This Monday, December 19, 2016 the 538 members of the Electoral College will convene in their respective state capitals to cast their votes for the next president and vice-president of the United States.
Will they consider the clear purpose their position holds? According to Alexander Hamilton’s writings in the Federalist Papers, the electoral college was designed to ensure “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.” The Electoral College exists to preserve “the sense of the people,” while at the same time ensuring that a president is chosen “by men most 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.
Will electors take into account the fact that a majority of Americans did not vote for a Trump presidency? In fact Donald Trump lost the popular vote by over two percentage points—nearly three million votes, and ballots in heavily democratic states are still being counted.
Will it matter that both the FBI and the CIA have determined Russia hacked emails with the intent of seeing Trump win the presidency, or that Vladimir Putin was the driving force behind it? One of Putin’s goals in undermining the election was to erode the foundation of our democracy. Putin also has strategic goals in seeing his pawn, Donald Trump elected—Trump will aid, if not directly, then by not opposing Putin in: recognition of the annexation of Crimea, a change in state borders, Russian control of all of Ukraine, dissolution of the EU and NATO, resulting in the restoration of Russia as a great power, with restored dominance over the former Soviet bloc and its environs.
The electors must be aware that Donald Trump can not be bothered with national security, and he still refuses to attend daily national security briefings—those daily briefings that warn against threats.
What about Donald Trump’s countless conflicts of interest? He has not disclosed or divested his financial holdings. His insistance that he will hand over the reigns to his children is laughable considering their involvement in every aspect of his transition. They too have conflicting interests.
Contrary to Trump’s belief that the president can do whatever the president wants to do, he must abide by laws: against bribery, fraud and corruption, as well as the constitutional ban against accepting payments from foreign powers. These laws are upheld by threat of impeachment. If Donald Trump does become president, he will likely be impeached at a high cost to taxpayers.
Electors voting in opposition of their state is not unprecedented. In the history of the electoral college 157 members have voted against their states pledge for various reasons: In 1800 the Electoral College sent the election to the House of Representatives who elected Thomas Jefferson. In the year 1824 the Electoral College again sent the election to the House of Representatives who elected John Quincy Adams. In 1836 Martin Van Buren’s vice-presidential candidate lost 23 electoral votes as the result of a sex scandal.
Members of the electoral college can change the outcome of an election. The constitution gives them authority to do so. It is their responsibility to protect the country from the threat a Trump presidency poses to our national security, our economy, our civil rights, and our standing in the world.
Will the members of the electoral college vote their conscience or will they allow Trump to follow through on the far reaching damage he fully intends to set into motion? Only 38 republican electors need vote against their pledge to bring Trump under the 270 votes required to win. Will they do it?