(Also published at Huffington Post.) I could hardly have been more shocked and disappointed that Donald Trump won the election. But I strongly opposed the idea of the Electoral College overturning the results.
Certainly Trump seemed to fail the fundamental test defined by Electoral College inventor Alexander Hamilton: he was unqualified.
[The Electoral College process] affords a moral certainty,: that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union….” (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Paper 68)
Almost sounds like Hamilton and Trump had already met.
But democracy means you have to live with other people’s opinions, and that would usually include their opinions of what “qualified” means.
But then came the deal breakers — and my support for the Hamilton Electors:
- Foreign control.
Here’s what else Hamilton warned about:
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?
Consider — and I mean really, think about the fact that we’re actually facing these things:
1. Trump refuses to release his tax returns, refuses to divest himself of his global business interests, and insists on involving his children in both his businesses and the business of government. Foreign governments that want to corrupt our government have only to do favors for one or more of Trump’s businesses or children. Foreign governments are already doing that. And that means that Trump has corrupted the White House before he has even moved in. Furthermore, he is violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which means he will be (or should be) vulnerable to impeachment the day he takes office.
2. Trump continues to display a bizarre and frightening loyalty to Russia’s thuggish autocrat, in opposition to America’s national interests. We know that:
- Russia waged a cyber warfare attack on our election in favor of Trump.
- Trump encouraged them to do it, and repeatedly exploited it during his campaign.
- Trump hired as his former campaign manager a person with deep ties to the previous Russian puppet regime in Ukraine, and continues to consult with him.
- Trump’s campaign removed language from the Republican platform calling for the arming of Ukrainians resisting Russia’s invasion.
- Trump has steadfastly praised Russia’s thuggish, murdering autocrat while aggressively rejecting the U.S. intelligence community for its consensus finding Vladimir Putin hacked our election.
- Trump’s son Donald has said this of the Trump Organization’s deep ties to Russia: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” And remember, this Organization has repeatedly gone bankrupt, and has trouble getting loans.
- And see point 1: Trump refuses to do the things that might, possibly, clear all this up.
If Trump could clear all this up, I’d support the Electoral College playing its traditional role, and simply ratifying the election result, no matter how awful I think it is.
But Trump won’t clear all this up.
And as long as that’s true, he isn’t just unqualified.
He’s a threat to democracy.