope that we can all get on with making the new reality work. Of course, there was no issue here on the democratic process, because it was a national vote on a simple binary choice, IN or OUT. The issue itself was far more complex, but the electoral system itself was straightforward.

In conclusion, then, I am saying that Americans (and the British, and the rest of the world) have to accept the reality of a Trump Presidency, and make the best of it. The system that brought it about, i.e., a strange voting system, cash-rich candidates, and unlimited expenditure on negative TV  advertising, is another fight for another day.

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