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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mau-Mauing the Trump Electors - A Wall Street Journal Editorial

Even before taking the oath of office, Donald Trump has achieved the impossible—driving liberals to the original text of the Constitution. This strange new respect for the Founders will only last until the President-elect nominates a new Supreme Court Justice, and too bad it arrives as an assault on the Electoral College to elect someone other than Mr. Trump.

This organized political campaign is being conducted in the name of Alexander Hamilton, and not merely because of the Broadway musical. In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton wrote that the Electoral College “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.” 
Progressives are invoking this line to claim Mr. Trump lacks such qualifications. And they are calling on those they call the “Hamilton electors” to vote for Hillary Clinton or somebody else when they meet on Dec. 19. The immediate goal is to peel away 37 from Mr. Trump’s 306-vote majority and deny him 270 votes.

This gambit is being promoted by supposedly lucid Members of Congress, liberal columnists, left-leaning constitutional scholars and Hollywood celebrities. OK, maybe the last group is not so lucid, but remnants of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign are also on board. GOP electors report being bombarded with tens of thousands of emails and phone calls.

There is an originalist constitutional case that the electors are supposed to act as an deliberative body who can exercise their own “discernment,” as Hamilton put it. They could vote for anyone they choose.

But the Electoral College as the framers conceived it was never meant to be independent of the popular will. The Framers had tremendous respect for the judgment of the people, and the electors aren’t supposed to be de novo second guessers. There have been 150 faithless electors in U.S. history, and only nine since World War II.

The historical record suggests that discernment was meant to be triggered only in exceptional circumstances when new information about a President-elect’s “qualifications” unknown to voters emerged after the general election. Nobody can claim that Americans didn’t understand the nature of Donald J. Trump when they voted.

There have been no revelations...

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