Jayne: A faithless electors’ revolt would be tough to stomach



Greg Jayne

As half-baked ideas go, this one hasn’t even been put in the oven yet.

Still, it is tantalizing, making it the raw cookie dough of political schemes — you know it’s dangerous, but you can’t help yourself because it is so delicious (Warning: Health officials warn us not to eat raw cookie dough, so don’t send me nasty emails).

Anyway, a group (meaning a couple) of members of the Electoral College have hatched a plan to keep Donald J. Trump from assuming the presidency. See, you thought that Trump won the election on Nov. 8; but the real election is Dec. 19, when the Electoral College wields its enormous power. As dictated by the U.S. Constitution, members of the Electoral College — who were selected at the state level — will decide who becomes the next U.S. president.

Well, some of these electors, who probably ran for the position thinking that it was accompanied by anonymity and would be devoid of scrutiny, are trying to stop Trump. They call themselves the Hamilton Electors, after Alexander Hamilton, and frankly, anything that invokes the name of the inspiration for great musical theater is worthy of attention. Oh yeah, Hamilton also was a Founding Father.

Keeping Trump from the presidency would be entirely constitutional, even if there is no precedent for it. As Claire Wofford, a political science professor at College of Charleston, explained to The Atlantic: “Several features of our government are designed to ‘filter’ what the framers saw might be the irrationality and emotion of the populace, including the Electoral College. So you could argue that the election of Trump is just such an instance, in which a demagogue has somehow managed to sway an easily misled public.”

Irrationality. Emotion. Demagogue. Easily misled public. Yep, it sounds like a Trump election. But, hey, that’s just my opinion. And enough people disagreed with it to make Trump the president-elect. In the end, that is all that matters. Yes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but that is not how we choose a president in this country.

Which brings us to the half-baked part of the meal.

Trump won 306 electoral votes, when 270 were needed to win the presidency. That means supporters of the insurrection need to turn 37 Republican electors away from Trump in order to send the decision to the House of Representatives, which would … elect Trump. Republicans control the House, and there is no way they would deprive from the American people the thrilling prospect of having somebody called “Mad Dog” as Secretary of Defense.

Meanwhile, trying to deny Trump just might create a few problems from his supporters. You know, just maybe.

Sounds good, but it’s not

Most recently, elector Levi Guerra, a 19-year-old from Warden in central Washington, announced that she would vote for a moderate Republican as part of the plan for Electoral College chaos. “I’m hoping that my willingness to put my country before my party will show that my generation cares about America,” she said.

The problem is that Guerra is a Clinton elector, because the Democratic candidate won the popular vote in this state, which places Guerra’s noble patriotism in the category of empty gesture.

All of this, we must admit, is fascinating. Through roughly 225 years of voting for a president, the United States has never experienced widespread revolt by the Electoral College. And while it won’t happen this time around, either, the prospect has proved to be educational.

For example, we have learned that Washington electors are beholden to the results of the popular vote in the state, but the penalty for violating that duty is a mere $1,000. Note to the Legislature: Maybe we should increase the punishment for such rogue behavior before 2020 rolls around.

Meanwhile, the uprising by a small faction of Electoral College voters sounds tasty, but in the end it would just make us ill.