Will the Electors Follow Precedent?

Will the Electors Follow Precedent?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Donald Trump is scheduled to be the nation’s next President. His election will be confirmed on December 19th when the Electoral College meets and confirms the decisions rendered in the 50 states on November 8th. But the question is: Will the electors follow precedent and confirm the Election Day results that showed Trump winning over Hillary Clinton by 306 to 232?

The Electoral College isn’t a college and there is no national gathering of the electors to make their choice. The selection of President is made when individuals (electors) pledged to vote for their political party’s candidate meet in their state and cast their ballot. If the voters in a particular state chose Trump, then the slate of Republican electors are expected to ratify that choice.

Some states legally bind each elector, although that requirement has never been legally challenged in the courts. Could the electors choose someone other than the choice made by their state’s voters on Election Day? The answer to that extremely poignant question is yes.

In 1968, a Republican elector in North Carolina refused to cast his ballot for Richard Nixon, the winner of the popular vote in that state. His vote for George Wallace was duly recorded. In 1972, a Republican elector in Virginia refused to vote for Nixon, the popular vote winner in his state. He opted instead for the candidate of the Libertarian Party. And his choice was also duly recorded.

Some states have taken steps to legally bind electors to cast their ballots as decided on Election Day. No challenges to those restrictions have made their way through the courts.

A Republican elector in Texas recently announced that he won’t vote for Donald Trump on December 19th. That elector, Christopher Suprun, claims that Mr. Trump is not qualified to hold the highest office in our nation and does not possess the proper “demeanor” to be president. He hopes other electors throughout the nation will follow his lead.

Mr. Suprun found immediate support from Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig, who distinguished himself as a backer of the movement to hold an Article V constitutional convention. A Con-Con, of course, can completely erase the current U.S. Constitution and invite a totally new one. In 2015, Lessig announced his own candidacy for president as a Democrat. But his candidacy went nowhere, and he soon abandoned the race.

Lessig now claims that the winner of the popular vote (Hillary Clinton) should be declared president by the electors on December 19th. Mrs. Clinton did win more than two million votes than Donald Trump. But Trump’s victories in numerous states added up to an Electoral College win – if the electors follow precedent.

The Founding Fathers didn’t want a popular vote to determine the winner of the presidency. They wanted the states to chose the president. Especially concerned were they about the smaller states having a voice. The electoral system they created does give small states an important say in who becomes the nation’s leader.

A recent report from DC-based Politico says that a team of lawyers has already been assembled to assist Republican electors who want to bolt the system and vote for someone other than Trump. If a sufficient number of electors ignores tradition and Trump does not receive 270 electoral college votes, then the choice of president goes to the House of Representatives, where the decision will be made according to a process little known by the American people. It appears in the Constitution’s Amendment XII adopted in 1804.

It would take 38 Republican electors to block Donald Trump from being named President on December 19th. Christopher Suprun, the balky Republican elector from Texas, is number one in the movement toward this goal. Will there be 37 more? Or will Donald Trump be confirmed as President on December 19? Chances that enough electors will create a presidential crisis are slim. But so were the chances that Donald Trump would do as well as he did on Election Day.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Who Are Trump Supporters?

Who Are Trump Supporters?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

New Yorker Magazine is hardly a bastion of right-wing politics. Instead, it can usually be found promoting causes championed by liberals, left-wingers, and elitists. Its veteran political writer went to several Trump rallies to find out for himself what motivates anyone to support the New York City mogul.

Donald Trump supporters: Do they agree with Trump on issues such as political correctness, illegal immigration, welfare waste and fraud, ObamaCare, Federal Reserve, etc? (Image from flickr)

Before reading the New Yorker article, I received a report claiming that it provided more than two dozen reasons why some people like Donald Trump and want him for president. But then I read the article and found it to be anything but a pro-Trump piece. It does mention a few reasons why some Americans stand firmly in the Trump camp. But a politically on-the-fence American who reads it would likely be driven away from supporting Trump. He might end up voting for Trump’s opponent or decide not to vote at all.

The report I received – not the article itself– stated that Trump supporters “have had it with” an array of anti-Establishment politicians and policies. There’s nothing sensationally new about that. Its list of reasons is impressive, and they smack of accuracy. It says “Trumpies” are rebelling against anyone named Bush or Clinton, and against political correctness, illegal immigration, welfare waste and fraud, ObamaCare, Federal Reserve money-printing schemes, Barack Obama’s golf, Holiday – not Christmas – trees, global warming nonsense, gun confiscation threats, cop killers, stagnant wages, boys in the girls bathrooms, and more. My own survey assures me that all of that is a correct reading of any Trump supporter.

However, George Saunders who wrote the lengthy piece in New Yorker can hardly be described as an admirer of either Trump or the many Trump supporters he encountered and interviewed as he traveled across the country. On the other hand, the writer of the report (no name was provided) went far overboard in attributing any sort of pro-Trumpism to what Saunders provided.

With more than two months still remaining before Americans vote for the next president, plenty can happen to sway the yet undecided, maybe even move some from one camp to the other. We hope all will base their decision on facts, not on hit pieces or wild characterizations of any candidate.

The two articles mentioned above did agree in one main point. It is that most Americans are tired of promises not being kept by Democrats or Republicans, of changes in the nation’s culture and moral standards, of being given half-truths and lies when honesty remains the best policy, and of sensing that the country is being changed – not for the better but for the betterment of an arrogant well-entrenched few.

But another lesson reinforced from reading the magazine article and the ensuing report convinces me that checking the original is far and away the wiser course. Relying on someone’s view of something may take you far from what it really said.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.