By Elpidio R. Estioko
As we move on to the shifting of the impeachment trial from the Senate to the American people come November election, I was reminded of a quote from a former President of the Republic of the Philippines: “My loyalty to my party ends when my loyalty to my country begins.” This was a neat statement from then Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon during the American regime in our country.
This is a very strong commitment for a party man, but is this really happening? Well, I would say, its easier said than done, right? Here in the US lately, it was just the opposite of what happened. US President Donald Trump was just acquitted from the two impeachment articles along party lines. In article two, all GOP senators voted to acquit Trump and all Democratic senators voted to remove Trump – along party lines (48-52). In the first article, there was one GOP senator in the person of Mitt Romney who sided with the Democrats to convict Trump 49-51 – still a party line decision with only one man going against his own party, but Romney has to suffer the consequences from his party mates, most especially from Trump: Romney was vilified in DC for vote to convict Trump.
Corollary to this is the quotation by the late US President John F. Kennedy when he said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
These two quotations talk about loyalty to a group. The first group being a political party and the second group to the country itself. Both, however, are difficult to follow and you can count from your finger very few politicians who actually break the principle of party loyalty.
In an article written by Russell J. Dalton titled Party Identification and Its Implications, early electoral research in the United States discovered the most important concept in the study of political behavior is party identification. The members want to be identified with the group. “Party identification is a long-term, affective attachment to one’s preferred political party. Cross-national research finds that these party identities are a potent cue in guiding the attitudes and behavior of the average person. Partisans tend to repeatedly support their preferred party, even when the candidates and the issues change. Party ties mobilize people to vote to support their party, and to work for the party during the campaign. And given the limited information most people have about complex political issues, party ties provide a cue to what positions one should support. The levels of partisanship among contemporary publics, and how it varies across nations and across time, are described. The implications of these patterns, and the current research debates on the significance of partisanship for democracies today, are likewise discussed and emphasized.” It’s really difficult to break that partisan membership unless of course the members would consider policies and other issues of national interest to benefit them and face the consequences, just like what happened to Romney.
With the Senate impeachment trial now over, the issue still continues and is very much at the helm of the national political landscape nudging the electorate to make their decisions through the ballots exercising their inherent rights to vote.
Reaching out to people is now the name of the game for both parties. Democrats, however, need to learn from the past that it’s the electoral votes that matters, not the popular votes. Two of the nation’s last three presidents won the presidency in the Electoral College, even though they lost the popular vote nationwide. In 2000, Al Gore outpolled George W. Bush by more than 540,000 votes but lost in the Electoral College, 271–266. Sixteen years later, Hillary Clinton tallied almost 3 million more votes than Donald Trump but lost decisively in the Electoral College, 306–232. And, as a recent New York Timespoll suggested, the 2020 election could very well again deliver the presidency to the loser of the popular vote.
It’s the same Trump who won over Clinton who garnered more popular votes than he had, who is running for re-election this election year, so the Democrats need to learn from the past. They need to make sure they have enough delegates/ electoral votes to win the presidency. It’s the Electoral College that will catapult them to the presidency.
The Electoral College is a process established in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers in part, as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. It is a process that consists of the selection of the electorswho will vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress.
The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your State has the same number of electors as it does Members in its Congressional delegation: one for each Member in the House of Representatives plus two Senators.
Honestly, the Electoral College is a thing in the past, meaning it may not apply any more to the present times as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. But, for as long as it is still not amended, it is still a matter the politicians need not ignore. It needs two thirds of supermajority in Congress and three fourths to be ratified by the states. Besides, it’s a long process we can’t do at this time, so we are stocked with the Electoral College this coming November.
Even with the confused dilemma of electoral votes and popular votes, we, the people, need to really cast our votes this coming November! You are the new jurors in the trial for presidency!
(Elpidio R. Estiokowas a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ firstname.lastname@example.org)