Dear Electoral College,
I write to request that you do not vote for Donald Trump, the current President-Elect, in the upcoming Electoral College vote.
I’m not a bad sport. I’ve accepted lost elections many times and dealt with it. I’m writing because I’m concerned our country has made a horrible mistake and I’d rather us not spend four years with a President who frankly did not expect to win and is not prepared to serve.
The framers of our constitution knew that democracy is imperfect and would sometimes yield broken outcomes; they also realized that the President of the United States is a job too powerful to allow someone unfit to take office. The Electoral College provides protection from a mistaken outcome so that a would-be tyrant or person unfit for office would never assume the presidency. Alexander Hamilton was explicit that this mechanism was designed to ensure 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.” While the Electoral College has never been used in this way before, that a decisive number of electors defect from their candidate to change the outcome, this election is unprecedented in a number of ways:
- There are many indicators that the President-Elect is unfit for office. Besides the fact that he has never held elected office or served in the armed forces, since the November 8th vote, it is more and more apparent that he is not familiar with the duties of the President and is unprepared to take office.
- The President-Elect demonstrated anti-democratic tendencies, in many cases during his campaign, qualities that could test and potentially overwhelm the protections of our system. For example, he encouraged physical violence against members of the public who attended his political rallies in opposition to his candidacy. He threatened his political rival with imprisonment should he be elected, a threat that persists should he take office.
- The President-Elect has already indicated his willingness to break the law. He said he was willing to use torture and to attack non-combatants in violation of U.S. law and international law. Additionally, his statements suggest, should they refuse his orders, he would find means to compel U.S. military leaders to break the standing U.S. military code and violate U.S. and international law to achieve his ends.
- The President-Elect’s campaign and appointments since November 8th suggest that his administration could undermine civil liberties in the U.S. by emboldening and elevating hate groups and menacing behavior towards minorities and other vulnerable members of society.
These examples of the President-Elect’s fitness are unsettling. They are a grotesque departure from the “character pre-eminent for ability and virtue” that the framers intended for this role. They suggest a person who may have a particular tendency towards the sort of despotic style that was to be avoided for this office.
Furthermore, the framers specifically designed the Electoral College to prevent “foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils”, improperly influencing the selection of President. To what should be our great alarm, we’ve seen direct evidence of meddling from a foreign power and suggestions that the President Elect may have inappropriate interests in this country that were not disclosed prior to the November 8th vote:
- Russia was found by 17 U.S. intelligence agencies to be assisting the President-Elect’s campaign by employing hackers to attack his political rival and the rival party. Emails from these hacks were released to the press and used to distract and confuse the public.
- Additionally, internet trolls paid for by the Russian government have been found pretending to be Americans and engaging in the national public debate in order to assist the President-Elect’s campaign.
- There are questions being raised about whether the President-Elect has inappropriate interests in Russia that have not been disclosed to the public.
- Additionally, the Russian parliament cheered on hearing the November 8th results, suggesting an unprecedented interest in the outcome.
Even the suggestion of a foreign influence should cause concern to the point of reconsideration. In the case of the President-Elect, we have much more than a suggestion. What precedent does it set globally that our elections can be influenced and a foreign power’s candidate is allowed to take office?
Consider also, media coverage aside, transition rituals aside, the democratic case for the necessity of the Electoral College voting in the President-Elect is weak. The President-Elect did not receive a majority of the vote nationally. We all know another candidate received significantly more votes than he did. The key states, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, were “won” with less than 50% of the vote for the President-Elect. In each of these states the vote advantage is smaller than the third-party vote. So, both nationally, and in these key “swing” states, more people voted against the President-Elect than for him. That is not a democratic endorsement.
Given that the President-Elect has shown that he is unfit and unprepared to take office, that he does not respect the norms of a democracy, that he is willing to violate U.S. and international law and intends to compel others to do so, that he may in fact have loyalties and affinities outside of the U.S. interest, that his election may have been influenced by a foreign nation, and that not only did he not win a majority, another candidate received more votes than him, no reasonable member of the Electoral College should feel obliged to elect him as President.
While the supporters of the President-Elect will undoubtedly be angry and upset if the Electoral College vote results in another candidate taking office, the Electoral College’s duty is to the Constitution and the long-term interests of the United States. The security of the U.S. and the opportunity for future generations of Americans to participate in democracy may be at risk should the President-Elect take office. The feelings of some voters cannot outweigh protecting the enduring interests of the American people.
Hillary Clinton has received nearly 1.2 million more votes than the President-Elect. She was endorsed by nearly every editorial board from newspapers across America, including many Republican leaning papers which have never endorsed a Democrat before. She also received the support of many well known Republicans. She already has a large number of electors. Voting for her is the surest way to resolve the election decisively in the Electoral College.
While admittedly dusty and unknown to many, the architects of our constitution were wise to put the protection of the Electoral College in place. Were the framers present to hear the concerns about the President-Elect, they no doubt would implore you to vote your conscience and elect a more suitable person as President regardless of the outcry that may result.
You are our last line of defense from an unfit person taking office. History will no doubt remember your vote as either a moment of clarity when the system worked to restore sensible order, or with a question: When a body of conscientious people were empowered to stop Donald Trump from becoming President, why didn’t they act?
Given that the President-Elect presents an unprecedented, real and present danger to the future of U.S. democracy, I urge you in the strongest possible terms, do not vote for Donald Trump, use your Electoral College vote for Hillary Clinton or another suitable person of your choosing.