Half-n-Half, Still

A while back I wrote about the perplexing “half-n-half” character of the American electorate. On Morning Joe today the hosts ran through the polls in battleground states and nationwide, showing a virtual tie between the President and his challenger. This, after two years of the Republicans making a case against the President on the campaign circuit and following about five months of the final choice in front of us: Pres Obama and Gov Romney. Each candidate was able to amass outrageous amounts of money. Each one in turn brought together on occasion tens of thousands of followers in rallies. The political contest brought to light wildly unacceptable conditions for voters in some states. It is unAmerican to be forced to wait five hours to vote by bureaucrats who are charged with making the election system function in a rational way. Free speech allowed at times for stunning accusations and despicable charges, which is totally American in form and content. Politics has never been clean. Ask Jefferson. Ask Adams. We can live with that. The citizen’s job is to sort through the muck and smoke to find a believable explanation of what is going on and where your candidate wants to take you. I remain baffled, however, by the way the numbers break down. It all seems so improbable in a nation of more than 300 million people. How can the subset of voters hear and see one thing in Alabama and a quite different thing in California? How does our extreme pluralism fall into 50-50 splits in state after state? It’s not like I know what somebody in Idaho is doing, and am taking the opposite side just to be contrary. This is how the jelly beans spill out on the floor, red to one side, blue to the other, pretty much in equal amounts.

I heard one analyst with Chris Matthews say last night that whichever side loses will “be aggrieved.” In a winner-take-all system as we have, the loser has to swallow hard. It’s not like one group gets the Presidency and the other group gets the Vice Presidency. The designers of our political system worried a lot about minority rights and the potential tyranny of the majority, but the election system gives complete domination to the person who earns 50.1 percent. Even more bizarre, someone tomorrow could win the popular vote and lose the electoral college vote. We’ve seen it before. Add that to the toxic cocktail that may be on the table Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. Think about what a cleansing effect a 70 percent result for one candidate would have. I had not seen a positive figure in that range for ages, until last week when President Obama’s approval rating for his handling of Hurricane Sandy was reported in the media. It think the number was about 68 percent in one poll. What a relief to see some agreement. The old quart bottle of Half-n-Half got smashed on the sidewalk.