Twenty-Eight Days. Hamilton Electors and a Duty to the Nation.
While I wish it weren’t so, the President of the United States of America is elected by the 538 members of the electoral college on December 19, and not by the voting public on November 8. Twenty-eight days. Four weeks. Let’s spend them making sure all 538 electors are fully aware of their duty to the nation. Protest loudly and frequently, practice civil disobedience, write what you believe and share it, call your elected representatives, vote with your dollars, and have conversations with people who don’t agree with you. Don’t stop talking about it. Don’t accept hate and division as normal. Don’t give up.
Just in case anyone has been living under a rock since November 9 or—perhaps wisely—smashed their router in a fit of disenfranchisement, here are a few things you should know about the electoral college. The Founders put the electoral college in place as a safeguard against, in Alexander Hamilton’s words, men lacking the “requisite qualifications” to be President but possessing the “talent for low intrigue” and “little arts of popularity” that could get them elected. It’s essentially an elitist, paternalistic argument that the public needs to be protected from itself by folks who are more qualified to make decisions. I don’t agree with it and I’ll write more about how the flawed structure of the electoral college can be forced to do the people’s will in the short run and removed altogether in the longer run in another post. In the meantime, the die is cast and we have to work with what we’ve got.
In twenty-one states electors are not bound to vote according to the popular vote in their state. In the remaining states the consequences for a “faithless” vote appears to be small, and two electors from Colorado and Washington are working to rally enough of their peers to change the outcome on December 19. I’m hoping that these so-called Hamilton Electors can represent the brave cast of the Broadway musical more so than the fettered populism of the founding fathers.
With this in mind, here’s a plea to the electors: You have a chance to vote to protect civil liberties, to foster the diversity that is the true foundation of the United States, to uphold every woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, and to let the whole world know that Americans stand with them in the fight against climate change. On December 19, cast a vote that will make you proud of yourself and your country in the decades to come.
Agree with me? Disagree with me? Please post a comment below.
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