The Electoral College is meeting on Monday afternoon to certify the results of the presidential election. Naturally, the electors have taken the last few weeks to heart and are going to stop the disastrous Trump presidency before it starts. Oh, sorry, I meant the opposite of that, because that’s not remotely close to what the Electoral College has ever done.
This idea that America can be saved by the Electoral College has been floating around since people started crawling out of their election night stupor in mid-November. In some desperate circles the institution suddenly morphed from the very thing that was putting Trump in power, despite losing the popular vote, to a bulwark designed by the founding fathers to stop him.
In this, of all years, an essay written by Alexander Hamilton on the Electoral College having the ability to halt foreign meddling in U.S. politics might seem significant. But all the Tony Awards in the world don’t change the fact that this is never how the Electoral College has worked. There has never been a single incident wherein enough electors changed their vote to alter the results of a single state, let alone who gets the presidency.
But what about these reports of so-called “faithless electors” looking to change the election? I’m pretty sure Martin Sheen said something about them. Sure, there have been isolated reports of one or two electors reconsidering their choices. Have there been 37? Because that’s how many would need to change the vote to deny Trump the presidency. And unless those 37 all vote for Hillary Clinton, and all the Democratic voters stay in lockstep as well (which is not at all a sure thing), that just sends the vote to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Who are they going to pick? Trump? Pence? Someone worse?
I understand where this idea is coming from. As bleak as a Trump presidency looked in early November, he’s gone into full kleptocratic overdrive with his announcements since. But now’s not the time to cling to false hope. There are real hopes out there to cling to. Because there is more precedent (president) for the Electoral College choosing someone because of a typo than a groundswell of support for a different candidate.