I’ve been disagreeing with John Robb about whether the Electoral College should reject Donald Trump, possibly in favor of Clinton, possibly a compromise Republican candidate, possibly just kicking things to the House.
John described that as a “coup,” and I responded, no, it’s not a coup because a coup is by definition illegal. By law, the Electoral College has the authority to pick the President. Maybe that’s nitpicking (I said), because it would likely be PERCEIVED as a coup. But it wouldn’t actually be one.
John pushed back on that point, finishing up with a comment, “North or South?”
One of the thing that I enjoy about reading John — which can also be frustrating — is that his writing is so lean that sometimes I have to think a long time to figure out what he means.
Here’s what I think he meant by “North or South.”
Up until the Civil War, it was an unsettled question whether states had a right to secede from the Union. It took the Civil War to settle that question. The answer is “nope.” But had the war gone the other way, or had Buchanan or a successor remained in office, well, then the answer would have been “yes.”
That’s how the law works. In many cases, laws aren’t settled until somebody makes a decision what it said. Almost always in America, that decision is made peacefully, through the courts. That one time in the Civil War the courts weren’t enough.
Fast-forward to 2016. The Constitution clearly states that the Electors, rather than the people, elect the President. So the Electors have a legal right to reject Trump.
Or do they? One thing we liberals understand — and many conservatives don’t — is that the Constitution is a living document. And living muscles atrophy when they are not used.
So, yeah, in THEORY the Electors pick the President. But in reality, being an Elector is a ceremonial position, with as much authority to make independent decisions as the Prom Queen has in running the high school, i.e.: Zero. Trump supporters perceive an Electoral College upset as a coup — and they might be right on this one.
The Electors should do their job and elect Donald Trump President.
And the people should give Trump a chance — which is not the same as giving him the benefit of the doubt.
In Johnrobbian fashion, I will leave the preceding paragraph as-is and unelaborated-on.