Ethics Quote Of The Month: Texas Republican Elector Art Sisneros

art-sisneros

….As an Elector, I came to conclusion I have three options under our current system. I can 1) vote for the nominee of their party under which I was elected, 2) vote for someone else and be considered a faithless elector (a term I despise), or 3) I could resign my position if the candidate turns out to be someone I can not, in good conscience, vote for. I believe under the right circumstances every option is not only valid, but can be ethically the righteous thing for a Christian to do. The question that everyone wants answered is, what will I, an Elector who is under the conviction that our nominee is not a biblically qualified candidate, do? After wavering back and forth, my conscience is finally at peace with the decision I’ve made….If Trump is not qualified and my role, both morally and historically, as an elected official is to vote my conscience, then I can not and will not vote for Donald Trump for President. I believe voting for Trump would bring dishonor to God. The reality is Trump will be our President, no matter what my decision is. Many are furious that I am willing to have this discussion publicly. Personally, I wish more civil officers would be honest about their convictions. Assuming a Trump Presidency is their ultimate goal, they will get that. The problem is, that isn’t what they want. They want a democracy. They will threaten to kill anyone who challenges their power to vote for Skittles for dinner. That is evidence alone to prove that our republic is lost. The shell may remain, but in the hearts of the people and functionality of the system our republic is gone.

…I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district. Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector. This will allow the remaining body of Electors to fill my vacancy when they convene on Dec 19 with someone that can vote for Trump. The people will get their vote. They will get their Skittles for dinner. I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.

This excerpt doesn’t do the tortured elector justice, as he expounds on his torment in detail in this remarkable blog post.

Observations:

1. His ultimate decision was the ethically correct one, the “book answer”: Resign, and let someone who can and will do what the voters expect take his place. He reached it using some unethical and crooked paths, though.

2. His post is a rationalization-fest with muddled thinking and dubious history thrown in. Sisneros inadvertently makes an ironclad case for why we don’t want electors like him to have the power to veto the electorate. This guy is too confused and emotional, not to mention biased and theocratic, to be trusted for such a job. Who knows? The other electors may be even worse.

3. In the early part of the post (which I left out) Art repeats a lot of the same misleading history as the infamous Change.org petition, claiming a valid function for the electors that is no longer relevant or valid. “The Electors were to be men who were selected to make this vote based on their own discernment.  There is no indication that Electors were ever to be directed by the population at large on how to vote. Their votes were to be their own, made in the best interest of those they represented,” Sisneros writes. Yes, that was the anti-democratic scheme of men like Alexander Hamilton, who distrusted the public, and believed that super-wise aristocrats should be the real kingmakers (Hamilton wanted a king, too.) This was to be a republic with as little democracy as possible: no votes for slaves, women, or men without property. Fortunately, the system evolved, and for the better. Once there were political parties and it was clear that behind closed doors machinations by the people’s “betters” in high places—like the wheeling-dealing that elected John Quincy Adams when “the little people”  wanted Andrew Jackson—wouldn’t be tolerated, the original safety-valve function of the Electoral College was dead and buried.

4. In the same section, Art endorses a repulsive paternalistic theory of our government:

“A limited analogy can be found in the family relationship. Parents are the representative heads of their kids.When parents make a decision for the family, they do so on behalf of everyone they represent.  Good parents act in the best interest of their children. At times this may even be contrary to the desire of the children. In most homes, kids do not have the right to vote to eat Skittles for dinner. It is not in their best interest. The parents have a delegated authority to protect those under their jurisdiction. Hamilton, in a similar way, saw the role of the body of Electors (representatives) as a protection for the nation.”

Right, Art: I’m going to let an uncredentialed  goof like you treat my preferences as those of a child.  Bite me.

5. I don’t know what Art thinks “Biblically qualified” is, and I don’t care. The Bible has nothing to do with choosing the President of the United States. This isn’t a theocracy, which seems to be a little detail that Sisneros missed in civics class. Few of our Presidents were fervent believers, many if not most were only as religious as it was politically expedient to be, and some of the very brightest and best, if one cornered them and they were forced to answer, would have self-identified as agnostic. Trump isn’t qualified. We don’t need to consult the Bible to figure that out, but then neither was Barack Obama. The voters in the states that Trump won want to see what he’ll do, qualified or not.  Sisneros doesn’t get to apply a different standard than the voters did.

6. Ethics kudos to Sisneros for taking his pledge seriously, which distinguishes him from the wretched petition-pushers. This is another point where the Federalist# 10 arguments swallow themselves: how can the electors be qualified to override the voters when they can’t be trusted to keep their word?

7. Sisneros falls into Rationalization Hell with his proclamation that the “republic is  lost.” He immediately invokes Rationalization #62.  The Doomsday License as well as its twin, Rationalization #8A. The Dead Horse-Beater’s Dodge, or “This can’t make things any worse.”  This approach, he believes, exonerates him of any responsibility flowing from his decision to punt rather than make a competent ethical choice, since he, in his vast wisdom, has decreed that all is lost. (I don’t think so.) If he really believes that Trump becoming President means the end of the nation—a truly hysterical position that reveals ignorance of the nation’s resilience since its founding— then he is obligated to do whatever he can, pledge or not, to try to stop it. Instead, he retreats to the convenient Rationalization #1A. Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it.”

8. It’s disturbing, isn’t it, that those who some now want to wield the power to overturn an election can have as much contempt for democracy ( They will get their Skittles for dinner”) as this guy? If anything good comes out of the last-ditch Democratic schemes to undermine the 2016 election, it will be an increase in state laws requiring electors to vote as they have been directed, and much stiffer penalties for those who do not. Someone as confused and self-righteous as Art Sisneros should not have to think through the historical, legal, moral and ethical  complexities he just tortured himself with. It would be better, and safer, if he didn’t have to think at all.

__________________

Pointer: Fred

33 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, The Internet, U.S. Society

33 responses to “Ethics Quote Of The Month: Texas Republican Elector Art Sisneros

  1. Seriously though, I wonder what the Democrats see on the electoral horizon that’s making them panic so much? Every indicator we’ve been fed is that the nation is blue-ing in most location and purple-ing in the rest. For guys claiming to be on the right side of history, all they need to do is wait…

    What do their analysts see that they aren’t letting on about?

    Hm…

    It isn’t a legitimate fear of Trump…at heart, he’s still a left of center type of guy.

    They aren’t really worried that the next crop of millennials may not eat their crap, hook, line, and sinker are they?

    It may be that the democrats literally have no one to field that isn’t going to die in the next 4-8 years is it and no one charismatic or intelligent from state level to fill the voids do they?

    I donno. Help me brainstorm.

    • That’s an easy one. Hubris: The motivation of imposing order through control. They expected to have no speed-bumps on their path towards their inevitable conclusion of history, and the fact that their control wasn’t as absolute as they thought, nor their knowledge as infallible, creates dysphoria. Their hubris has been dealt a mighty blow. It doesn’t matter that they believe they will inevitably win. It matters that they did not win when they believed they would, on their own terms. Their assumed future “victory” will not be flawless.

      Well, that, and they really are afraid of Trump. Just because he’s left of center doesn’t mean he won’t smash what they’re building.

      I think you’re onto something, though. They don’t seem to have anyone with actual vision, do they?

  2. All well and good, except if an elector be ethically and legally obligated to vote as directed, what’s the point of having flesh and blood electors anymore? We’re already admitting it’s decided before any of the electors actually vote. Why put the poor guy in that position in the first place?

    At least there are decent arguments for not having a straight-up popular vote: states are discrete entities with distinct laws, not a giant homogeneous blob. However, I do question the wisdom of most states having a winner-take-all system for their electoral votes. I know I’d be indignant if California was 47% purple and the orange candidate got all 55 votes, whether or not I was even on either side.

    • Phlinn

      “Why put the poor guy in that position in the first place?”

      Death of a candidate between popular vote and electoral vote? Which has to be delayed a bit to allow finished counts and recounts, and whatever state issues there are.

      No simple majority winner? A third party elector (which would be more likely to occur if states use proportional representation) can influence the final result.

      In practice they don’t matter much.

    • Here’s the thing, I have no problem with the Electoral College being a check against the wild passions of the people, if the people truly are choosing a horrible option over a *clearly* better option out of pure fervor.

      Only we don’t have that in this case.

      1) The People HAVE NOT been motivated by wild passions, certainly not if voter turn out is an indicator.

      2) The option the Electoral College has to default to, is not a clearly better option, and given the behavior by the increasingly totalitarian left, is rapidly becoming the worse option. Unless of course the Electoral College really wanted to throw a wild card and push Johnson or, snicker, Stein.

      • Chris

        Please, tell me more about the “totalitarian left” and how Clinton is a bigger threat to free speech than Trump.

        • You’ve been active here for, what, a year? More if you are tgt. You’re fully aware of the totalitarian left crushing speech and dissent THROUGHOUT academia and working on it in media.

          Ok. Trump’s remark about one singular instance of free speech being punished is egregious. I agree.

          But seriously… you lack all objectivity on this topic.

          • Never mind all the other aspects of American liberty under assault by the Left which you conveniently leave out in your weak attack on my assertion regarding the electoral college’s duty.

          • Chris

            I’m sorry, someone in love with the phrase “totalitarian left” doesn’t get to tell me about “objectivity.”

            • I think I could say just “the left” on the assumption the whole thing is totalitarian…or I can delineate a subsection of “the left” with the descriptor “totalitarian” to differentiate it from the “non-totalitarian left”.

              Which would you prefer? Because so far, my method leaves available the possibility that there are Leftwingers not enthralled by increasingly totalitarian attitudes. You want to be considered in that group, don’t you?

              By the by, are you going to ALWAYS use diversions in our discussions? If so, I’ll know for the future not to read your responses…

              • Chris

                I think the election of Donald Trump proves the left is no more totalitarian than the right. Your obsession with the “totalitarian left”–when Republicans now have the WH, the House, and the Senate–reflects your own lack of objectivity.

                • 1) rhetoric of Trump and a handful of right wingers versus conduct of huge swathes of the Left… yeah ok. Some comparison. But I make no defense of the Right with its occasional limited faults against liberty.

                  2) actually controlling 3 sections of the government doesn’t automatically = totalitarianism. Wow me with another fallacy please.

                  3) again, the Left has consumed academia, where liberties are being crushed, the Left has almost completely consumed media, where liberties are skewed and lampooned, the Left is seriously consuming Big Legal where liberties are being litigated.

                  I love trying to to pretend like everyone is an equal bad actor, but in recent decades, though the Right has had it’s moments, the modern Left is a terrifying thing to behold. I know it hurts to try to grapple with, but try.

                  • Chris

                    2) actually controlling 3 sections of the government doesn’t automatically = totalitarianism. Wow me with another fallacy please.

                    That’s not what I said. I was saying that the right currently has more power to implement policies restricting freedom than the left does.

                    • No, here’s what you said:

                      “Your obsession with the “totalitarian left”–when Republicans now have the WH, the House, and the Senate–reflects your own lack of objectivity.”

                      If my interpretation is incorrect, my bad. But don’t pretend like it’s further from a reliable interpretation that this unashamed spin: “I was saying that the right currently has more power to implement policies restricting freedom than the left does.”

                    • (Still diverting by the way)

  3. Wonder if Art received death threats that may have helped his conscience…?

  4. Whether he actually resigns, or retracts and votes as an elector for Texans, Art Sisneros seems content to render himself a tool of the Left – rejecting the millions of voters’ rejection of an increasingly monopolistic and totalitarian Democrat Party. I look forward to eating Skittles for dinner, for a change; it’ll be downright nutritious, in contrast to more years of force-fed statist bullshit.

  5. Julie

    Moron, really sick of these sanctimonies phonies do your job!! the country spoke, deal with it. ,

  6. Chris

    I’d say he’s making an ethical choice for a mixture of ethical and unethical reasons.

  7. Captain Obvious

    I disagree.

    Since the RNC, the man has known who he would be casting his electoral vote for. That he has waited until now to decide he doesn’t want to do the job that he actively sought is unethical. He had more than ample opportunity to step down or abdicate his position and be replaced but he did not do so.

    Either he hoped Trump would be replaced as the top of the ticket, assumed (like most of us) that Trump would lose so his electoral vote for Trump would not matter (and thus absolve him of doing so), or since the Republican Convention never intended to cast his vote as directed and only now wants to make that known.

    There is not one of those that marks him as an ethical person, no matter what his excuse is now.

    Unethical behavior cannot become ethical simply because it offers us some hope of an outcome that we like.

    • Not sure what you’re disagreeing with. I didn’t say that Art was ethical, I said that his quote concerned ethics (that’s an Ethics Quote as opposed to an ethical quote.)

      • Actually, though it didn’t occur to me initially, this guy is from Texas. Not only has he known for months who the Republican nominee was, but he’s known that he would almost certainly be chosen as an elector for Trump.

        Was he thinking that he _could_ cast his electoral vote for Trump if Trump had lost the overall election? Only if Trump actually won would he be unable to cast his vote?

  8. Chase Davidson

    You’re right that this really is coming to the right decision for the wrong reasons. I’m definitely disturbed by his framing things in “Biblical” terms, but I’m not nearly as surprised as you seem to be. A lot of people on the Right, particularly in positions of power, seem to have issues with the concept of “separation of church and state”. It would probably make their heads explode if you told them Jefferson respected Muslims (whom he referred to in his writings as ‘Mohammedans’) and owned a copy of the Quran.

    I’m similarly unsurprised by the anti-democratic line of thinking. On the right and left, far more people in power give lip service to democracy than actually believe in it. This really shouldn’t surprise any of us, when you think about it. After all, would they have run for election (many, if not most electors are party hacks and retired pols) if they didn’t think they were more qualified than we ‘little people’ to make decisions? This is why I think that we need to regularly purge the system of longtime politicians, because over time, the power and prestige that they have corrupts them. Of COURSE he thinks that he’s more qualified than the commoners to decide who should be in charge.

  9. Grampy_Bone

    It’s strange how liberals say that because Trump is a tyrant and the only solution is to impose tyranny.

  10. Art Sisneros is an American hero. Period, end of story. No person with even the tiniest scintilla of moral fiber can place his electoral vote for Donald Trump- a man openly supported by Nazis, the Klan, and white supremacists.
    It’s nauseating and unimaginable these are the monsters you support. History will RAIN shame upon all who supported Donald Trump in ANY fashion.

    • Diagnosis: you are an idiot. Wear a helmet, find a guardian, and don’t come back.

    • Who wants to play “count the logical fallacies”?

    • Mr. Walters, can I call you Be?

      Be, if I met a club of pedophiles or mass murderers that thought you were peachy keen, should I by necessity disregard you for no other reasons?

    • You’re never going to make the world a better place if you can’t even imagine why people do what they do. Understanding someone doesn’t require that you agree with them. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~Aristotle

      Furthermore, Donald Trump isn’t wrong about literally everything, despite his best efforts, so to oppose him in literally everything would be counterproductive. If you try to contradict a broken clock, you’ll just end up wrong twice a day, and the rest of the time you’ll only know what time it isn’t. “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” ~Frederick Douglass

  11. David Gillis

    Art Sisneros has made a serious error! First, His duty was to reflect the will of the majority of the people of Texas. Personally, I had great apprehension when I considered voting for Mr. Trump, but I eventually concluded it was the best of available choices. I expect Texas elector to vote the will of Texas voters, as expressed in their vote. Mr. Sisneros gets a F for his failure to do that. A second F is earned by Mr. Sisneros because he couches his voter service as subject to his religious thoughts. While one’s religious beliefs are solely the property of the individual, though not supported by demonstrable facts, they are not criteria for determining whether to faithfully execute an important function which he has previously committed to. It he expects to represent God’s choice in this matter, he is a poor servant of his intended God. Such decisions can be made prior to swearing to honorably execute the committments when he accepted the role of an elector. But he is hard put to excuse his failure to his duty on a post-hoc relicious basis. I have been pleased with Mr. Trump’s actions since becoming the President-elect. They are far more “duty” compliant than the fishy after-the-fact responibility dodging story of Art Sisneros. His actions smell of Jill Steins idiotic pronouncements and patently false and pathetic pleading, after the fact.

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