Remember: Neither candidate received a majority of the popular vote. (Please see the information I pulled off of Wikipedia, to the right, summarizing the vote counts so far.) This would be a narrow “win” for Hillary were the United States a plurality-is-enough democracy and not a mixed-system republic.
But this is a republic, and it’s the distributed, decentralizing check of the Electoral College that counts. And the College requires a majority.
It will be interesting to see how many elector defectors there are!
An elector can vote for anybody. If laws in an elector’s representative state have been enacted to regulate elector behavior, that state can punish. But I am pretty sure it cannot prevent a rogue vote. There have been rogue votes before. Were there enough to take away a Trump win, the whole election of the President of the United States goes to the House of Representatives.
This is the system our Founding Fathers — who were far wiser than are either shrill Hillary or vulgar Donald — built for us.With a technical victory in the Electoral College, and a lack of even a plurality victory in the popular vote, anything like a “mandate” — that quaint Chinese notion! — can only be illusory.
And no physical laws have been repealed. Neither have any economic ones. Causes have consequences, and a few of them are predictable on the pattern, eyes-wide-open/scanning-the-horizon level.
But precisely what happens in the next few weeks and months is inherently unpredictable, even by determinists. Right now, the most powerful people in America are the electors who will head off to their “colleges” on December 19. (There is no actual collegium in the geographical sense: the electors meet in their respective states.) Thirty-six electors is a huge spread, of course; Trump’s win sure looks secure. But, were something dramatic to happen in the next month, and Trump goes off reservation, or is indicted for some horrid crime. . . .
If you have been astounded at how weird this election has become, know this: it can indeed get weirder. Probably won’t, but still: this is America, and your vote does not count. It is only one drop in the bucket of a complex system designed to transfer power peacefully. Not optimally — whatever that could possibly mean.