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The Electors’ Patriotic Duty is to Overturn The Results of the Presidential Election

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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.)

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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

Consider:

• 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.”

  • Logic

    Unwise.

    I know Progressives are upset, but I think its worth examining why it is so unwise to overturn this election by any means other than through a recount.

    Looking at it from the oppositions point of view, consider a person who self-identified as a TEA party member because they were furious about the ACA law. Remember, as far as they are concerned the ACA law was passed without their support, they see it as a law passed by Democrats without their representatives even having a word in on it. They felt like they were steamrolled, and that they are having to suffer the consequences of the law without redress. Obviously that isn’t how Democrats see it, but that’s how many Republicans see it.

    What happened as a result.

    1) They formed the TEA party and protested. Nothing happened, they didn’t have the votes to overturn the ACA law.
    2) They won elections in 2010, in total they won 6 Senate seats, 63 House seats, and lots of local and state elections across the country. Nothing happened, the ACA law was still there, and they still had power to change or repeal it.
    3) They lost elections in 2012, they lost the Presidency and in total they lost 2 Senate seats, and 6 House seats, but they retained most of the seats they had won in 2010. Nothing happened, they still didn’t have the votes to change the ACA law.
    4) They won elections is 2014, in total they gained 9 seats in the Senate, taking control of it, and 13 seats in the House. Nothing happened, they had the Senate and House, but didn’t have the Presidency, any attempt to change or repeal the ACA law would simply be vetoed.
    5) Now they have won this election in 2016. Not only did they win the Presidency 306 to 232, taking states they haven’t won in a generation, they also lost 2 Senate seats retaining control, and 6 seats in the House, retaining control. What’s more, they ended up with historic majorities, majorities their party hasn’t seen in many decades.

    Republicans, after those 8 years, are in essentially the same position that Democrats were after the 2008 election when Democrats came off of 2 terms of Bush’s war in Iraq. Republicans have won the House, Senate, and Presidency, the only real difference is that Republicans have also won most of the state legislatures, governor’s mansions, etc, and they do not have the super-majority that Democrats had in 2008 in the Senate, otherwise its pretty much the same situation.

    Now, with that in mind, how would Democrats have felt after protesting the war in Iraq for years, after winning elections, after doing everything in their power to elect Obama and put 8 years of Bush behind them, if, after winning the electoral college having the election overturned giving it to Bush’s successor McCain ?

    Answer, Democrats would have rioted in the streets, they would have felt cheated, and they would have said that democracy no longer worked, that even if they won elections and gained historic majorities their voters would not be able to make the changes they were elected to make. Just imagine how Democrats would have felt if Obama had been robbed in 2008 by the electoral college after all that they went through in the Bush years.

    I understand this isn’t a popular thing to say, but Republicans won this election, they really did. They have the House, Senate, Presidency, a huge majority in states across the country, and they are set to nominate someone to the Supreme Court. If that was taken away from them I believe that their voters would conclude that democracy was lost, and that no matter what they did they would be denied power under some kind of pretense, and to say they would feel cheated and that they would be upset is the understatement of the century.

    At a point like this it’s important to remember the primary reason we have democracy, it’s so that we can have bloodless revolutions every 4 years.

    The best way to beat Republicans is to have a message that gains enough support with voters to win elections. The Democratic party has to accept that this election is lost, and that Republicans will take power next month.

    Taking power through any other means has an infamous name, and a tragic history.

    Sometimes you just lose elections. Best to look forward and focus on the next one.

    • Lee Scharf

      Convince me, Logic, that you are not merely normalizing here, that you are not denying that we are dealing with something of a different order in the election of the person, Donald Trump.

      This is a protest not for all elections that the Republicans won, but for the election that Trump won through the electoral college, but not the popular vote.

      Do not look at me as a sore loser, because I am not that.

      So, far you have not convinced me that the electoral college would act iliigitimately. Might not this be the very exception that proves the rule of constitutional government, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers? Merely because it has yet to be used does not mean that it should not be used.

      Convince me, too that truth-telling does not matter, nor integrity, that the highest moral order is the god of profit. That trickle down economics works.

      These are real questions in my mind. I hope you will give me some thoughtful answers.

      • I’d also love to hear a serious/fact-based argument, from “Logic” or anyone else, as to how Republicans could POSSIBLY be better for working people, rural people, really ANY people other than gazillionaires. I have yet to hear such an argument, almost certainly because such an argument doesn’t exist.

  • Andy Schmookler

    A question for you, Logic. Allow me to pose a hypothetical, if you’re able to absorb the following conditions into your outlook.

    Let’s hypothetically say that your assessment was that allowing Donald Trump become president had a 50% chance of resulting in the destruction of American constitutional democracy. And let’s stipulate further that your assessment was that there was a 20% chance that Trump’s being president would result in a needless — not minor, and potentially catastrophic — war.

    If those were your assessments, would you regard the considerations you have presented to outweigh the importance of doing everything possible to avoid such a disastrous outcome for the nation?

    • Logic

      I’ll answer that question with a question of my own – don’t you think Republicans felt the same way in 2008 ? Forgetting race, they knew that Obama was going to be a very Progressive President, and in their own minds they felt that his policies were a threat to the nation.

      Do you think they should have resorted to any means to stop Obama from taking power after an election he won ?

      Like I said, I feel for people on this, I know its hard for Democrats to stomach, but Trump was elected President. We just have to trust the wisdom of the voters and move on. I’m not suggesting Democrats shouldn’t fight against every policy position Trump has if they need to be fought against, that’s what politics is all about, but seizing power that was not gained through a legitimate election is unwise.

      Democrats don’t want to over reach and end up on the wrong side of history, the public could lose trust in the party over something like this.

      • Andy Schmookler

        This, to me, gives you away, Logic. I do not begin to know how to respond to someone who thinks that the analogy with the present of how Republicans felt in 2008 is any kind of argument.

        To argue for that kind of symmetry tells me that the fundamental and absolutely asymmetries of the situation have escaped a person’s notice.

        Or that a person is so wedded to “even-handedness” and giving every position equal respect that it impairs the will to defend what must be defended when something dark and broken and riddled with lies starts to dismantle all that’s of greatest value in our world.

        • Logic

          This country has weathered worse storms. You were alive in the 60’s, you know what the late 60’s were like, you know how the Vietnam war and the civil rights movements affected this country. You were there when a President was assassinated. You were there through the cold war. You’ve seen Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and others. You’ve seen a President impeached for sexual impropriety under the same roof that his wife and child lived in. You’ve seen racism, not covert, but actual racism where people were called horrible names to their face on the street. You’ve seen the fall of the Berlin wall and the triumph of the space shuttle’s first launch. Through all that, this country has never overturned a legitimate election, we have always had a peaceful transfer of power. It’s not even-handedness, it’s simply what I feel is an objective perspective on the situation.

          • Andy Schmookler

            Yes, I’ve seen all that. I’ve also been a serious student of American history for the past half century, and especially the last 15 years– teaching it, writing about it, and looking specifically at how the crisis of our times compares to past crisis.

            Having looked at all that, I believe you greatly underestimate the seriousness of the present crisis. You think that “this country has weathered worse storms.” I think that time will tell just how bad this storm is, but there’s a very real chance that this will be the worst storm, the most damaging — perhaps fatally damaging — development in American history. (Could even be worse that the “storm” of 1850-1865.)

            Even perhaps the worst in world history.

            The 60s had their serious difficulties, but I would choose in a heartbeat to have an America in that condition than the America that’s now entering the Trump era, after all the darkness also that has led up to this moment.

            We are in considerable danger of losing the soul of this nation for as far as the eye can see.

            So there we come to the nub of our differences: you see the present situation in far more benign terms than I do, and this leads you to see as wrong-headed ideas what I argue here and in my previous pieces about Trump voters and about Democratic strategy.

            We;re not dealing with a cold here. We’re dealing with the Plague.

            I am not resigned to such

          • Climate change (and environmental destruction more broadly) alone is a potential “game over” for human civilization. On that grounds alone, the election of a bunch of climate science-denying freakazoids, just when we need to be ramping UP our efforts to combat this deadly/dire threat, could make 2016 the worst year in human history.

          • Andy Schmookler

            I agree. Climate change by itself is a big enough consideration to justify doing whatever can be done to keep Trump and his gang of fossil-fuel-industry allies from being in charge of the nation.

  • Jim Vulcan

    You are a lefty nutcase….filled with rhetoric and talking points that are so prevalent in colleges today…resulting in the precious cupcakes that now need therapy dogs, safe places, play doh, etc…to sooth them with Trump’s victory.

    True to your liberal nonsense, you twist all Trump has done to suit your narrative…trying to demonize him. Good luck with that, you dope. You lost…end of game.

    Please…take your head out of your ass. This guy is gonna be one of the best Presidents we have ever had…and unlike Obama, he actually will listen to the sage advice of experts because that’s what REAL leaders do.

    Obama has been a dismal failure. Period. Hillary would have been worse. Idiots like you need to STFU and go away. The people have spoken. And they spoke through a system that has been deemed valid for years. Don’t like that? Tough.

    You and your party can forget getting near the White House for at least 16 years.

  • True Blue

    I just sent nice donations to local, state, and national Democratic groups in honor of President Obama; putting words into action. Many thanks to Andy for reasoned and respectful dialogue even when under attack by those who favor name-calling. An Electoral College presidential win with less than 80,000 difference (3 states) is in no way congruent to the 2.9 million Popular Vote win (the people have spoken). No landslide, no mandate, just Russian rigging.

  • concerned citizen:

    Among the confused citizens as to how a horrible person like Mr Trump has displayed could con his way to the oval office in the first place, im not surprised that foul play was involved its his nature.