BY Robin Kilmer (@)
Did you ever believe in Santa Claus? Or the Loch Ness monster? Have you ever thought a Hail Mary would actually work for your football team? Or better yet, that someone who has never had sex could give birth to a baby boy that could walk on water? If you’ve ever believed in anything, right now is the time to believe that you can help prevent Donald Trump from becoming president.
The elections are over, but the game isn’t. It’s only the bottom of the ninth and your team is down two runs, but you have three who outs to work with (Anyone remember the 2015 World Series? Anyway?). Jon Snow has no pulse, but he hasn’t been buried yet. Trump hypothetically won the elections because of the electoral college, but the college does not officially vote for president until December 19th, and he’s not putting his anatomy-grabbing hands on the bible until January 20th.
So what can you do?
Right now Americans all across the country are contacting members of the electoral college in states that Donald Trump won. These electors are republicans, but please keep in mind (for the sake of hope) that many Republicans did not like Trump, just like many (oh so many) Democrats did not like Hillary Clinton. Many electors are probably reluctant to vote for Trump, and one has even publicly announced that he will not. If 36 more electors can be convinced not to vote for Trump then he will not get the golden 270 votes he needs to automatically become president—automatically being the operating word here.
What happens if that comes to pass will depend on who these electors vote for instead. It cannot be expected that all or even most will vote for Clinton. But it may come to pass that they choose a different Republican, which means that Clinton will have a certain number of electoral votes, as will Trump, and this hypothetical third candidate. None of them will likely reach the magic number of 270 on December 19th should 37 electors defect.
So what happens then? Well, folks, then the House of Representatives gets to choose the president. Well, shoot, doesn’t that mean Trump will become president because the Republican majority will choose him? Not so fast! That’s not the kind of thinking we tolerate here at the 2016 Church of Anything Can Happen!
Here’s how the vote works in the House: even though there are 435 representatives, there are only 50 votes when it comes to electing a president: one vote per state. It is up to the representatives from each state to choose who will get their state’s vote. Well, doesn’t that mean automatic defeat? Well, only if the glass if half empty! But you’re not that kind of person, are you? You’re the kind of person who believes in anything! That water can be turned to wine! So drink your half-full glass of wine, because what you need to know is that members of congress get to choose among the three candidates with the most electoral votes. Right now the only two people we know of who are going to receive electoral votes are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But on December 19th, should just one elector choose one other person—it could be anybody, it could be John Doe, Jon Snow, or even Jesus H. Christ (at least I don’t doubt that is a plausibility in this whole insane institution)–then that candidate will also be in the running.
There are sixteen states that have majority Democrats in congress, and at least three states that are split (including New Hampshire, Maine and New Jersey). In October, after Trump’s pussy grabbing comments, many Republicans publicly denounced Trump and said they would not vote for him. Of a list of 160 of Republicans compiled by USA Today, 24 of them are in the House of Representatives, and many of them can help flip their states to not vote for Trump. If these guys are true to their words, then several other states could also flip for Clinton—or maybe chose that third candidate. As long as this third candidate is not Trump’s clone, or Dick Cheney, and as long is his or last name doesn’t rhyme with lose, and is not Anthony Scalia reincarnated, I’m fine with this person. This is what we’ve come to.
The first of the candidates to reach 26 votes gets to be president. In the case of three candidates, there is a runoff election if no one candidate reaches a majority. We will have a president when someone finally reaches 26 votes.
We will still not, however, have a Vice President because that person is chosen by the Senate. This race can only include contenders with the first and second most votes received, so only Tim Kaine and Mike Pence can enjoy the fun here. Each senator votes as an individual. There are 100 senators and a candidate must receive 51 votes to become Vice President.
So, as you can see, there are so many ways to improve the outcome of this election!
You just need to nudge the electors in the right direction. Hoping they will change their minds through osmosis won’t work. The great thing about this process is that it’s participatory. The only thing you can do when you’re watching sports is yell at your television, but in a democracy you can actually do something. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing. If we all do small things, like reach out to a couple electors a day, then we can all make a big difference.
I have been encouraging co-workers and friends to write holiday cards and send them to members of the electoral college. Together we have written over sixty cards, and we’re still at it. The window for writing cards is closing though, as we’re quickly approaching the December 19th and most mail takes at least 2 – 3 business days to reach its destination. But you can still call and e-mail away.
Yes, it is extremely far-fetched, but there are a few crumbs (and we, the hopeful, turn crumbs into loaves) evidence of turmoil in the electoral college. One Republican elector in Texas resigned because he did not want to vote for Trump (he will be replaced), and another wrote on Op-Ed in the New York Times saying that he would not vote for Trump. One down, 36 to go! Another group of electors founded the Hamilton Electors as an effort to foment rebellion among the ranks of the college. We are not alone in this fight to stop Trump, and these people need our encouragement.
And if it does not work, then so be it. Tis’ the season, no? Our country is extremely divided. We are all floating around in our own bubbles. We judge people in places we’ve never been to, and they’re judging us too. A republican elector from Utah probably does not hear much from people in New York City, and vice verse. Receiving e-mail, snail mail, or a phone call from you will literally burst their bubble.
The Hamilton Electors are encouraging people to go to their state capitals where members of the electoral college will be gathering to make their final votes. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania may be where all the mail from your bank comes from, but it’s also the state capital where 20 electors will be meeting to vote for president. If any one of the Republican electors from Pennsylvania, which went red for the first time since 1988, are considering a defection, knowing they have of support will encourage them to do so. If just two electors defected from each state that voted for Trump then he would lose the electoral vote, bringing us one step closer to not having to deal with this bombastic, tiny-handed Tweeter with a peroxided dog stool on his head for four years.
If you’ve ever seen your team tie a game at the bottom of the ninth and win the World Series in extra innings, or if you hoped against hope that Jon Snow would come back from the dead, or if you’ve seen enough crazy things happen this year to believe that one more crazy thing could happen, then reaching out to the electoral college is the task for you.
Here’s where to find their information: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YWTj4k_zwdc7FqxgzikUapxrS5CWFoKs2-sRDxR72DU/edit#gid=38628916
Keep your talking points non-partisan. Talk about Trump’s temperament, the unconstitutionality of his apparent inability to separate his business interests from that of the nation, the fact that you live in NYC and you are concerned about the city spending one million a day to protect Trump’s family. Maybe you are also concerned that his wanting to spend weekend in New York City will make it a target to terrorism, as hinder the president’s availability to work with congress and do his job. Remember to wish them a nice day and happy holidays. Kindness goes a long way.
Here’s the Hamilton Electors page: www.hamiltonelectors.com
Pennsylvania’s electoral college is meeting on December 19th from 9 am – 2 pm at 501 North 3rd Street Harrisburg, PA 17120.
Robin Kilmer was a reporter for the Manhattan Times, she now writes for her blog: Talking to Strangers. She is also one of the few lucky Americans to have a union job. One day she hopes to pay off her student loans.