It all began here. How quickly we forget—or how quickly they hope we’ll forget.
In two December 20, 2016 posts, “The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning I and II,” Ethics Alarms covered the first attack on American democracy in what came to called here the “2016 post-election Ethics Train Wreck.” This has culminated in the current House Democrats’ impeachment fiasco. Make no mistake: it is a single plot, one that I never suspected would have continued this long, and caused as much damage to the nation as it has.
When your relatives start spouting talking points that they have neither researched, thought critically about nor understand, consider reminding them where it all started, and who has really been responsible for bringing the United States of America to this sorry and thoroughly avoidable place. Most of the villains of the coup attempts to come outed themselves here: Democrats, the news media, academics, Hollywood, professionals, especially lawyers. Most had outed themselves earlier, of course, but still had plausible deniability. Not after this.
As you can see, they had decided, way back in 2016, right after the election after thaye had wept, and cursed, and rended their garments, that because they didn’t want Donald Trump to be President, they had a right to prevent him from taking office, and if that failed, then to interfere with his right to fulfill the duties of the office until they could come up with some way remove him. This is where it began, and this is what has been going on ever since.
Your resistance family members and friends have been been responsible because they enabled this. Don’t let them get away with it.
The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part I: Revelations
After all the protests, the petitioning, the grandstanding, the misinformation and bad law and false history, after all the harassment and intimidation aimed at getting state electors to violate their pledges, duty and the trust of theirs state voters, all designed to keep Donald Trump from attaining 270 electoral votes and thus forcing the Presidential election into the House of Representatives for the first time since 1876, the results were just another humiliation for the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was officially elected President of the United States, and it wasn’t close.
Four Democratic electors in Washington, a state Clinton won, voted for someone else, giving her just eight of the state’s 12 electoral votes. They will be prosecuted, apparently, for breaking a Washington statute. Colin Powell, a Republican, received three of the faithless elector votes and Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle received one, apparently because one elector decided that rather than vote for Senator Elizabeth Warren, a real Native American was preferable. Single electors in both Maine and Minnesota attempted to cast ballots for Bernie Sanders, but state laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both rebellious ballots. One Hawaii elector did vote for Sanders, an especially outrageous betrayal of the vote since Hawaii went to Clinton even more decisively than California. Never mind: this unknown, unvetted, undistinguished citizen decided that no, he or she knew better. That’s the model Democrats were promoting.
The one Republican elector, Texas’s Christopher Suprun, of Texas, who had trumpeted his intention not to vote for Trump despite his state heavily favoring the President Elect voted for Ohio Governor John Kasich as promised, and another Texas elector defected to vote for Ron Paul. Thus the almost six week Democratic push to use the Electoral College to pull victory from the jaws of defeat had the net effect of increasing Trump’s Electoral vote advantage over Clinton by three, with Hillary Clinton becoming the candidate with most defecting electors in over 200 years.
George Will’s favorite phrase “condign justice” leaps to mind. First the Wisconsin recount increases Trump’s vote total, and now this.
Three Ethics Observations on one of the most embarrassing spectacles in U.S. election history:
1. Ironically, the Electoral College functioned exactly the way the Founders intended it to, and rescued the nation from a regional candidate. Trump won the nation, and Hillary was elected Queen of California. The country wanted radical change, while the huddled socialists, crypto-Marxists, radical college students, illegal immigration fans and nanny state addicts were happy with things as they are.
California is a complete outlier, virtually a one-party state. As an analysis by Investor’s Business Daily points out, between 2008 and 2016, the number of Californians who registered as Democrats increased by 1.1 million, while the number of registered Republicans dropped by almost 400,000. Republicans in the state stayed away from the polling places because they had nobody to vote for in many places. Two Democrats, and no Republican, were on the ballot to replace Senator Barbara Boxer. Nor were there Republicans on the ballots for House seats in nine of California’s congressional districts. At the state level, six districts had no Republicans running for the state senate, and 16 districts had no Republicans running for state assembly seats:
Such Republicans as there were knew Clinton was going to win the state and its 55 electoral votes, so there was little motivation to cast a ballot.Clinton was getting all 55 votes, no matter what. Thus Trump received 11% fewer California votes than John McCain did in 2008, as the number of registered Democrats in the state climbed by 13% since then. If California had voted like every other Democratic state — where Clinton averaged 53.5% wins — Clinton and Trump would have ended up in a virtual popular vote tie. Laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both efforts.
If you take California out of the popular vote equation, then Trump won the rest of the country by 1.4 million votes. The Founders installed a system that favors a candidate with broad-based appeal over all the diverse regions and cultures of a large nation, and that isn’t going to be easily dominated by a large voting bloc that is atypical of the rest of the population—like California in 2016.
2. Writer Daniel Brezenoff, the originator of the Change.Org Electoral College Petition , appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News to collect his Andy Warhol Fifteen Minutes of Fame chip. He repeated his undemocratic logic for overturning the election. Carlson accused Brezenoff of “resorting to less democratic means, putting the decision in the hands of even fewer people,” to which Brezenoff, who initially filed his petition using a fake name, responded, “That’s right, to protect the Constitution from an unfit President!”
The answer is smoking gun evidence of what was really afoot here. Brezenoff thought Trump was unfit,just as I thought Trump was unfit, but the election showed that millions of citizens felt differently. We can’t ethically, logically, fairly, reasonably and Constitutionally come back after the election and say that a handful of not-especially-qualified electors are going to reverse the election result because our view is the right one.
We lost. The fact that we don’t like the result and are positive the winners just don’t understand is not sufficient to justify what the Democrats and progressives like Brezenoff were advocating.
3. It is disturbing and shocking—maybe I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am— that no prominent Democratic leader publicly condemned the organized efforts to turn electors faithless. This, as much as anything else, validates my late decision that the Democrats were too corrupt and untrustworthy to get my vote. Silence, as the legal maxim goes, implies consent, and the petitioners, historical frauds, harassers and intimidators all did their worst on behalf of the Democratic Party. Nothing but harm could come to the party and its member progressives from such an arrogant, defiant and futile scheme, and nothing but further division could have come from a success, which basic civic literacy should have informed party leaders was impossible. Nonetheless, they said nothing–Obama, Michelle, Pelosi, Reid, Shumer, the Clintons, Jimmy Carter, Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, the President. Nothing.
Was it cowardice, and the fear of tempting the rabid, angry Left from coming after them, mouths foaming? Or was it that they were willing to benefit from a Hail Mary pass, even one that destabilized the government and society? Bernie Sanders was especially cynical, telling interviewers before yesterday that he thought the Electoral College was beneficial, then calling for its elimination after the voting was over.
The worst, of course, was Hillary Clinton. Had integrity meant anything to her (we know it never has) she would have known that her unequivocal condemnation of Donald Trump for suggesting that he might not “accept the results” if he lost the election mandated a “Stop this nonsense now” message to her traumatized and infantile supporters (see photo above). She couldn’t mount the guts and principle to do it. A miniscule-to-the-vanishing-point chance that somehow, through some combination of luck and cosmic intervention, an elector uprising would give her the power she craves was sufficient to inspire Hillary to even surpass the hypocrisy she had displayed by joining in Jill Stein’s ridiculous recount efforts.
It was said of Hubert Humphrey that in his passion to attain the Presidency, he proved himself unworthy of it. Hillary Clinton has made Hubert Humphrey look wonderful in retrospect.
To be fair, so has Donald Trump.
The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part II: Dunces, Heroes, Villains, And Fools
The failure of the ugly Electoral College revolt scheme that ended yesterday—let’s ignore the coming storm of frivolous lawsuits for now, all right?—with the official, irreversible, like it or lump it victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton also settled some distinctions, some desirable, some not.
- Ethics Heroes: All of the Republican electors who resisted the harassment, propaganda, intimidation and bad arguments and did their duty, avoiding a crisis and foiling the attempts of Democrats to cheat, which is exactly what the effort to flip the electoral vote was. The faithful electors get bonus points for making so many Democrats and progressives look silly in the process, a fate they richly deserved.
Come to think of it, it was predictable that Democratic appeals to electors would persuade more Democratic electors than Republicans. Which leads us to…
- Ethics Dunces: A bevy of Hollywood B-listers joined forces in an offensive video that, like Brezenoff’s petition, misrepresented history and the Constitution to gull star-struck electors into defying the public’s will and its trust that their votes would be respected by electors. Led by Martin Sheen, who has no credentials in government or political science but played a wily President on TV, Debra Messing, James Cromwell, B.D. Wong, Noah Wyle, Freda Payne (Quick: who is Freda Payne?), “Better Call Saul’s” Bob Odenkirk, J. Smith Cameron (?), Michael Urie, Moby, superannuated M*A*S*H stars Mike Farrell and Loretta Swit, Richard Schiff, Christine Lahti, Steven Pasquale, Emily Tyra and Talia Balsam tell the electors that they will be following the Founders’ intent by rejecting Donald Trump. This is flatly dishonest, as they are attributing the contrarian position of Alexander Hamilton, who detested popular democracy, to all the Founders, who rejected Hamilton’s proposals on how the government should be elected and structured.
“What is evident is that Donald Trump lacks more than the qualifications to be president. He lacks the necessary stability and clearly the respect for the Constitution of our great nation,” say the celebrities. Obviously it is NOT evident, since Trump’s voters won the day. The Federalist accurately describes what was behind the video:
“The message is clear: the candidate for whom these celebrities spent months shilling lost the Electoral College, the metric granted ultimate primacy by Article Two of the Constitution. Now, as individuals with no substantial political background, these celebrities have organized en masse to produce content designed to “educate” our electors, chosen for their political pedigree, on their electoral duty. The whole situation reeks of condescension, dirisiveness, and social hubris. What these self-ordained celebrities are demanding is nothing short of the very opposite of what they claim to be purporting. They assert that they “stand with…all citizens of the United States,” yet admittedly only if those citizens agree with their political viewpoint. If said citizens disagree, then, unfortunately, these celebrities decidedly do not stand with them. In fact, they would prefer electors to actively oppose the wishes of these very citizens, so that the candidate they personally believe to be the best suited has a second shot at the presidency.”
That’s about the size of it, yes indeed.
- Ethics Villain: Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig, who once headed an ethics institute there, was advising electors through his group Electors Trust, and last week said that as many as thirty Republican electors were poised to refuse to vote for Mr. Trump. Well, he was close: one more elector other than the one who announced his intention violated his pledge. What was Lessig doing? It sure looked like he was lying to try to persuade electors to flip. Lawyer. Professor. Ethicist.
Prof. Lessig embarrassed his school, and he embarrassed his profession by misusing his authority and position to try to meddle in a Presidential election. He already made an ass of himself with his silly candidacy for President last year, saying the he was running only to pass his “Citizen Equality Act.” Then, he said, he would resign and turn the Presidency over to his unnamed Vice President, who would then serve out the remainder of the term. When this scheme received the reception it deserved—I still don’t know how to spell a Bronx cheer— Lessig abandoned it, and said he would serve his full term. Then he dropped out of the race. Ironically, Lessig’s signature issue, removing big money from politics, was nicely refuted by Trump’s election, which was achieved with his campaign spending about half what Hillary Clinton spent.
- Ethics Fools: The editors of the New York Times. Don’t they understand that when their conduct allows no other interpretation but that they are biased and partisan, they forfeit their influence and power to achieve the results dictated by their bias? The paper never sounded a peep of dissent about the Electoral College during the 2016 campaign, and if you really think that today’s editorial about how it’s time to eliminate it would have appeared had the positions of the parties been reversed, I have a breadfruit farm to sell you.
Today’s Times even descended into obvious desperation. In a long piece explaining why and how Trump prevailed despite losing the popular vote, it published this:
One argument in favor of the Electoral College is that it doesn’t reward regionalism: a candidate who wins with huge margins in one part of the country. That’s because a winner-take-all system doesn’t reward any additional votes beyond what’s necessary to win a state or a region. You get all of Florida’s electoral votes, whether you win it by 537 or 537,000 votes.
A good example of how regionalism can drive a popular-electoral vote split is the 1888 election. The Democrat, Grover Cleveland, won the popular vote by nearly a point, but he lost the Electoral College by a margin similar to Mrs. Clinton’s.
Why? He won the popular vote by dominating the Deep South, where white supremacist Democrats had succeeded in disenfranchising Republican black voters since the end of Reconstruction. Even progressives would consider this a moral victory for the Electoral College.Mrs. Clinton’s big win in California was, on paper, potentially enough to be “responsible” for the electoral-popular vote split in the same way that the Deep South drove Mr. Cleveland’s popular vote win in 1888.
But unlike the situation in 1888, Mrs. Clinton’s huge victory in California (along with the District of Columbia and Hawaii, where Mrs. Clinton won by a higher percentage than she did in California) was almost entirely canceled out by Mr. Trump’s dominance of his base states — which we’ll call Appalachafornia — from West Virginia to Wyoming. (“Appalachafornia” consists of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota.) Mrs. Clinton led in the rest of the country by the same two-point margin after excluding Appalachafornia and California — and yet she still loses the Electoral College vote by about the same margin.
Wait…WHAT? This is priceless deceit, and a textbook example of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy so perfect that it should be used in that fallacy’s definition. The Times really is arguing here that West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota are a single“region,” and the cultural and demographic equivalent of a single state. If that group of states hadn’t provided the numbers the Times needed to argue away California’s obvious estrangement from the rest of the nation, it would have picked different ones.
Suuure, West Virginia coal miners and Montana ranchers are nearly indistinguishable! The same with North Dakota and Kansas: they both have recently discovered huge oil reserves that have…wait, Kansas hasn’t, has it?
How can the Times insult its readers with such self-evident nonsense? How can anyone trust a paper that would invent a fictional region to avoid reality?
- Ethics Fool, Dunce and Villain: Alexander Hamilton. It isn’t his fault, exactly, that a previously obscure Federalist Paper he wrote in 1788 was hijacked by dishonest proponents of a virtual coup who claimed that it carried the authority of the Constitution itself, but #68, as David Hogberg wrote in The American Spectator, is good for two things at this point:
“The first is as a demonstration of how very intelligent people can get carried away with their ideas to the point of imbecility. The second is as an inspiration for self-important show biz types to make fools of themselves.”
The beginning of the paper proves the first proposition:
“The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”
This was ridiculous, even in 1788. Today, after 228 years of experience, it reads like those “Back To The Future 2’s” version of 2015 looks. No system could possible guarantee with “moral certainty” that the Presidency would never be occupied by someone who is unqualified, and the system that Hamilton lobbied for least of all. Look at how his independent electors, who according to the 2016 Hamilton-lovers were qualified to substitute their judgment for millions of equally astute voters who disagreed with them, discharged their solemn duties yesterday.
Let’s see: three votes for a 75 year-old crackpot socialist who argued that climate change was responsible for terrorism and who wanted to explode the national debt beyond all survival, three votes for a 79-year-old retired general who has said that he would not accept a nomination to be President, a vote for John Kasich, a vote for 81-year-old Ron Paul, who believes the U.S. should have sat out World War II and wants to legalize heroin, and best of all, a vote for the eminently qualified Faith Spotted Eagle. This illustrates beautifully what a full slate of electors free to vote their fantasies, delusions and biases would produce: votes for Elmo, Honey Boo Boo, Tim Tebow, Adam Sandler, Al Sharpton and Kanye West, with every election being decided by the House of Representatives, which would have made Hamilton happy, since he wanted a parliamentary system anyway.
I’m trying to think of the last presidential candidate Alexander Hamilton would have believed was “a man endowed with the requisite qualifications.” Not Hillary, obviously. Certainly not Trump. Definitely not Obama. It’s a good topic for a Christmas dinner, if anyone at the table knows who Alexander Hamilton was.