Hillary Clinton’s growing popular vote lead — now over 2.8 million — has done nothing to erode Donald Trump’s apparent advantage in electoral allocation.
Neither will Jill Stein’s quixotic recount efforts.
Meanwhile, Trump has gone from embarrassing the GOP as its nominee to disgracing his country and alarming the world through his erratic conduct as the presumed president-elect.
This makes the Electoral College the last, best hope of earth. Normally, the quadrennial institution convenes merely to affirm the apparent outcome of the previous month’s voting.
However, as Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist № 68, the Framers expected the electors to deliberate judiciously to choose a president who is 1) capable, 2) virtuous, and 3) free from undue foreign influence.
Of course, Trump has clearly disqualified himself on all three counts. In fact, he eerily resembles a worst-case scenario the Framers found difficult to imagine.
Hamilton warned that the “most deadly adversaries of republican government” were “foreign powers” that desired “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?”
By creating the Electoral College, Hamilton believed that the constitutional convention had “guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention.” Of course, that will only prove true if the electors do their duty and reject Trump as an obvious creature of Russian influence.
Moreover, Hamilton thought the Electoral College “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, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.”
Of course, Hamilton’s “moral certainty” will hold true only if the electors do their duty and recognize Trump’s astonishing lack of qualifications and merit.
If the Electoral College were to reject Trump as a corrupt and incompetent creature of foreign influence, then they could turn to any number of “characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.”
Choosing Hillary Clinton would respect the verdict of the popular vote, but it is probably unrealistic to expect at least 37 Republican electors to find the courage both to reject their party’s nominee and to cede the White House to a political opponent.
They are, in fact, extremely unlikely to do either of those things. But GOP electors would be more likely to dump Trump if their Democratic counterparts would help them replace him with a more conventional Republican.
In that case, Democratic electors would be within their rights to demand a truly moderate Republican. Mitt Romney and John Kasich have been suggested as possible compromise candidates, but the electorate decisively rejected Romney four years ago, and Kasich failed to attract any significant support during the GOP primaries earlier this year.
Instead, the Electoral College should consider the eminently moderate Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Her selection would affirm more than 67 million Americans who voted for a woman in the White House last month.
On December 19th, electors will assemble in state capitals across America to choose our next president. They represent the last remaining constitutional bulwark against four years of Twitter tantrums, rampant corruption, bigoted demagoguery, and our democracy’s possible fall into Fascism.