For eight long years, the Democratic party has cheered the abuse of executive authority by the president it elected — including executive orders that flouted our immigration laws, and mandates from federal agencies such as the Dept. of Health and Human Services that shredded religious liberty. Democrats confirmed three far-left judicial activists to the U.S. Supreme Court, who duly rewrote the Constitution to invent a “right” to same sex marriage. Indeed, whenever they can muster five votes on the Court, the left turns SCOTUS into a permanent Constitutional convention, making up new rights as it goes along, in the teeth of the will of the voters and the text of our founding document.
Democrats led the way in crippling Congress via “continuing resolutions,” which strip the House of Representatives of its power of the purse, preventing the up-or-down votes on specific pieces of funding that should restrain executive abuses. Instead, the Republicans faced only two choices: pay for Obama’s policies, or shut down the whole government and face the blame when seniors don’t get their Social Security checks.
Suddenly, We Have a Constitution. Who Knew?
But eight long years later, the left lost an election that was supposed to give it the chance to fully pack the Supreme Court to carve in stone the will of elites from Harvard to Hollywood, then open wide the borders to flood the country with newly minted Democrats. So leftists have discovered that the United States actually has a written Constitution. Some have started reading it. The same men and women who claim that this document should be strained and stretched like saltwater taffy when it suits the sexual Zeitgeist have become Antonin Scalia-style “originalists.” They have learned — perhaps from reading the playbill for the musical Hamilton — that at one point some of our Founders intended the Electoral College to serve a deliberative purpose.
The Electoral College That Never Was.
And yes, that is true. Both Alexander Hamilton and James Madison expected the electors chosen by each voting district in the nascent United States to meet in their states’ capitals and calmly, reflectively choose from a list of candidates the person they thought best suited to serve as president. After all, how would ordinary voters from Maine to Georgia know enough about the candidates, in those days of horses and buggies traveling bad roads threatened by Indians?
However, this deliberative step was not specifically mandated in the Constitution, and the rise of political parties right after the retirement of George Washington replaced its function: Now Federalists or Democratic Republicans would deliberate in advance, and nominate qualified candidates. The states, jealous of their influence, soon started passing laws that made elections winner-take-all: instead of congressional districts picking electors, most were elected statewide as early as the 1830s. At no point since the election of John Adams have the electors in fact exercised the role of debating and choosing the president. Instead they are simply a mechanism for enacting the voters’ will. That may not be what Hamilton or Madison had in mind, but it’s perfectly Constitutional. Has been for more than 200 years. And it’s the assumption on which millions of voters in 2016 cast their ballots.
Martin Sheen is Now a Constitutional Scholar… So is that Shrink from Law & Order.
And now some fading actors have made a video to put pressure on members of the Electoral College, asking them to overturn the result of the recent U.S. election because … well, Donald Trump is unfit for office, in their considered thespian judgment.
Of course this is nothing more than the latest dirty trick by the Democrats to attempt to hijack this election. Having run through a long list of scapegoats, from the American FBI to the Russian FSB, the Clinton machine has one more “Hail Mary” pass to throw: Try to sway the electors who were chosen to support Donald Trump — in all but a few states electors’ names don’t even appear on the ballot — to do something else, despite what voters wanted.
Tell the People to Shut Up and Follow Orders.
That’s a very strong impulse nowadays, as John O’ Sullivan wrote in National Review — where he notes that in posh European circles the very word “populist” is treated as an obscenity. It reeks of the grubby “people.” In Britain, Eurocrats are grabbing at every possible obstacle to stop the march of Brexit — even blaming the referendum on … guess who? Vladimir Putin! In Switzerland, that nation’s highest court has overturned a national referendum on policies toward Muslims — a staggering abuse of power in the most democratic country on earth, which is virtually run by plebiscite. Elites in Europe that strong-armed their countries into the European Union now want to arrogate power to unelected bodies within the EU, and take more and more areas of policy out of the hands of voters.
That was not the intent of our Founding Fathers when they crafted the Electoral College. Instead, what they meant to accomplish was to distribute power widely, to guarantee that each state in the Union would receive a voice of its own, and prevent the people of a single populous state (back then it was Virginia — today it’s California) from imposing its will on every corner of the country. The system they created works admirably well, so long as electors remember that they were not chosen for their knowledge or expertise. They were picked to back the candidate chosen by the people who voted for them on election day. To do anything else for any reason would be a simple betrayal of trust. (For more from the author of “Electors: Don’t Let Has-Been Actors Convince You to Flout the Will of the People” please click HERE)