On December 19, the Electoral College will pick the next President of the United States
Scott Piro: If 38 electors defect to the Clinton camp, they could pave the way for the dissolution of the Electoral College
Editor’s Note: Scott Piro is an independent media relations and copywriting professional, directing PR campaigns and designing messaging for startups, arts organizations, authors, publishers, corporations, nonprofits, indie films and other entities. Connect with him on LinkedIn. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.
Amid the last month’s exhausting drama around Cabinet picks and presidential tweetstorms, one date stands out – December 19, the day the Electoral College picks our next president.
As hope from Jill Stein’s recount fades for Hillary Clinton’s supporters, another Hail Mary chance to thwart Donald Trump’s presidency has taken its place: that enough members of the Electoral College sworn to vote for Trump will break their pledge and vote to elect an alternate candidate.
America needs 37 “faithless electors” from states Trump won to do this in order to drop him below the 270 threshold and block him from automatically winning the White House.
The election would be determined by the House of Representatives, which has a constitutional right to pick another candidate if neither of the top two candidates wins a majority. Republican control of Congress makes a Clinton victory all but impossible here – and a Trump triumph still quite achievable. But it’s much more likely a consensus Republican candidate would prevail and become the nation’s 45th president.
Could the “Hamilton electors,” a group of electors who have sworn not to vote for Trump, be this solution? Sadly, they cannot. While their goal is to elect a moderate Republican candidate, so far all seven of them come from states Clinton won. Their votes therefore only amount to symbolic protests, and just ask Jill Stein how useful those are.
There is still one idea with the power not only to end a Trump administration, but also to eradicate democracy’s ugliest anachronism – the Electoral College. Thirty-eight faithless electors from states Trump won switching their votes to Clinton would do it. Regardless of your political affiliation, it would be the best possible thing for America in the long run.
The Electoral College has contradicted the popular vote in two of the last five presidential elections, electing a Republican president in both those splits. Not surprisingly, many Democrats already favor abolishing it. The system favors the GOP because too many liberal voters live in too few (primarily coastal) states.
But the obstacles required to eliminate the Electoral College – passing a constitutional amendment via two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the states – are unlikely to be overcome without GOP support. And Republicans tend to support the system for the same reasons Democrats don’t – it favors them.
However, if enough Trump electors voted for Clinton instead, it would give Republicans their own, distinct reason to loathe the Electoral College: There’s nothing to prevent it from going so rogue that it elects the opposite party’s candidate.
Get our free weekly newsletter
Were this to occur, there would be the bipartisan support needed to legislate it out of existence. This archaic safeguard from our Founding Fathers, created to stop an unfit leader from becoming president but having the modern effect of blocking the will of the people, will have proved its harmfulness to everyone. The flipping of the presidency from Trump to Clinton would be collateral damage or a big fat bonus, depending on which side of the aisle you sit.
Swing voters, centrists and moderate Republicans, you have less than a week to join fed-up Democrats in raising hell to persuade 38 Trump electors to vote for Clinton, putting enough pressure on them that they risk whatever fallout may come from their actions. In the short term, it would elect Hillary Clinton, whom you may not support. But in the long run, it’s the only way to take our democracy back. Make the federal government acknowledge we are smart enough to elect our own president.