In a short span of two years, people across three continents have delivered three historic mandates which shall have far reaching impact on the global affairs. There are some well known similarities between them. All three polls leading to these mandates generated global interest; they became hot topic of discussions and polarized the respective nations to an unprecedented extent.
What is not highlighted is the fact that in all three polls the verdict was against the opinion of the established political coterie of the so called ‘elites’ including the mainstream media of the respective nations. It seems they are still not able to digest this bitter pill. The latest case in this series is of US presidential elections.
Just like The Economist and innumerable Indian Media houses campaigned actively against Modi, the American mainstream media ran a frenzied campaign against Trump. Post election, they are trying their best to show that Trump victory is actually not a victory since Hillary Clinton has got more popular Votes than him. The American system of presidential election helps to obfuscate the issue. A closer look at the facts reveals the truth. To see through the deception created by the American media, one needs to have basic facts right.
The evolution of American democratic system is closely related to its history as an evolving nationhood. It is a great irony that the nation which started on the premise of ‘all men are created equal’, continued with the slavery system for next hundred years. The USA kept adding more and more states to the union for almost 200 years either by mutual consent or by purchasing or conquering land from other colonies. For these and more such historic reasons, they have established a three tier system. First is the house of representatives which has a two year term and the number of representatives allotted to each state is proportional to the population of the state. The senate is perpetual with 1/3 rd Senators retiring every two years. Each state irrespective of its population has two senators. The Presidential election follows entirely separate route.
To elect the President, each state elects the electors. Each state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for each Senator. Therefore the number of electors allotted to each state is different.
USA is very unevenly populated. Out of the total population of 28 Crore people [2010 Census] almost 45% population resides in just 7 states out of total 50 states. They also get a proportionate share of electors. California being the biggest of it all, with 3.72 Crore population has an allotment of 55 electors out of total 538. However, the people do not vote for the electors but for the Presidential candidates selected by the parties through Primaries and Caucuses held in each State. In all states except Maine and Nebraska, winner takes it all system is followed. Whichever candidate receives a majority of the popular vote, or a plurality of the popular vote (less than 50 percent but more than any other candidate), takes all of the state’s Electoral votes, i.e. all the electors supporting him are deemed to be elected. This creates a possibility that one may get more popular votes over all but less electors in number to support the person. In 2016 election Hillary Clinton got 13 lakh more popular Votes than Trump. She got 62,523,126 Popular Votes as against 61,201,031 Popular Votes to Trump but Trump got 306 electors while Hillary got 232 electors to support her. [These figures may change after possible recount and final tallys.]
She also got majority in California and consequently the 55 electors to back her. The large population of California helped Hillary Clinton to gain numerical majority in popular votes. But minus California, trump has a numerical lead of 21 lakh popular Votes.
Except California, Trump has popular support in majority of states big enough to wipe out the gain of 55 electors which Hillary Clinton got due to winning California. And if we consider the past trends in California, this election was not much about Clinton Versus Trump.
California has supported Democratic Party continuously since 1992 irrespective of the candidate!!
If we further consider the fact that the overall public opinion was going against Democratic Party for the last few years as can be seen by the trends of elections of House of Representatives, it becomes plain enough that American people have voted in a consistent trend. Only thing which bothers the USA media and the political coterie is that the republican candidate is not up to their taste and perceived standards.
As compared to the US election Brexit is a much more fractured verdict. It seems the decision to remain or leave in European Union after 41 years was not an easy one for people. The distinct trends in Scotland for ‘remain’ suggest the deep divide between Scotland and rest of the UK. But perhaps it is because of this that the equally distinct rural versus urban divide goes unnoticed. Yet more underplayed fact is that the media and the power coterie of UK had supported the ‘remain’ motion to the maximum possible extent.
People now fear that somehow the brexit verdict will be bypassed via legal tangle.
The emerging trends are really getting clear. For one, the established media and the ruling elites, the Washington DC class and the Lutyen’s Delhi, shall strive hard to regain their grip over the power centers. Their opposition will be for the sake of opposition and not issue based. Their egos and interests will not allow them to introspect. However favorable the public opinion may be for the demonetization drive of Modi, Indian media shall try to vitiate the atmosphere by highlighting the grievances of the transition phase. Whatever decisions Trump may make in coming days, he will face strong opposition from the established lobbies and media in US. UK may try to bypass the ‘leave’ decision by making several complicated treaties.
The public reaction is clearly identifying these classes as leftist in the garb of liberals.
On the other hand, social media has taken away the power of traditional media to propagate selective information. Therefore more and more people will see through the hypocrisy of the coteries and the elite, be it on the issue of corruption, the issue of migration or the issue of terrorism. They may not be able to give erudite expressions to their feelings in debates in fluent language. But when it comes to pressing a button for the choice of candidate, they will certainly speak their mind. This will create an unbridgeable divide between the established intelligentsia and the people at large as well as the actual elected rulers, leading the rulers to take more and more unconventional decisions. Whether that will lead to a new and clean era in global media and power politics is a matter of speculation.