THE BLOG
12/06/2016 11:44 am ET Updated Dec 07, 2017

The Electors' Responses, And Why We Must Expect Better

In our article two days ago, we discussed the reasons why Trump isn't qualified to be President and why Electors are constitutionally required to vote for Hillary Clinton, instead. Citing Constitutional scholar Lawrence Lessig, we explained that the Founders of this nation created the position of "Elector" precisely to prevent a truly dangerous and unqualified person from being elevated to the Presidency.

Many people who read our article emailed their Electors. The way some of the Electors responded is shocking:

Elector John Haggard, from Michigan, responded: "On Beaver Island Deer Hunting hope to kill 3 deer. Please hold all emails. Thanks. GO TRUMP."

Elector Alex Kim, from Texas, wrote: "I reject the Democratic Party principles and I reject Hillary Clinton. I will not do anything that will open a path for HRC to become our next President. [T]he political opinions of non-Texas voters means nothing to me. I do not vote or get involved in your state, I am not sure why you are trying to interfere in mine. I encourage you to be more active in the political process where your vote matters."

Both of these Electors seem unaware of the constitutional requirements of their job. Alexander Hamilton explains it best: "[Electors should be] men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to [the Presidency]." They should act "under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice." They should "possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations."

Consequently, someone who ignores feedback, like Mr. Haggard, does not demonstrate the mindset required by his position. Someone like Mr. Kim, who announces that his decision is made on a purely Partisan basis and that the views of non-Texans are irrelevant to him, is likewise shirking his precious responsibilities.

A more hopeful (if mildly condescending) response came from Elector L. Scott Mann, also of Texas.

"You have every right to lobby an elector... I am delighted that many are reading the Federalist Papers. I've been reading them for twenty years. Yes, I agree with Hamilton in Federalist 68. No, I do not believe that the election of Donald Trump rises to that level."

So, if Mr. Mann is to be believed, then he needs to be convinced that Donald Trump is unfit for the Presidency. We need use no other words to do so, than those of his fellow Republican Texan Elector - Christopher Suprun, a 9/11 first responder -- who writes why he is choosing to change his vote:

[Donald Trump] shows daily he is not qualified for the office. Federalist 68 argued that an Electoral College should determine if candidates are qualified, not engaged in demagogy, and independent from foreign influence. Mr. Trump shows us again and again that he does not meet these standards.

I have poured countless hours into serving the party of Lincoln and electing its candidates... But I owe no debt to a party. I owe a debt to my children to leave them a nation they can trust.

Mr. Trump lacks the foreign policy experience and demeanor needed to be commander in chief. During the campaign more than 50 Republican former national security officials and foreign policy experts co-signed a letter opposing him. In their words, "he would be a dangerous president." During the campaign Mr. Trump even said Russia should hack Hillary Clinton's emails.

Hamilton also reminded us that a president cannot be a demagogue. Mr. Trump urged violence against protesters at his rallies during the campaign. He speaks of retribution against his critics. He has surrounded himself with advisers such as Stephen K. Bannon, who claims to be a Leninist and lauds villains and their thirst for power.

Finally, Mr. Trump does not understand that the Constitution expressly forbids a president to receive payments or gifts from foreign governments. We have reports that Mr. Trump's organization has business dealings in Argentina, Bahrain, Taiwan and elsewhere.... [Trump] has played fast and loose with the law for years. He may have violated the Cuban embargo, and there are reports of improprieties involving his foundation and actions he took against minority tenants in New York.

But even Mr. Suprun needs encouragement to stick to his principles as an American first, a Republican second. He wants Electors to unite behind a Republican alternative to Trump. What he and others don't understand is that the Republican Party didn't win the Electoral College. An unfit man did. The duty of the Electors is to install as President the winner of the Popular Vote.

And our duty as citizens is to encourage them to do so. Don't listen when people say "America is not a Democracy, it's a Republic." In truth, it is both. America is a constitutionally limited representative democratic republic. That means - we are guided by a constitution and governed by representatives, who are chosen democratically. As for our Chief Executive, our Founders carefully wove protective layers into his or her selection. They ensured that the appointment of a President would be based on more than just majority opinion. That it would be based on more than just the Electoral College. They created, therefore, the position of Elector. Electors are a key element of our way of life; and the key element of their office is that they are free to vote for whoever they believe to be most qualified to serve this Nation. (State laws that try to constrain their votes are constitutionally questionable and possibly unenforceable).

Consequently, our Nation depends on the Electors taking their role seriously. And it is our constitutional role as Americans to provide them with information. Electors, right now, are the only people in the world who can prevent Trump from taking the oath of office on January 21st. Thirty-seven (out of 538) need to cast their vote for Hillary Clinton, instead of Donald Trump. (Arguments that they should pick a Republican instead are constitutionally unfounded, and personally rejected even by the compromise candidate they suggest most often, John Kasich).

One Republican Elector has stated his willingness to vote for someone other than Trump (but not Hillary), while another has resigned his position rather than vote for Trump. We need thirty-seven other Electors to step up even farther, and actually have the courage to cross the party line. Given that most of them were selected by their state parties, that's a tall order.

But convincing thirty-seven people to vote for the uncontested winner of the popular vote (out of 306 Electors who are expected to vote for Trump) is not impossible. And it's a small challenge compared to what it takes to remove a President once he has assumed office. Every passing day raises greater concerns about Trump's fitness. His threats of retribution against the media. His establishment of a post-truth Presidency. Every day provides greater evidence of the danger to all of us, and the world itself. Yes, it will be hard to persuade the Electors. But each of us who is conscious of the threat he poses to our future has no choice but to try.

We continue to encourage you to sign on to the Change.org petition. Keep emailing the Electors. We are currently searching for opportunities for peaceable and effective protests. If you have thoughts on how to approach Electors respectfully, please share them with us; please share with your friends. We will review ideas and tweet suggestions to anyone who follows us at @roger_wolfson and @jberenholz.

The bottom line is, our national and worldwide safety lies in the Electors actually doing the job they were chosen to perform. We cannot let resistance fatigue set in, not now, when we still have a few precious days left to make our voices heard. We must speak loudly and clearly, with passion and purpose.

This is not a partisan issue. It's an American one.

This post was written by Roger Wolfson, a TV writer and activist, and Jared Berenholz, a TV executive. If you'd like more updates, please follow: @roger_wolfson and @berenholz.