There are grand flaws and minor flaws in the plan among some anti-Trumpers to block him in the electoral college. A grand flaw: How do you justify letting 538 essentially random people overturn a vote of 130 million? That’s like substituting the results of a poll for the results on election day. If your electoral college is composed of trusted “wise men,” that’s one thing — although they’d have to be awfully wise, a la Madison, Hamilton, and Adams, to convince a modern nation to give them veto power over a national election. If your electoral college is composed of political cronies and anonymous citizens who ran to be electors, all expecting that they’d be rubber-stamps for whoever won their state on November 8th, that’s something else. Even if you liked the idea of giving a small body the power to overturn an election result in unusual circumstances, why wouldn’t you trust that power to Congress instead?
Then there are the minor flaws, like … why would anyone think you could find the votes to block Trump in the electoral college when electors who are uncomfortable voting for him can simply resign instead? Any elector who defies his state’s popular vote is risking a tremendous backlash, and the more consequential his defection is, the more ominous the backlash would be. If anti-Trumpers really did find 37 people to withhold their pledged votes from Trump, they’d face public abuse, death threats, and on and on. The obvious “out” for a conscientious elector who opposes Trump is to drop out. On that note, Texas Republican Art Sisneros found himself in a bind: He could either abide by Texas’s law requiring electors to vote for whoever won the state’s popular vote, he could break the law and vote for someone else (it’s an open question whether a law binding electors is constitutional), or he could quit. He chose door number three — although not because he feared a backlash. He resigned, he said in a blog post, because he couldn’t square his pledge to vote for the winner of Texas’s election with his moral compulsion to vote only for candidates who are “Biblically qualified.”
I do not see how Donald Trump is biblically qualified to serve in the office of the Presidency. Of the hundreds of angry messages that I have received, not one has made a convincing case from scripture otherwise. If Trump is not qualified and my role, both morally and historically, as an elected official is to vote my conscience, then I can not and will not vote for Donald Trump for President. I believe voting for Trump would bring dishonor to God. The reality is Trump will be our President, no matter what my decision is. Many are furious that I am willing to have this discussion publicly. Personally, I wish more civil officers would be honest about their convictions. Assuming a Trump Presidency is their ultimate goal, they will get that. The problem is, that isn’t what they want. They want a democracy. They will threaten to kill anyone who challenges their power to vote for Skittles for dinner. That is evidence alone to prove that our republic is lost. The shell may remain, but in the hearts of the people and functionality of the system our republic is gone. I also believe that a pledge is a man’s word that he will follow through on something he committed to. God’s Word is clear we should all “let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and our ‘no,’s ‘no.” I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district. Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector. This will allow the remaining body of Electors to fill my vacancy when they convene on Dec 19 with someone that can vote for Trump. The people will get their vote. They will get their Skittles for dinner. I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.
Read this to see what he means by “Biblically qualified.” That’s one vote the anti-Trumpers might have gotten, now gone as Sisneros drops out. Other electors opposed to Trump might not quit for reasons as exalted as his, but why wouldn’t they follow his lead if they have a conscientious objection to backing the president-elect?
Tangentially, with lame efforts now afoot in the electoral college and in Jill Stein’s recount of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s victory, why would Trump himself call into question the integrity of the election? His message right now should be to hail the glorious splendor of a free and fair vote. Instead he’s screwing around on Twitter with this, inadvertently undermining the process that just made him president:
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
There is reason to believe that noncitizens are voting in federal elections, in enough numbers to tip state elections that are exceptionally close. “Millions” of noncitizens voting is hard to believe, though, and the source for the claim hasn’t produced evidence to back it up. So why would Trump lunge for it when, apart from Paul Krugman and a few Green Party diehards who can’t quite accept that Trump won fair and square, no one is seriously questioning that the vote was fair? Democrat Jonathan Chait, while acknowledging that Trump won the election “legally and legitimately,” floats this theory:
The people have spoken, and they said, by a margin currently exceeding two million votes, that they prefer Hillary Clinton to Trump. The Electoral College says otherwise. Of course, in a country where democracy is instilled in the national ethos, it is natural that any governing party will portray itself as representative of the majority. But creating the myth of popular ascent has special importance to a populist candidate like Trump. His claim to represent a “silent majority,” and to stand for the people against the elites, is fundamental to his appeal. It is the reason he has dismissed protesters as paid agents of a sinister, hidden elite opposition. And it is the reason why his supporters have circulated fake maps attempting to depict blue America as a tiny, coastal fringe.
What the people want and what the system provides are two different questions. Trump’s vote-fraud conspiracy theory is a disinformation exercise to conceal the unattractive reality that the Republican Party is gearing up to exercise minority rule.
I lean towards WaPo’s somewhat simpler explanation that this is an ego thing, pure and simple, rather than a strategic ploy to justify “minority rule.” Trump cried foul after he lost Iowa to Ted Cruz too even though he was a heavy favorite to win the next primary in New Hampshire, probably for no better reason than that it chapped his ass to have spent so much time campaigning there and then been rejected. He knows the left is going to spend the next four years reminding him that he’s less popular than Hillary Clinton even though he’s the duly elected president of the United States, and that chaps him too. So he lunged for the “illegals voting” theory. He would have been better off sticking with the argument he’s made several times over the past few weeks to explain his popular-vote loss, that his strategy was geared towards winning the electoral college and would have been entirely different if the popular vote decided the presidency, in which case he may well have won that too. As it is, consider this a sneak preview of how he’ll react in 2020 if he’s defeated for reelection. How good would it be for the country’s stability, do you think, to have the defeated president insisting that he didn’t really lose because eight million illegals or whatever cast ballots in swing states? How would a DOJ that answers to President Trump handle a claim like that? We’re only at the very beginning of these headaches.