The election of 2016 was one of the toughest and most controversial elections of our lifetimes. In fact, the outcome was unprecedented. The presumed winner won enough states to garner more than 300 electoral votes, whilst the loser won the national popular vote by more than two million votes.
As you are aware, we do not choose our Presidents by national popular vote. As such, it is up to you – our nation’s electors – to come together and formally elect the 45th President of the United State of America. This solemn duty is enshrined in our Constitution. Given the weight of this responsibility, I would ask you to pause for a moment and consider your role in preserving our democracy. Is it to simply rubber stamp the popular vote in your respective states, or are you a bulwark against those who would seek to ‘convulse the community’?
This question is at the heart of the role of the Electoral College and the future of our Republic. Let me explain. The Federalist Papers help contemporary Americans to better understand the intent of the Constitution, including the role of the Electoral College.
In Federalist 68, Alexander Hamilton outlined the role as:
- Electing a Qualified Person to the Office of the President;
- Stopping a demagogue from becoming President;
- Stopping Foreign Interference.
Electing a Qualified Person
With regards to this role, Mr. Hamilton provided the following guidance:
‘The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet who says: “For forms of government let fools contest That which is best administered is best,’’ yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.’
Fortunately, Mr. Hamilton specifically outlined the traits which would qualify someone to be elevated to the Office of the President. Mainly, did either candidate garner ‘the esteem and confidence of the whole Union’?
Whilst this is often measured in terms of the popular vote, I would put to you that it goes much deeper and there is a mountain of evidence to the fact that the country does not support Secretary Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton or Mr. Donald J. Trump. As neither candidate gained more than 50 percent of the popular vote but more importantly by how divisive both candidates are to the country as a whole.
The second test of fitness is the ‘aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.’ Whilst Secretary Clinton’s record is bound to be viewed through partisan lenses, it is a point of fact that she has not abused bankruptcy and tax laws to the same extent as her rival. Yet Mr. Trump has continuously abused the bankruptcy laws for personal gain while failing to pay suppliers and laying off employees. In addition, his companies have abused visa laws and committed fraud.
Even more egregious is his abuse of tax laws to claim a $900M in PERSONAL tax loss. The use of the statute allowing the shareholders of an LLC or an S-Corporation to deduct the corporation’s losses as personal tax losses is commonly used. Even Secretary Clinton and President Clinton filed tax losses under such statute in 2015.
Yet, I am personally unaware of anyone, in public life or not, exploiting the rule the extent which Mr. Trump did in 1995. Even if his use of this rule is to be deemed ‘legal’ one may well question the ethical decisions which led to such massive losses in the first place. As such, how can one claim to be a successful business person when their track record does not support such a claim?
Stopping a Demagogue from Becoming President
During the Constitutional Convention, Massachusetts delegate, Elbridge Gerry, noted his opposition to demagoguery which could easily mislead the populace. As such he advocated for indirect elections. This view was supported by Mr. Hamilton who warned against the probability that a demagogue would seek to derail the American experiment. These ‘talents for low intrigue’ have been on full display since Mr. Trump announced his candidacy in the Summer of 2015.
This is not to say that all his proposals are wrong. In fact, some which seek to help strengthen the American economy and to fix a broken healthcare system are worth review and debate. Nor does it imply that the popular anger and frustration which Mr. Trump tapped to carry the election is not real. In fact, this popular anger exists because of a failure of elected officials in both parties to understand what is happening the economy and how to ensure ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness’ for all Americans.
However, Mr. Trump has gone beyond standing up for the common man or woman by consciously choosing to fuel the flames of hatred and division within American society. Once kindled, these passions are difficult to contain and in many ways, the rhetoric of Mr. Trump is a direct challenge to the Constitution. In fact, his message of hatred and division is the opposite of the national goal of ‘form[-ing] a more perfect Union, establish[-ing] Justice, insure[-ing] domestic Tranquility, provide[-ing] for the common defence, promote[-ing] the general Welfare, and secure[-ing] the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity’
If this alone was not enough to disqualify Mr. Trump from the Office of President, his personal opinions on his celebrity have fostered an air of impunity within the man himself – something which the Access Hollywood tapes confirm.
Stopping Foreign Interference
There is little doubt that foreign powers sought to influence the outcome of our elections. On November 15, the head of the National Security Agency (NSA), Michael S. Rogers, publicly commented that a ‘nation-state sought to influence the election.’ This view is backed by the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC), which issued a statement on October 7 stating their confidence ‘that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.’ This level of interference is unprecedented in U.S. Elections.
As alarming as these actions are, Mr. Trump encouraged Russian interference in the election. Keep in mind, this is a man whom we will expect to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States’ - failure to do so is grounds for impeachment.
In the case of Mr. Trump, he has not even been certified as the President Elect and he has already abused his presumed election to discuss the endeavors of the Trump Organization which foreign leaders. Adding insult to injury is Mr. Trump’s insinuation that President’s cannot have conflicts of interests. This could not be further from the truth and his failure to divest himself from the organization which bears his name will set a dangerous precedent for the future of the Constitution.
Secretary Clinton is not beyond reproach when it comes to foreign entanglements. It is a matter of public record that the Clinton Foundation has accepted millions in donations from foreign governments and while much of the foundation’s work has helped people around the world, the potential for impropriety must not be overlooked.
As such, the willful selection of a candidate for President who is tainted by foreign entanglements and has displayed disdain for the Constitution is tantamount to dereliction of duty by you the Electors.
The Founding Fathers understood how foreign influence could easily undermine our hard-fought independence and Mr. Hamilton cautioned against allowing ‘foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.’
A Sacred Duty
The role of the Electoral College is to protect the country from the very situation which we find ourselves today. As such, your sacred duty as an elector is to protect the nation against ‘cabal, intrigue, and corruption.’ The choice is not binary, there is a third option - abstain.
If a significant number of Electors were to deprive Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump of the required 270 votes, then the election would be forwarded to the House of Representatives, which would have the opportunity to choose a third candidate who would be able to unify and lead our great nation forward.
In some ways, this is not without precedent. In 1808, 19 Electors chose to support the Democratic-Republican Vice Presidential Candidate, George Clinton, over their party’s Presidential Candidate – James Madison. While the election of 1836 saw more than 20 Electors abstain from voting due to a scandal which embroiled one of the Vice-Presidential candidates. In 1976, Mike Padden, and Elector from Washington state chose to exercise his constitutional right by casting his ballot for Ronald Reagan.
A Responsibility to Save the Republic
As an elector, you have a choice. It is one which places loyalty to the Nation and the Constitution above a political party.
The Election of 2016 presents an existential threat to the future of the United States of America. Due to various circumstances (some of which are outlined above) neither Secretary Clinton nor Mr. Trump is fit for the Office of President. Your responsibility as an Elector is to serve as a check by ensuring the integrity and continuity of our country.
I would implore you to seize this opportunity and abstain from voting for either candidate on December 19. In doing so, the election would follow the process prescribed in the Constitution whereby the House of Representatives will elect the President and the Senate will elect the Vice President. This creates the opportunity for a compromise candidate, one who can live up to the noble goal of ensuring Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness’ for all Americans.
God Bless You and God Bless the United States of America.
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 Hamilton, A. The Federalist Papers: No. 68. 14 March 1788.https://goo.gl/DsPOgt. Retrieved 29 November 2016.