Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sore losers

The reaction against the election of Donald Trump has been fast and occasionally violent. Many cannot conceive of Mr. Trump as president for any number of reasons.

Now somebody is pushing a last ditch attempt to defeat Mr. Trump. A petition has been started at Note this is an individual who started the petition, MoveOn is not supporting it (at least not officially).

This petition asks the electoral college not to vote for Donald Trump (and by implication to vote for Hillary Clinton). It gives two reasons. One might be considered valid, Mrs Clinton won the popular vote by a small margin and the petition argues that she should become president. The second argument is that Mr. Trump is an "authoritarian" figure and a "threat to democracy", so doesn't deserve to take office. This second argument, of course, is strictly political. Liberals will recite how George W. Bush abused the presidency, and conservatives how Barack Obama did the same. Without having exercised any presidential power we're told Donald Trump is authoritarian and will run roughshod over the Constitution (again, there are conservatives who would claim the same of Hillary Clinton).

Yet what happens if the Electoral College actually followed this petition? Suppose 50 odd members voted for Hillary Clinton against Mr. Trump (so she got the majority). Would this be our system at work or would it spark one of the biggest constitutional crises in the history of the nation? It could actually create the third Obama term conservatives claim he wants by tying the election up in the courts for the next four years.

Another option would be for a number of Electoral College votes to go to some other candidate (e.g. Gary Johnson or Jill Stein). There is precedent for this, the odd vote has gone to a third party candidate in the past though it hasn't affected the result of the election. If enough votes go to a third party the election would be thrown in to the House of Representatives. Again, a constitutional crisis. While elections have gone to the House in the past, it's never been because electors vote against the voters of their state.

Regardless, this petition, as with the protests, is a case of sore losers. People can't accept the fact that Donald Trump has been elected. There has been so much anti-Trump rhetoric (some true, much false or exaggerated) that there are people who can't imagine living under a Trump presidency. However, the election is over and the results are in. Asking Electoral College members to ignore the wishes of their state's voters seems a "threat to democracy" in a different sense.

It's time for people to accept the results of the election and let Mr. Trump get on with the presidential transition. If Mr. Trump acts in an authoritarian manner after he's in office then he should be impeached. This follows both the Constitution and the traditions of the nation. Of course, "authoritarian" is a matter of opinion, but if Mr. Trump is really that bad the Republicans ought to be happy to give us President Pence instead.

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