As a number of posts have discussed, the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College as a safety value, if you will, to protect the nation from a would be president who embodied the worse aspects of a shameless demagogue who could sway the popular vote. Never would the Founders have envisioned the Electoral College working exactly opposite to their envision role, in this case electing the utterly unqualified, morally bankrupt Donald Trump over the popular vote winner who also is uniquely qualified. Given this reality and the clear and present danger that a Trump presidency poses for both America and the world, opponents of Donald Trump have begun a full blown attack on the Electoral College. A piece in Politico looks at the phenomenon. Here are article highlights:
Anti-Trump forces are preparing an unprecedented assault on the Electoral College, marked by a wave of lawsuits and an intensive lobbying effort aimed at persuading 37 Republican electors to vote for a candidate other than Donald Trump.
It’s a bracing stress-test for an institution that Alexander Hamilton envisioned as a safeguard against popular whims, and a direct challenge to the role that the Electoral College has evolved to play in picking the president: constitutional rubber stamp.
Behind the overt anti-Trump push is a covert agenda: If the courts establish that individual electors can switch allegiances, supporting candidates other than those who win their states, it would inject so much uncertainty into the process that states may be willing to junk the Electoral College in favor of a popular-vote winner.
“There might well be a clamor to get rid of the Electoral College altogether, a move that would have some disadvantages (like eliminating Hamilton’s safeguard) but many advantages as well,” wrote Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, in an email. “Anyhow, clamor and anger have become par for the course in this loony election year.”
Leaders of the effort, mainly Democrats, have plans to challenge laws in the 29 states that force electors to support their party’s candidate. Those laws have never been tested, leaving some constitutional experts to argue they’re in conflict with the founders’ intention to establish a body that can evaluate the fitness of candidates for office and vote accordingly.
Several sources involved with the legal planning also confirmed that they’re preparing to roll out a coalition of lawyers prepared to defend, pro bono, any electors who vote in opposition to their party’s candidate on Dec. 19, when the Electoral College meets to cast the official vote for president.
Those efforts are parallel to a drive by at least eight Democratic electors in Colorado and Washington state who are lobbying their GOP counterparts to reject their oaths — and in some cases, state law — to oppose Trump when it comes time to cast their votes.
[Trump's] detractors are seeking 37 Republican defections — just enough to keep Trump below the threshold, which would send the final decision to the House of Representatives.
The below-the-radar campaign to encourage and organize those so-called faithless electors has largely been ignored by Trump and his team. But if even a handful of Republican electors join their long-shot effort — they already claim to have one firm commitment and have made contact with a slew of others — it would raise alarms by disenfranchising millions of voters and invariably fuel a renewed look at the Electoral College’s place in the modern era.
The electors spearheading the effort, like Colorado’s Polly Baca and Washington state’s Bret Chiafalo, say they aren’t explicitly attempting to unravel the Electoral College. They argue that they’re merely returning it to its historic function as a safety valve in the event voters choose an unfit president. But they wouldn’t mind if radical reform is one of the byproducts of their work.
Already, Democrats frustrated that Clinton won the national popular vote — by more than 2.2 million as of Monday — only to lose the Electoral College, are offering legislation to amend the Constitution and abolish it altogether. But advocates for a more modest, bipartisan solution — a statewide compact to elect the president by popular vote — say the renewed attention to the drawbacks of the Electoral College could help their effort.
I hope and pray that something happens to block Trump/Pence. Whatever happens, #NotMyPresident.