Today The Donald will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. For many outside America, myself included, this is a worrying state of affairs. We’ve watched on in horror, unable to participate, as the idea of free-speech as a pathway to freedom has been re-gamed. What will happen moving forward from today is anyone’s guess. An international businessman said to me recently that “the greater the social upheaval the greater the business opportunities” and I’m trying to remain similarly positively minded. Last year I was lucky enough to become involved with a group who were trying to ensue Mr Trump wouldn’t make it past the “novelty also-ran” post. What they did failed to have a significant effect, but I think it is a stunning example of getting organised and trying to change things you are not happy with.
It’s all in a Tweet.
It started with a Tweet to me in July ’16 that read… “Trying to stop Drumpf. Can we use your URLs?”. A few DMs later and I’d been able to validate that I was talking to a small group of tech-heads from Oakland, California. They’d recently finished up work on the Bernie Sanders campaign as he’d announced the end of his race. Hell-bent on stopping Trump, the group had been building a strategic voting exchange platform (more on that below) and were keen to call it MakeMineCount. Having read an article on me and my endeavours in the political space (see blog post What Was MakeMineCount) they asked if they could borrow all my URLs and social handles up to today – Inauguration Day 2017. Happy to help I gave it all over to them and their site was live by the end of the month.
What is Strategic Voting?
Strategic voting is a way to ensure as much resistance as possible is applied to a candidate you don’t want – in this case The Donald. Let’s say you lived in a swing state. If you voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson you would dangerously increase Trump’s chances of winning the Presidency, because you effectively would dilute Clinton’s (as the other significant contender) vote count. On the other hand, if you lived in an uncontested state, be that California or Mississippi, a vote for Clinton would not affect her odds of winning either way. Strategic voting is the exchange of votes: a Stein or Johnson supporter in a swing state is matched with a Clinton supporter in an uncontested state, and they swap votes—meaning the Stein or Johnson supporter votes for Clinton, while the Clinton supporter votes for Stein or Johnson. Why bother? Well, doing this means a candidate like Jill Stein would be aided in crossing 5% of the general vote, with which the Green Party could then qualify for federal funding in 2020. All the while this would have ensured that Clinton got the votes needed, where they were needed, to keep Trump out of power. Wait a second I hear you say; is this legal? Well apparently, it is. For one Representatives in Congress trade votes all the time. In the 2000’s the US. Federal Courts upheld the right of the individual to trade votes. Amazing!
Well, that didn’t work for you all did it?
No it didn’t. But to use an Australian term – they gave it a red-hot-go! And for that I’m really happy to have been a very small part of the process. I’ve been trolled on my Twitter and Facebook MakeMineCount handles, which has been an interesting personal experiment for me in itself (blog post to follow I’d imagine). But as I switch back on my own (less-worthy) content, I believe that post inauguration we’ll see greater analysis of how the Trump Administration pulled their victory off. I think we’ll see proof that all the data we as individuals share with the world (on Facebook, Google and the like) combined while serious analytical processes from companies like Cambridge Analytica, will show how the current political system has been gamed. If nothing else it hopefully will force us all to be more careful with our personal data and digital footprints. I’m also given great comfort in the human race that when motivated we are an ingenious bunch. The MakeMineCount vote trading platform was in fact one of many such platforms that appeared late last year. At one point we counted ten, including VotePact, VotePair, VoteTrader, BernieTrumpTradePact, MakeVotesMatter and my favourite the Tinder-rip-off VoterHookup. Perhaps an aggregator of all these services would have produced greater cut through. An idea for Election 2020 I guess.