….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.
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.