Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Electors' Duties

Well, as it is getting closer to the time when the Electoral College will, in overwhelming likelihood, put its seal of approval on the travesty of Trump's accession to the White House, I thought it would do well to see what the founding fathers really thought about this institution.  For that purpose, I'll turn to Federalist Paper no. 68, where the musical man of the hour, Alexander Hamilton, explains on behalf of himself and his fellow authors of the Constitution, what it actually means, as opposed to the ludicrous nonsense that is peddled far and wide, in largely successful attempts to bend the Constitution to whatever suits the right's purpose at the moment.

I want to say before getting to the point, that I continue to be surprised at the contortions that people will engage in to justify finding whatever they want in the intent of the founding fathers (as if that were so important anyway) while their actual words lay close at hand, and are available instantaneously online these days in any event.

Anyway,on we go.  First, a word about the general purpose of the Electoral College:

"It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations."

Note that this speaks about analyzing the qualities of the candidates, and about "complicated investigations."  This is absolutely contrary to the notion that the electors are required to cast their ballots one way or another.  It is their job to make distinctions. As for what those distinctions involve, we now enter an area where the founding fathers were dead wrong about things:

"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."

"Talents for low intrigue and the little arts of popularity..."  Remind you of anyone you can think of?  Well, the electoral college may have worked for the purpose of preventing people like that from reaching the White House in earlier times, but it has failed us this time around.  In fact, the electoral college is about to put just such a person in the White House, even though he lost the popular vote by a wide margin, in a classic example of the supposed letter of the law destroying any hope of fulfilling its intent.  In fact, it is actually the duty of the Electoral College, using its responsibility to analyze the candidates' "qualities adapted to the station," to keep people like Trump out of the White House.  And let's have one more excerpt from this document:

"Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils."

"the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils."  Well there you go.  Add that to  the comment about low intrigue, and you have, in Donald Trump, an absolutely classic example of exactly what the Electoral College was created to prevent.  It is as I stated above,the clear duty of the electors to refuse to allow Trump to be President, but of course, they won't dare carry out their duty, and so there we are.


By the way, if you want to read the text of this Federalist Paper, here it is.



1 comment:

Jerry Critter said...

" It is as I stated above,the clear duty of the electors to refuse to allow Trump to be President, but of course, they won't dare carry out their duty, and so there we are."

You are absolutely right. They won't carry out their duty because they have been expressly chosen because they can't, and won't, think for themselves and will do only what they are told even though the constitution does not require them to. They are more interested in adding to their resume, than doing their duty to the country. They are slaves to the power structure that picked them.

Fuck them and the horse they rode in on.