In an election cycle fraught with dishonesty, underhanded tactics, and an unpopular president-elect, the so-called "Faithless Electors" pose yet another danger to American democracy.
To be clear, I do not like Donald Trump. I do not like Hillary Clinton, either. However, the nature of American elections in the last hundred years has been virtually the same when it comes to the electoral college, regardless of how popular and/or hated a particular candidate might be with the voters.
The danger behind the faithless electors (also nicknamed Hamilton electors) lies in the setting of precedent, both for cultural expectations of an election cycle, as well as a potential legal precedent in regard to determining the next president.
If the faithless electors are successful in preventing President-elect Donald Trump from taking office, then those electors, not the people who voted on Election Day in November, are the ones who choose the president.
Yes, this currently is the case. However, with very few failures, electors have voted along the lines that the state has gone. Should this change, then the November election event will have little purpose other than to indicate the will of the people, not to enforce it.
Russia's alleged hacking of the Democratic party, not just the Democratic National Committee, raised bipartisan concern over foreign influence in the election.
Clinton's victory in the popular vote has left a bitter taste in many mouths considering Trump won the electoral vote, at least, according to expectations on election day.
If the faithless electors deny Trump the presidency, they will set a precedent that could undermine the very fabric of American democracy. If Americans themselves don't vote for the president, if their vote does not actually directly affect who will lead their nation, fewer and fewer voters will turn out, and the republic will fall to an oligarchical arrangement of sorts led by electors.
As one analyst told NPR, "'I suspect literally no one voted for electors in November with the goal of empowering them as people to exercise independent judgment,' said Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote. 'People voting for Trump wanted his associated electors to vote for him. Same with people voting for Clinton. So think expecting them to act against that mandate now is a highly questionable position.'"
This is true. The popular expectation was that the electors would go along with the expected electoral college results, as has happened in most elections.
On the plus side, it seems fairly unlikely that the faithless electors will oust Trump since 37 individuals would need to turn on Trump for him to lose the election at this late stage.
The Washington Post describes the situation, stating, "The smart money (and history) are with the GOP description of what will happen: Trump will win the presidency with one or very, very few defectors. But we don't know this, technically speaking."
NPR weighed in with a similar opinion, claiming "It's not crazy to think that a few electors could vote their conscience. It is, however, a stretch to think that they would sway the election."
Should the faithless electors indeed weigh in against Trump, they will have let down the expectations of the very people they were chosen to represent. Regardless of their personal beliefs, if they could not in good conscience vote for whichever candidate won the election, whether Trump, or Clinton, or Stein, or Johnson, then they should not have accepted the position as electors.
Right now, America needs stability. Right now, America needs predictability. Right now, America does not need the sort of upheaval that would occur if the faithless electors overturn the election.
So what are your thoughts on the faithless elector situation? Are they noble individuals holding true to their beliefs, or are they foolish idealists refusing to acknowledge reality?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
[Featured Image by Tom Pennington/Getty Images]