Ignorance does not lead to bliss, as the content of unhappy communiqués raining down on Louisiana’s presidential electors proves.
Since Nov. 8, Louisiana’s Republican electors collectively have received more than 100,000 messages variously suggesting, imploring or demanding that each of the eight pledged to Republican President-elect Donald Trump not vote for him when the Electoral College “meets” on Dec. 19. On that date, in state capitals and the District of Columbia, electors will congregate to cast their ballots; in winner-take-all Louisiana, the Republican ticket received 58 percent of the vote.
Despite that victory margin, the state’s members have had phones tied up and email boxes choked with this plea. These protestations often convey very similar messages indicative of a process lacking in spontaneity, revealing that leftist special interests drive these missives. The authors stress common talking points that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will have the popular vote even as Trump handily won the most electoral votes, that Trump as president would produce disastrous results, that electors are free to vote their consciences and that electors should vote for Clinton or someone else.
Almost all of the messages come from out of state, and Louisiana electors bear disproportionate attention because our state has no law that attempts to bind them to the popular-vote result in the state.
Some of the pleas make reference to a movement started by a pair of disaffected Democratic electors out west, summoning the argument of the Federalist Papers No. 68, widely thought to be composed by Alexander Hamilton. The Federalist appeared in newspapers during the ratification period of the Constitution and this one discusses the role of electors.
Drawing upon it, the “Hamilton Electors” declare Trump unqualified, demagogic and under foreign influence — basing this judgment, obviously, on lack of his adherence to their political ideology. Using their standards of partisan innuendo, the Barack Obama of 2008 would appear far guiltier on these accounts.
Yet the content of the letters making reference to Hamilton demonstrate that the writers, if they had heard of him at all before venting their spleens, know him only as the guy that musical is about. If any of them have read Federalist 68, they certainly understood none of it.
Hamilton specifically warned against putting in office those who have talent for “the little arts of popularity” and not other greater ones, hence absolving electors from disqualifying candidates who do not win the popular vote. (He also promoted the Electoral College as a device to deny office to those without “characters pre-eminent for … virtue” and with “(t)alents for low intrigue,” which would argue against selection of the mendacious and influence-peddling Clinton).
Most importantly, Hamilton felt electors needed insulation from forces outside of their states. “(T)o afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder,” Hamilton deemed wise that “electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen,” so “this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferment.” Individuals from one state writing to electors of another violates this admonishment.
Regrettably, Louisiana’s electors — all ordinary citizens not holding any political office — will have had to endure this descent of locusts on behalf of the Republic. Perhaps they can console themselves by considering they serve as therapeutic outlets for the American left’s temper tantrum thrown at the election of Trump. The left fears Trump, assisted by a Republican Congress, will use presidential powers inflated by Obama, that sought to steer America away from its founding values, to reverse that transformation.
Ironically, this approach utilizes a broad exercise of presidential power with which Hamilton generally agreed.
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