I have been extremely uneasy about weighing in on the movement to get the electoral college to block Trump on December 19th by refusing to vote for him due to a number of reasons.
Firstly, the immediate fallout would be spectacular, and Trump supporters would almost certainly protest violently. Second, if Clinton were to win by default, she would not have a strong mandate to govern and would likely be a lame duck president. While Hillary Clinton handily won the popular vote, Trump’s victory was completely legitimate and denying him the presidency would create chaos and further destabilize the country at an already chaotic time. Thirdly, the Democrats would (rightly or wrongly) bear the brunt of the fallout as they’d be continuously vilified for undermining the democratic process.
There is however, another solution has been floated by a Cato Institute scholar that would turn the blocking of Trump into a bi-partisan effort with shared responsibility between the parties. Writing in the Washington Post, Michael F. Cannon argues that all 232 Democratic electors pledged to vote for a Republican alternative:
The only way Democrats stand any chance of persuading Republican electors to abandon Trump is with a dramatic gesture of true bipartisanship. If all 232 Democratic electors pledge to reach across the aisle and vote for a Republican alternative to Trump, it would take just 38 GOP electors to make that person the next president.
If Clinton announced she is releasing “her” electors and asked them to vote for a credible Republican alternative, she could plausibly deliver all 232 Democratic electors. She might even secure similar pledges from House Democrats in the event the election went to the House.
The idea may seem far fetched, but Cannon could actually be on to something. No one close to power believes Donald Trump is remotely qualified to run the country, and given his behavior in the weeks since winning, he’s showing no signs of respecting the office he is about to hold. Blocking Trump is an extreme measure, but it must be remembered that we are dealing with an extreme threat. This is after all, a man who brags about sexually assaulting women, lies so often he can’t remember any of the positions he has previously taken, and has stacked his administration with a horror show of corrupt proto-fascists that would cause irreparable damage to the country.
Of course the GOP is unlikely to get onboard with any of this, and despite the threat Trump poses to their long term viability as a political party, they’ve show absolutely no inclination to stand up to him in any meaningful way. But if the Democrats at least made the proposal, then the electors could make up their own minds and vote knowing they really were fulfilling the obligations of the electoral college — to elect a responsible, credible candidate to the presidency of the United States, and stop men like Donald Trump.
It’s a long shot, but at this point anything is worth trying.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.