Liberals have lost faith in the Electoral College (EC), with Hillary Clinton having narrowly won the popular vote nationwide.
As petitions to abolish the EC whizzing across the Internet, over at the Huffington Post, we see this declaration blossom into a plan to use the Electoral College to overturn the election and install someone else as President:
The requirement here is modest: a small group of Republican electors must be persuaded to vote their conscience. No question that many of these are appalled at the prospect of a Trump presidency; surely a few are courageous enough to cast a vote for someone else. (Most if not all would vote for another Republican, of course; it doesn’t seem likely that many would choose Hillary Clinton.) Depending upon how current recounts turn out, somewhere between a minimum of ten and a maximum of thirty-seven electors would have to defect in order to bring Trump’s count down to less than 270.
If neither party ends up with 270 votes, then the decision passes to the House of Representatives, and a vote in that chamber determines the winner. The House is permitted to choose from among the three candidates who receive the most votes in the Electoral College. Hence, dissenting electors can rest assured that they — and the voters they represent — will end up with a Republican president.
This is, of course, presented as a bipartisan initiative that “responsible Republicans” should join, as well as bitter, emotionally unstable Democrats. It is noted that electors cast their ballots anonymously, which “shields individuals from retribution.”
Confusingly for members of MoveOn.org, which suddenly doesn’t seem all that interested in “moving on,” the left-wing group is circulating a petition to muscle “faithless electors” into turning against Trump, as well as a petition to abolish the Electoral College altogether.
It’s beyond hilarious to read screeds against the evils of “direct democracy” coming from the party that was, just two years ago, telling us the midterm elections were meaningless because President Obama should be an absolute dictator certified by democratic vote, and maybe it was time to do away with midterm elections, or possibly even Congress.
Obama himself announced that not only was direct democracy super-awesome, as long as it empowered him, but he didn’t even need to see the ballots, because he can read the minds of people who don’t vote, and would defy the authority of Congress on their behalf.
Is this scenario even possible? Well, as everyone pushing it notes, 21 states don’t actually require their electors to vote for the pledged candidate, and the others mostly have laws that punish faithless electors, rather than preventing them from changing their votes. Michigan and Minnesota are the only states that automatically nullify the votes of renegade electors, and there is some debate in legal circles over whether any of the punitive laws could actually be enforced.
The New York Times reviewed the history of the Electoral College on Election Day, and noted that while there have been examples of faithless electors, most of them are from long ago, and they’ve never affected the final result of a presidential election.
The Times quoted the federal archives’ declaration that “throughout our history as a nation, more than 99 percent of electors have voted as pledged.”
The last example of a faithless elector was an unknown soul from Minnesota who voted for John Edwards instead of John Kerry in 2004, which doesn’t exactly cover the faithless electorate in glory.
More recently, the 2016 election produced two threats of faithless Electoral College voting… from two Washington State Democrats who said they wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, if she won the general election. One of them flatly refused to vote for her, the other refused to commit to voting for her. The one who said “no, no, no on Hillary, absolutely not, no way” was an American Indian, Robert Satiacum. He said he was hoping the election would come down to a swing vote, and give him the chance to personally torpedo her candidacy.
Cold water was showered upon the Electoral College revolt Friday from the surprising dark cloud of Vox, which declared that “realistically, considering how big a lead Trump has, who the electors are, how their votes are counted, and hundreds of years of American democratic norms, it’s a silly fantasy that is just in no way, shape, or form going to happen.”
Vox hits on the most important reasons why, including the sheer magnitude of the task awaiting those who think they can bully enough Republican electors – they tend to be stalwart party men and women – into switching their vote, and the severe unlikelihood of the Republican House deciding to unleash nationwide chaos and intra-party Armageddon by throwing the election to someone other than Trump.
The Huffington Post sneers dismissively that “Trump supporters will scream; there will likely be violence, and perhaps riots” if the Electoral College overturns the election. (Crack a window, kids – we’ve got that from Clinton supporters right now.)
There’s nothing desirable about unleashing the kind of uncertainty that an eleventh-hour shock ending to the 2016 election would create, especially since faith in our government institutions is already at low tide. Plenty of people who aren’t big fans of Donald Trump would be outraged by a maneuver that disenfranchised millions of voters, and threw the election to someone who wasn’t even on the ballot. Aren’t liberals supposed to be deeply, deeply concerned about disenfranchisement?
No, Clinton fans, you’re only courting heartache by dreaming of a miraculous Electoral College revolt. Better to kick back with few bottles of your favorite adult beverage and denounce the Electoral College as a tool of white supremacy and sexism. You can rejoin the rest of America in the real world after you sober up.