As expected, I got pushback on last week’s article defending the electoral college by demolishing the convenient lies the pro-electoral college people are spreading, which is just the type of absolutely backwards way of going about things that you all read Bumbling Bees to get. What I didn’t necessarily expect — though I certainly should have — was the utter incoherence of some of the pushback I got. In particular, I was informed that counties don’t matter because counties don’t "defend the country" by fighting wars, so they shouldn’t get any say.
Now that’s just all manner of confused. Had this exchange taken place anywhere but Facebook, I would give my interlocutor the benefit of the doubt and assume he understands what we mean when we say that 83% of all counties voted for Trump; as things are, however, I’m honestly not sure. When we say that a given country voted for Trump, you see, we don’t mean that a wizard magically incarnated the counties and sent them to the polling places, where the proud civil servants allowed them to vote as often as they wanted and using any names they wanted. No, see, what we mean is that the people who live in those counties, in the aggregate, voted for Trump. Do you see? The claim that "counties don’t fight wars" is completely silly. One may as well retort that the popular vote doesn’t fight in the wars either.
If you think things will get better for my silly adversary if I give him the benefit of every conceivable doubt and assume that he means that the popular vote should matter because it’s statistically more likely to represent the will of the soldiers… well, things look even worse for him. To the best of my knowledge, a detailed breakdown of military votes is not yet available, but pre-election polling is, and it’s a very close race. A very close race between Trump and Gary Johnson, that is, with Hillary Clinton barely registering. It’s not precisely a straightforward alchemy to take this data and a rule saying "solider votes are all that should matter" and create a result that says that Hillary Clinton should have won.
Never mind that. Let’s abstract farther. Assume that our complainant is not actually just shilling for Hillary. Assume that he believes this election arrived at the correct outcome, but just did it through incorrect means. To find this result, we need to find a way to reconcile the claim that the popular vote should matter with the claim that the popular vote reflects the will of the soldiery better than does the electoral college. Since the data doesn’t line up that way with the current military (or with veterans either, 2 to 1) his claim has to rest on that thinnest of margins, which is the people who will or who would join the military at some nebulous time in the future. It appears that the popular vote claim is based on the idea that the military enlistment rate is reasonably uniform across the population. Is that the case?
Hmm. I dunno, guys, I think there might be a slight lack of uniformity there. In fact, if I’m not quite mistaken, there’s just a smidgeon of correlation between that and this:
I’m not sure any more needs to be done to blow up this mad idea. It turns out that those massive urban centers produce disproportionately few soldiers, such that, if one wishes to stack the vote in favor of soldiers, is becomes imperative to rely on something other than raw popular vote totals. I’m sorely tempted to make some pithy remark about how I guess cities don’t go to war to "defend the country" either, but I’ve already pointed out that that makes no sense.
All of which, of course, is not to be taken as any kind of defense of the silly idea that only soldiers should count or whatever. It should also not be taken as an endorsement of electoral politics, of voting, of democracy, or of any other sort of evil dog-and-pony show. But you knew that already, right?