In creating this nation, our founders' greatest fear was that a demagogue would appear and use democracy against itself. By inflaming public opinion, by manipulating their emotions, and then using the powers of the Presidency to benefit himself. Our Founders fled tyranny, and created a democratic republic out of whole cloth. What if, they shuddered - a tyrant could play upon the emotions of the masses, enflame their anger, stoke their prejudices? What if an unfit man assumed office?
This was such a profound concern for our Founders that they installed a protective valve right at the heart of our political process. That 538 Citizens - not elected officials, not partisans, but citizens -- should ultimately choose the next President. We as a public would tell those Electors who we want. But they, as Electors, would decide if we had been misled.
Our current situation is precisely what the founders foresaw. The Electors meet this coming Monday, December 19th. The Constitution endows them with the power to choose who the next President will be.
So. Why, then, have so many people just resigned themselves to four years of leadership under Donald Trump?
First of all, because most people don't realize how quickly four years becomes eight. The founders knew it. They knew that the public loves a leader who projects strength. Who appears to be independent of influence, who appears to care about the common man (even if his actions prove otherwise). They knew how demagogues work, that they ignore rationality and exploit and foment public concern to serve themselves. Any student of political history can predict that there's a chance that the Trump Presidency will go down in flames. But the smart money is on him winning a second term by a landslide. Because the public feels safe behind a bully, even if a bully is protecting his own interests, not their own.
Second, because most people don't realize that four years becomes forty, even faster. The public doesn't realize what happens when Trump creates a Supreme Court in his own image. He'll fill the seat that Obama would have filled, had Senate Republicans not blatantly shirked their Constitutional responsibilities. And statistically, he'll have the chance to fill two more within the next four years, four over the next eight. One Branch of the US Government will be controlled by Donald Trump, possibly for decades after he leaves office. Hundreds of federal judges. Thousands of influential Trump acolytes will leave his staff with valuable experience that can be parlayed into world influence. It's not just Trump that we have to fear. It's his legacy, which will be impossible to overstate.
Third, because most don't realize that all of this can be stopped, altogether, on Monday. Our constitution was designed to make that happen. People need a civics lesson and they need it fast. We need to post on Facebook, we need to email our members of Congress, our mayors, our state reps, our governors. We need to call our local news stations. We need to protest. We need to create a groundswell.
Fourth, because so many people have been desensitized to doomsday predictions. After the longest and most negative presidential election in history, people are tired of dire talk, and immune to it. But this is not hyperbole, people. Attorney Richard Greene has laid out, in stark terms, eleven constitutional reasons why Trump is unfit to assume office. Almost all of them are unprecedented in American history. His refusal to attend security briefings. His refusal to detach himself from his business dealings with foreign nations. His attacks on media outlets and threats of recrimination against his "enemies." His demand for a list of people at the EPA who know Global Warming to be a scientific fact. His appointment of an oil magnate as Secretary of State with close ties to Russia, even after the CIA concluded that Russia tampered with our election to Trump's benefit. The fact that he publicly asked Russia to hack his opponent's emails. His appointment of a chief advisor who has publicly expressed white supremacist views. His inflammatory behavior since becoming President-elect; from costing our largest airline manufacturer billions of dollars, to attacking the head of a union, to sloppily enraging America's largest creditor (China), to even remaining a paid producer of a Hollywood TV series. To our great national shame, the list goes on and on.
Fifth - because Democratic Officials are missing in action. At best, some Democrats are trying not to appear partisan. At worst, as the opposition party, they are stunned, fractured, and weakened. They are not standing tall and trying to influence public opinion, in part because of these weaknesses, and in part because the Public isn't trying to influence them.
Too many Democrats are concerned that the chances of persuading 38 people - that's all it will take, 38 Electors - is too small. Because those 38 people are expected to vote for Trump. They are partisan and they are from states that voted to elect Trump. Convincing them might be hard.
But that's how it should be! The Electors shouldn't negate the Electoral College results easily. That said -- if ever in history they need to be persuaded to do so, it is now. Most likely, they are afraid of what Trump supporters will do if they fail to validate Trump. They need to know that America has their back.
The good news is, twenty Electors are thinking about it. Of course they aren't doing it publicly. They have been given reason to fear Trump's reaction. That in and of itself adds to the case that Trump is unfit.
I leave you with the words of Alexander Hamilton. Not from Federalist 68, which has been cited so often, but from Federalist 1. The first, most primal explanation of our system of Government. Right off the bat, he spoke of his fear that a demagogue like Donald Trump would appear:
[W]e have already sufficient indications that it will happen.... A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. [Such candidates will] increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the efficiency of government will be stigmatized as... hostile to the principles of liberty [and a] danger to the rights of the people.
[I]t will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty... and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter. And that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people. These people have begun as demagogues, and ended up tyrants.
Please, listen to Hamilton. Please, think about your future. We have until Monday to legally, appropriately, and Constitutionally avoid tremendous, worldwide calamity. Help change public opinion. Sign the Change.org petition. Email or call your elected officials -- local, state, and Federal (click here for the contact info) Reach out to any opinion maker or influencer you know. Contact major news outlets (click here for a list). Family. Friends. This is what it takes to sway public opinion. And do not believe those who think this effort is futile. How will any of us live with our inaction, if we don't try?
Here is all you need to say: Dear (elected official, opinion maker, influencer, news outlet, friend, or family):
An unqualified and unfit man won the Electoral College with the overt assistance of the head of the FBI and the covert assistance of Russia. The Founders of this Nation created a protective system for these exact circumstances. No Elector should cast their vote for a man who is unfit for the Presidency. As for who they should vote for - to respect the electorate, to prevent the head of the FBI and Russia from succeeding, to honor the fact that the vast majority of Americans did vote for an exceedingly qualified candidate (whether the Electors like her or not), they should vote for Hillary Clinton. It's time to put Nation before Party, protect our shared future, and live up to the promise of our Constitution.