Friday, 22nd September 2023

American wonder!

By Afam Nkemdiche
16 November 2020   |   3:55 am
The caption of this piece would yet remind elderly Nigerians how times have changed. Really, what happened to that commonest of exclamations so fond of by the youths back in the day?

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest in front of the Maricopa County Election Department while votes are being counted in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 6, 2020. OLIVIER TOURON / AFP

The caption of this piece would yet remind elderly Nigerians how times have changed. Really, what happened to that commonest of exclamations so fond of by the youths back in the day? To the average youth of my day, 12 Inches were always equal to a Foot; while a Yard always contained 3 Feet. 1760 Yards made a Mile. Eight pints made a gallon. Gravitational forces always pulled towards the earth. Like poles repelled, while opposite poles attracted; etc.

Every space of the back cover of our exercise books had been filled with such “immutable facts”, which our selflessly committed teachers made us memorize. Our fledgling brains were made to function like mini memory banks. (Eternal gratitude to those great teachers of old; many of their former pupils are still harvesting dividends of their priceless investments in capacity-building) Having become so saturated with immutable facts, therefore, our very impressionable minds always responded to all information/situation that didn’t fit our notion of social norms with, American Wonder!

Those arresting words have long disappeared in contemporary social discourse. One cannot even find any traces of them in print. Thus American Wonder! had been completely erased from my mind, and replaced with such trendy terms as Scam! 419! Yahoo Yahoo! etc. But on Wednesday, November 4, at about 9:00PM Nigerian time, those magic words involuntarily resurrected in my consciousness. Because on the same day at about 2:00PM Washington DC time, the reported presidential election results had the incumbent president, Donald Trump as having a comfortable lead in all the key States ahead of his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. Trump had comfortably won the key State of Florida, and was leading by 7-odd percentage points in the swing States of Michigan and Wisconsin with over 80 per cent of the regular votes counted respectively. In another key State, Pennsylvania, Trump was said to be ahead of Biden by nearly 500,000 votes with over 90 per cent of the regular votes counted. In the remaining 8-odd States with middling collegiate votes, the race was reportedly tightening. Current collegiate tally stood at 224:213, Blue, Red respectively. Thus the incumbent looked good for a renewal of his tenancy at the White House.

Then the strangest thing happened. At about 5:00PM Washington DC time, the reported presidential election results put Biden ahead of Trump in both Michigan and Wisconsin; and Biden was reported to be rapidly narrowing Trump’s huge lead in Pennsylvania. Reporters covering the election would attribute the nigh-miraculous change in trajectories to the mailed votes, which they suggested were predominantly from Democrats. The Trump campaign team was aghast; its never-say-die candidate soon after declared himself winner of the election, and called for a review of the monitoring team in Pennsylvania State. (It would be recalled that Trump had repeatedly expressed reservations about some aspects of the mailed votes, more so respecting the latter State). Therefore, Trump’s response to the strange turn of events could be said to be a condition reflex, but he could hardly be faulted for declaring himself winner. Science is the unassailable evidence.

Newton’s iconic 2nd Law of Motion states that every established state of motion would remain the same until acted upon by an external force. Collated early voting and voting-day votes had established that the incumbent president was comfortably winning the election; the key States of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had provided all the evidence. Therefore, the mailed votes were expected to follow the established voting characteristics: Trump leading Biden. But that proved not to be the case in the U.S. 2020 presidential election results. The mailed votes completely reversed the emerging graph! Science strongly disagrees: samples taken from the same body would always feature similar characteristics. (Note: no Community or State exclusively employed the mail-voting option in the said election).

The hard-to-fathom impact of the mailed votes was idiotically attributed to party affiliations. More Democrats employed the mailing option than Republicans (!!!) That was an exhibition of curious memory lapse or outright falsehood, or both. Candidate Donald J. Trump had back in 2016 been proven to be an “outsider”, more an embodiment of a mass movement, if you please. The unconventional candidate’s appeal had thus cut across party lines, compelling Democrats and Republicans alike to respectively vote for him in their numbers. That was the reason many a Blue State unexpectedly turned Red in 2016. Self-same reason the polls completely missed the bull’s eye in 2016; much in the manner emerging results in the 2020 election were beginning to reveal until late afternoon on Wednesday in Washington DC. Therefore, party affiliations could not have had any impact whatever on the voting characteristics of the mailed votes, as is being floated, unless of course external forces came into play as the Trump team is said to have alleged.

Lastly, it is instructive to observe that empirical evidence is in complete sync with science on this occasion. Recall that unprecedented 100 million-odd early votes were reported in the said election. This figure represents about 70 per cent of the number of registered voters in the U.S. 2020 election. And political commentators had previously deployed that unprecedented number of early votes to make the point that majority of voters had decided who they wanted as president well ahead of the voting day. That decision is encapsulated in those 100 million-odd early votes. To suggest that about 30 per cent of the votes dramatically changed the established trend in the bulk, more so when mailed votes were not exclusive to any voting bloc, is to finally unravel why that famous exclamation so captured the human imagination for generations.

A part cannot be more than the whole; or can it? Indeed, the notorious U.S. Establishment is an all-time American Wonder!

Nkemdiche is an engineering consultant, wrote from Abuja.