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Will Faithless Electors Cause a Constitutional Crisis?

This past presidential election was among the most unsavory in U.S. history, and it might not even be over yet. Unless we are very careful, this election could yet come close to crippling constitutional government.

The problem is straightforward enough: namely, that large sections of the losing side stubbornly refuse to admit defeat. That is bad in itself. Around the world, one of the commonly accepted criteria in judging a democratic society is whether the losing party agrees to stand aside after losing an election. Initially, Hillary Clinton conceded defeat, and did so with grace and maturity, partly (it seems) under White House pressure. Still, an alarming number of her followers remained diehards, and the Clintons have now joined the demand to recount votes in Wisconsin and other swing states.

That recount demand is rooted in some murky statistics, and some assertions that can now be shown to be bogus. Initially, New York magazine quoted an expert study purporting to show that votes in critical states had been manipulated by computer hacking. According to those early claims, a technical comparison of regions within particular states showed that places using electronic voting turned out surprisingly high votes for Trump relative to areas that relied on paper ballots. Hence, said the advocates, there was prima facie evidence of malfeasance, and votes in swing states should be audited carefully before any final decisions can be made about the election’s outcome—however long that process might take.

Actually, these suggestions were absurd, and were promptly recognized as such by many liberal media outlets. The allegations were, for instance, utterly rejected by quantitative guru Nate Silver, who is anything but a Trump supporter. As he and others noted, the non-urban areas that were vastly more inclined to vote for Trump were also the ones most likely to use electronic voting. Big cities, in contrast, commonly used paper ballots. Obviously, then, we would expect votes cast by computer to lean heavily toward Trump in comparison to those marked on paper. That result certainly did not mean that Russian techies in secret fortresses in the Urals were hacking computers in Wisconsin and Michigan to delete votes cast for Hillary Clinton. Not long after the New York story, the main computer expert cited made clear that he himself did not accept the hacking explanation, although he still felt that an electoral autopsy was called for. That process is now underway, and with the support of the Clinton camp.

The fact that such mischievous allegations have even been made bespeaks liberal desperation at the defeat of their candidate, and a bottom-feeding attempt to seek any explanation for the catastrophe those liberals feel they suffered on November 8. Sadly, though, these unfounded allegations will remain alive in popular folklore for decades to come, with the simple takeaway: Republicans stole the 2016 election.

Those electronic issues pale in comparison with Democratic Party resistance in the Electoral College, where delegates are scheduled to meet on December 19. Normally, those electors would simply be expected to confirm the results of the November ballot, but liberals have demanded that they do the opposite, and actively nullify the result. Some electors have already stated that they will refuse to accept the majority votes cast in their Trump-leaning states. Notionally, these “Hamilton electors” will take this course not from any partisan motivation but rather to draw attention to the perceived injustices of the Electoral College system, which in their view should be replaced by a national popular vote. Online petitions urging other electors to join the defection have garnered millions of signatures.

Donald Trump’s lead in the college was so substantial—probably 306 to 232—that a handful of “faithless electors” should not affect the overall result, which could be overturned only through the concerted efforts of dozens of pro-Hillary activists. That is extremely unlikely to happen, but all the credentialed experts dismissed as unthinkable so many other things that actually have happened in this turbulent year.

For the sake of argument, imagine that enough electors go rogue to flip the election. Think through the likely consequences of such an outcome—in which Hillary Clinton is inaugurated in January, rather than Donald Trump. It is inconceivable that a Republican Congress would accept this result. It would offer zero cooperation in any legislative efforts, and it would presumably stonewall any and all approval of Clinton-nominated officials or judges. The only way to operate the government in those circumstances would be for the president to make extensive use of executive orders, and to fill official posts through an unprecedented volume of recess appointments. Theoretically, that method might even be used to fill Supreme Court vacancies. Constitutional government would have broken down, and we would be facing something like a Latin American presidential dictatorship. For several years, Washington’s political debate would be reduced to something like a Hobbesian war of all against all.

Does anyone really want to see a Clinton presidency at such a cost?

Nor is it easy to see how such a cycle could ever be broken once set in place, and particularly how the precedent set in the Electoral College could ever be overcome. Would not Republican electors seek revenge in 2020 or 2024? In that event, the November elections would become merely an opening gambit in an interminable legal process.

It is also ironic to see Hillary’s supporters demanding action in the Electoral College on the grounds of her convincing win in the popular vote. As they argue, how could any administration seriously claim a “mandate” with just the 46 percent or so of that vote earned by Donald Trump? Older election aficionados might cast their minds back to 1992, when an incoming Clinton administration decided to go full steam ahead on a number of quite radical policies, including a bold attempt to establish a national health-care system. The president then was Bill Clinton, who owed his presidency to gaining just 43 percent of the popular vote. Mandates are strange and flexible beasts.

Through the years, we have witnessed a number of elections so catastrophic that they seemingly threaten the existence of one or the other party. In the mid-1970s, few serious observers believed the Republican Party would survive the Watergate crisis, and similar pessimism reigned on the right following Obama’s victory in 2008. Yet despite such disasters, political currents soon changed, and Republicans won historic victories in 1980 and 2010. The despairing Democratic Party of the late 1980s likewise managed to resurrect itself sufficiently to hold power through much of the following decade. The lesson is straightforward: complain all you like about defeat, but console yourself with the prospect of future recovery and victory, probably in as little as two years’ time. To that extent, the American political system is remarkably forgiving of even egregious failure.

But that system also depends on elections securing clear and commonly agreed outcomes, in accord with principles very clearly described in the Constitution. If those decisions are not accepted, and are subject to constant sniping and subversion, then that Constitutional settlement will simply run aground.

If people don’t learn to lose, the Constitution fails.

As for me, I will breathe again on December 20.

Philip Jenkins is the author of The Many Faces of Christ: The Thousand Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels [1]. He is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University and serves as co-director for the Program on Historical Studies of Religion in the Institute for Studies of Religion.

46 Comments (Open | Close)

46 Comments To "Will Faithless Electors Cause a Constitutional Crisis?"

#1 Comment By William Dalton On November 29, 2016 @ 1:30 am

All the electors representing states won by Donald Trump in the Fall election are members of the Republican Party, typically ones with long records of service in the quest for the election of Republican candidates to public office. Granted, the Republican Party was severely divided this year, but those divisions seem to have disappeared since the results of the November balloting have come in. Paul Ryan is on board the Trump train. So, apparently, are Mitt Romney, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. And even before that there was no substantial portion of the Republican Party giving open support to Hillary Clinton. Sure, there are a lot of people who don’t want to accept the result – that Donald Trump captured the electoral votes needed to be elected President of the United States. But are any of them among the 306 electors pledged to vote for him in December? More than thirty-six of them? You are more likely to see a reversal of the election result from the recount of ballots in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

No, if there are any “NeverTrump”sters among the GOP’s Presidential electors, you may have a handful vote for Mike Pence or Paul Ryan or another “mainstream” Republican. They won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton. And if Trump doesn’t get the electoral votes to become President, neither will she. Then the contest will be decided by the Republican dominated House of Representatives, requiring a majority of state delegations to determine the victor. Is there any doubt who will carry that balloting?

#2 Comment By DonChi On November 29, 2016 @ 2:38 am

Great. Thanks for that. Now I’ll have this to worry about for the next month.

Excellent piece, though.

#3 Comment By EngineerScotty On November 29, 2016 @ 2:49 am

Faithless electors aren’t going to elect Hillary. No GOP elector is likely to cast a ballot for a Democrat.

A more likely scenario is sufficient numbers of GOP electors casting a ballot for a mainstream Republican–say Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan–to deny Donald Trump 270 electoral votes, throwing the election to the House. In that scenario, the House gets to pick from the top three vote getters. Again, given that the GOP dominates the House delegations, they won’t elect Hillary, but they might elect the non-Trump Republican.

#4 Comment By EngineerScotty On November 29, 2016 @ 3:08 am

And yes, it would cause a bit of a constitutional crisis–though whether it would exceed Bush/Gore in acrimony is an interesting question. It would primarily be an intra-GOP affair, as Democratic electors defecting from Clinton are neither necessary nor sufficient to deny Trump the nomination outright–it has to be Republican electors failing to vote for the party’s nominee, to get him below 270.

Democrats may have a role to play in a subsequent House election–a majority of state delegations are required (each state receives one vote, and if no candidate receives a majority from a given state delegation, that state effectively abstains), which greatly incentivizes horse-trading. Trump, of course, could win in the House even if faithless electors deny him the Presidency in the Electoral College–indeed, that’s the result I would expect were this to occur. But if Trump cannot command a majority of state delegations, an alternate Republican candidate might make deals with Democratic delegations to get to a majority. (Again, I doubt any GOP-controlled state would vote for Clinton–they’d sooner vote for Trump if not for someone else).

#5 Comment By Vinnce On November 29, 2016 @ 5:38 am

Wonderful article. I surely hope that the democratic party can lose with grace.

Anything else means potentially, as you say, the end of constitutional America.

#6 Comment By Ted Roedel On November 29, 2016 @ 6:18 am

The justification for EC nullification of the election results, is that total paralysis in Washington is preferable to, is LESS damaging to our institutions long-term, than a completely Constitutionally unscrupulous executive.

And that’s on the assumption that the Electors give their votes to Hillary. They could instead choose to give them to a compromise-candidate like Romney, or even VP-Elect Pence. Hillary supporters like myself would be more than willing to accept that result, rather than hand the Presidency to a true tyrant in the Classical Greek mold.

The bottom line is that stopping the rise to power of a Demagogue, is what the EC is FOR. Sure, we should radically revise the EC to be in full accord with the democratic one-person one-vote principle. But it makes no sense to keep the institution, and not use it for its intended purpose.

#7 Comment By JonF On November 29, 2016 @ 7:18 am

Rew: Nor is it easy to see how such a cycle could ever be broken once set in place

By eliminating the Electoral College. I can see Congress acting promptly to draft an amendment doing that and the states ratifying it in record time.

#8 Comment By connecticut farmer On November 29, 2016 @ 8:36 am

As something of a footnote concerning Bill Clinton’s 43% popular vote in ’92, it should be pointed out that but for Ross Perot, Clinton might well have actually LOST the election to George H.W. Bush in as much as the majority of Perot’s support came from disaffected Republicans who might otherwise have held their collective noses and voted party line. Though he went on to win re-election in ’96, Bill Clinton’s popularity numbers remained below 50%, making him the first president since Woodrow Wilson to win two straight elections with less than 50% of the popular vote.

#9 Comment By Hiro Protagonist On November 29, 2016 @ 8:46 am

It is inconceivable that a Republican Congress would accept this result. It would offer zero cooperation in any legislative efforts, and it would presumably stonewall any and all approval of Clinton-nominated officials or judges.

How would that be any different than the last six years?

#10 Comment By Jeremy Thornton On November 29, 2016 @ 9:08 am

Isn’t the whole point of the electoral college to protect us from electing the horribly unqualified to be POTUS? And if Donald Trump does not meet the criteria for “unfit for office”, who on earth would?

#11 Comment By John Turner On November 29, 2016 @ 9:46 am

Thanks for this useful post.

I have said it on other blog responses, but the electoral college is an important protection for the interests of the so-called flyover states and for the enterprises and products of those states on which the high population states depend. For instance, those proposing scrapping the electoral college should ask themselves if they like to eat. I know that New York and California also supply agricultural products, but the producers and even those who understand and sympathize with the interests in those states are outnumbered by the clueless.

#12 Comment By Ana On November 29, 2016 @ 9:54 am

The electors do not have to vote for Hillary but they can vote for a different Republican like Paul Ryan.

#13 Comment By Johannes Climacus On November 29, 2016 @ 10:24 am

This bizarre twist was already acknowledged by the now President elect. He said before the polls even opened that if he lost, the election would have been rigged and insinuated that people may resort to violence as a means of protest. Little outcry was made over the potential constitutional disaster of such rhetoric since he was just ‘trolling.’ In a horrifying way, his bluff has been called and after the protests now out trots the old corpse of Mother Russia and computer hacking as a possible explanation for supposed irregularities. The president elect goes on to claim that he would have won the popular vote if not for the illegal votes that were counted. So indeed, the election was rigged and both he and those calling for a recount are in agreement. Furthermore, when the MSM prompted the President elect for evidence, he, along with a 16 year old boy on twitter, in roundabout asked the incompetent CNN to look into it. Now that the, very, very dim glow, of a electorate revolt seems on the horizon a panic over constitutional legitimacy occurs? We were already living in a Lewis Carroll fantasy land.

#14 Comment By Scott_api On November 29, 2016 @ 10:31 am

Let me start by saying Trump won the election. I don’t believe that anything nefarious happened. There wasn’t hacking, there wasn’t widespread fraud.

As to the recount efforts. President-elect Trump and his supporters spent the last 8-9 months telling whomever would listen that the election would be rigged. If you loudly, boldly and very publicly proclaim that the system is rigged, you kind of forfeit the right to be upset when someone uses your argument to try and undermine your victory.

I believe the term is ‘hoist on your own petard’. Although ultimately I don’t see this causing any harm to Trump other than whatever damage he does to his image as POTUS by spending twitter-time on the subject.

#15 Comment By Philip Martin On November 29, 2016 @ 10:34 am

I hardly fear the faithless elector factor, unless Donald Trump were caught in some horrific incident involving Satan worship, children, bestiality, and cannibalism. And even then . . .

Seriously, the scenario I would fear goes like this: electors vote, the new President in sworn in, and then, months into the new administration, journalists/whistleblowers/wikileaks/(fill in the blank) uncover evidence that the election was indeed rigged, hacked, etc.–and the evidence was covered up by the new admin! Doesn’t matter who the victim and malefactors are–Repub or Dem, take your pick–the ensuing firestorm would be similar to the scenario you describe, or even worse, if that could be imagined.

I think the audit of the votes in the three states targeted by Stein would go a long way to diminish the possibility of these events becoming true. Our elections need to be transparently honest.

Any historians out there want to fill us in on how gracefully Sam Tilden faded away after the House gave the election to Hayes in 1876?

#16 Comment By Fred Bowman On November 29, 2016 @ 10:44 am

Imho if the Electorial College goes Rogue and elects Clinton, then expect the South and many of the fly-over States to seriously consider to seceding from the Union. And truth be told “what’s to stop them from doing so?” My thoughts are it’s only matter of time before this happen. And when it’s all said and done, what used to be the United States will be about 10 different nations with a few city-states thrown in.

#17 Comment By ann On November 29, 2016 @ 10:53 am

“It would offer zero cooperation in any legislative efforts, and it would presumably stonewall any and all approval of Clinton-nominated officials or judges. The only way to operate the government in those circumstances would be for the president to make extensive use of executive orders, and to fill official posts through an unprecedented volume of recess appointments…” Isn’t that what the Congress has been doing through the last Administration?

#18 Comment By Concerned Citizen On November 29, 2016 @ 11:14 am

Take a deep breath and calm down (the same advice Trump supporters have been giving us progressives). The electors will NOT throw the election to Hillary Clinton.

#19 Comment By John On November 29, 2016 @ 11:26 am

That this could even remotely happen is a sign that the Electoral College needs to be amended out of existence.

You won the popular vote, but sorry, you lost a majority of the electors which are allocated by theoretical voting populations instead of the actual voting populations which make up the popular vote. Oh wait, no, a majority of the 538 electors are exercising independent judgment and making you President, even if their states voted otherwise. It’s not unconstitutional for them to do so, and yes, all of this is as stupid as it sounds.

#20 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On November 29, 2016 @ 11:27 am

“Republican Congress would accept this result. It would offer zero cooperation in any legislative efforts, and it would presumably stonewall any and all approval of Clinton-nominated officials or judges.”

In other words, it would be a rerun of the past 8 years.

#21 Comment By AJ On November 29, 2016 @ 11:30 am

It is shamefully hypocritical for the losing Clinton campaign now to justify a grab for victory on the basis of the popular vote and the disproven canard that Russian hackers stole the election. They are ready to roll back the results by pushing for ill-conceived recounts and faithless electors. But their strategy in the national campaign completely endorsed the concept of the electoral college: they targeted swing states. If we indeed elected presidents by popular vote, there would be no such thing as swing states and campaigns would simply target major population centers. Except for the urban areas, most of Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida would be ignored. It is due to the wisdom of the founders that flyover country has been given an equal and fair voice in government, not only in the Electoral College but also in the equal state representation of the Senate.

When Trump said in the debates that he wouldn’t accept the results of the election (I didn’t vote for him), he was taken to task by an outraged media. Where is that outrage now? Is it any wonder that the national media has lost all sense of credibility with American public?

#22 Comment By LouisM On November 29, 2016 @ 11:48 am

It is very hard for me to understand how states that may lean democratic would follow the democrats to eliminate the electoral college or even compromise it.

I have heard that the purpose of the electoral college was because it was impossible in the 1700s to have a democratic vote and tally the results in 1 day so each state had a democratic vote and sent a representative.

However, I remember from my civics classes (which don’t seem to be taught anymore) that the entire justification for 2 houses of congress was that the most populous states would be represented in 1 house of congress (house of representatives) and 1 house of congress where each state had equal representation (senate). It was a compromise so that a populous state could not dominate over a less populated state.

The electoral college follows the same theory of confederacy of states where each state has a democratic vote for president and then its electoral votes would be counted toward the total but if California has a landslide for one candidate then that doent void the votes of Rhode Island or Hawaii or Alaska due to smaller population.

Thus I find it extremely hard to conceive how Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Dakota, South Dakota would allow a state like California with 80 million people create a tsunami popular vote that eliminates those states from a candidate campaigning. With the electoral college presidential candidates have to visit nearly all the states in order to win. Without the electoral college candidates only have to visit a handful of the most populous states…and further…if that happens…you can expect candidate to lavish federal spending on the most populous states while the rest of the country follow rural America into poverty and disinvestment. Is any democratic state willing to make that suicidal deal of irrelevance just to put Hillary into the whitehouse. I cant see a democratic state accepting permanent poverty and irrelevance to install one democratic administration.

#23 Comment By James Buerer On November 29, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

Republican electors wouldn’t vote for Hillary. Any author who thinks they would, hasn’t been paying attention. They might vote for another candidate to throw the election to the House.

But why is a Constitutionally approved procedure a “Crisis”?

#24 Comment By Tim D. On November 29, 2016 @ 1:05 pm

Trump has the legal right, but not democratic consent, to lead the USA. Presidents need both in order to be perceived as legitimate, which is a big problem for Trump. Not just Democrats, but a sizable chunk of Republicans, are very uncomfortable with Trump as president.

This will become more troublesome as the Republican vote shrinks with changing demographics, not to mention Trump alienating yet another generation of voters like George W. Bush did.

#25 Comment By AG On November 29, 2016 @ 1:21 pm

Philip, with all due respect, we’re already facing something more like an African or Latin American dictatorship than an American presidency, so your warnings are fairly on the moot side.

#26 Comment By Michael Powe On November 29, 2016 @ 3:21 pm

It’s a shame that the author is so unfamiliar with Constitutional history as to not know that the EC was designed for the express purpose of overriding a popular vote for an unsuitable candidate, referred to by Madison and Hamilton as “a demagogue.”

Fulfilling its Constitutional obligation by refusing to vote an incompetent boob into the Oval Office, and as a side effect, voting IN the candidate who won the popular vote by a huge margin? The very thought causes erstwhile supporters of Constitutional government to soil themselves.

And so it goes.

#27 Comment By Robby On November 29, 2016 @ 3:31 pm

This piece is thoughtful but contains a tremendous amount of hypothetical speculation (about motives, intentions and consequences) presented as certainty. I’m not a mind reader or future predictor and don’t give much credibility to those who take on that role. If this thing happens, it happens. Fomenting hysteria on speculative consequences doesn’t enlighten.

#28 Comment By c matt On November 29, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

if Donald Trump does not meet the criteria for “unfit for office”, who on earth would?

You are asking the wrong question – who on earth does meet the criteria for “fit for office”? NOT the last 4 presidents. And if the last four is by what we judge fitness, Trump is certainly well within the parameters.

#29 Comment By WAB On November 29, 2016 @ 3:53 pm

Our Electoral College, is clearly not “…capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice” of President, given that they are and have been for some time now – nothing but party-hacks.

It’s a given that “faithless” electors would have to have some faith in something other than their own party candidate’s claim to office as against, say, the greater good of the Republic for them to switch votes. That’s not going to happen. We need something on the order of a Roman Censor to oversee the qualities and virtues that go into the selection of an elector; otherwise why even maintain the cruel facade that the Electoral College is anything but a partisan frat house.

In regards to this mutt of a President-elect; Hamilton is throwing up.

#30 Comment By The Other Sands On November 29, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

Your piece is premised on this line, which is wrong:

“The problem is straightforward enough: namely, that large sections of the losing side stubbornly refuse to admit defeat.”

This is simply false. There is no large contingent nor any voice of any influence claiming that Trump is not the victor. Who knows what Stein’s thinking is, but she is a fringe character and I haven’t heard anyone of prominence claiming that the recount will have any effect on the results.

The nascent effort to influence the electors will go nowhere. It is motivated not by a claim that Clinton actually won, but by horror at the morning after the election. Horror shared by many on the right. Clinton nor her camp are encouraging these efforts anyways.

Finally, both the recount and efforts to influence electors are in fact constitutional… like it or not. The fact that the final vote is done by the electoral college and not the people is a strange, screwy anachronism that comes, nonetheless, directly out of the Constitution.

#31 Comment By Dennis J. Tuchler On November 29, 2016 @ 5:05 pm

Orginally, the electors were to exercise their judgment, after being elected by the people of their respective states. The pledge of an elector, given this set-up, was breakable if the elector’s opinion changed. Trump is not the president elect. There has been no presidential election yet. Article II makes it plain that the popular vote, perhaps advisory, does not control. SIO, if electors change their opinions as to whom to select as President, that is their job. It is not an act of faithlessness. It executes, it does not violate, the Constitutional scheme as it was understood by the Founders.

#32 Comment By John On November 29, 2016 @ 5:21 pm

Since I’d like The American Conservative to take a stand against bad, self-flattering interpretations of history, I point out that the Electoral College’s reason for being was to give the South weight in presidential elections for residents they never intended to enfranchise, i.e., slaves. Concerns about smaller states’ weight in government were addressed by giving each two Senators in Article I and preventing them from losing equal senatorial representation without their consent in Article V.

In the words of our fourth President, James Madison: “There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.”

Today the Electoral College gives states credit for all the people who could vote, regardless of how few do – or can, given the efforts by their state governments to prevent their registering. No other office in this country or any other is elected by anything remotely similar to this. It has elected the loser of the popular vote five times, twice in the last four cycles.

#33 Comment By Harold Helbock On November 29, 2016 @ 8:24 pm

In 1960 Kennedy won the presidency in a very close election. Nixon would have won had he, rather than Kennedy, carried Illinois. It became increasingly apparent that without the voter fraud in Chicago carried out by the Chicago democratic machine, Nixon would have won Illinois and the election. The Republicans pushed Nixon to challenge the election and he probably would have been successful. Mr. Nixon declined because he said it would be terrible for the country.

HRC et al have very weak grounds to challenge the current election results but they obviously could care less about the country. If they pull something, scam or otherwise, there will be a disaster. BUT DO THEY CARE: NO WAY.

Richard M. Nixon was a better patriot and a better person than HRC. We are lucky she lost.

#34 Comment By Acilius On November 29, 2016 @ 10:27 pm

I don’t think you go far enough- not only would the Republican Congress not accept a Hillary Clinton presidency under those conditions, it wouldn’t certify the votes of the faithless electors who chose her over Don John of Astoria. They would, on whatever pretext they could whip up, reject those votes and however many other votes they needed to put Don John over the top.

#35 Comment By RP_McMurphy On November 30, 2016 @ 1:49 am

I think Republicans need to consider the possibility that Democrats again fall short of an EC / Congressional majority with millions of surplus votes. I’m sorry, but at some point the majority is no longer going to consent to being ruled by the minority — regardless of what a group of dead men wrote on parchment 230 years ago. And let’s not pretend that Wyoming and South Dakota will in any way benefit from a severing of economic ties with California. There’s a reason the former states are net-drains on the federal treasury, and cattle and corn are less valuable than microprocessors. Moreover, California is the #1 agricultural state. It sits on an ocean. It has the most advanced technological infrastructure in the entire world. The notion that Kansas, et al., have any leverage against it is ludicrous and insulting.

#36 Comment By Hiro Protagonist On November 30, 2016 @ 6:54 am

I have said it on other blog responses, but the electoral college is an important protection for the interests of the so-called flyover states and for the enterprises and products of those states on which the high population states depend. For instance, those proposing scrapping the electoral college should ask themselves if they like to eat.

I don’t know if anyone’s told you this, but Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ukraine and quite a few other countries produce Agricultural commodities in bulk and would be more than thrilled to sell them to the Blue States that you seem eager to starve. The bad news for you is that once you have harvested your agricultural bounty and taken what you need for yourself, what will you do with rest since you won’t sell it to the Blue States and most port facilities are in Blue States? Leave it to rot in granaries?

Last but not least, all Blue States have a lower population density than Western Europe, and Western Europe [2], what leads you to believe that the Blue States couldn’t do the same.

#37 Comment By victory over eurasia On November 30, 2016 @ 11:13 am

We are maybe already in a constitutional crisis. Gerrymandering is distorting outcomes at the local and state/congressional level, and 2 out of three most recent GOP presidents have not been the people’s popular choice.

How long can the minority manipulate the rules and exert control over the majority? It is not sustainable, but unfortunately the lesson for the GOP is that the only way they can keep winning is more of the same – gerrymandering, voter suppression….. They will be able to persuade themselves pretty readily that this is the original intent of the founding fathers…….

#38 Comment By Thrice A Viking On November 30, 2016 @ 3:30 pm

JonF, given that both houses of Congress have Republican majorities, and more state legislatures than not are GOP-controlled, why would you expect this constitutional amendment to be ratified post-haste? Or indeed, at all?

#39 Comment By Vulcanic On November 30, 2016 @ 4:33 pm

The odds that even a single Republican elector would switch his or her vote to Hillary Clinton are less than zero, absent 100% indisputable evidence between now and their day of meeting that Clinton actually won a majority of electoral votes but suffered an apparent loss due to hacking. And that won’t happen, either.

At the same time, Trump has made manifestly clear that he is too incapacitated mentally to serve. The founders in their wisdom created the electoral college to prevent just such a crisis.

My proposal: the electors select Mike Pence as President and Tim Kaine as Vice President. Both can claim a degree of electoral legitimacy. Both have executive experience. It could function as a caretaker government to get us through the next few years. I despise Pence but I offer this proposal as the only type of thing I could possibly see a Republican elector going for.

#40 Comment By Steve Naidamast On November 30, 2016 @ 6:24 pm

“Initially, New York magazine quoted an expert study purporting to show that votes in critical states had been manipulated by computer hacking.”

The expert in question is I believe a computer scientist named Alderman. As has been revealed he did not state that hacking did occur during the election in the states now under recount. What he said was that there were red flags in the computerized techniques that were used for voting in such states, which hackers could exploit…

#41 Comment By Robert Levine On November 30, 2016 @ 8:29 pm

Let’s remember that Republicans were gearing up to reverse what they thought would be Gore’s win in the EC while losing the popular vote; they changed course when the reverse actually happened.

There are very few elected Democratic officials calling for a revolt by the EC, and not many rank-and-file either. This isn’t going to happen.

But good for those electors whose conscience will not let them vote for a psychopath. Had there been more leaders in the Republican party to take this course prior to the election, we wouldn’t be in the position of having such a manifestly unfit President who got fewer votes than his opponent.

#42 Comment By John Gruskos On December 1, 2016 @ 5:37 pm

I wonder if the establishment is using the threat of faithless electors to coerce Trump? Or have the violent protests cowed him? Or perhaps the antics of controlled opposition operative Richard Spencer convinced Trump that immigration restrictionists and foreign policy realists are weird fascists?

The appointment of Bolton (or any other neocon) as Secretary of State and McCaul (NumbersUSA score “D”) as Secretary of Homeland Security would clearly signal support for reckless wars and open borders. This would constitute the most extreme betrayal of campaign promises, the most cavalier disregard for supporter’s interests in the history of American politics. Jeff Sessions would be ill advised to join such a cabinet. As soon as he resigns his senate seat, his continued presence in Washington DC would depend on the whims of the president.

America needs a leader like Viktor Orban. Neither the antics of Spencer nor the hysterics of the left deterred him from doing his duty, defending Hungary’s boundary, and avoiding involvement in senseless wars for regime change.

#43 Comment By Helen On December 1, 2016 @ 9:17 pm

This article is quite biased. However that being said it does have some valid points. The reason that liberals like myself are angry is not so much that Hillary lost, but how she lost. She won the popular vote. More people wanted her as president then Donald Trump. In fact no president in history has lost the popular vote by the amount Donald Turmp did and still won the presidency. Democrats have been robbed twice in 16 years by the electoral college.

In addition thier has never been a less qualified person as president elect. He has no experience and he going to be running the country. The man has admitted to sexual assult, and he about to go on trial for raping a 13 year old at a party. Donalds son stated that women that can’t take abuse from men need to get out of the workforce.

That is the example we are setting for our sons to emulate? Even worse our daughters are growing up with the idea that rape is ok when it is done by someone like Trump. Plus he is putting neo-nazis on his cabinet that want to have a muslim registry and to build internment camps.

Personally I don’t care what side of the aisle you are on. This man has no place in the white house.

#44 Comment By Daniel On December 2, 2016 @ 8:59 pm

“It is inconceivable that a Republican Congress would accept this result. It would offer zero cooperation in any legislative efforts, and it would presumably stonewall any and all approval of Clinton-nominated officials or judges. The only way to operate the government in those circumstances would be for the president to make extensive use of executive orders, and to fill official posts through an unprecedented volume of recess appointments. Theoretically, that method might even be used to fill Supreme Court vacancies. Constitutional government would have broken down, and we would be facing something like a Latin American presidential dictatorship. For several years, Washington’s political debate would be reduced to something like a Hobbesian war of all against all.”

“Constitutional government would have broken down” – this is what we have experienced for the past 8 years.

“It is inconceivable that a Republican Congress would accept” anyone other than who they want. And definitely NOT Obama. This has been illustrated repeatedly over the past 8 years. Zero compromise. Zero negotiation. Zero statesmanship.

So much for your “Constitutional Government”. It’s all, or nothing at all.

#45 Comment By Expat On December 4, 2016 @ 7:41 am

The “Hamilton Electors” who have spoken out are all electors from states in which HRC won, and who are willing to vote for a different Republican candidate than Trump. They are not suggesting that Republican electors defect to HRC, rather they hope to convince them to join in voting for a third party.

#46 Comment By Stephen R Gould On December 4, 2016 @ 11:11 am

I do not see why the principle of “original intent” of the founders should be so sacrosanct to conservatives except when it comes to the EC in this particular election.