Forgive the roughness and excessive length of the writing here. I would love to have a week to polish and tighten it up. But time is of the essence: the question of what the Electoral College should do has a clock ticking loudly on it. (They vote a week from today.) So it’s now or never that this must see the light of day.
I imagine it is too late to get any ball rolling, but if you think it’s worth a try, move the ball along however you can.
This may be our very last chance to avoid the Trump nightmare (if, of course, there is any chance at all). Even if that doesn’t happen, this can be part of the process of generating a proper “Resistance” to the advance of fascism that now seems evident. CEOs * Generals = Facism.
(Think of us as an NFL team down by 15 with two minutes left. We need to score a quick touchdown, get a two-point conversion, succeed with an onside kick, and then go for a Hail Mary.)
This is what the Electoral College is for
Should the Electoral College block Donald Trump’s way to the White House? I think it can be shown clearly that the answer is yes.
What would our founders want them to do? We should ask, because using the Electoral College to overturn the vote of the people to elect a majority of electoral votes for Donald Trump would be a historically bold, unprecedented thing to do?
We must start with the question, why did the Founding Fathers put the Electoral College in the picture in the first place? Clearly, they must have thought that sometimes the Electoral College should overturn the results of the popular vote. If they wanted the Electoral College to be an an automatic rubber stamp of the people’s votes, why bother to put the Electoral College between the people and the ultimate choice of President.
That our founders did in fact place a filter between the people and the final electoral outcome makes all kinds of sense. We know that our founders had deep concerns about “the people” and their vulnerability to forming a kind of mob rallied around a demagogue. And we know that one of their main political devices was to install checks and balances into their system.
Clearly they wanted the Electoral College to be there to check the vote of the people when that’s necessary to protect the country. So then the question is, is Trump’s assuming the powers of the presidency something from which the nation needs to be protected? Is this the kind of situation our founders had in mind for the Electoral College fulfill its purpose?
Although blocking Trump because he is too great a danger to the nation would be an extraordinary, unprecedented action, Trump is already showing himself to be an extraordinary threat to the nation and its integrity. Already, he has demonstrated how dangerous he is to the very things a president should protect– things like our Constitution, and like our living in peace.
Trump represents a clear and present danger to the United States and the integrity of our constitutional system
• Intimidation of the press and going after his critics generally (Saturday Night Live).
• Emoluments galore, clear violation of the emoluments clause, which Trump shows complete indifference to, and willingness to disregard the Constitution, just as he disregarded the norm which said that all presidential candidates will release their income tax returns. Trump’s greed looks dangerous to the welfare and integrity of the nation.
• Carelessly creating a big flap with the world’s second-greatest, and also nuclear-armed nation. Even worse, this appears to be without any clear plan or strategy — more like he just stumbled into it in his ignorance — a situation which remains intact as he violates the norm of being briefed by the State Department and accompanied by experts from the State Department as he conducts diplomacy with other world leaders.
• Appointing foxes to guard henhouses, and appointing people hostile to the mission of their agencies–Sessions at DOJ, a climate science denier at EPA, a person hostile to public education at Education, someone with no knowledge of housing or urban development at HUD, etc. Rolling back progress on the environment and climate change, on providing health coverage to our people as every other advanced country, on lifting African-Americans from the second-class status that white racism long consigned it to, on developing a system of public education that does at least something to provide more equality of opportunity.
• Fanning of flames of intergroup hostility, so that racists and other bigots across the nation have been doing hateful things in Trump’s name. Clearly they hear Trump’s words as affirming them. They have received Trump’s message and their actions tell us something important about the spirit Trump has summoned up in America.
• Appointing CEOs and billionaires at a time of widening income inequality, and of an unprecedented proportion of our national income going into corporate profits, while the majority of the people languish in a condition worse than they’ve known before. Trump is clearly taking the side of the plutocrats and corporatists.
• Showing an arrogance and ignorance incredibly dangerous in a president. “I don’t need the intelligence reports because I’m smart” is a self-refuting statement because you have to have some kind of stupidity not to understand that being smart has nothing to do with having the knowledge and understanding a president will need in playing the world’s biggest role in managing. If you were smart, you’d learn from these people what they know of what you need to know as President of the United States that you’ve previously known nothing about, nor needed to know. If you were smart, you’d have them give you a crash course in the world as a president needs to understand it.
• Talking the well-refuted talking points of the climate change deniers in order to serve the short-term profits of the fossil fuel companies who are willing to sacrifice the future for our children and grandchildren.
This is a picture of corruption, recklessness, incompetence, playing with the devil, arrogance, boasting, bullying. The continual violation of norms, the disrespect for the Constitution, the dangerous combination of ignorance and recklessness and arrogance and bellicosity.
We can see the ugly directions he is already taking the nation even before he takes into his hands all the powers of the presidency. A man who has assaulted women (Access Hollywood), conned upwardly-striving Americans (Trump University), admitted cheating in his charity (Trump Foundation), stiffed contractors (hundreds of legal actions against Trump).
Put all this together and does it not become glaringly obvious that he is precisely the kind of man who should be kept far away from power?
If this is not the situation in which the Electoral College should act as a check on the people, what would be?
The Electoral College — the last place where this disaster can be stopped — needs to perform the emergency function for which our founders designed it.
The nation needs to be protected.
Blocking Trump is not illegitimate, but is required by genuine legitimacy
It might be objected that a non-Trump presidency imposed by the Electoral College (and how and who they should choose to be president is another question) would be an illegitimate outcome.
But if we’re concerned about “honoring the voice of the people,” we ought to give consideration to the fact that the “loser” got 2.8 million more votes than the “winner.” As Trump’s victory is solely due to this Electoral College system, now is surely the time for the Electoral College to earn its keep and do its job, not just ratify a foolish choice made by a minority of the people.
Not only that, but the winner wouldn’t even have won in the Electoral College if it were not for the most improper and dangerous help he received from wildly inappropriate role played by Jim Comey and the FBI and from the dangerous and hostile manipulation of the election by Putin and the Russians, using selected anti-Clinton leaks to help make Trump president.
Do we want the FBI’s unprecedented improper intrusion into the electoral process dictate that we put the powers of the presidency into such a person’s hands?
Do we want someone as antagonistic as Putin to be able to choose our president by using anti-Clinton leaks to manipulate public opinion to serve Russian interests?
This election is already greatly tainted. It is arguably removing the taint, rather than increasing it, for the Electoral College to block the path of this dangerous man to the Oval Office.
Our founders – watching all the ways that Donald Trump shows a willingness to disregard the Constitution – would have said to the Electoral College: “Block this one. Don’t let Donald Trump become president. You won’t be abusing the Constitution, you’ll be protecting it. (And using the Constitution to defend the Constitution as we intended.) And that is what your patriotic duty requires.”