Members of the Electoral College are feeling besieged by partisans lobbying them to vote for one candidate or another on December 19. A dramatic surge of electors, largely consisting of mainstream party loyalists, deviating from the recommendation of their states’ voters in large enough numbers to change the expected outcome of the election seems unlikely… but then so did a Donald Trump Presidency, until November 8 at 8 p.m.
In that spirit of unlikelihood, I thus offer South Dakota’s electors—Governor Dennis Daugaard, Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels, and Attorney General Marty Jackley (who said in October they’d Electorialize for Trump, and who now aren’t feeling besieged by calls and form letters, because even though the Electoral College is supposed to make small states more important, folks nationwide still don’t give a rip which way South Dakota votes)—the top ten reasons they should lead an Electoral College revolt and vote for someone other than Trump:
1. The people have spoken: Americans want Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, to be the next President, by a margin at this writing of over two million voters, or 1.5%. Enact the will of the people: vote for Hillary Clinton.
2. The man who won your party’s nomination and this state’s popular vote is not the man sitting in Trump Tower right now, flip-flopping on his wall, climate change, and jailing Hillary Clinton, and other promises he made to get elected. Never mind if going back on some of his promises, like torture, is a good thing. If he can’t keep faith with us just two weeks after the election, he won’t keep faith with us after inauguration. Faithless electors will do far less damage than a faithless President. Pick someone else.
3. Trump’s refusal to step away from his businesses show he’s unwilling to be a full-time President. He even wants us to fly him home to Trump Tower every weekend to get away from the job. Leading the free world is not a part-time job. Hillary Clinton has spent almost all of her career as a public servant; she’s ready to continue working full-time for America. Get back to basics and vote someone who is willing to do the job.
4. Governor Daugaard specifically: you still want Medicaid expansion, right? After slashing the budget to remedy Mike Rounds’s deficit in 2011, reforming the criminal justice system in 2013, fixing the roads in 2015, and raising teacher pay in 2016, you don’t want to spend the last two years letting the unchecked GOP culture warriors in the Legislature drive the agenda. You want one more policy crown jewel. Medicaid expansion is it. Vote for Hillary Clinton. The Republican Congress won’t let her wreak any new havoc, but the gridlock will keep the ACA and Medicaid expansion on the books. Our revenues are lagging; we need the federal stimulus… and 50,000 working but poor South Dakotans need affordable health coverage.
Bonus: Matt, Marty, jump in! Lt. Gov. Michels, your pals at Avera want it. A.G. Jackley, you’re running for Governor in 2018: your donors in the health care industry would love to back you over repeat-ACA-repeal voter Rep. Kristi Noem.
5. Your state-level success in the last four elections has grown in the fertile soil of antipathy for that Democrat in the White House. Keep a good thing going: send another Democrat to the White House to ensure the South Dakota Republican Party’s continued electoral success in 2018 and 2020.
6. If Clinton is a bridge too far, pick Mike Pence. He won’t lie to you. he won’t bobble the culture war you want. He won’t meddle in other nations’ ambassadorial picks or start a war over some foreign newspaper showing his chins. He won’t embarrass your party and imperil your nation.
7. Besides, if you don’t stop Trump now, you’ll have to impeach him later when he starts sending aircraft carriers to provide pleasure cruises for his business partners in Argentina, India, and the Philippines. Why wait? Why let Trump do any damage? Avoid the messiness of an impeachment and make Pence President now.
8. On the off chance that Trump doesn’t do anything obviously impeachable, then poor Mike Pence will be stuck having to House of Cards his boss. I’m not convinced Pence has enough Frank Underwood in him—are you? Spare him that difficulty; just give Pence the job on December 19.
9. The Electoral College is a remnant of the Founding Fathers’ compromise to keep slave states from bolting. And even after that crazy compromise they still bolted, and we had to fight a four-year war to bring them back. Ingrates! Electors, reject your own slavery-based supremacy and default to the will of the popular vote.
But if you don’t want to reject the Electoral College, then embrace it…
10. You have a unique historical opportunity to fulfill the original intent of the Electoral College. The Founding Fathers implemented the Electoral College as a final firewall between the Presidency and demagogues:
Consider what Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper Number 68. The Electors were supposed to stop a candidate with “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming President. The Electors were supposed to be “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.”
They were to “possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations” as the selection of the President, and they were supposed to “afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder.” They were even supposed to prevent “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”
Hamilton was talking about demagogues. The word “demagogue” appears in both the first and last Federalist Papers; in Federalist Paper Number 1, for instance, Hamilton worried about the “military despotism of a victorious demagogue” [Michael Singer, “The Electoral College Was Created to Stop Demagogues Like Trump,” Time, 2016.11.17].
Do what Alexander Hamilton—yes, Hamilton—said. Use deliberation, information, and discernment. Avoid tumult, disorder, and an improper ascendant serving the desires of foreign powers (speaking of which, computer security experts and election lawyers say they have found persuasive evidence of manipulation or hacking of vote counts in pro-Trump Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—10, 16, and 20 Electoral votes, enough if moved to Clinton’s column to make her President). Do the job the Founding Fathers defined for you. Don’t elect a demagogue. Elect Hillary Clinton. Elect Mike Pence. Don’t elect Donald Trump.