Impassioned foes of Donald Trump have launched a futile effort to persuade the Electoral College to prevent the Republican president-elect from assuming office on January 20, 2017.
Calling itself Hamilton Electors, the group is led by two electors, Michael Baca and Bret Chiafalo. The men say they are inspired by Alexander Hamilton, one of the republic’s founding fathers, who argued that the Electoral College was devised as a safeguard against electing a person unfit for the presidency.
Baca and Chiafalo argue that Trump is unqualified and they want their fellow electors to choose an alternative when the Electoral College officially selects the next president in on December 19.
Constitutional right but morally suspect
The U.S. Constitution in Article 2, Section and Amendment Twelve mandate the Electoral College officially elect the president and vice-president . Historically the 538 members of the College have upheld the electoral vote of November.
The electors, however, could pick someone else. But what moral considerations would compel the Electoral College to disregard the November national election?
Whose definition of morality are we going to accept? Is there a commonly agreed-upon moral precept in America? The answer is a resounding no.
If the vote on November 8 proved anything, it’s that we are a nation deeply divided on many ideological, social, and economic issues.
A doomed effort
Constitutionally the electors could ignore the results of November 8. But there are several impediments that make such a scenario unlikely.
Not enough time
First, the electors meet in their respective states not in some large venue for face-to-face deliberation.
Thus, all communication among the electors would have to be done long distance. And with only 12 days before December 19, there is not enough time for an actual campaign involving all 538 electors exchanging phone calls, texts, emails, tweets, social media pleas handwritten or typed letters and perhaps even semaphore to reach a compromise consensus.
Consensus alternative candidate unlikely
Second, consensus by ideological parties and politicians on major national issues as we have seen in recent decades is virtually impossible. The 535 members of Congress seem to agree only on such non-controversial issues as “motherhood and apple pie.”
Even the aforementioned are open for debate. Today we couldn’t even agree on a definition for motherhood. Could they be same sex couples, transgender female, lesbian heads of household?
Apple pie is equally suspect in 2016. What variety of apples do we use? Are they domestic or imported? Do we accept genetically modified apples? Should we recognize only organically grown or traditionally grown fruit from pesticide and insecticide-treated trees?
So it’s unrealistic to expect that the electors could ever agree on the more contentious question of whether to support an alternative Republican candidate such as Mitt Romney or John Kasich.
Romney chose not to run and Kasich failed to make his case to American voters during the long presidential primary campaign.
Third, why would 37 GOP electors decide at this late date to risk the enmity of the American electorate by joining Democratic electors of the college to ignore the nation’s voice by choosing someone who wasn’t even on the national ballot?
Like him or not—believe in his Republican credentials or no—Donald Trump gives the GOP control of the White House.
Those who protest a Trump presidency have the right to campaign for the electors to choose another candidate. Such an effort is in the best tradition of America’s peaceful dissent rather that violence in the streets or a military coup to effect regime change.
However, lack of time, insurmountable campaign logistics, absent a consensus alternative candidate, and fear of enmity all add up to one inescapable conclusion. Donald Trump will be elected President of the United States by the Electoral College on December 19. Only the final official vote is in doubt.