WASHINGTON, November 19, 2016 — After the controversial ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court declaring George W. Bush the winner of the 2000 presidential election, which gave him 271 electoral votes (one more than needed to win the White House), syndicated columnist Matthew Miller offered an idea for Slate readers to ponder.
“Would a handful of Republican electors switch and vote for [Vice President Al] Gore?… These electors would be aided and pressured by an unprecedented month-long national debate on the question of majority rule.”
Bush may have won in the Electoral College, but Gore attained 543,895 more popular votes than Bush.
Though Bush was declared the winner, the electors would not vote in their respective states until December, with their votes counted in a Joint Session of Congress in early January.
Miller posited that Democratic Party operatives should “appeal to Republican electors to honor the popular vote.”
That idea intrigued one man in particular, Bob Beckel.
A former undersecretary of state in the Carter administration, Beckel went on to manage Walter Mondale’s failed presidential campaign in 1984. By 2000, he was a Democratic Party political consultant.
But Beckel faced a staggering problem: not much was known about the 538 souls that comprise the Electoral College. A glimmer of hope, however, flickered in the darkness.
He only needed to sway a handful of electors to switch their votes and Gore would become the 43rd President of the United States.
When his operatives compiled a list of 100 Bush electors that might be vulnerable to “flipping,” a curious reporter at the Wall Street Journal got wind of the effort and called Beckel.
“It is information gathering on my part,” Beckel told the Journal, downplaying the enterprise. “I just wanted to know who these electors are.”
But the article noted that Beckel admitted to “checking into the background of Republican electors.”
In his book “At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election,” author Bill Sammons recalls,
“[Journal] Readers came away with the impression that Beckel was digging up dirt on the personal lives of Bush electors in order to blackmail them into defecting to Gore’s team. After all, this was precisely what the Clinton-Gore team did during impeachment, encouraging surrogates to dredge up long buried secrets about members of Congress, Democrat and Republican alike, who were critical of the White House.”
Beckel’s efforts availed nothing.
With that in mind, the Detroit News reports that the email inbox of 22-year-old Michael Banerian, one of Michigan’s 16 electors, is being inundated with death threats from Hillary Clinton’s minions.
“I’ve had people talk about shoving a gun in my mouth and blowing my brains out. And I’ve received dozens and dozens of those emails. Even the non-threatening-my-life emails are very aggressive,” said Banerian.
He said he isn’t “remotely interested” in changing his vote.
“The people of Michigan spoke, and it’s our job to deliver that message… I think I’m looking forward to being a next-generation American reaffirming the Electoral College by casting that vote.”
Bruce Ash, Arizona’s GOP national committeeman, told the Arizona Republic that emails he’s received accuse him of being “homophobic, an isolationist, a bigot, a misogynist, and an anti-Semite, which is interesting because I’m Jewish.”
Last Wednesday, the retiring Democratic Senator from California and big Clinton supporter, Barbara Boxer, introduced legislation to eliminate the Electoral College.
“When all the ballots are counted,” said Boxer, “Hillary Clinton will have won the popular vote by a margin that could exceed two million votes.”
It’s highly unlikely a Republican-controlled Congress will pass the bill, or that two-thirds of the states would ever ratify it, making it an amendment to our Constitution.
That’s because the Electoral College is a check on the power of the political majority. As the old saying goes, “A democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”
The Constitution’s Bill of Rights is designed to prevent the political majority from denying the individual his right to life and liberty, and by extension their democratically-elected representatives.
That is why the First Amendment, which protects free speech and religious liberty, begins with the five most beautiful words in the English language: “Congress shall make no law…”
Individual liberty, you see, trumps (pun intended) democracy. Following that basic principle, the Electoral College weighs the interests of all the states against the popular will of those very few with large populations.
Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College and a constitutional scholar, told Fox News,
“Think what a shame it would be if the president could be elected from ten pockets of population. They’d be like Capitols… in The Hunger Games and the rest of us would be like colonies.”
He adds that the Electoral College is a “national conversation about people who live in lots of very wildly different places and have different views.”
On December 19th, electors in all 50 states will assemble in their respective capitols and begin that conversation by electing Donald J. Trump the 45th President of the United State.