Constitutional CornerLawrence Lessig, a Professor at Harvard Law School who should know better, posted an Opinion piece in the Washington Post that reflects the Left’s stilted view of what the Constitution says and means. Entitled “The Constitution lets the electoral college choose the winner. They should choose Clinton,” Lessig’s article is chock-a-block full of mis-construction of the Constitution’s basic words and the framers’ debates. It simply must be answered.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the electoral college requires that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our President. That view is an insult to our framers.
Sorry, Lawrence, but this is unsubstantiated dribble. As you well know, the Constitution does not anticipate anything remotely like a “national popular vote.” So how can you state that electing someone who lost a “popular vote” that doesn’t exist insults the framers of that document? The convention of 1787 placed full responsibility for electing the President in the hands of the states. The states appoint their presidential electors in whatever manner they choose. The President was intended to be a product of the states, not their citizens or even “The People.” Having the people elect the President was discussed at Philadelphia, as you know, and rejected in favor of the state option.
As expected, you cite Hamilton, knowing full well that Hamilton had a narrow, near-singular view of the Constitution. On June 18, 1787, after his 6-hour explanation of why his “British Plan,” as it came to be called, was to be preferred over any of the three plans that had thus far been introduced, none of the other delegates offered a resolution in support of any feature of Hamilton’s plan, including his suggestion that the electors be elected by the people. Days later, Hamilton left the convention in disgust and did not return until just before the signing. He signed as a private citizen, and not as a delegate of New York. In Federalist 68, Hamilton repeated his view that the Constitution should involve the people in the selection of electors (not in a direct election of the President, we should note). Hamilton was a distinct minority on this point.
[T]he electoral college was intended to confirm—or not—the people’s choice[?]
Poppycock. Because it was entirely their option, many states initially appointed their electors, choosing to not involve their citizens at all in the process. It was not until 1868, 80 years later, that finally all the states were allowing their citizens to be involved in selecting presidential electors.
For once we agree; electors were intended to exercise independent judgment, independent of both the people and their state, in nominating persons to be President and Vice. As you well know, it was the emergence of political parties that inexorably changed the independence of the electors. Get rid of the political parties and we can go back to independent electors—simple.
[The electors] were to be citizens exercising judgment, not cogs turning a wheel.
[O]ne of the most important principles governing our democracy …
I was waiting for that reference to show up. You know as well as anyone that the framers gave us a republic, not a democracy. Yet those on the Left, including our precious snowflakes, have been taught the lie of “our democracy’ for far too long. How’s that go? “A lie repeated often enough … ”
The electors were not designed as a “safety valve” or “circuit breaker” for anything; they were designed to independently elect the President. But now they are bound to the pledges they made to their parties, if they are indeed citizens of integrity. If they are unable to bring themselves to carry out their pledges, they should remove themselves at once so their party can replace them.
At this point, the only “question the electors must weigh as they decide how to cast their ballots” is: what did I pledge?