PH, US election oddities

The US midterm elections ended last week with the Democrats riding an expected blue wave to take control of the House. Yet President Donald Trump insisted that it was really a great win for the Republicans.

It wasn’t really. At best, it was a split decision as viewed by some analysts as the GOP maintained control of the Senate, even gaining a couple of seats in the process.

The great thing about US elections is that the results are always known within hours after the polling places close. Well, almost always.

As of this writing, there are still a handful of races whose results are still up in the air. There will be run-off elections in at least one case. This is something that is totally foreign to Filipinos. Where we are concerned, the winner is the candidate who receives the most number of votes. It doesn’t matter if he or she wins just one vote more or a million votes more than his/her opponent.

The state of Florida stands out for having problems with its voting system such that there will be a recount of the votes cast for both the governor and senator. The recount will be manual, which means it can take weeks before the winners are known.

It may not be in play this year, but Filipinos are still pretty much in the dark with this thing called the US Electoral College. A smart ass friend asked me why the US didn’t have a full-fledged Electoral University. Funny guy, no?

I do have a sufficient working knowledge of the Electoral College, and I believe the idea or concept has become archaic, obsolete.

As the world’s greatest democracy, shouldn’t every qualified American voter be entitled to one vote? As such, the people as a whole should elect their president with the candidate who wins the most votes being declared president.

This isn’t the case, though. For this reason, Hillary Clinton may have won three million votes more than Donald Trump, but she still lost because she did not have the needed Electoral College votes.

There have been calls of late to dispense with the College, so that the US would finally function as a true democracy. I don’t know if this will ever happen, as there is a historical basis for the existence of the College. It gives each of the 50 states some measure of independence by recognizing the votes of their citizens in relation to the entire US.

Still, it is odd that with some states, the winner of the popular vote gets all the Electoral College votes, while with others the votes are shared proportionally.

Back in the Philippines, the equivalent of midterm elections are set for next year, and already all the candidates are known. Anyone who wanted to run had to file his or her certificate of candidacy last month.

The Senate races should prove interesting for a number of reasons. About the biggest shock thus far are the endorsements made by President Duterte.

First, he told the people to vote for ageing folk singer Freddie Aguilar, only to have his spokesman Sal Panelo deny that the president actually endorsed the guy. Maybe Mr. Duterte was referring to some other election, Panelo said.

Yeah, right. But the bigger surprise is that the chief executive actually said in a recent speech that he was ok with his followers voting for Mar Roxas, whom he soundly defeated in the last presidential elections.

There was some bad blood between the two because of the usual harsh words thrown each other’s way during the presidential campaign period.

This means that the first serious endorsement made by the president is for the leader of the opposition senate slate.

The main administration party PDP-Laban must be frustrated at this unexpected turn, but who cares? Their line-up pales in comparison to the eight bets of the opposition Liberal Party.

What Americans may find odd is that senatorial candidate may look like they belong to one party, but every one of them will actually be running independent of the others. There really is no sense of party loyalty in Philippine politics, unlike in the US where Democrats are Democrats and Republicans are Republicans for life. One exception: Wasn’t Donald Trump originally a Democrat? Just asking. Maybe he has Filipino blood?

Indeed, 99 percent of Filipino politicians are political butterflies, switching parties faster than the snap of Thanos’ fingers. Philippine politics is in a terrible state, but nothing can be done about it. For better or worse, the “Me First” policy is strong with us Pinoys.

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