CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
There was indeed a foreigner responsible for the election of Donald J. Trump in 2016. This is not an “allegation” or a supposition or any kind of “conspiracy theory;” it is a confirmed fact, backed up by reams and reams of documented evidence. The culpable foreigner was not named Vladimir Putin, however; he was called James Wilson, and he was born in Scotland. (Just like Trump’s mother!)
James Wilson is one of the more unsung of the Founding Fathers, but he played a key role in the Constitutional Convention that formed the current political system of the United States. Having emigrated to the American colonies at the age of 24, he became a prominent lawyer and (like Trump) a major real estate tycoon. He was also a strong and eloquent force behind the drive for independence, due to his anger at the British government’s refusal to grant parliamentary representation for the Colonials.
However, Wilson was also very firmly on the ‘conservative’ side of the Revolutionary camp. He fought hard – even violently – against the “rabble” who attempted to seize the wealth of aristocratic Loyalists to the British crown after they fled from Philadelphia. And he continued to defend Loyalists in court cases following the Revolution.
Shay’s Rebellion in 1786-87 put the fear of God into the aristocratic elite who controlled the newly formed United States, then loosely governed under the Articles of Confederation. The Rebellion, led by Daniel Shay and other Revolutionary War veterans, was comprised of thousands of poor farmers who’d been left destitute by the “austerity measures” imposed in the turbulent post-war economy. Many of the veterans, like Shay, had been forced into penury when they didn’t receive the promised pay they’d earned fighting for independence. As Gore Vidal puts it:
“The veterans thought that they had been fighting a war for true independence … They did want an abolition of debts and a division of property. Their rebellion was promptly put down. [By a militia raised by the financial contributions of the nation’s richest men.] But so shaken was the elite by the experience that their most important and wealthiest figure grimly emerged from private life with a letter to Henry Lee. “You talk of employing influence,” wrote George Washington, “to appease the present tumults … Influence is no government. Let us have one by which our lives, liberties and properties will be secured, or let us know the worst at once.”
Thus a Constitutional Convention was called to create a strong government that would preserve the privileges and properties of the elite against the ravages of grubby Demos. And it was here James Wilson proved his mettle.
One of the most vexed matters of the Constitutional Convention was how the president of the new centralized government should be chosen. Some wanted the post to be chosen by a vote of Congress; others by a vote of state legislators or state governors; a few radicals offered the hopeless idea of letting actual citizens elect their leader directly. (But of course, even these “radicals” meant to restrict this direct vote to white men.)
In the end, the question was referred to The Committee of Eleven on Postponed Matters. The Committee was chaired by David Beardsley and counted the “Father of the Constitution,” future president James Madison, among its members. Wilson, a close ally of Madison, was on the Committee of Detail, charged with actually drawing up the draft of the Constitution. As the National Constitution Center notes, “it was James Wilson who had promoted the idea [of the Electoral College] before the committee [on Postponed Matters] met in secret.”
And in secret, the Committee adopted Wilson’s Electoral College compromise, which greatly diminished any Congressional role in picking the president, while artfully preventing the detested rabble from electing their own leader. As a further sop to elites, the Electoral College scheme allowed each state to pick its own method of choosing its Electors.
Let’s turn again to Vidal for an apt description of the proceedings:
“The American Constitution was carefully rigged by the noteholders, land speculators, rum runners and slaveholders who were the Founding Fathers so that it would be next to impossible for upstart dirt farmers and indebted masses to challenge the various forms of private property held by these well-read robber barons.”
And thus it has ever been. Oh, by the way, Wilson was also the “father” of one of the other most troublesome elements of the Constitution. It was he who proposed the “Three-Fifths Compromise,” whereby the human beings held in bondage in the Southern slave states would be counted as only three-fifths of a person for determining levels of representation in the House – and in the Electoral College. (Oddly enough, although only white men of property were allowed to actually vote, representation was based on the population of a state as a whole.) The compromise allowed Northern elites – afraid of being swamped, legislatively, by the slave-swollen population of the South – to accept the new Constitution, while Southern elites were happy to adopt a measure that preserved their right to own human beings as profitable livestock. It also gave the slaveowners (like Washington and Jefferson) greater say in the selection of the president, because at that time a direct vote – even if restricted solely to white men of property – would have favored the North.
And now we come to 2016. As we all know, Hillary Clinton outpolled Donald Trump by almost 3 million votes. In any “free country” worthy of the name – especially one which had, after much blood and toil, finally extended the franchise to adults of all races and genders – this would mean that she would have been the elected leader of the nation. But thanks to Scottish-born James Wilson (and native-born elites like Washington, Madison and Jefferson), she was denied her rightful victory. It passed instead to the Wilson-like – and Washington-like – tycoon and speculator, Donald Trump: the second dimbulb elitist to take power in the 21st century due to the oligarchic machinations of James Wilson.
Today, there are some – nay, many – who are laying the victory of Donald Trump at the feet of a “far-reaching social media intervention” by Kremlin-led apparatchiks, who cleverly gamed the system, largely through Facebook. These would be the same operatives who, as Jeffery St. Clair notes, spent $100,000 on Facebook ads during the election – as opposed to the $81 million in FB ads bought by Clinton and Trump. In the three key states that cost Clinton the Electoral College victory, here, as St. Clair notes, are the total Russian Facebook buys: Pennsylvania, $300; Michigan, $832; and Wisconsin, $1,979 – with $1,925 of that spent before the Republican primary in the state.
So yes, let us reason together and reach a consensus across all party and intra-party lines: there was indeed an odious, elitist, illegitimate, undemocratic intervention in the 2016 election that cost the rightful winner the presidency that she should have won. But this intervention occurred in 1787 not 2016. And it was largely the handiwork of the Scotland-born James Wilson, not the botoxed bully from Leningrad.
Now, at any time in its 200-year+ existence, the Democratic Party – ostensibly the party of Demos – could have sought to do away with the undemocratic, elitist, aristocratic, oligarchical Electoral College, which renders the votes of untold millions of Americans absolutely meaningless. (To take myself as an example: as an expat, I vote through my home state of Tennessee, which in 2016 was solidly for Trump, which meant my non-Trump vote had no bearing whatsoever on the final outcome. But if US citizens voted directly for their leaders, then every single vote in every single state would count vitally toward the ultimate decision.)
But to revert to Vidal again, because the United States has only one party – the Property Party – the Democratic faction of this single conglomeration of wealth and power has never, ever made any concerted effort to eliminate the overtly undemocratic boondoggle of the Electoral College, in order to allow the citizens of the United States to directly choose their own leader.
And that is why the disastrous dullard Donald Trump is President of the United States today. Not because “Russian bots” bought $300 worth of Facebook ads in Michigan, but because James Wilson, James Madison, George Washington and the other “Founding Fathers” had no intention whatsoever of letting genuine democracy take root in American soil.