US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION - THE SOAP OPERA CONTINUES
By James Kallman
I’m sure The Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves, but the lengthy process of electing a U.S. president does rather lend itself to the media circus that is currently gripping not only the U.S. but the rest of the world as well.
Television is a powerful medium and ever since the Kennedy and Nixon debate was first shown on the small screen prior to the 1960 election, its coverage has become increasingly influential. While it would be unfair to call Donald Trump a creation of the media, he has provided a massive boost to ratings, and earnings, while at the same time garnering a bounty of free publicity for each outlandish statement he makes.
Although the election itself is still half a year away, with the picture clearing in regard to the likely major party candidates, the election in November promises to be notable for a number of reasons. For a start, having given youth a nod at the last two elections, it seems that both Democrats and Republicans are opting for the old adage that wisdom comes with age, as come Inauguration Day, Clinton, Sanders and Trump would all be more than 10 years older than the outgoing Barack Obama. The last time that happened was when Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter, and the only other occurrence was in the mid-19th century with Franklin Pearce handing over to James Buchanan.
Of course, Reagan was a transformational president and has continued to be the darling of the Republican Party; that is until the emergence of Trump rather muddied the waters. He was also the last president to serve two full terms and hand over to a member of his own party, George H.W. Bush, thus securing his own legacy. Barack Obama would welcome being the next in order to safeguard the legislation that he’s managed to enact.
However, it had only happened on two occasions prior to Reagan, when Rutherford B. Hayes followed Ulysses S. Grant, and Harry Truman took over on the death of Franklin Roosevelt, the only president to twice be re-elected, in 1945. Truman, of course, was elected in his own right in 1948 despite the Chicago Daily Tribune wrongly calling New York Governor Howard Dewey the winner when printing early to avoid a printers’ strike.
It’s currently too early for punditry, of course, but if for example, Trump didn’t gain the Republican nomination and ran as an independent candidate then some interesting scenarios could possibly arise. In such a case it would not be entirely outside the realms of possibility that no candidate would gain the 270 Electoral College votes required to be elected to o!ce. The Twelfth Amendment regulates that where no candidate receives an outright majority of Electoral College votes then the president will be elected from the candidates by the House of Representatives with each state delegation having a single vote, while the Vice President will be similarly elected by the Senate. As this takes place in January prior to the inauguration, such voting would be by the new Congress, thus also altering the whole complexion of November’s elections for House and Senate. It’s never happened before, but could be yet another first. In the meantime, the soap opera continues.
**This article was published in the Forbes Indonesia, May 2016. You can also read this article on Forbes Indonesia.