I know, I know... I've heard this from all my friends and readers: How is it possible that Donald Trump would get elected President of the Greatest Nation in the World? (OK, the part about the Greatest Nation in the World is my addition.)

There is a technical reason: despite getting more than two million votes more than Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton didn't have her votes distributed in a geographically diverse enough way. America is a federation, and as such the constituent states have a say in government. In theory, the winner of the presidential election would need a majority of both states and people, but that could easily lead to a situation where (like in this year's case) the majority of the states doesn't want the same as the majority of the people.

To make elections easier and faster, the Constitution settled on a numerical formula that is a brilliant compromise: each state gets as many votes in the election of the president as it has Senators and Members of the House. The Senate is composed of two Senators per state (so that part translates to one vote per state), while each state has a number of Members of the House proportional to its population (so theoretically, that should translate to a majority of the people).

The Constitution settled on another odd compromise: each state would send voters (called electors) to Washington, and these electors decide who's going to be president and who vice-president. Over time, the electors were specifically selected for allegiance to one particular candidate, and some states even punish those electors that don't vote for the presidential candidate for whom they were sent.

So, it could happen that a narrow win in three states sent Donald Trump into the White House, while he didn't have a majority of the vote. The formula chosen favors Republicans in general, because central states were drawn to be of manageable size, and so a lot of the rural states in the middle of the country have small to tiny populations. Wyoming, for instance (a gorgeous place!) has only 1.5% of the population of the most populous state, California. In fact, the USA has 31 cities that have more inhabitants than all of Wyoming, but have none of the electors (3) that Wyoming has.

After this civics lesson, the political angle. Hillary Clinton was reviled. Part of it was that the media wanted to make the contest more interesting by tearing down the front runner. Part of it was blatant misogyny. Part of it seems to have been manipulation by foreign powers, especially Russia, which seems to have fed information to WikiLeaks. it didn't help that the founder of WikiLeaks had an ax to grind with Ms Clinton - maybe a remnant of the days he had to hide in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Read more: L'America: How Could Trump Be Elected?

Elections are a simple affair. You go into a booth with a ballot, whether paper or virtual, you punch a series of fields, and you walk out. At the end of the period, the votes are tallied and then - surprise!

In fact, surprise has been the element of the past many elections. Upsets are common, and catastrophic changes more frequent than you would expect. It seems that the new age of polling and constant feedback has made elections less predictable, not more.

Two particularly surprising elections in 2016 were the Brexit vote in Great Britain and the American Presidential election. In both cases, polling had indicated a likely victory of the eventual loser: I was with the most pessimistic of number crunchers, Nate Silver, and saw Hillary Clinton's probability of winning go from the initial 75% to 0% over the course of hours.

Also in both cases, the victory was won by lopsided participation rates. In both cases, older people got their way because younger people didn't vote. Older people were turned on by a celebration of nostalgia, of the good old days that Brexit and Donald Trump would bring back. Younger people, of course, didn't know what the old folk were talking about, having learned how awful those days were in school.

Everything has been discussed, the results dissected, the consequences of non-voting deplored. It seems, though, that the two pillars of the voting process that have stood since antiquity have not been thoroughly questioned. Which is a real problem, because those two pillars are precisely what makes young people consistently not show up.

Read more: What's Wrong With Elections These Days?

I've been making you wait forever, and yet I've been fielding questions and listening to comments for an entire year. Now, two weeks or so before the election, it's time to weigh in.

What's the deal with the Presidential election? From an alien's perspective, it's a really odd deal: on one side, there is a mix of Berlusconi, Netanyahu, and Putin; on the other, a combination of Merkel, Thatcher, and Nicola Sturgeon. How could Americans possibly have a hard time choosing?

Well, first of all, you smug aliens, Berlusconi, Netanyahu, and Putin ran their countries for longer than you'd like to admit. Also, while Hillary Clinton is sort of a blend of the three women rulers above, she has some of the good and some of the bad qualities of each. For instance, she is not inspiring as The Iron Lady and isn't as fresh-faced as Sturgeon.

Regardless, America seems to have come to its senses again and Hillary Clinton is on its way to becoming the next President of the United States. I congratulate her in advance and believe she is the right choice. Most of my friends and readers think so, too. So, why was the contest so tight for such a long time?

America, you need to know, is a very odd place in this respect. The media are not held accountable for the things they say in the name of freedom of speech. That same freedom of speech applies in other countries, too, but in America, it is used by media corporations to mean they can "spin" anything the way that is most convenient to them.

"Hillary Clinton has no real competition, because the Obama years were largely successful economically and scandal-free. She is a continuation of those years, so she should be sailing to an easy victory" is absolutely not what glues viewers to TV screens and doesn't lure advertisers. So news media corporations need a story that makes it more suspenseful, like when you watch a TV show and it all builds up to a great reveal - right after the commercials.

Read more: L'America: This Presidential Election, Though...


When I moved to America (from Europe), there were a great many things that I needed to learn quickly. From the practical ("How do you apply for a Social Security card?") to the social ("Why is dating in America so different?"), I had to figure out everything. If you are curious about America, are planning to move here, of have already moved: check out this blog!