Sunday, November 20, 2016

We Can Still Elect a Woman President. It Just Can't Be Hillary.

I am going to make a radical proposal. But first:
A lot has been said recently about the role of the Electoral College in American elections.
One current poll shows a majority of Americans seem to favor getting rid of it altogether and allowing a direct election of the President, as happens with all other offices (though, predictably at this moment in history, the more vehement supporters of that choice are Democrats). However, as many writers have pointed out, there were historical justifications for the decision by Alexander Hamilton and others to create this rather bizarre secondary voting system.
One often-cited reason was to make sure that larger, more populous states did not run roughshod over smaller ones (and, yes, slavery was a consideration in that). But that was only one of the reasons. An even greater one, and the one that Michael Signer, mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, argues about, is this: “the Electoral College was primarily designed to stop a demagogue—a tyrannical mass leader who preys on our prejudices—from becoming President.” In his recent article on, Signer cites Hamilton’s Federalist Papers, which explored the need for the Electoral College. He shows that Hamilton and the other Founding Fathers distrusted the notion of democracy to an extent: they worried that, as Hamilton wrote, a candidate with “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” might overwhelm the less-informed populace and win the election. In short, as Signer writes, the main purpose of the Electoral College is to prevent the rise of a demagogue to power.
Signer spends considerable time in his article defining the term “demagogue,” which was actually used by Hamilton in the Federalist Papers as a justification for the College. Having written a book entitled Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies, he is somewhat an expert on the concept, and he notes that he did not believe, at first, that Trump was one, but was convinced by his campaign that he more than fit all of the requirements. I encourage you to read his article.
Signer is hardly alone. As early as last March, an article appeared in the Washington Post exploring the possible role of the Electoral College in overturning a Trump victory. And in recent days we have reports of efforts by Democratic electors out of Washington and Colorado to lobby their GOP colleagues to follow the moral imperative to change their votes. We’ve even had reports of a couple of GOP electors who have expressed the possibility of wavering.
Now this is, as Colorado elector Michael Baca is the first to admit, unlikely to work. “This is a longshot; it’s a pipe dream,” he acknowledges. But, as he tries to start what he and his Washington state colleague Bret Chiafolo call their group of “Moral Electors,” he says, “We cannot just rip up the Paris climate accord. We cannot have a climate denialist (in the White House).”
Contrary to the liberal version of the pipe dream though (and the one that I’d love to share), this scenario, even if successful, would never put Hillary Clinton into the White House. See, here’s the thing: even if they could somehow manage to convince enough electors (and that number is a nearly impossible 37) to vote against Trump, they will never convince them to vote for Hillary. And this is where the compromise Signer outlines in his article, the one that Baca and Chiafolo are working on, comes in.
All they want is to throw this thing to the House of Representatives. To do that, they need to deny any single candidate 270 votes. And an elector is technically free to vote for anyone he or she chooses to vote for. Once in the House, the choice will be the top three vote getters. Two of these would be Republican, but one would not be Trump. And the argument goes this way: all Democratic state houses would agree, in a compromise, to vote for the lesser GOP evil, which—if only six others did—would effectively dump Trump.
All of which is basically a summation of theoretical constructs that have been making the rounds.
But I did not place an illustration about the Electoral College at the top of this article, nor is my headline about it. I have a different agenda.
Every one of those theoretical articles has, thus far, proposed that any “faithless electors” vote for someone like Mitt Romney or John Kasich. With all due respect, I submit that they lack imagination. This was, much of America hoped, going to be the year we finally got a woman President. Then a badly run campaign and the rise of a demagogue got in the way. But those voters who felt disenfranchised by the Democrats across that great swath of middle America are already, if they are looking, seeing that they are not getting what they voted for in Donald Trump. 

  • Did they ask for a White Supremacist/sexual predator to be ensconced in the White house as a policy maker? 
  • Did they ask for a transition team full of lobbyists from a man who promised to “drain the swamp?"
  • Did they expect a treasury department staffed by Wall Street insiders?
  • Did they want an end to Social Security and Medicare?
  • Did they want to see transparent efforts to skirt nepotism laws and set things up to enhance personal wealth?

If they did, I suppose they are deliriously happy, but I doubt most of them did. So maybe they would be open to REAL change? You are not going to get it from Romney, and you are not going to get it from Kasich either, though he is certainly better than the others.
But the GOP can have its cake and eat it too if the electors back someone completely out of left field: Maine Senator Susan Collins.
Collins has been known since 1996 as a solid, reliable moderate Senator. She has the 2nd-highest approval rating (78%) in all of the Senate in a state that is increasingly purple. Her ability to reach across the aisle is well-known, as is her ability to bring people together (which is desperately needed right now in this country). In fact, Susan Collins may be the single voice that the GOP has who is capable of righting their sinking ship while the Democrats attempt to figure out how theirs is suddenly foundering. And despite their current governmental prospects, nothing has changed about the future prospects of the Republican Party. Or do they really believe that those middle American voters are Republicans now?
OTOH, with a President Collins, they suddenly would have the bragging rights to the first female President. They would have a moderate leader who can get things done and can quash their most heinous inclinations. They would have someone who could actually find ways to fix the things that are wrong that would attract bipartisan support. They would have someone who could conceivable redefine their party in a way that could truly capture those middle American voters for life. And they would have (not a minor point) someone whose personal life is scandal-free.
Collins has never made an attempt for the White House, but that does not necessarily mean she would reject the opportunity. She made some very strong statements in August about Trump’s illegitimacy, saying that in his campaign “Donald Trump kept appealing to the worst instincts rather than the best part of the American people -- that he was inflaming prejudices, looking for scapegoats, and worsening the divisions that are in our country.” In the end, she proclaimed,
“Donald Trump does not represent the values or the heritage of the Republican Party, and we should not be afraid to say that, and indeed, there is a risk to the Republican Party if Donald Trump is perceived as embodying our values. We are an inclusive party. We are not a party of prejudice. We are not a party that wants to sow the seeds of division. We need to heal this country.
It seems clear that she represents the GOP’s best current chance of remaking itself as a party that can remain viable and attractive well into the coming decades.
I am a very liberal Democrat, and I should wish for anything other than this, but I also am an American. As such, I have long stated that this country needs two strong parties that exist in the real world. The GOP has not existed in that world for a long time, and is about to take the country over the cliff with it. But it has an opportunity, however minute, to change things.
For that to have even this tiny chance of happening, though, we (the sane people of the country) have to take action. And we should want to do so. Our choices are simple: do nothing and get Trumpism. Try and probably get Trumpism...but just maybe make things better. And a sane, reasonable, center-right GOP would be better. Much better. But this sort of thing doesn’t just happen by osmosis. A candidate out of nowhere doesn’t materialize on everyone’s tongues without some social media groundswell. The only way to get electors even to think about voting for Susan Collins is to make some noise about it.
So share this. And like it. And hashtag it (#GOPelectorsvoteCollins). And talk about it. And get the message out however you possibly can:
I am a very liberal Democrat, and I should wish for anything other than this, but I also am an American. As such, I have long stated that this country needs two strong parties that exist in the real world. The GOP has not existed in that world for a long time, and is about to take the country over the cliff with it. But it has an opportunity, however minute, to change things.
Electors, on December 19, vote for Susan Collins for President.
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it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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