Donald Trump Affirmed as President With 304 Electoral College Votes –
The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
After all the screeching and howling, sharing and protesting, weeping and gnashing of teeth, Donald J. Trump was affirmed as the 45th president of the United States on Monday with 304 Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton’s 224, as of 6 p.m. Central Time.
Apparently the only thing accomplished by all the Facebook and Twitter activity on the Russian spying and hacking story, and all the news coverage suggesting the Russians interfered in a U.S. election and manipulated the results in Trump’s favor with fake news and propaganda, is to return the New York and Washington mainstream newspapers to the top of Facebook’s Trending news feed, and to make another billion dollars for Facebook with traffic to its fake news ads.
And, oh yeah, one more thing. It guaranteed Saturday Night Live enough material to ask for another four year contract with NBC.
It appears from all the reporting that only six faithless electors emerged from all the controversy, and more bolted from Clinton’s campaign than Trump’s. Texas put Trump over the top, and was one of two states where electors refused to vote according to their state’s vote margins. One elector in Texas cast his for Ohio Governor John Kasich, perhaps the Republican contender in the primary who portrayed more class than any of the other “clowns” in the field, as the Republicans came to be known. The other vote went to libertarian Ron Paul.
Four electors in Washington State bolted the Clinton campaign. Three voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell. One voted for Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle. This elector had already said he would never cast a vote for Hillary Clinton, after her wishy-washy statement on the Dakota Access Pipeline protest by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and for refusing to visit the sacred site and stand with Native Americans and environmentalists against the “black snake” and big oil.
The rest of the states fell in line one by one, even with protesters marching outside trying to save the country from four years of a television celebrity president who has riled at least half the electorate into a hateful frenzy for his narcissism and bashing of every non-white minority in the country. From Indiana to Tennessee, West Virginia, South Carolina, Mississippi and Pennsylvania to Arkansas, Arizona and Louisiana, then Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Florida, Michigan, Utah, Wyoming, Missouri, Alaska, Iowa, Montana Texas and North Dakota, the electors cast their votes for Trump.
Clinton got the electoral votes she earned in the general election, from Illinois, Vermont and Virginia to Delaware, California, Connecticut and New York, from Rhode Island, Maryland and Minnesota, then New Hampshire, New Mexico, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon and Washington D.C.
By all accounts, electors all over the country were inundated with phone calls, drowned in emails, and even faced threats demanding that they vote for someone other than Trump. Grass-roots advocates who saw Trump as unfit for the White House and a threat to the political system and maybe even democracy itself, launched a determined effort to block Trump’s path to the presidency.
Even if the gambit had worked, it would simply have caused a constitutional crisis and thrown the election to the House of Representatives, still controlled by a majority of Republicans. Democrats argued that the Electoral College is undemocratic. It gives more weight to less populated states. Clinton received more than 2.8 million more popular votes than Trump, yet lost the election because of it.
The Electoral College is made up of 538 members, allocated to each state based on the number of members in the U.S. House, plus one for each senator. The District of Columbia gets three, even though it is not a state. There is no provision in the constitution or federal law that requires electors to vote for the candidate who won their state. Some states require it.
Over the country’s 240 year history, these laws have rarely been tested. More than 99 percent of electors voted for the candidate who won the state. None of the few who voted another way have ever been prosecuted under federal or state law, according to the National Archives.
Some Democrats have argued that the Electoral College is undemocratic because it gives more weight to less populated states. That is how Clinton, who got more than 2.8 million more votes nationwide, lost the election to Trump.
The debate on changing the American system to direct democracy with one-person, one-vote may continue to gain steam because of this, although the system was designed to work the other way around than it did this time.
“When the founders of our country created (the Electoral College) 200-plus years ago, they didn’t have confidence in the average white man who had property, because that’s who got to vote,” said Shawn Terris, a Democratic elector from Ventura, California. “It just seems so undemocratic to me that people other than the voters get to choose who leads the country.”
The fight may now move to the Supreme Court, where some have pledged to continue to try to stop Trump from taking office.
The main purpose of the Electoral College, promoted by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in 1787, was to prevent “mob rule.” This time, the mob took over.
James Madison explained his views on the selection of the president in Federalist Paper No. 39, where he argued the Constitution was designed to be a mixture of state-based and population-based government. Congress would have two houses: the state-based Senate and the population-based House. The president would be elected by a mixture of the two.
Alexander Hamilton laid out what he believed were the key advantages to the Electoral College in Federalist No. 68. The electors come directly from the people. This avoided a party-run legislature, or a permanent body that could be influenced by “foreign interests” before each election.
Uh oh. It appears foreign interests have upended the system.
Hamilton said that since the power would be dispersed through the states, no corruption in any one state could taint “the great body of the people.”
Of course Hamilton never heard of Facebook.
He thought majority rule is critical to the principles of republican government, and electors in state capitals would supposedly have more information than the general public. He also thought none of the electors would be beholden to any presidential candidate since they could not work for the federal government.
But he did not understand how the spoils system would expand in modern times.
The decision would be made, Hamilton thought, without ”tumult and disorder.” As a broad-based thing, decision-makers could deliberate reasonably far from Washington, where supposedly they could not be “threatened or intimidated.”
Of course that can also happen in state capitals too, as it did this week, and it seems the founders may have put too much faith in state officials, who were supposed to have the ability and “good character” to administer the laws faithfully.
Hamilton was also concerned that an unqualified person with a talent for “low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity,” might some day rise to the presidency.
His Electoral College just failed to prevent that.
Perhaps the other mob would have chosen better this time?
“We did it!,” Trump tweeted at 5:51 p.m. EST. “Thank you to all of my great supporters, we just officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media).”
Congress will meet in a joint session January 6 to certify the results. Vice President Joe Biden will preside as president of the Senate. The winner will be sworn on Friday, January 20, 2017.
© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.