Should conscientious electors decide against Donald Trump when they turn in their ballots December 19th? Michael Signer (below) has a credible argument they should. Constitutional history makes clear that the founders had three main purposes in designing the Electoral College.
1. Stop a demagogue from becoming president. At the Constitutional Convention, arguing in support of the Electoral College, Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts said he was “against a popular election” for president because the people would be “misled by a few designing men.” In Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the electors would prevent those with “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming president. They would also stop anyone who would “convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements.”
Check one against Trump.
2. Stop foreign interference in an election. The framers were extremely concerned about infiltration by rivals including Great Britain. In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton wrote that one major purpose of the Electoral College was to stop the “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” He said that the college would “Guard against all danger of this sort … with the most provident and judicious attention” from the electors.
Check two against Trump. There’s incontrovertible evidence Russia interfered in the campaign by hacking the email accounts of top Democratic officials and cooperating with WikiLeaks’ parallel campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton campaign. Meanwhile, Trump has business entanglements in Russia and other foreign countries, the extent to which are unknown because Trump has not released his tax returns.
3. Prevent poor administration of government. In Federalist No. 68. Hamilton wrote that “the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration,” and for that reason, he said, the electors should be “able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration.”
Check three against Trump, who has no government experience and whose character and temperament – as revealed both from his personal history and his campaign – are arguably inconsistent with good government.
4. One additional factor: Hillary Clinton is on track to win the popular vote by over 2.3 million votes — nearly 5 times Al Gore’s narrow margin over George W. Bush in 2000.
Modern-day conservatives favor so-called “originalist” understandings of the Constitution, looking to history and to the original texts of our founding documents for guidance. On this basis, electors have every ground for refusing to make Donald Trump president of the United States.
What do you think?