Yes, it’s time for one of the regrettable lapses into politics on this blog; occasioned by the vitriol thrown at Donald Trump’s Presidency, which is of dubious historical merit when considered under the headings of mandate, legitimacy, and suitability.
Donald Trump got 46% of the popular vote.
Bill Clinton got 43.01% of the popular vote in 1992.
Woodrow Wilson got 41.8% of the popular vote in 1912.
Armando Iannucci is one of many people to claim that Trump has no mandate, because more people voted for someone else.
Well, the only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to win over 50% of the popular vote, isn’t it?
If a candidate must receive more than 50% of the popular vote to have a mandate, then no Democrat President in the 20th and 21st centuries has ever had a mandate except Franklin D Roosevelt, Lyndon B Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama.
By contrast every Republican President from William McKinley’s 51% in 1896 onward has had a mandate, except Richard Nixon, George W Bush, and Donald Trump; and Nixon and Bush both achieved over 50% of the vote on re-election.
The electoral college system is silly, but it’s been silly for a long time now.
Andrew Jackson blew a gasket in 1824 when he was denied the Presidency.
But it wasn’t fixed then.
Rutherford B Hayes ended Reconstruction in 1876 to be let be President.
But it wasn’t fixed then.
Nor in 1888, nor in 2000, because, like AV in England, it is politically insoluble.
If you weep for Hilary Clinton’s near 3 million votes and no Presidency, did you also weep for Nigel Farage’s 5 million votes and only 1 (previously filched Tory) seat in 2015?
Hilary Clinton effectively built up massive and useless majorities in safe seats, while Donald Trump eked out tiny majorities in seats that could be flipped, and so won with equal legitimacy as David Cameron did in 2015.
Trump as an unsuitable character to be President…
More unsuitable than Johnson, who boasted that he’d had more women by accident than JFK had on purpose?
More unsuitable than JFK, who was so out of control new Secret Service agents were aghast at being assigned hooker detail?
More unsuitable than Nixon and Reagan, who both committed treason to win the Presidency?
Should the Republicans only be allowed to nominate candidates approved by the Democrats?
Would the Democrats then be happy to only nominate candidates approved by the Republicans?
Wasn’t that instinct what led to Watergate – Nixon trying to swing the nomination towards McGovern because he felt, and rightly so, that he could easily destroy him in the campaign proper?
Donald Trump is the President.
He has more of a mandate than Bill Clinton in 1992, Richard Nixon in 1968, and Woodrow Wilson in 1912.
He has the same legitimacy as John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and George W Bush.
And he has fought fewer duels than fellow populist and all round short-fuse exponent Andrew Jackson.
All three strands are ahistoric rationalisations obscuring the raw howl ‘I voted for the other candidate!’.
Well, in a two-party system, there is a 50/50 chance that the other candidate wins every 4 years.
And then you wait for the next roll of the dice in 4 years and place your money on your candidate again.