With the electoral college vote nearing, many Americans are holding out a glimmer of hope that enough electors will turn against Trump and cast their votes for another candidate. If Trump does not get the required 270 votes, the election then gets turned over to the House of Representatives which would almost certainly install Trump given it is controlled by Republicans.
The New Republic's Brian Beutler makes an interesting point though -- regardless of whether there is any real chance of blocking Trump, the electors should vote exactly how they want in order to join the army of small protest acts that collectively help to undermine the legitimacy of the incoming president. Writes Beutler:
Not only is there some precedent for this kind of protest voting, but it, and similar statements of no-confidence from within official channels, will be an important source of resistance to a presidency that poses an enormous threat to small-l liberalism. There are certainly norms that shouldn’t be ignored for the purposes of weakening Trump, but this isn’t one of them.
Trump opponents will ultimately need a clear resistance strategy, but in a leaderless environment, they have been floundering in the dark for more than a month now, grasping for short-term anti-Trump resistance tactics.
None of them has been particularly effective, but we have learned through these efforts that Trump is highly sensitive about the fact that he lost the popular vote by a margin of millions, and his Electoral College margin is historically low. He and his supporters want to claim a mandate, and feel threatened by the awareness that he will preside over a term of minority rule.
Thinning that electoral majority even further, through GOP protest votes, would be a small but useful public testament to both his unfitness for office and the lack of public confidence in his ascent to power. For the time being, this is what official resistance to Trump will look like: numerous battlefronts, some invisible, each inconsequential, but that have a real impact when taken together.
Beutler goes on to argue that an attempt to block him would have symbolic power too given every time anyone has had the chance to stop Trump obliterating political norms, they haven't, and have been "rewarded with for their conformity to norms by the erosion of yet more, increasingly important ones". A genuine act of defiance would then send a strong message to Trump that he isn't the only one willing to defy political convention, and if he continues to behave like a bully, he will awaken a real resistance.
As I have argued previously, opponents of Trump must resist him at all costs given the stakes at hand. If he is given leeway, he has shown a long history of taking it and more. Trump is a bully and used to getting his own way, and the only way to stop him is to present him with a force equal or superior to his own. The electoral college has the power to stand up to him, so that is exactly what they must do.