Why the Electors Should Reject Trump
1.) This week Federalist Paper №68, whose most likely author is Alexander Hamilton, is bouncing around the web. This particular paper argues for the virtue of the Electoral College, because it can serve a vital safeguard against the elevation of unfit people to the highest office in the land.
2.) Below are three particularly apropos quotes from Federalist №68. They pertain to the unique threat to the United States posed by the tainted victory of Donald Trump, his manifest unsuitability for office, and the original role of the Electoral College. Following all of the quotes I will provide a brief commentary.
- Tainted Victory: “Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” (Bold mine)
- Manifest Unsuitability for Office: “The process of 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. 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…” (Bold mine)
- Original Role of the Electoral College: “They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias.” (Bold mine)
3.) Some thoughts:
- Tainted Victory: We now know, with very high confidence, that Russian leaders tampered with our electoral systems in order to tip the scale to Donald Trump. The generally abusive and disdainful Trump has been nothing but deferential and toady-like to Vladimir Putin. Indeed, it appears that Russia has put in place “a creature of their own to the magistracy of the Union.” This alone should be enough for any elector to reject Trump.
- Manifest Unsuitability for Office: Trump’s unfitness for office was very clear in 2011, with his racist birther claims. It was clear in 2015, when he began his campaign by asserting that many Mexican immigrants were rapists and called for a Muslim registry. It is very clear now. But even for people who can look beyond all this, the conflicts of interest between Trump’s business responsibilities and duties as President are obvious, numerous and apparent. Trump has taken no credible steps to divest himself meaningfully from his business enterprises (he was supposed to announce these efforts in a “major” news conference today, which was unsurprisingly postponed). As President he would need to balance the interests of the US with his own personal profits in countries around the world. Is there any doubt about how a man who pays no taxes will make his decision? Even if the electors can overlook all of this, it is evident that Trump’s action will violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution whenever he accepts money from foreign governments (as he will). His very being as President will represent a Constitutional violation, which is another reason all electors should reject him.
- Original Role of the Electoral College: Despite everything written above, most electors will vote party line, in lock step. Far from being an entity that is not “tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes,” the Electoral College is all too rife with tampering. Party officials exert heavy pressure on electors to toe the line, reducing the Electoral College to a rubber stamp agency rather than a deliberative body. The Russians are not the only group to debase our electoral process. We have done that ourselves.
The road ahead looks bleak. I wish I were confident that the Electoral College will perform honorably on December 19, but I am not. Party loyalty will matter more than the public good, to the detriment of each and every one of us.
I will be very happy to be proved wrong.