4 burning questions you may be asking after Donald Trump won the US election

US President Barack Obama (right) meets with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, DC on Nov 10, 2016.
US President Barack Obama (right) meets with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, DC on Nov 10, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

Sure it is done and dusted. Mr Donald Trump will be the next US president.

But as he goes about meeting political leaders in the US to ensure a smooth transition, fielding congratulatory calls from world leaders, and assembling a Cabinet, there are some niggling questions that remain. We take a look at four of them:

1. Can Hillary Clinton still get into the White House?

Yes, she could. Although it is an extremely long shot, Mrs Clinton can actually get into the White House if electoral college members meeting on Dec 19 refuse to pledge their support to Mr Trump and become what is called a "faithless elector".

In the US, it is the electoral college that elects the president, and electors could abstain from voting or refusing to support the president-elect when they meet on Dec 19 in their respective state capitals, The New York Post says.

In fact, several petitions are already online calling Clinton supporters to inspire the support of such electors.

However, electors going “faithless” is exceedingly rare. And around 30 states already have laws that technically bar their electors to go against the vote in the state, although the penalty may just be a fine.

"The idea of electors reversing their vote is rarely discussed — and was most recently bandied about after the incredibly close 2000 election in which George Bush narrowly beat Al Gore," The New York Post said.  

Faithless electors have never affected the final result of any presidential election, says The New York Times. And, according to the federal archives, 99 per cent of the time electors have voted as pledged.

2. Should the electoral college be done away with? 


A man marks a star on the Electoral College Map during a US Election Watch event hosted by the US Embassy at a hotel in Seoul on Nov 9, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

In November 2000, as the Florida recount gripped the nation, Mrs Clinton, then a newly elected senator from New York, had addressed the possibility that Mr Gore could wind up winning the popular vote but losing the presidential election, The New York Times said.

“I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people,” she said, “and to me that means it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president.”

Sixteen years later, the electoral college is still standing, and Mrs Clinton has followed Mr Gore as the second Democratic presidential candidate in modern history to be defeated by a Republican who earned fewer votes, in his case Mr George W. Bush.

Even Mr Trump has called it a disaster for democracy in the past, before the system elected him president this week.

 

Documentary film-maker Michael Moore said about Mr Trump's victory:  "The only reason he's president is because of an arcane, insane 18th century idea called the Electoral College."

Critics of the system say:

  • It pushes candidates to ignore states that they consider safe and only focus on a few battleground states.
  • It is a relic that violates the democratic principle of one person, one vote.

Those who want the system to stay say:

  • If the national popular vote was the ultimate decider, candidates would gravitate towards the voter-rich big cities and their suburbs and ignore everyone else, USA Today says.
  • It would set off a scramble for even more campaign money, leaving candidates more beholden to special interests, it said.
  • It reduces the chances of daunting nationwide recounts in close races, a scenario that Gary L. Gregg II, an Electoral College expert at the University of Louisville, said would be a “national nightmare”.

But calls to change the system, which would require a constitutional amendment, are likely to fall on deaf ears with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress.

3. Why did Clinton wear purple for her concession speech? 


Hillary Clinton delivers her concession speech at the New Yorker Hotel's Grand Ballroom in New York city on Nov 9, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

It is the colour of bipartisanship - between Republican red and Democratic blue. "Purple is known as a colour to encourage unity between the Republican and Democratic parties, which are represented by the colors red and blue, respectively. Purple is also used to denote swing states," McClatchy.com said. 

And many commentators praised the choice of colour as a graceful way to deliver her message of unity in the speech, Newser.com said. Her husband and former US president Bill Clinton wore a purple tie.

Vanity Fair pointed out other theories why Mrs Clinton chose the colour - one being that purple is one of the colours of the suffragettes, and the other linked to the Methodist faith that the Democratic presidential nominee belonged to, where the colour stands for royalty and penitence.

Some said the colours symbolised mourning.

4. Why did she delay her concession speech?

When Mrs Clinton's campaign chairman came on stage late on Tuesday night, US time, to announce that Mrs Clinton was not done yet, even as the election was being called for Mr Trump, many pounced on the nominee.

One reason that she waited till the next morning US time to speak, says The Washington Post,  is that her speech was not just about conceding but also about inspiring young people, particularly young women and young girls, who Mrs Clinton seemed to feel a responsibility to address in the wake of her historic campaign - and ultimate loss.

Certainly, anyone could have watched a video later online of the speech had it been delivered in the middle of the night, on that vast stage, under that still intact glass ceiling.

Yet the importance of the message, and who it was aimed at in particular, allowed for the composure and restraint required at such a pivotal and historic moment, even in her loss.

And delaying it allowed its message to break through in ways that might have gotten lost in the early morning hours, says The Washington Post.

SOURCES: NYTIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE INDEPENDENT