Mercury Retrograde and the Electoral College

“The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”
— Donald J. Trump, in a tweet

Dear Friend and Reader:

Many people have noticed that Mercury stations retrograde the day that the Electoral College votes, this coming Monday, Dec. 19. I’ve been asked a number of times whether I think that this will influence the outcome of what the electors do.

United States Capitol Building prepared for the presidential inauguration ceremony. Before that comes voting of the Electoral College.

The main thing it’s doing is adding to the uncertainty factor. Everything seems to be up in the air at this point, and nothing is settled.

Many people are, as a result, feeling rather unsettled and many others are scared, I think for good reason. Women, gay and transgender people, Muslims and immigrants all have good reason to be concerned. This was a story the first few days after the election and is now largely glossed over.

The uncertainty factor is now pinning the meter as the Russian hacking story takes hold. The latest news is that Putin personally authorized breaching the computers of both Democrats and Republicans, but that only data from the Democrats was released to the press.

As Donald Trump installs the corporate hierarchy into his cabinet, and as questions about conflict of interest abound, many other people are concerned as well. We are seeing signs that Trump thinks our country is an autocracy, or at least that he’s an autocrat. That serves his followers well; they need strong guidance.

For many, the Electoral College seems like the last, best hope for stopping this train wreck, as it should be. It’s there for a reason, even if it never really serves that purpose. This highlights the profound difference between ‘reason’ and ‘purpose’.

That Mercury stations on the day of the electors taking action is a stunning synchronicity, though it’s one that I think will have delayed rather than immediate effects. Politics tend to grind along slowly, courage is lacking, and it takes a lot of pressure to make anything happen.

Let’s go over some of the basics on this Electoral College issue. The electors, who are various politically active people from their respective states don’t all get together as one group; there is no “college” with a campus or cafeteria or student union. Rather, electors for each state meet in their respective state capitols, or so we are told; and presumably, based on the results of last month’s general election, cast their votes for president.

If there is no clear winner after the Electoral College, the matter of who wins the elections goes to the House of Representatives.

The Electoral College was that previously obscure, seemingly rubberstamp outfit that would certify the results of presidential elections. Now, for the first time that I ever recall, it’s a topic of ongoing conversation, because of how controversial the candidacy of Donald Trump is — and because he lost the actual national vote by 2.9 million votes nationwide, and that number is going up.

Despite this, he’s projected to receive 306 electoral votes, significantly more than the 270 he needs to take office. This is just the fifth time in American history that someone has lost the so-called popular vote, meaning the actual vote, and is still projected to win the presidency.

The previous time was in 2000, when Al Gore got more votes and George W. Bush took office, and the time before that was more than a century earlier, in 1888. There were several other incidents in the 19th century. In fact this whole bullshit reeks of the 19th century. Why are we dealing with it in 2016?

Yet far from being puppets, the electors are intended to have a say. Not all are bound by their state laws to vote for the winner of their respective states’ popular vote. For the first time in our lifetimes, we’re hearing the term “faithless electors,” that is, those who are planning to go against the winner of the vote in their respective states.

Before I get into the astrology, which is interesting, let’s do a brief review of the Electoral College, what it is, and how it’s supposed to work.

The United States is a ‘Representative Democracy’

Technically, the United States is a ‘republic’ form of government, which means that it excludes a monarch. There are several other definitions, though that’s the main idea. There’s no king; power is held by the people and their representatives.

To the extent that the United States is a ‘democracy’, it’s actually a ‘representative democracy’, meaning that the citizens are not usually directly involved in making decisions on the federal level.

Are you sick of seeing this thing yet? It’s the way the Electoral College votes have shaken out, so far. Now you understand what it really means.

For example, under the Constitution, U.S. senators are elected by the state legislatures of the states they will represent. That changed in 1913 thanks to the Seventeenth Amendment, which switched to senatorial election by popular vote.

Then we have this weird thing called the Electoral College, which provides for the indirect election of the president. The United States is the only country, allegedly democratic or otherwise, that has such an institution.

The upshot is that each state gets as many delegates to this body as it has combined senators and representatives, for a total of 538 members (hence the name of the famous or perhaps infamous statistics blog,

Traditionally, whatever candidate wins the most votes in a presidential election gets all of that state’s electoral votes. Two states allow proportional allocation of their electoral votes, Maine and Nebraska; the other 48 states are winner-take-all.

It’s fairly rare in American history, though it’s happened five times so far, that a person can get fewer total votes but still win the Electoral College vote. The system has little oddities, such as the vote of a person in Montana counts for three times more than a person in a higher population state like California or New York.

Hence, Clinton got 65.8 million votes, or 48.1% of the total, and is expected to receive 232 electoral votes. Trump got 62.9 million votes, or 46% of the total, and is expected to get 306 electoral votes.

If electoral votes were distributed in proportion to the actual vote, the results would be much different. Amy Elliott did the calculation Wednesday and this is what she got.

Hillary Clinton 256.7
Donald Trump 250.2
Gary Johnson 18.1
Jill Stein 5.8
Others 6.6

Notice that two of the lesser-known candidates suddenly appear. Since a candidate needs 270 votes to win, nobody would qualify, though this is a work of fiction. So too is the way the Electoral College functions. Is it really necessary to weight the heartland votes so heavily? Why not count every African American and Latino who votes twice, to compensate for all the ones banned from voting by various tricks and tactics?

What Were The Founders Thinking?

During the era when the Constitution was being formulated, there were documents circulated called the Federalist Papers, where the founders bounced their ideas around. We’ve selected two quotes that are relevant to the Electoral College.

Alexander Hamilton in an 1806 portrait by John Trumbull. Hamilton, the first secretary of the treasury, was the founder of the financial system of the U.S.

In Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote:

“The immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

TRANSLATION: The Electoral College will give the electors a chance to think about what they are doing, to investigate the candidates, to use discernment and to deliberate. In other words, the process is not supposed to be automatic.

In Federalist No. 10, James Madison wrote:

“As each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in the large than in the small republic, it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried; and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre in men who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established characters.”

James Madison, author of the Constitution, portrait c. 1821 by Gilbert Stuart.

TRANSLATION: The process as we’re designing it will make it difficult for a candidate to pull a fast one on the people — to con or defraud or otherwise trick them into thinking they belong in office — and will facilitate getting the best candidate in. Being politically active, they were aware of the “vicious arts” of politics and wanted some safeguards against it.

Here is one last quote that’s telling: during the Constitutional Convention, James Madison said:

“There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.”

TRANSLATION: Like many things that happened during the founding era, decisions were shaped by the fact that millions of Americans were considered non-persons and chattel property; that is, they were slaves. They could not vote. So using electors was supposed to solve the problem. Now, however, African-Americans can vote, or in theory they are allowed to. Every single election cycle we hear of new efforts to block them from voting.

What Does it Mean that Mercury Stations Retrograde?

To start with, the state of the Republic is pretty shaky at the moment. There are huge uncertainty factors, many of them included in the character of the person who lost the election but who seems set to assume the presidency.

The morning that electors are scheduled to meet in their respective states, Mercury stations retrograde in Capricorn. Given Capricorn’s close relationship to the topic of politics, that would seem especially significant.

The chart for Mercury stationing retrograde on Monday has many interesting features. Like most charts in this election cycle, Neptune is prominent — the Moon is exactly opposite it, bringing it into the forefront. The Sun is conjunct Pholus and the Galactic Core — something big is going on behind the scenes.

Impressive that the retrograde happens the very day of the electors’ getting together. It’s also significant that the various meetings happen during Mercury retrograde, suggesting that whatever the results are, something is set up for revision or to come undone.

This does not mean that the results of the election will be reversed immediately, though it’s clear that something important is different on the day that the electors meet compared to before they met. It’s as if there is a flaw baked into the results of whatever happens that day.

Mercury changing directions — that is, the retrograde station and the subsequent station direct — often comes with the theme of “the truth comes out.” I would read this as some revelation prior to the electors meeting. We are already seeing such a revelation, in the form of the alleged Russian hacking story.

In these days just prior to the station-retrograde, the media is reporting that there was widespread hacking of both political parties during the election campaign season, and that the Russians were favoring Donald Trump.

No material about the Republicans was released to the press or to bloggers. The political community itself — meaning, both Democratic and Republican legislative leaders — are admitting that this is a problem.

I would point out that the Russian hacking story has some problems. It may be true, but hacking is easy for hackers, and there are many of them. There are other possibilities. Julian Assange says, I believe credibly, that the emails he released came from inside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and not from the Russians. That does not mean that the Russians weren’t hacking away too. The operative fact is that everyone in power seems to agree that it was indeed Russia. These days the truth matters less than what people believe.

The New York Times has been particularly genius documenting the 2016 election in photos. This recent one, dripping with irony, by Justin T. Gellerson, shows a file cabinet from the Watergate break-in that’s still kept at the DNC headquarters, kept next to a little computer server that was hacked by the Russians or someone. Yes, they kept their server next to the souvenir Watergate file cabinet.

Will this be taken into account by the electors? Probably not. But that does not matter. To me, this Mercury station retrograde looks more like a setup than it does like it has some immediate result.

One of the most interesting facets of this retrograde cycle is Mercury stations retrograde about one degree before Pluto in Capricorn. It comes close to an exact conjunction but does not get there.

The conjunction would represent an event, development or big discovery of some kind — with impact, in the style of Pluto (raw power) pushing Mercury (a message of some kind). Mercury conjunct Pluto in Capricorn has that deep and dark conspiratorial feeling. Only notice how Mercury is, for the moment, dancing around the point. This scenario does not come to a boil quite yet.

Mercury then tracks back into late Sagittarius, and stations direct on Jan. 8. It does not complete the conjunction to Pluto until Jan. 29 — nine days after the inauguration. It’s as if the thing that everyone should have been watching on Dec. 19 actually starts to get attention a month-and-a-half later.

It looks to me like the perfect setup for the question, “What was everyone thinking?” But there’s a much bigger question surrounding Pluto: the United States is now in its Pluto return, and Pluto in these charts drives that question forward. Remember that idea. I’ll be writing more about it. The United States has Pluto in Capricorn, and Pluto is about to return to the natal position in the U.S. chart. What we are about to witness is the beginning of the Great Reckoning.


Moonshine Horoscope for Gemini Full Moon #1130 | By Len Wallick

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Of all the people in the world, the only one you can truly control is yourself. Keep that in mind for the remainder of this year, and you have the key for making your closest relationships work as well as possible. This does not mean you should withdraw and focus on yourself. Instead, make yourself the focus as you interact with others by constantly asking yourself how to set the most authentic, instructional and inspiring example for the people who know you best. This may mean breaking with some of your older and less productive behavioral patterns. More likely, your path towards greater influence in your closest quarters will begin with making the greater good for all involved your biggest concern. — By Len Wallick.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Your innate connection with intangible values is probably very strong at this time. For that reason, you can now afford to make your relationship with the palpable world a greater priority. This does not mean you should indulge your animal appetites with mindless abandon. Neither, however, should you neglect the importance of creature comforts. In order to keep yourself on the middle road between physical excess and dearth, focus first on taking care of your body’s most basic needs. As a next step, endeavor to spend less time getting information through electronic gear and more time gathering data through your corporeal senses. Finally, take whatever chance you have to share the joys you derive from your tangible possessions. — By Len Wallick.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Keeping in touch with those you care about is always important. For the time being, however, it’s probably at least as important to keep in touch with yourself. To do so, dial back a bit on distractions. Try spending less time watching images on a screen and more time listening to your own thoughts. This does not necessarily mean you should spend your days in isolation or sensory deprivation. On the contrary, some quiet time outside walking under the sky and among trees would probably be one of the best ways for you to explore what’s going on inside your head. Don’t neglect sleep, either. If you are not feeling well rested, it’s unlikely you will have the stamina it takes to think about thinking and to be fully conscious of your awareness. — By Len Wallick.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — If there are things you always wanted to do but never did, the time is right to reach for at least one of them over the next month or so. In all likelihood at least some of your unfulfilled ambitions represent an inner resource you can now draw upon to better get your needs met. Begin with the most attainable aspirations — those where lack of time has been the only reason for lack of manifestation. In order to create that temporal space, select which of your most cherished responsibilities you might be able to temporarily delegate to someone who has earned your trust. After all, there can be no doubt that you have earned a chance to explore and exploit the undiscovered possibilities you have always had the ability to live. — By Len Wallick.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — There is family of birth, and there is family of choice. Right about now would be a good time to examine how you feel about all of those you have chosen to identify with thus far. This does not mean you should be critical of your discretionary circle. Rather, you should endeavor to better understand and appreciate just how your currently elective tribe came to be, so as to better know yourself. The reason for such an indirect self-examination may not be clear for you currently. Yet, you would be well advised to proceed with an abiding faith that you will soon be presented with a rare and formative chance to expand your voluntary sphere of shared influence. When that opportunity finally comes, you will want to be clear about what you want to make of it. — By Len Wallick.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — In one of his more famous songs, Kris Kristofferson famously averred that freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. That may have been true for him then. In all probability it is not true for you now. Indeed, it would appear that an enhanced sense of being at liberty would only bring you gain at this time. Of course, a lot of the outcome will depend on what (or who) you elect to free yourself from, and how you choose to do it. Your first and wisest choice would almost certainly be to liberate yourself from impatience. Unless you are forced to sever a bond for the sake of your (or somebody else’s) safety or wellbeing, it’s probably a good idea to be wary of impulsive or hasty actions when it comes to declaring your independence. — By Len Wallick.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Desire and greed are not the same. On the whole (and in spite of what the fictional movie character Gordon Gekko famously insisted), greed almost never serves to support the greater good. Desire, on the other hand, is almost always among the greatest of good things. Without desire, you probably wouldn’t be alive. While you almost certainly are not one who conflates desire and avarice, you may still sometimes feel a bit guilty for wanting what you want. If ever there was a time to get past that guilt, it’s now. Since we are presently in the thick of what for many is a holiday season, you can begin by giving yourself the generous (yet inexpensive) gift of at least accepting your desires for what they are. — By Len Wallick.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — If you are dealing with some challenges at this time, the best way to begin overcoming them would entail simply having faith in your ability to meet those provocations. Similarly, if you are now endeavoring to achieve something, faith in yourself would also be the essential first step towards an eventually successful attainment. Of course, the most efficacious forms of faith are not blind, but informed. By now you have had enough experience with life to understand that the most important piece of information you can possess is provided by your conscience. Regardless of what odds you face, and in spite of what opinions other people may have, so long as you know that you are doing the right thing, faith in yourself will be justified. — By Len Wallick.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You have no doubt learned at least a few valuable lessons regarding relationships over the last year. Even though your learning curve is almost certainly not yet complete, the next year or so will represent a time to begin integrating what the experiences of 2016 have taught you. Given astrology’s current indicators, the relationship subject matter most worthy of your evaluation right now would have to do with the place and purpose of boundaries. When it comes to adjoining parcels of real estate, the most applicable aphorism is that good fences often make for good neighbors. For other types of alliance and association, appropriate guidelines are seldom so simple. Nonetheless, you might want to begin your next celestial semester by mending a few metaphorical fences that might have recently come down. — By Len Wallick.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Even if you are doing everything you can to keep a low profile, it’s quite likely that you are getting some attention about now. Some are almost certainly looking up to you. Others are probably looking out for you. No doubt a significant number are observing you for reasons somewhere in between. To make the most of what one might call your circumstantial charisma, assume that you will nearly always be making an impression of one kind or another for at least the next month, if not longer. You could also safely assume that simply being your genuine and authentic self will make a good impression. If your life up to now has prepared you for anything, it’s scrutiny. Have fun with the spotlight, and rest assured that any criticism says more about the critics than it does about you. — By Len Wallick.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — In proverbs of old, the “three Rs” were the essentials of public education: “reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic.” For you, however, the “three Rs” are more like what appear to be your three best options for the holiday season: rest, recreation and/or romance. The better you can combine the three, the jollier your turnover into 2017 will be. Should you be forced to choose, however, put rest first. After all is said and done, all play and no rest will make you just as dull as all work and no play (and just as likely to come down ill, too). Keeping a proper balance with your “three Rs” will probably come down to two things: First, be moderate with the food and drink. Next (and probably most important) take time away from anything with a glowing screen. — By Len Wallick.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — The world, if not the cosmos itself, is just as or more likely to be your oyster, socially speaking, compared to nearly anybody else right now. To maximize the probability of being a favored child of the schmooze universe, you must first know when to call it a day as regards to your work. Busy though you may be, you have a metaphorical wave to catch — and you won’t be able to do that unless you first go to the allegorical beach. In your case, the beach will be anyplace people are gathered for purposes that have nothing to do with productivity, achievement or status. Therefore, after an appropriately attenuated day at the office, give yourself a temporary break from following up with another form of drudgery. Hang out and let the good times roll. — By Len Wallick.

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