Trump The Most Recent Beneficiary
While in the Oval Office, Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that presidents in the United States are not elected—they are selected. Since the American electoral system selected him four times, he would know better than anyone else.
The selection process begins at the primary level. The two major political parties have tilted the tables toward certain candidates for years. Just ask Bernie Sanders about the 2016 campaign fiasco where the Democratic National Party favored Hillary Clinton to win the primary election.
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t understand the difference between the Electoral College and the popular vote. Most of us have had blind faith in democracy and haven’t taken the time to see exactly how corrupt the system has always been. Our history of voter suppression and candidate selection in America has impacted all citizens, not just women, minorities and others. Although many citizens think that they elect the president and vice president, the Electoral College actually determines the outcome. The winner of the popular vote usually wins the Electoral College vote, but not always. Call it what you will. The Electoral College is a filter between the people and the power. It’s a tool to reinterpret the will of the people and to obstruct the democratic process. It’s is clearly unconstitutional because it promotes a system of taxation without equal representation. It promotes a government where all votes are not created equal. The Constitution starts off with three critical words, “We the people.” It doesn’t say anything about “We the states.” Admit it, the Electoral College is a political black box that has come into play twice in just the past 20 years. (Update: It could still pull another political overthrow for Trump on December 14th, when members of the College cast their votes.)
There have been five United States presidential elections where the chosen one actually lost the popular vote:
- 1824: John Quincy Adams (Democrat)
- 1876: Rutherford B. Hayes (Democratic-Republican, Whig)
- 1888: Benjamin Harrison (Republican)
- 2000: George W. Bush (Republican)
- 2016: Donald J. Trump (Republican)
In 1876, Samuel J. Tilden (Democrat) earned more than 50 percent of the popular vote. Thanks to the Electoral College, Rutherford B. Hayes walked away with the crown to became one of the most unpopular presidents in American history. He essentially ignored public opinion.
In some elections, the Electoral College has voted presidents into office by extremely slim margins. In 1960, John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon by fewer than 120,000 popular votes. That year, Electors did the right thing. Electors have failed to vote for the candidates to whom they were pledged, as was the case when an elector pledged for Michael Dukakis voted instead for vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen. Twice in the past two decades, the Democratic candidate won the popular vote, but did not become president. Instead, the winner in the Electoral College prevailed. Trump, who got nearly 3 million fewer votes than Clinton, won the state-by-state allotment of Electoral College votes in 2016 and became president. In 2000, George W. Bush became president, winning five more Electoral College votes than Al Gore, though Gore won roughly half a million more popular votes. The Electoral College saved us from ourselves in favor of the favored. In other words, the concept of majority rules is a myth.
Usually, electoral votes align with the popular vote in an election. Renegade, corrupt and malicious people can tilt the table on a whim without recourse. It’s about as far away from democracy as you can get. The founding fathers thought that the use of electors would give our country a representative president, while avoiding a corruptible national election. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 read as follows:
“The members of the General Convention hope that by apportioning, limiting, and confining the Electors within their respective States, and by the guarded manner of giving and transmitting the ballots of the Electors to the Seat of Government, that intrigue, collusion, and corruption, would be effectually shut out, and a free and pure election of the president of the United States made perpetual.”
The founders went on to say:
“Each state shall appoint, in such manner as its legislature may direct, a number of electors equal to the whole number of senators and members of the House of Representatives to which the state may be entitled in the legislature. But no person shall be appointed an elector who is a member of the legislature of the United States, or who holds any office of profit or trust under the United States. The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves.”
With clear and concise thinking like this, how did the train ever fly off the tracks? This ill-conceived notion and their failure to clearly articulate it opened the door to perpetual corruption and an erosion of the American constitution. The absence of the democratic process is contributing to the civil unrest across America today. We defend flags, but not citizens. We defend confederate statues and the Second Amendment, but not the constitution.
I’m shocked that this massive charade hasn’t already sparked another civil war. Isn’t this the same type of tyranny and deceit that sparked the American Revolution? These con men set the U.S. up for failure in the beginning of the American Dream. It has created a nightmare that belongs to both the republicans and the democrats. Neither party wants us to look behind the curtain, because it is cloaking a mean, fascist machine. The mask is coming off as the lies are exposed. We have a president now who fights those who are fighting fascism. He encourages violence against American citizens. He encourages police brutality. He encourages Russia to interfere with the selection process. He is attacking the First Amendment. He urges citizens to vote twice to undermine the upcoming election, which is a felony. Encouraging citizens to commit a felony doesn’t sound like the law-and-order president. It doesn’t sound like a leader. It sounds like a desperate loser.
In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld laws across the country that remove or punish rogue Electoral College delegates who refuse to cast their votes for the presidential candidate that they were pledged to support.
“The decision Monday was a loss for “faithless electors,” who argued that under the Constitution they have discretion to decide which candidate to support. If the case had gone the other way, candidates and their supporters could threaten, cajole or bribe electors to vote in a particular way,” said Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine.
Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said Electoral College delegates have “no ground for reversing” the statewide popular vote. That, she said, “accords with the Constitution — as well as with the trust of the Nation that here, We the People rule.”
Even Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig, who represented the rogue electors before the Supreme Court, appeared only mildly disappointed at the loss.
“We took this case initially because we just thought this needed to be resolved before it created a constitutional crisis,” Lessig said.
Thirty-two states have some faithless elector laws, but only 15 of those remove, penalize or simply cancel the votes of the corrupt electors. The 15 states include Michigan, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Washington, California, New Mexico, South Carolina, Oklahoma and North Carolina. Although Maine has no such law, the secretary of state has determined a faithless elector can be removed. The Supreme Court decision, however, is so strong that it might allow states to remove faithless electors even without a state law. Duke University School of Law professor Guy-Uriel Charles said that nonetheless, it would be prudent for states to pass laws to prevent electors from going rogue.
“States would be better off by imposing some statutory basis for removing or sanctioning rogue electors,” Charles said, adding, “But I don’t see anything in this opinion that requires them to do so.”
Monday’s case began after the 2016 election when a handful of Electoral College delegates pledged to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Colorado. In the state of Washington, they cast their votes for other individuals, such as Colin Powell or John Kasich. As Michael Baca, the faithless elector from Colorado, explains, the intent was to reach across the aisle to Republican electors in 2016 to find a candidate that some Republican delegates would be willing to support other than Donald Trump. Baca was removed immediately under Colorado’s faithless elector law, and the Washington state delegates were fined $1,000 each. In 2019, Washington amended its law to require that faithless electors be removed.
Several states have signed on to a proposal to sidestep the Electoral College altogether by joining a National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to pledge their Electoral College votes to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote, regardless of how the candidates perform in their state.
So far, the compact has the support of 15 states and the District of Columbia, making up 196 electoral votes of the 270 needed to win the White House.
Unfortunately, I don’t see corrupt politicians giving up that easily. These barbarians are at the gate. The threat to punish an Elector for undermining the democratic process doesn’t sound proactive enough. We must prevent the possibility of another popular vote being ignored by a corrupt system. We must abolish this little black box of lies and deceit before it sparks another civil war. Smoke and mirrors have no place in a real democracy.
At the oral arguments in May, the Supreme Court Justices expressed concern about fixing laws that bind the electoral delegates to vote for the winners of the popular vote in their states. Systemic resistance to progress is undeniable. Bribery and extortion are part of the fascist toolkit. If Russia doesn’t extort or blackmail these Electors in 2020, the crime family in the White House will find someone else to seal the deal. Don’t ever underestimate the power of greed and fear (also cornerstones of the fascist playbook).
The only difference between free-market capitalism and fascism is a bribe (or a conflict of interest). Bribes and dark money are part of the Washington, DC culture. So is censorship. Citizens can’t afford to count on our elected leaders to do the right thing–regardless of who wins the selection process. Citizen engagement and government reform have never been more important in America than now. Vote your conscience and hold those elected accountable.