Yesterday, I heard Rush Limbaugh warn his listeners of this plot by supposed leftist fringe groups to undermine the results of Tuesday’s election. While rarely agreeing with El Rushbo, at first glance I thought the petition might be another futile stunt whose signatories would merely look like sour grapists.
But after looking more closely, I signed the petition.
I just signed the petition, “Electoral College Electors: Electoral College Make Hillary Clinton President on December 19.” I think this is important. Will you sign it too?
I appreciate that this proposal is perhaps an uncomfortable one to embrace for those who look upon the Electoral College as undemocratic but the fact remains the Constitution created the electoral college to protect our Republic from exactly the likes of Donald Trump. But don’t just take my word for it – here is a nice summary provided by the most populist of Republican websites teaparty911.com. Better yet read Federalist Paper 68, concerning the Mode of Electing the President.
I began by putting on the “orginalist” interpretive hat worn by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia believed the intent of the original founders should guide our constitutional readings.
First, in Paper 68, you will see that the Founders asked the electors to judge the qualifications of presidential candidates:
The process of [the Electoral College] election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.
As we know, Trump has no previous experience in government or the military. Scalia might have agreed that the founders placed a premium on deep knowledge of statecraft. Further, the founders saw nobly serving one’s county in times of war to be a cardinal virtue. Hence, Trump’s endowments can be questioned.
Second, in Paper 68, the Founders asked the electors to judge the merits, talents and character of presidential candidates:
Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.
Arguably, Trump succeed by low intrigue and the little arts of popularity. Furthermore, the passage emphasizes the President should have the esteem and confidence of the whole Union. As we know, Trump lost the popular vote.
Today, in The 13 most amazing findings in the 2016 exit poll, the Washington Post listed significant features of recent exit polls:
10. Trump’s personal image was and is horrible.
Trump’s victory should be in no way interpreted as a vote of confidence in him or his capacity to do the job. Less than 4 in 10 voters (38 percent) had a favorable opinion of him. Only 1 in 3 said he was “honest and trustworthy.” Thirty-eight percent said he was “qualified” to be president. Thirty-five percent said he has the “temperament to serve effectively as president.”
Trump falls short on honesty and capability. Electors considering switching votes or abstaining could argue that a large majority of American do not think Trump is — as Paper 68 demands — in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.
What if a electors declared that, after having reviewed the campaign and Federalist Paper 68, they determined Trump had won by spreading multiple and empirically proven falsehoods. Duty bound, the electors could say they were observing the original intent of the Founding Fathers.
Would Justice Scalia agree? And sign the petition?
For the record, I have reservations against eliminating the Electoral College. In 2012 when Tom Golisano championed eliminating the college, I argued he offered no adequate answer to problems involved with a national recount.
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