Sometimes all that is really needed is the obvious truth. So what is the obvious truth about this year’s “democratic” presidential election?
A bare majority of voting-age Americans did vote, however. If that’s a comfort to you.
There was no majority winner of actual votes cast. Hillary Clinton was a plurality “winner” with 2.6+ million votes more than Donald Trump. Trump got more Electoral College votes than did Clinton. Lots more. And that is what counts.
Now, here we tread unpopular ground. The Electoral College was instituted to protect the federal republic. Remember that the original 13 states styled themselves as a “confederacy” — their first written constitution was called The Articles of Confederation. The United States was not then and (arguably) is not now a nation state, the pretentions of the Pledge of Allegiance to the contrary. The Electoral College protected the federation by providing a check on the popular vote. The idea, like the two-senator-per-state rule, was to add a decentralizing factor into the mix, to avoid the federation being co-opted — dominated — by the most populous states.
That is, it was designed as a check against majority rule, which was a system that the union’s founders did not think highly of.
And here is the most obvious truth: the Electoral College hasn’t met yet. So technically the election isn’t done yet. Operas, we are told, are not over “until the fat lady sings”; Presidential elections are not over until the Electoral College meets.
And, in rare cases, not even then.
Which is why some Hillary supporters have been threatening to kill electors bound for Trump. They have that audacity to hope.
It is also why some Republican electors are now talking openly about shifting their vote. Constitutionally, they are allowed. Whether it would be prudent, at this point, is another thing: I just heard Tucker Carlson and Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, on their respective Fox News and Fox Business shows, stridently point out the inadvisability of the notion to the declared faithless electors whom they have interviewed.
But for faithless electors effectively to turn the presidency away from Trump, they would have to amount to at least 37. A huge number, unprecedented in American politics. (We are by no means talking about obvious truths, any longer, however, are we? This is obscure, off-the-beaten-track truth.) What could turn 37 Republican Party operatives selected to carry the torch for the voters to their state capitols and vote in what amounts to one of the world’s most decentralized “college” activities? It would have to be some huge scandal. And it would have to surface “bigly” in the next week or so.
And who, precisely, would they vote for? Hillary? Seems unlikely . . . preposterous. And they could only succeed in putting Mrs. Clinton up to the 270 elector threshold if they mustered at least 38 faithless electors all voting for her.
Oops. “Faithless” sounds bad. Say, “rogue.” It would, after all, take a lot of faith for 38 Republican electors to go rogue to vote for the hated Hillary. It would take more than faith; it would take a degree of effrontery unknown to even our post-shame society.
More likely, perhaps, would be a switch of 37 electors from Trump to someone (or several others) else — presumably a Republican that the House Republicans would be likely to prefer over Trump.
For, if the Electoral College goes into stalemate, as it did in 1800 and 1824, the election, by the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, gets thrown into the House of Representatives (for the Presidency) and the Senate (for the Vice Presidency).
If, by the strangest alignment of random chance or hidden conspiracy, 37 or more rogues take the election from Trump, what would happen next? Well, I cannot imagine any conspiracy throwing it to Hillary, despite some progressives’ phantasies. And it is also hard to believe that these rogues would be able to select just one other candidate. So I guess they would go for any number of Republican used-to-be-hopefuls, and perhaps a few votes for the Libertarian ticket, Johnson-Weld — and, to make things interesting, a few Clinton electors throwing in with either the Libertarians or, more likely, the Green Party ticket, featuring Dr. Jill Stein in the top slot. Whoever gets the third most votes would go along with Trump and Clinton to the House for a vote, or series of same. Any vote for Stein would be as big a waste (read: “merely symbolic”) as a vote for Hillary, at this point. (I can just barely imagine House Republicans voting for Gary Johnson, though, once again, this would amount to a coup d’état, in the popular imagination. But so would any other non-Trump candidate.)
It is hard not to see how Trump would not be just picked again — unless a scandal had broken out about Trump the likes of which we have never before seen.
WikiLeaks would have to reveal something far juicier than found in the Podesta emails.
And if the House could come to no decision, then Vice President Joe Biden becomes President.
Whether you spell it fantasy, or phantasy, these scenarios seem such a stretch that we should tuck ourselves in for uneasy slumber and accept the Trump win. He may not be “my” president, or yours. But he will almost certainly be the 45th President of these United States. And that is all the President is: a president over a federation of states, and over an administrative state shoe-horned into existence by Constitution-hating Progressives a century ago.
The Trump Presidency is not a “metaphysical certainty,” as John McLaughlin used to put it. But it is “certain enough.”