This is what Michael Moore, filmmaker and political activist, in his Facebook- post-gone-viral, has enjoined people to remember in his five-point plan for the morning- after one of the world's most dramatic election campaigns, and its ensuing results. "The only reason he's president," Moore wrote, "is because of an arcane, insane 18th-century idea called the Electoral College." Funnily enough, Donald Trump himself declared in 2012 that "the Electoral College is a disaster for democracy" and this about the very 'College' which has earned him the position of President-elect of the United States.
The Electoral College is made up of 538 electors usually nominated at their state conventions. According to the College, the candidate who wins the majority of popular votes in a state wins that state's electoral votes (decided mainly by population). So the election, as we saw through the night, is in reality a battle to win specific state victories that will give the candidate the 270 required electoral votes. Thus millions of votes cast can be irrelevant to the results if the voter does not live in a competitive state.
How the electors per state are elected, whether they are compelled by law to vote for their party's candidate, this is another long story. The reason this method is being discussed now is because it is rare that the popular vote does not agree with the electoral vote, and although this method 'usually works', this time it hasn't. The last time the electoral and popular votes did not coincide was in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush won the electoral vote. What is being hotly debated now is whether or not Donald Trump has a mandate to effectively govern, given his failure to secure the popular vote.
The point is this: perspective, for those who feel this is one of the darkest days in history. Out of nearly 120 million votes cast (of a population of nearly 330 million), Hillary indeed won that popular vote, but the sum total of votes cast indicate an electorate divided. There would have been protests on the streets no matter who won.
This division and uncertainty is nothing new after the experience of Brexit; that horrible sense that the rational world is crumbling down around you; that no matter how much we talk of unity there is disunity; no matter how much we wish to expand, embrace, love and progress, the equal and opposite reaction still comes: to restrict, divide, hate and regress. Almost like scientific law.
For myself, though an avid student of Government and Politics, a hopeless idealist and admittedly a fan of the politics of The West Wing more so than House of Cards (more factual though it may be), I will not be following the media circus that will build around the trajectory of the career of the new President, because I will resist distraction and getting sucked up into the dark hole of fear and confusion that will inevitably be felt when viewing the next 100 days. How much do we need to know to get on with what we have to do? To re-establish balance and unity? I have to remember this.
I will not be glued to my screen for every word from the White House; I will probably not even be watching the inauguration, to avoid the uncomfortable cognitive dissonance of watching the new President Trump swear on the Bible; I will definitely not be following those political 'leaders' who will be schmoozing with the new President, all the ones that previously distanced themselves from him, and who will be formulating (and possibly reversing) the policies for the nation; I won't listen to the spin-doctors who will try to tell us Trump's 'character' has changed overnight and we now have a responsible man in the presidency (though I will continue to hope and pray for this miracle and his epiphany); and I will not be thinking about and fearing what may come next, unacceptable and unpalatable as that may well be.
Instead I will take heart from Obama's calm and rational recent speech after the win: "Stay encouraged, don't get cynical; don't ever think you can't make a difference... We all go forward with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, which is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy".
And Hillary's final words in her dignified and inspiring concession speech. What courage, fortitude and resilience. You really have to hand it to her: "Never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it... for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. For, there are more seasons to come, and there is more work to do."
King Lear said: "This is not the worst, so long as we can say, 'This is the worst' ". That meaning may be obscure, but we can take from it that this is not the worst, if we take this now as an opportunity to gather our resources, work together to unite, and build on the goodwill that does exist and with the people who want to heal, and go forward. Always forward.
""Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always." (Mahatma Gandhi)
Am I a hopeless idealist? Maybe. But right now, today, from where I sit and how I feel, I am sure that Hope Trumps Fear.