Save America through a Compromise of 2016


My proposal published here on Wednesday, "Hillary Can Be a Hero By Saving America from Trump," calling for a "Compromise of 2016" that would include the Electors choosing someone other than Donald Trump as the next president and the creation of a "National Unity Government" has received far more positive attention than any other piece I have ever written on HuffPo.

The confirmation that the CIA has determined that it is "quite clear" that Russian intervention in the American presidential election had the goal of electing Donald Trump makes the achievement of such a grand compromise even more imperative.

In July, cartoonist Marc Murphy of the Louisville Courier-Journal perfectly captured the horror that we now face:


And now Mr. Trump has chosen Exxon Mobil Corp CEO Rex Tillerson, who has strong ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Secretary of State! Trump had previously picked Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is also close to Putin, to be his National Security Advisor. And Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, who is under FBI investigation for his ties to Putin, is back giving counsel to Trump.


Where Is the Outrage?

Trump is setting up a Government "Over the American People, By the Russians, and For the Russian and American Oligarchs."

Where is the outrage? Where are the patriots? Where are Republicans? Where, for that matter, are most of the Democrats? Where are the voices of the media? This is our country, for God's sake! Stand up and stop them before it's too late!

We are talking about a hostile foreign power stealing an American election and making their stooge President of the United States! Why isn't there supreme outrage and discussion, not of how this may affect Tillerson's confirmation hearings in January, but how it should affect the Electoral College vote on December 19? The media went wild (rightly so) over Watergate, and over Monica Lewinsky, but they are being very timid about confronting this scandal that is vastly worse than Watergate.

The stealing of an election through actions by a hostile foreign power is both the greatest scandal in American history and precisely the sort of evil that the Framers of the United States Constitution sought to block through the Electoral College. In The Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton foresaw the danger to the Republic that could come from someone like Vladimir Putin, warning of "the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils." "How," Hamilton asked rhetorically, "could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?" The Electoral College was meant to be a safeguard against such foreign treachery.

Surely, Hamilton and other Framers believed, the Electors would have the wisdom and the patriotism to block a man backed by a hostile foreign power from becoming President of the United States.

The question to be determined over the next nine days is whether the 2016 Electors will have the wisdom and patriotism the Founders assumed they would and save America in the time of our nation's gravest crisis since the Civil War.

Under the circumstances now, I think it would be unwise for Hillary Clinton yet to make the sort of call on Democratic Electors that I suggested a few days ago. Instead, she and other leading Democrats should work out a proposed Compromise of 2016 and call upon leading Republicans to redeem the souls that most of them have sold to the devil-horned man who appeared on the cover of Time by divorcing themselves from Trump and Putin and coming up with their version of an acceptable compromise Government of National Unity.

After each side comes up with a proposal, leaders from each group can enter negotiations to reach an agreement acceptable to both by next weekend that can be announced before December 19, with a call on Electors from both parties to support the chosen candidates. In light both of her large margin of victory in the actual vote and of the Russian intervention against her, it is entirely reasonable that the president chosen in these negotiations should by Hillary Clinton, with a Republican Vice President. Only if acceptance of that outcome proves impossible to achieve should Mrs. Clinton agree to step aside and call for the Electors from both parties to join together in choosing a ticket of sane people not under the influence of Mr. Putin.

Let us update Thomas Paine's immortal words from the year of our country's birth: "THESE are the times that try a nation's soul. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he and she that stand by it now, deserve the love and thanks of man and woman."

{Historian Robert S. McElvaine teaches at Millsaps College and is the author of ten books. He has just completed a draft of his first novel.}