Presidential Campaign

The Electoral College has time to save the Republican Party

Why are we rolling over and playing dead? Donald Trump hasn’t won the presidency yet because America’s 538 electors don’t choose the president until Monday. That’s when they will meet in the 50 state capitals to cast their electoral votes.

305 Republican electors plan to vote for Trump, but many of them must know that after four years of a Trump presidency, their party could be in the wilderness for a generation, just as it was after Herbert Hoover’s disastrous term during the early 1930s.

Why can’t the Republicans have one last chance to decide whether they really want to be the Party of Trump? Tim Kaine (Hillary Clinton should stay above the fray) could hint that the 232 Democratic electors could vote for a respected Republican not associated with Trump—such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, former Secretary of State Colin Powell or Maine Sen. Susan Collins—to be chosen by the defecting Republican electors themselves.

{mosads}Not every Republican elector is loyal to Trump. Many are Republican officeholders, workers or donors, devoted to their party rather than its current candidate. If 38 of them, one-eighth of the Republican total, realized that they could, in good conscience, keep Trump out of the Oval Office without having to vote for Clinton, they might jump ship. One elector, Christopher Suprun of Texas, has already said that he would like to vote for John Kasich or another alternative.

The insurgent Republican electors should collectively decide whom they will vote for, armed with the knowledge that 232 Democratic electors will join them and vote for the same Republican.

In 19 states, electors can vote for whomever they want. In recent elections, for example, “faithless” electors have voted for Libertarian John Hospers in 1972, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen in 1988, and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in 2004. Even in the other 31 states, laws saying that electors should vote for the candidate who wins the most votes in their state are probably unconstitutional and certainly won’t apply to the Democratic electors if the candidate herself frees her electors from having to vote for her.

Allowing electors to choose a president would be unusual, but no more unorthodox than letting a candidate who finishes second in the popular vote win the presidency. (At present, Clinton has at least 2.8 million more popular votes over Trump.) Why must this part of our Constitution be slavishly followed and another part not even tried?

Having electors pick a president is exactly what the Founders intended when they made the election of the president an indirect, two-step process. After all, there weren’t any popular votes until 1824. Trump is precisely the kind of demagogue the Framers feared, which is why we shouldn’t hesitate to use the Constitution to stop him. The Founders would approve.

Fifty-five percent of Republicans voted against Trump in the primaries. Fifty-four percent of Americans. including those who supported Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, voted against Trump in November. Most Americans, even many Trump voters, will breathe a sigh of relief if some other Republican is chosen president.

Will Trump say the system is rigged? Yes. But the Constitution is also rigged against Hillary Clinton, denying her the presidency in spite of her first-place finish.

It is easy to act presidential when you’re the president-elect, but if Trump sensed that he might lose the election after all, he might resume his usual bluster of insults, blame and snarls, until even his own supporters would remember why so many people feel that he is unfit to be Commander in Chief.

There is not much time. By early Sunday afternoon, at least 38 of the 306 Republican electors must decide which Republican to support. Later that same evening, the Democratic electors will need to solidify their support for the Republican choice. Finally, on Monday, at least 270 electors can vote for someone besides Trump as president.

Republicans will still control the presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court, but they can have someone sane in charge of the nuclear codes. Moreover, four years from now, they will be in much better shape without Trump.

Mark Weston is the author of “The Runner-Up Presidency: The Elections That Defied America’s Popular Will (and How Our Democracy Remains in Danger).”

The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Bob Corker Democrats Donald Trump Donald Trump Electoral College Gary Johnson Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton presidential election Republicans Susan Collins Tim Kaine

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