What do you think would happen if one party hijacked the election? I am not talking about another Supreme Court anointing a President, or hanging chads, or unclear ballots, or recounts. I am talking about a straight up, right in front of us, hijacking of the White House. Not just for a particular candidate, but for the benefactors who have been trying to buy our government for years. I am talking about putting someone not even running for either party right now into the White House without getting a single vote in a single primary. Legally and simply no matter how many times Jeff Weaver whines about it. I am not talking about a revolution. I am talking about a coup.
Right now, you probably think I am nuts. So let’s look at this step by step.
I hear it mostly from Bernie supporters, especially millenials. “The President should be chosen by popular vote.” Ask Andrew Jackson, Samuel Tilden, Grover Cleveland and Al Gore how that worked out for them. Since our children are no longer taught real American History, most people today are completely unaware that, under the US Constitution, the President and Vice President are not elected by popular vote. They are elected by the Electoral College. This is not the place to discuss the merits of the Electoral College, but our Founding Fathers did not want us to elect the President in a popularity contest so they created an alternative. They must have known about reality TV, even back then.
Article II, Section 1. “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”
In English, that means, each state legislature gets to decide who gets to be an Elector. Today, each state usually, though not always, has a “slate” of electors for each party. And no, you don’t get to “protest” and try to change the rules on election day. Each state usually sends the winning slate to Washington DC to cast their vote before the President of the Senate (Joe Biden this election). A few Republican states have discussed allowing electors to abandon their pledge if a Democrat wins and vote differently but so far, in most states, that is still a crime.
So now that you are over your shock that you, John/Jane Q. Citizen, do not actually get to vote for President and Vice President under the US Constitution, take heart. Most state Constitutions do give you that right. But understand that can change at any time according to the state legislature, the state constitution, the state Secretary of State, and the state courts. Or the US Supreme Court- twice.
The Electoral College thing also requires that a Presidential candidate win 50%+1 of the Electors to be President. In modern terms that means 270 Electoral votes. If that does not happen, then the United States House of Representatives gets to choose the next President and the US Senate gets to pick the Vice President. That’s right. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell get to lead the vote.
Congress will be in a ‘lame duck” session and many of the members of the House and Senate could have been voted out of office, but they will get to choose both the President and Vice President before they leave. Not the American people. Unless we vote. Unless we vote like we have never voted since Bush v. Clinton in 1992 (61.3% turnout).
Let’s be clear about this. Here are some possible scenarios
Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Republicans so let’s assume he gets the nomination. Clinton gets the nomination for the Democrats. Democrats unite and turn out in huge droves. Clinton wins, Trump is crushed and we make huge strides in the House and Senate.
Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Republicans so let’s assume he gets the nomination. Clinton gets the nomination for the Democrats. Bernie supporters decide to stay home because he lost. Republicans turn out en masse and Trump wins.
Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Republicans so let’s assume he gets the nomination. Sanders gets the nomination for the Democrats. Hillary supporters are grown ups and they vote with the Democrats. Sanders wins and Trump is crushed but Republicans keep the House and Senate.
Now let’s throw in Godzilla.
Mitt Romney filed paperwork with the FEC to run as President on February 1, 2016 just days after his public shaming of Trump. He claimed on Matt Lauer that he is not running. Paul Ryan claims he is not running but then again he also claimed he didn’t want to be Speaker of the House. It is unlikely that a Romney/Ryan ticket could get on all 50 state ballots, but they did register. The Libertarians are on all 50 state ballots. Guess what? Today they announced a third party ticket. (Rachel Maddow reported on this announcement today). That gives the Republicans 3 possible sets of candidates to run in a single election.
Godzilla meets Congress = Armaggeddon Rule
Say Trump and Clinton are running. The Republicans run a third-party under….say…the Libertarian umbrella. No one gets a 270 majority. From the top 3 finalists, the Republican House would choose our President. The Republican Senate would choose our Vice President
Say Clinton gets the nomination and Trump gets the nomination and Sanders supporters decide to ‘write Bernie in”. No one gets the magic 270 Electoral votes. The Republican House (Ryan) chooses the President and the Senate (McConnell) will choose the Vice President no matter who won the popular vote.
Say both Trump and Bernie win the nomination. The Republicans run a third party No one gets 270 majority. The House and Senate decide again.
Say those crazy Republicans try to pull off an upset at their convention (unlikely) and don’t pick Trump at the convention. The delegates choose a third party. The Republicans get 2 brand new slates of candidates that never got a single vote in the primary. Hillary gets the nomination and Bernie supporters refuse to vote. Republican party wins either way.
Who could be the Republican candidates? Could be anyone. Could be Chris Christy and Michelle Bachman. Could be Sheldon Adelson and Ted Nugent. Could be Kanye West and Pat Robertson. It could be Grover Norquist and Ann Coulter. It could be Shrek and Donkey. Don’t laugh, House and Senate Republicans have not been dealing with reality for years.
The last time the Congress chose the President and Vice President was in 1824. Andrew Jackson won the popular vote, but Congress chose John Quincy Adams. The first time they chose was in 1800 and it took 36 ballots to elect Thomas Jefferson by 1 vote. That was back when the people running the government believed in our government. The people running it today have no such respect for it. They are there for power and control. The Supreme Court also made it clear that recounting is a no-no so Jefferson be damned.
Add to that the Supreme Court eliminated the Voting Rights Act 2 years ago, and 38 states have enacted voter suppression laws in the last 6 years. If we allow them to take power and control over the election of our President and Vice President, even once, and we allow them to stay in office in November, and we do not replace them in the state houses and governorships, they will NEVER give power back to the people. Why should they?
This election is the single most important election you may ever vote in. Remember it, because if you fail to act, if you fail to vote, your children and grandchildren may never get the opportunity to do so.This isn’t about whether petty delegate fights are “fair.” This is about the sanctity of our Republic.
The world is watching us. Our reputation around the world has protected us. Our ‘shining city on a hill” is still shining even if it has been battered and bruised in recent years. We still have allies around the world and we still have enemies waiting for us to fail. It is OUR job to vote.
There is only 1 scenario in which Congress will not take that right from us this year. If WE vote. If WE choose. If WE stand up and say, NO. Not on our watch. Not in our time. Not in this day and age will you take our right to choose the most powerful office in the world as we know it. We will not allow you to turn OUR White House into the joke that Congress has become. We will protect our heritage, our legacy, or history, our future and WE will decide.
If your candidate loses the nomination, swallow your disappointment and get out there and vote anyway. Otherwise, you are asking the most dysfunctional Congress in the entire history of this country to choose your children’s future. I hope you are terrified enough to get out and VOTE! Only you can prevent Ryan and McConnell from destroying one of the greatest countries in the history of the world in favor of hand-picked millionaires and corporations selected and promoted by the United States Supreme Court.
One last scary thought
McConnell has made it clear that neither he, nor any of his Republican friends in the Senate will allow President Obama to appoint a Supreme Court Justice no matter how qualified or uncontroversial. The mantra from the Republican aisle is “the people should have a voice in deciding” and we will “wait till after the election.” Call me nuts. Call me confused. But if I was Mitch McConnell I would be asking, “who exactly will decide this election?”
Portions of this article reprised by permission from Daily Kos: Armageddon Cometh.