The U.S. Electoral College convenes today to elect the next President, and by now you’ve probably seen petitions asking them not to vote for Donald Trump — because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, because Russia interfered with the election and because Trump’s conflicts of interest violate the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. But gay statistician and writer Nate Silver thinks this is a bad idea.
You may remember Silver as the guy who correctly predicted the 2012 Electoral College map. While Silver’s website gave Clinton a much higher chance of winning the election, his pre-election forecasts took seriously the possibility of a Trump win. Anyway, here’s why he’s against flipping the Electoral College:
“I think this is a bad idea… it’s not at all clear what the upside for Democrats would be. This year, narrowly denying Trump a majority in the Electoral College would still probably result in Trump’s election via the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, producing the same president but with a Constitutional crisis along the way. And in the long run, encouraging electors to deviate from the outcomes in their states would result in the House more often deciding presidential elections, which is probably not in Democrats’ interests given how their voters are clustered — and gerrymandered — into urban congressional districts.
Besides, the Constitution provides for other remedies to deal with a president whom voters perceive to be illegitimate or unfit. He can be impeached. Lesser known: In the event of a physical or mental disability, he can be temporarily relieved of duty under the 25th Amendment. He can, of course, be voted out of office after four years.
And in the meantime, voters can check the president’s power by electing members of Congress to oppose him, or by pressuring the current Congress to do so. It’s somewhat vexing to me that Democrats have focused so much energy on long-shot hopes of overturning the 2016 results instead of looking forward to — you know — actually winning the next set of elections. Those two pursuits aren’t mutually exclusive, but the latter is far more likely to pay dividends than the former.”
While it’s unlikely that enough Electoral College voters will switch to elect Clinton, enough defectors could help send a clear message about Trump’s unsuitableness for the presidency.
And there are two Barack Obama-shaped bright spots to watch despite Trump’s win: the soon-to-be-ex-president will work on undoing state gerrymandering maps that unfairly favor Republicans, and he’s also pledged to help raise a new generation of Democratic leaders to help change the country leftwards after Trump leaves office. Maybe that’ll mean four years from now.