Electoral college system hands Trump presidency, Clinton leads popular vote

(Photo Credit: Matt Wade via FLickr Creative Commons)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed her supporters Wednesday, after perhaps the most shocking electoral outcome in contemporary U.S. history. As the final votes are tallied, Mrs. Clinton holds a lead in the popular vote, but Donald J. Trump clinched the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency in the wee hours of the morning. FSRN’s Nell Abram has more.

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton called her Republican counterpart, Donald Trump, hours after midnight Wednesday to concede the election – but she held off making public remarks until midday,

“I hope that he will be a successful President for all Americans,” said Clinton in her concession speech. “This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for. And I’m sorry that we did not win this election or the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.”

Acknowledging that Americans are more deeply divided than she’d banked on, Clinton said that the stunning results of the race must be honored.

“Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it,” Clinton said. “It also enshrines other things: the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too, and we must defend them.”

The first woman to even come close to winning the presidency in U.S. history, Clinton added that constitutional democracy demands participation, and called on her supporters to keep working. And in a not so subtle challenge to the rampant racism, misogyny and fear witnessed during the campaign, she reiterated the values that — what may be the majority of voters — supported in casting their ballots for her.

“We believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone; for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people and people with disabilities – for everyone.”

Her remarks came hours after Trump made his middle-of-the-night victory speech, remarks during which he called for Americans to come together and pledged to serve the people.

“It’s gonna be a beautiful thing,” he told his supporters. “Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women will be forgotten no more.”

Trump vowed to double economic growth, and to have ‘great relationships’ with all other nations that want to ‘get along,’ seeking common ground and partnership, not hostility and conflict.

The deep fissures in the United States are not just between the two major parties, they are complex and varied – with a major vein opened within the GOP.

Speaker of the House, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, who had distanced himself from the Trump campaign, had this to say Wednesday: “This is most incredible political feat I have seen in my lifetime. This is something you’ve heard me say time and again: 7 out of 10 Americans, they do not like the direction our country is going. Many of our fellow citizens feel alienated and have lost faith in our core institutions. They don’t feel heard, and they don’t feel represented by those in office. But Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country, that no one else heard. He connected in ways with people no one else did. He turned politics on its head. And now, Donald Trump will lead a unified Republican government.”

While Representative Ryan clearly called out the widespread voter disaffection, Trump was not alone in recognizing the dynamic. Democratic hopeful and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders also tapped into that demographic during the primary season, but was ultimately not named as the Democratic candidate for the presidency.

Shortly after Clinton delivered her remarks, President Barack Obama addressed the nation, saying he will make the transition between administrations as smooth as possible. And he trotted out a sports metaphor to frame his remarks about the deep despair that many in the country are feeling.

“Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember we are all on one team,” he said in his national address. “This is an intramural scrimmage. We are not Democrats first, we’re not Republicans first – we are Americans first, we are patriots first.”

Obama encouraged young people engaged in politics for the first time to keep at it, and fight cynicism – but then went on to say that this is simply how politics works, and now it’s time to take stock, lick wounds and get back in the arena.

“The point though is that we all go forward, with the presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy,” Obama said, speaking on the White House lawn. “That’s how this country has moved forward for 240 years. It’s how we’ve pushed boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That’s how we’ve expanded the rights of our founding to reach all of our citizens, it’s how we have come this far – and that’s why I’m confident that this incredible journey we are on as Americans will go on.”

Votes are still being tallied. But it appears that the Electoral College system, unique to the United States,  may once again result in a U.S. president who was not the choice of most voters. Donald Trump secured 279 electoral votes while Hillary Clinton leads the popular vote by a 200,000 vote margin.

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