The Hamilton Electors idea didn't work! Next task is to figure out how to keep voters engaged into the 2018 midterm election.
Z is for Zero, that's how it all ends - No office, no power, no money, no friends. --- Mad Magazine Politician's Alphabet, circa 1960
I think the Hamilton Electors should vote for Pence/Trump if Republican and Pence/Kaine if Democratic, instead of Trump/Pence or Clinton/Kaine. It's unrealistic to expect either Pence or Kaine to endorse this idea in advance - but like most politicians they might respond to a genuine draft.
How did I get to such an odd idea? It took several iterations. I am partly inspired by the Lincoln/Johnson National Union ticket of 1864, though both men came to bad ends.
You can read the following correspondence if you want to know more.
The Washington Post created an overview of the Hamilton Electors idea: should-the-electoral-college-stop-a-trump-presidency-depends-whom-you-ask. The Wall Street Journal doesn't like the idea: mau-mauing-the-trump-electors.
The Republican National Committee must be worried because it is actively trying to keep Electors in line: rnc-trump-electoral-college and others are arguing that threatening electors is illegal: source-donald-trumps-alleged-threats-against-hamilton-electors-arent-legal.
My starting point was Michael Cannon's Washington Post opinion piece: democrats-can-use-the-electoral-college-to-stop-trump-but-not-how-you-think. You need to read it first to follow the evolution of my thinking. After that, if you just want the bottom line, go to the end of this web page and read back until you've had enough.
Trump confuses feelings with facts, ignores factual correction, and legitimizes ignorance, prejudice, manipulation, lying, and bullying, and by example, lowers the bar for political discourse lower than it's been in my lifetime. That's why I am opposed to Trump.
So what should be done? The following are, in chronological order, the contents of several letters to Michael Cannon, several letters to the editor of the San Jose Mercury News and one to the Washington Post, one to four Republican leaders via their public comment websites, and several sent to opinion columnists at the Washington Post and New York Times. I've fixed some spelling and grammar errors and condensed out duplicate content.
I just hoped to influence somebody's thinking. Some of those columnists get some of their pieces printed some of the time in the San Jose Mercury News op-ed page, but I read most of their pieces online. So far I have received one response which was not an automatic receipt acknowledgement, and that response was one word long. I don't fault the recipients, since they are deluged with email at a critical time, and I have no credentials whatever in politics, law, or history.
Sometimes the lights all shining on me Other times I can barely see Lately it occurs to me What a long strange trip it's been
It certainly feels like a long strange trip!
=== to get the chronology, read the Cannon piece democrats-can-use-the-electoral-college-to-stop-trump-but-not-how-you-think. === first response to Cannon, second letter to Mercury News From reader Tue Dec 6 00:45:25 2016 To: email@example.com Subject: Letter to Editor: A better alternative to a Trump disaster Editor San Jose Mercury News San Jose, CA Dear Editor: Does pizzagate have to be the new normal behavior? Isn't there a better alternative to a fact-free future? Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute - hardly a bastion of liberal Democratic thinking - has proposed a way that it might be done in an opinion piece in the Washington Post. Hillary Clinton just needs to ask her electors to vote for Mitt Romney, and that might influence enough Trump electors to do so as well. Hillary Clinton received 60 million votes in 2016. Mitt Romney received 61 million votes in 2012. And he did it without groping or lying or concealing his finances and without the endorsement of either the KKK or the KGB. Romney wasn't my first choice then and he's not now, but I would sleep better at night if he were president-elect instead of Trump. === Making a mistake is not a sin. Failing to correct it is. From reader Tue Dec 6 01:23:57 2016 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Letters to the Editor: CORRECTED: A better alternative to a Trump disaster The Letter to the Editor I submitted an hour ago got the numbers of votes mixed up. The following is corrected: Editor San Jose Mercury News San Jose, CA Dear Editor: Does pizzagate have to be the new normal behavior? Isn't there a better alternative to a fact-free future? Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute - hardly a bastion of liberal Democratic thinking - has proposed a way that it might be done, in an opinion piece in the Washington Post. Hillary Clinton just needs to ask her electors to vote for Mitt Romney, and that might influence enough Trump electors to do so as well. Donald Trump received 63 million votes in 2016, 46% of the popular vote. Mitt Romney received 61 million votes in 2012, 47% of the popular vote. And Romney did it without groping or lying or concealing his finances, and without the endorsement of either the KKK or the KGB. Romney wasn't my first choice then and he's not now, but I would sleep better at night if he were president-elect instead of Trump. === first letter to Cannon From reader Thu Dec 8 13:51:08 2016 To: email@example.com Subject: democrats can use the electoral college to stop trump I read your recent opinion piece in the Washington Post with interest and then excitement as it seemed to brightest ray of hope in recent weeks. I don't know or care whether you meant it seriously or not. In my excitement I dashed off a Letter to the Editor of my local paper (San Jose Mercury News) complete with an error, which is what happens when one tweets at 3am. However, lest I be suspected of being a president-elect trolling in disguise, I immediately sent in a corrected version. The Mercury News didn't publish it. Probably sounded improbable to them: Does pizzagate have to be the new normal behavior? Isn't there a better alternative to a fact-free future? Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute - hardly a bastion of liberal Democratic thinking - has proposed a way that it might be done, in an opinion piece in the Washington Post. Hillary Clinton just needs to ask her electors to vote for Mitt Romney, and that might influence enough Trump electors to do so as well. Donald Trump received 63 million votes in 2016, 46% of the popular vote. Mitt Romney received 61 million votes in 2012, 47% of the popular vote. And Romney did it without groping or lying or concealing his finances, and without the endorsement of either the KKK or the KGB. Romney wasn't my first choice then and he's not now, but I would sleep better at night if he were president-elect instead of Trump. And looking at your resume, I can see why liberals (like me) might give your ideas short shrift. But I think you are on the right track in this case. I can't imagine any Democrats initiating such a proposal. True believers so want to believe that some miracle will happen. As you observe, it won't. My own feeling is the decisive factor is that the same party almost never gets the White House three terms in a row. It's only happened once in my lifetime. Democrats need to get over that. So I think the Republicans need to show some spine now to get things going. I thought of plausible conservative Republicans who have had some exposure without generating any worse criticism than that they are conservative Republicans: Mitt Romney, John McCain, John Kasich, Jeb Bush. "No worse than George W Bush" is the criterion - the nation survived him. Romney and McCain have survived the intense scrutiny of a presidential campaign. I hold against them, as significant errors in judgment, considering to act as Secretary of State for Trump, and accepting Sarah Palin as vp candidate, respectively. Kasich and Bush are not so thoroughly investigated and might not look so good on closer examination, but as far as I know, any of the four would be no worse than Bush and would have two years to work toward conservative principles on the merits of the ideas without all the distractions that will accompany a Trump presidency. The Democrats will oppose, possibly as viciously as the Republicans opposed Obama, but possibly more cooperatively if they all think about the Trump fiasco we all avoided. Then in two years there will be midterm elections... but that's just my liberal Democrat side talking. Maybe other Democrats are thinking that Trump and these other Republicans are mostly indistinguishable on policy - and there's an element of truth in that - but that Trump will self-destruct and make things easier for the Democrats in two years. That's a possibility, but the risk of negative collateral damage in those two years seems too high to me. So which one? My first thought was along your lines of picking Romney because he's well investigated and younger than McCain. In my fantasy world the four I mentioned would get together and decide among them which of the four was going to ask Republican and Democratic electors for their vote, with the public backing of the other three. The criterion has to be, which one of the four (or some other conservative Repulican) can get the most Republican electors on board. Of course it would be a conservative Republican. As long as he were willing to publish his tax returns I would be satisfied. I would hope that if those four took that risky first step, that then Obama and both Clintons and perhaps George W Bush would endorse the plan. If they fail big and Trump wins the electoral vote, or they fail small and Trump wins the decision in the House, they will have earned the permanent enmity of Donald Trump - but wait, they already had that even before the election. It would still be gratifying to see the Electoral College actually work the way it was intended to - to dampen the self-destructive mob rule partisanship that doomed most of the classical and medieval democracies that the founding fathers knew about. Pence's politics are probably to the right of any of those four - but I haven't heard of any character issues. He's published his tax returns, so I'd say, let him be VP. But that would be up to the presidential candidate. Anyway, thanks for publishing your intriguing idea. I am sorry it hasn't taken hold more widely. === letter to Washington Post From reader Sun Dec 11 17:26:17 2016 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: finding a candidate for Hamilton Electors Letters to the Editor Washington Post Dear Editor: A presidency that was founded on systematic character faults like lying, spreading unsubstantiated rumors, or exposing private citizens to death threats, and founded on endorsement by the KGB and the KKK. Is that what America really wants? An opinion piece by Michael Cannon in the Washington Post last week suggested a plausible path toward. Cannon proposed that the Democratic leadership pick a Republican candidate and ask her pledged electors to vote for accordingly. This has not happened. Likewise the Hamilton Electors have not identified a plausible Republican candidate willing and able to serve. Could the unsuccessful 2016 Republican presidential candidates agree among themselves on one person to suggest to electors uncomfortable with Trump? One would hope that they would choose among persons that have published their tax returns and have served either as a governor or in Congress. They could choose by lot if necessary. If they do so by Thursday, say, I'd hope the Democratic leadership would ask Democratic electors to support it. If the Republican candidates can't or won't act by then, the Democratic leadership should pick one of the Republicans, by lot if necessary, by Friday, and ask electors to support it on Monday. === second letter to Cannon, with copy of letter to Republican leaders From reader Mon Dec 12 23:26:14 2016 To: email@example.com Subject: democrats can use the electoral college to stop trump, take 2 Inspired by your Washington Post article last week, I wrote a couple of Letters to the Editor with no effect. I thought more about various problems and finally decided to appeal "directly" to McCain and Romney - as direct as their online web forms might be. Time is running out. Here's what I wrote: Sen. John McCain Gov. Mitt Romney Sen. Mitch McConnell Spkr. Paul Ryan Gentlemen: A presidency that was founded on systematic character faults like lying, spreading unsubstantiated rumors, or criticizing private citizens and exposing them to death threats, endorsed by the KGB and endorsed by the KKK. Is that the model you want for your grandchildren? There are number of Republican and Democratic electors troubled by that thought and want an alternative. Some of them are legally bound by the laws of their states, others are not. Those laws might not be constitutional - but that won't be definitively decided soon enough. The Republicans among those electors are not going to vote for a Democrat. So it's pretty likely that the next president will be a conservative Republican, with a conservative Republican Congress that will agree with some of his priorities and not others, and a Democratic minority that will agree with even fewer. There will be plenty of debate and politicking about ideas and policies. That debate is too important to be sidetracked by ongoing issues about personalities and suspected conflicts of interest. So what is the alternative? In my view, a qualified candidate would be one that had completed a term as state governor or in the US Senate or House, and had published the relevant tax returns. I've had it with would-be presidents who don't know how the system is supposed to work and don't care to learn, and with would-be presidents who won't disclose their financial interests. Suppose the Democratic leadership proposed such a qualified conservative Republican candidate to those troubled electors. The conspiracy minded would assume a corrupt bargain had been made, regardless of evidence. Suppose a Republican proposed himself as a candidate without any other support - that would smack of opportunism and tilting at windmills. It seems essential to me that - very soon - at least three nationally significant Republican leaders have to publicly agree on such a proposed candidate - who is also willing to be so proposed and to serve if elected. If there is more than one acceptable and willing candidate, choosing by lot would be fine - and would make it clear that this was a joint decision among Republicans not influenced by any corrupt bargain with anybody else. Maybe I have missed it, but I haven't seen such leadership forthcoming. Sen. McCain and Gov. Romney, you have both sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. You have both received 60 million votes for president. You have the standing to effectively lead on this issue if you choose to. It will be much less trouble for the nation than dealing with an impeachment later. === third letter to Mercury News From reader Tue Dec 13 09:22:38 2016 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Letter to the Editor: What should Hamilton electors do? Editor San Jose Mercury News Dear Editor: What should Hamilton Electors do? They haven't received any help from their party leaders. But perhaps there is a practical solution to the question of how dissatisfied electors should vote: Republican electors should vote for Mike Pence for president and Donald Trump for vice president. Trump needs an apprenticeship whether he knows it or not. And those electors would not have been very faithless. So Democratic electors should also hold their noses and vote for Mike Pence for president. Not because of his politics, but because of his lack of systematic shortcomings of character - and because he's already published his tax returns. Democratic electors must make the best of a situation in which the Republican electors, who are not going to vote for a Democrat, are a majority. For vice president, Democratic electors might as well vote for Tim Kaine and be partly faithful in that way. === letter to Cohen after reading buck-up-democrats-and-fight-like-republicans (with Dahlia Lithwick) From reader Wed Dec 14 06:37:33 2016 To: email@example.com Subject: Buck Up Democrats and Fight Like Republicans A presidency that was founded on systematic character faults like lying, spreading unsubstantiated rumors, criticizing private citizens and exposing them to death threats, endorsed by the KGB and endorsed by the KKK. Is that the model our generation wants to bequeath to the future? I read with interest your NY Times op-ed today. I've been mulling the issue ever since Michael Cannon's opinion piece for the Washington Post last week. After considering various choices, this seems to be the best I can come up with before the clock runs down, so I sent it to the local paper, the San Jose Mercury News. (see third letter to Mercury above) === letter to Rubin after reading ethics-experts-warn-that-trump-is-courting-disaster. From reader Wed Dec 14 11:56:41 2016 To: Jrubinblogger@gmail.com Subject: Trump is 'courting disaster' I read with interest your column today. Ever since Michael Cannon published his piece a week ago, I have been trying to think of a plausible way forward - one that might be politically feasible - before the clock runs out. On my third try, I came up with this: (see third letter to Mercury above) === letter to Dionne after reading the-electoral-college-should-think-hard-before-handing-trump-the-presidency. From reader Wed Dec 14 16:32:36 2016 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Electoral College should think hard... I read with interest your opinion piece today. Ever since Michael Cannon's piece last week, I have been wondering what strategy might actually work. Time is running out, and this is my third attempt: (see third letter to Mercury above) Perhaps the Democratic leadership has decided that it is more effective to let Mr. Trump impeach himself than to actively oppose his election. I don't want to find out if the country can survive the collateral damage in the process. The Republican leadership likewise seems to be displaying a lack of leadership on this issue. Perhaps they are thinking like the Democrats. Perhaps all the leadership is thinking that Mr. Trump's theatrics provide a useful sideshow to distract the voters and the opposition, and provide cover for their real agendas. No need for a new edition of Profiles in Courage. Maybe both sides are just hoping that Mike Pence will provide the steady hand and strong back to do the heavy lifting of the presidency while Trump tweets. I take some comfort in the bigger picture though: The current economic recovery is about 8 years old and will expire sometime in the next 8 years, no matter who is in the White House. As always, the party in power will be blamed, even though nobody has been able to figure out how to defeat the business cycle. I think that's because it's ultimately a phenomenon of mass psychology rather than economics. But the next two years will probably coast along fine economically. They will be defined by the struggle within the Republican party to define what they are FOR. They have been defined by and shown remarkable unity for eight years by being AGAINST whatever Obama is for. Replacing ACA is the prototype for many more struggles - they all are against it but they have no agreement even on the principles to consider in devising a replacement. (I think as far as Mr. Trump is concerned, it would be fine to repeal Obamacare, make some minor adjustments that would have been made anyway, and re-enact it as Trumpcare. Preferably gilded.) Perhaps the Republicans will implode like the Whigs in 1856 - the event that paradoxically gave rise to the original radical reform Republican party, which went conservative within twenty years, came briefly back to progressive life under Theodore Roosevelt, and then went reactionary in 1968, appropriating the Southern Strategy of the Dixiecrats. Anyway this existential quandary of the Republicans is going to have to happen no matter who is in the White House, even if it were Clinton. It's a struggle they need to work through without being distracted by off the wall tweets, random zigzags of policy, interminable real and imagined conflicts of interest - and adventures of our foreign adversaries, emboldened by Mr. Trump's uncertain relationship with our traditional allies, and looking to see what they can get away with. So I'm still in favor of the Electoral College getting Trump out the picture if possible. === letter to Cepeda after reading will-electoral-college-prove-its-value. From reader Thu Dec 15 08:41:41 2016 To: email@example.com Subject: Electoral College critics suddenly want to use it I read with interest your opinion piece published in the San Jose Mercury News today. The Electoral College is an interesting problem - if its outcome should to be automatic now, then there is no need for an actual simultaneous gathering of actual people in 50 state capitals on a fixed date. But at any given moment, the party in the White House was put there by the Electoral College, and so has no incentive to change things. But as long as a Constitutionally mandated Electoral College of actual human Electors continues to convene, it must be for some purpose that involves exercise of their free wills. With the examples of the classical and medieval democracies and the contemporary French Revolution on their minds, Hamilton and others wanted an emergency brake on the excesses of partisan mobocracy. So what should be done? Michael Cannon wrote an interesting opinion piece for the Washington Post a week ago that got me thinking about what might be politically feasible. After looking at it various ways, on the third try I came up with this: Editor San Jose Mercury News Dear Editor: What should Hamilton Electors do? They haven't received any help from their party leaders. But perhaps there is a practical solution to the question of how dissatisfied electors should vote: Republican electors should vote for Mike Pence for president and Donald Trump for vice president. Trump needs an apprenticeship whether he knows it or not. And those electors would not have been very faithless. The Republican electors are not going to vote for a Democrat. So Democratic electors should also hold their noses and vote for Mike Pence. Not because of his politics, but because of his character - and he's already published his tax returns. For vice president, Democratic electors might as well vote for Tim Kaine and be partly faithful in that way. It wasn't published, but the exercise of meeting a 150-word limit did help me distill my thoughts, at the cost of omitting all the rationale. Today I read more about Mike Pence's career in Indiana, with some dismay - he is well to the right of Trump on most policy issues, to the extent that anybody can determine definite Trump positions on policy issues. But Pence has published his tax returns and avoided inflammatory public snap judgments and praising dictators. And it's at least plausible that Trump/Pence electors could vote for Pence/Trump with a comparatively clear conscience. I was not impressed with the Pence-Kaine debate - both seemed to stick to their designated talking points, talking past each other and the moderator. Useless debate, but good team players taking the field for their captains. On the other hand, a good team player has the potential to be a good captain. Trump has never played for any other captain than himself. In an ideal world, the Electors could duly recognize the concerns of those who voted against Trump and those who voted against Clinton by electing Pence/Kaine. That would be a bipartisan way to start binding up the wounds of the nation. I don't know if Pence and Kaine could get along well enough with each other to make that work somehow. President and Vice President from different parties was tried at the beginning of our history and quickly abandoned as unworkable, and it didn't go very smoothly when it was tried again in 1864. But is it time to make some new history?
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electors.html 1.6 18/05/10