Presidential electors meet tomorrow to vote for our next president and vice president.
In normal times, these events would be a pro forma validation of the November presidential electoral vote results. Republican nominee Donald Trump won 306 electoral votes; Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won 232. However, the 2016 race for the White House has been anything but normal.
First, Trump went from ultimate “outsider” with no elective political experience or military service, to Republican nominee, after beating a bevy of GOP primary rivals, many of whom were “party establishment.”
Trump then hammered Hillary Clinton in the general elections, winning 30 of our 50 states, including five key battleground states, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Sure, Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump won the electoral vote by 74 points.
How Hillary Clinton went from “inevitable” 45th President of the United States to the dustbin of American history’s presidential “also-rans” will be fodder for present and future political pundits to ponder how and why she managed to “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”
Meanwhile, Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s quixotic quest for recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin has ended, with no change inTrump’s electoral victories there. Stein proved to be a better recount fundraiser than a presidential campaigner.
But wait, the drama of the 2016 Electoral College vote is not over yet. As Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner wrote in his “Last gasp for Trump foes” in the Southern Standard last Wednesday, “a group of Trump resisters is hoping to convince 37 Trump electors to vote for someone else on Monday, taking Trump just below the magic 270 mark.”
If that were to happen, and neither Trump nor Clinton reached 270 electoral votes, the U.S. House of Representatives would pick the next president, with each state congressional delegation having one vote. The U.S. Senate would choose the next vice president, with each senator having one vote.
For obvious reasons, “faithless electors” have been few and far between in the long history of presidential elections since George Washington ascended to the presidency in 1789. Over 99 percent have been faithful to their party’s nominee. Why? Because both major political parties pick their electors carefully and diligently, with party loyalty foremost in mind. Moreover, 29 states require electors to vote for the winner of the popular vote in their state. That leaves 21 states that don’t, but “faithless” electors are rare in those states as well.
Theoretically, Trump’s fanatical foes could succeed in turning 37 Trump electors from “faithful” to “faithless” voters tomorrow. And it could rain molten lava from Ben Lomond Mountain tomorrow, too. But, it’s highly unlikely for either to happen.
So, for all you folks who are “verklempt” over Trump’s victory and horrified by his chutzpah, I say it’s time to give Trump a chance to govern, even as you grieve Clinton’s historic loss.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.