Massive and historically-unprecedented protests against the election of Donald Trump are happening across the nation. Nearly five million Americans signed a petition begging you to cast your electoral votes for Hillary Clinton, the winner of the national popular vote by a stunning margin (nearly 3 million votes).
You’re more informed than most of us about every aspect of this historic election and its aftermath. Even so, few are giving you proper credit.
Everyone doubts you. Everyone thinks the least of you. The general consensus is you will see yourselves as they see you – the final cog in the great wheel of the 2016 Election, poised to play a minor role in the machinery that is our electoral process. Your meeting is merely a formality – the final ritual in our electoral drama.
Everyone says you won’t do anything remarkable, anything different in this election than those that came before. If you’re a Democratic delegate assigned to a blue state, you’ll cast your vote for Clinton. If you’re a Republican delegate assigned to a red state, you’ll cast your vote for Trump. In the end, Trump will be elected our 45th President. It’s the same as any other election in American history.
Except, it really isn’t. I know it, and you know it, too. This election is absolutely different. In fact, this abnormal election is why you exist in the first place.
I mean, why do we have you? Why did our Founding Fathers add this extra layer to the too-long-already election process?
The answer is – they wanted one last layer of protection. They had studied the democracies that had come before them and taken note of their failures. They feared the historical trend of direct democracies to “tend toward tyranny,” as James Madison aptly put it. They feared an uneducated populace could make the wrong choice by falling prey to passions incompatible with individual rights and freedoms.
Now, It may sound awfully elitist to assume “an uneducated populace” doesn’t know how to make a sound decision. However, it’s equally wrong – and dangerous – to believe education and political knowledge and experience don’t confer a better understanding of historical precedent and the qualities necessary to lead. That’s why we have you.
Donald Trump’s primary supporters were, in fact, far less educated than other voters. His support was concentrated among one group – white males lacking a college education. Far more concerning, much of his support depended on propaganda sites disseminating “fake news” and misleading headlines detailing a narrative about the state of this country and about his opponent that were factually untrue. Donald Trump knowingly – as basic campaign strategy – popularized and encouraged these falsehoods. Even more alarming, our intelligence community now recognizes that many of those “fake news” stories were intentionally disseminated by Russia.
Are we going to permit a foreign power, Russia, to choose our next leader? If you – the electors – don’t stop this, that is exactly what we will have done.
You are the electors, the ones chosen, said Alexander Hamilton because you’re “most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation.” You’re the educated and reasonable group meant to serve as a safeguard for our democracy, “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”
“The genius of the people must be consulted,” declared George Mason, and his fellow Founding Fathers agreed. However, it is not the “genius of the people” that determines the final outcome. That responsibility – the greatest in the nation – is entirely yours. You’re the protective layer between popular passion and the presidency.
Don’t believe those who insist your role is a “formality” and you have no actual power. The Constitution proves them wrong. Our Founding Fathers, after intensive deliberation, concluded this two-layer process was essential to the safety of our nation and the continuation of our democracy. First, the people vote. Then, the electors meet to deliberate and decide on the vote. The final say belongs to you – the electors.
You must ask yourselves: Is this president-elect capable of running the country? What are his qualifications? Is he mentally and physically stable? Is he under the influence of another power or corrupt? Are his motivations sincere? Will he be an able President and also one who clearly loves and desires to do his best for the good of the country? Will he be a dignified and respected representative to the rest of the world, both our allies and our antagonists?
Hamilton worried that corrupted candidates, especially those with ties to a foreign nation, or lacking the capacity to competently run the country, might exploit their “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” to win the esteem of certain groups.
Trump has done this exact thing. He has run an unprecedented campaign based on deceptions obvious to many of us, but not to all. His candidacy relied on deception about the true state of the country, his opponent’s policies and character, and about the legitimacy of the media and the election process itself. He showed scant regard for our democracy or our safety as he riled his supporters with rhetoric about rigged elections and global conspiracies. He trafficked in multiple conspiracy theories, including one that suggested our current president isn’t legitimate.
Let us make clear: refusing to cast your electoral vote for Trump, even if you are a Republican delegate in a state “won” by him, is not, in any way, rigging the election or thwarting the will of the people. The people, in fact, chose a different candidate by an extraordinary margin of the national popular vote.
You are our last line of defense, our fail-safe. Your role is not a mere formality. You have a personal choice in the matter. Our Founding Fathers created your role for a reason and it was not to serve as mere formal representatives of the vote. It was to deliberate with reason and sound judgement and make a final decision on the fitness of the candidate to serve as chief executive of the United States.
It is your Constitutional obligation to defend our democracy from a remarkably unfit and potentially dangerous candidate. He is still a candidate until you elect him.
How can a fail-safe work if it believes it lacks the power to correct the break-down, the malfunction in our system?
Here, then, I ask you to consider the following arguments against electing Donald Trump as Commander-in-Chief of the world’s greatest super-power. Please consider these facts before casting your vote.
Why Trump is Unfit to Serve as President
First, he is corrupt. There is much evidence to suggest this, and some that proves it.
- He lies incessantly. Politicians are often stereotyped as liars, but Trump’s lies are qualitatively and quantitatively outside the norm. Numerous media outlets have cataloged his falsehoods. PolitiFact rated 70 percent of his statements as “False, Mostly False, or Pants on Fire False” and another 15 percent as “Half True.” He says whatever it takes to get what he wants, with no apparent regard for facts and no commitment to what he says. He inspired Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 word of the year – “post-truth,” meaning “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Most concerning is how many Trump voters believed his lies and used them as a basis for their decisions to vote.
- He recently settled a fraud case for $25 million.
- He has openly bragged about engaging in “pay to play” politics.
- His foundation is under investigation by New York’s Attorney General for illegal and fraudulent activities. He allegedly used foundation funds to buy personal items, to pay off business-related lawsuits, and to donate illegally to the Attorney General of Florida in a bid to have another fraud lawsuit against Trump University dropped.
- He used a dubious method to claim a billion dollar loss so as to avoid paying taxes for decades. He allegedly claimed losses actually incurred by investors and creditors.
- He stiffed multiple contractors over decades by using his stated process of “re-negotiating” contracts after the fact – threatening small businesses with high-priced lawyers and years of court if they did not accept less payment than was agreed upon.
- He claims credit for charitable contributions he apparently never gave.
- He has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits and been accused by multiple courts of intentionally deleting emails and withholding documents.
- He refused to release his taxes or prove his finances, debts, and international business holdings. Legitimate concern exists he may have debts and business interests in Russia, China, and other countries that would pose grave conflicts of interest. He said he will place his business holdings in a “blind trust.” His stated plan to have his family run his companies is not in any conceivable way a “blind trust.”
- He is already, as president-elect, mixing business with government and asking for favors from world leaders.
- He has declared himself above the law, basically telling the New York Times that as president, he cannot be said to have conflicts of interest.
Secondly, he is dangerous, to our democracy, to our nation and the world.
- He has publicly expressed admiration for dictators, like Saddam Hussain, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Bashar al-Assad. He has made repeated statements suggesting that the “strength” of a leader is more important than any other quality, including an adherence to law or respect for human rights.
- He has promoted killing the families of terrorists, torture, taking oil as the spoils of war, and other war crimes.
- He has used tactics said to be from the “dictator’s playbook,” such as casting the media as dishonest and alleging a global conspiracy to rig the election against him.
- He believes it is acceptable to jail political opponents.
- He traffics in conspiracy theories and propaganda.
- He suggests policies that threaten civil liberties and constitutional protections, such as a Muslim registry, a ban on Muslims, “stop and frisk” policing, and policies to curtail freedom of press and free speech.
- He surrounds himself with alt-right adherents. Hate groups, such as the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white nationalist groups see him as their leader and have engaged in hundreds of hateful displays since his election.
- He is unable to withstand slights or insults and shows a tendency to become consumed with revenge. His personal belief, he has said, is that if someone has wronged you, you “go after them as viciously and violently as you can.”
- He is believed by many experts to be a “malignant narcissist” and to exhibit sociopathic traits.
- He believes himself smarter than everyone else and able to make decisions without guidance (such as when he stated, “I know more about ISIS than the generals”). He has repeatedly demonstrated a distrust of expert assessments, including those of US intelligence experts. This narcissistic belief, coupled with his actual ignorance of things governmental (such as military strategy, foreign relations, the Constitution) make him extremely dangerous.
- He shows a striking willingness to accede to flattery and suggestion, suggesting he may be easily manipulated by Vladimir Putin and others.
- US Intelligence strongly believes Russia engaged in activities intended to swing the election to Trump, such as hacking DNC computers and providing stolen DNC communications to Wikileaks. Russia is believed to have disseminated “fake news,” smearing his opponent, and to have engaged in other tactics to promote his election.
- He has stated that other nations, such as Japan and Saudi Arabia, should obtain nuclear weapons to defend themselves and not rely on US help.
- He has suggested a willingness to violate our foreign treaties and do away with NATO.
- He has given indications he would permit Russia to do as it wills without US disapproval or action.
- He allegedly questioned an intelligence expert as to why we have nukes, if we’re not willing to use them.
- He is impulsive and unable to control angry outbursts. He engages in late-night “tweet storms” railing against those who insulted or disagreed with him. He is temperamentally unfit and frequently appears out-of-control.
Thirdly, he is morally unfit to serve.
- He openly bragged on videotape of treating women like objects and sexually assaulting them.
- He has been accused of sexual assault by at least 12 women.
- He mocked a disabled reporter.
- He lacks dignity and self-control and has already damaged our global reputation.
- He has used racist language and promoted racist stereotypes.
- He exhibits a marked propensity for bullying and extreme nastiness.
- He will say anything to get what he wants, no matter how damaging his falsehoods may be. When he feared losing the election, he raved about global conspiracies and rigged elections, potentially riling his supporters to violence. His rhetoric was dangerous to our democracy and to the physical safety of Americans. Achieving his own will was paramount.
Lastly, he is incompetent, ignorant of how government works, and shows a disinclination to learn what he does not know.
- He rarely discussed policy in detail during the campaign and published few detailed proposals. Those he did publish, such as his tax and economic plan, were widely criticized by experts as wildly unrealistic and based on false facts and assumptions.
- Numerous statements he’s made demonstrate a lack of understanding of the Constitution and of the basic responsibilities and powers of the branches of government. He’s ignorant of our foreign relations, military strategy, and current affairs, yet believes himself fully informed.
- He embraces false data and misleading research, using it as the basis of policy.
- He promotes himself as a great businessman and manager, but his record does not support this. He is no self-made entrepreneur. Rather, he was given millions of dollars and an existing, successful business. He lost a billion dollars in a single year, filed multiple bankruptcies, took out huge amounts of debt he never paid back, and – according to financial experts – would have been more financially successful by simply investing in the stock market.
- His campaign was poorly managed and plagued by staff departures.
- People familiar with him report he never reads (except articles about himself) and “learns” from television.
- Post-election, he has made poor choices for his proposed administration, selecting an alt-right racist as chief strategist, and surrounding himself with loyalists who flatter him. Several have no experience in the proposed position or have ethical issues that should preclude appointment.
- He does not wish to learn. He believes he knows everything, even when he lacks experience. He distrusts expert guidance, choosing instead to rely on his own inadequate knowledge. This willful ignorance, coupled with a narcissistic indifference to the harm he may cause, is a dangerous trait.
We question whether he’s a decent man, and no one who is not a decent man should lead our country. His ignorance, amorality, personality defects, and stated policies are a danger. His election to the highest office in our land threatens our nation, our democracy, our people, and the entire global community.
His actions as President will reflect back on and almost certainly cause long-lasting damage to the Republican party. Republicans publicly left the fold in protest of his mere candidacy. What will the Republican party be post-Trump, once it’s linked to racism, misogyny, deception, corruption, and brutal nastiness?
Those of us who gave the popular majority vote to Hillary Clinton would prefer the Electoral College elect her to the presidency. She’s intelligent, competent, works well with others (including Republicans), and possesses enormous experience. She’s a decent human being. Millions of Americans believe she is – as President Obama stated – the most qualified candidate to ever run for the presidency.
We hope you’ll place country over party. As a pragmatist, however, I understand the likelihood of Republicans electing a Democrat is slim. Since our nation’s founding, we’ve formed deeply-antagonistic political parties, undermining the electoral college protection envisioned by our Founding Fathers.
Elect Hillary if you can bring yourselves to do it – she’s the right choice.
If you cannot, please band together to write in the name of a moderate, less dangerous and extreme Republican than Donald Trump and leave it to the House of Representatives to choose between three candidates. Hopefully, they will choose as wisely as we trust you will.
Don’t resign, and hand a role you find morally objectionable off to another elector, one who will vote Trump. To do so is cowardice. You know it’s a mistake to permit Trump to assume the presidency, but by resigning, you permit him to do just that. Your job is to protect us. You cannot shirk this responsibility.
The fate of our nation rests in your votes. Our Founding Fathers were wise to create you – the Electoral College – for this very election, like none other. Donald Trump will do whatever it takes to achieve his own ends, no matter the harm it does to our democracy, our nation, or our people. He must not be president. America demands a decent human being lead us. You are our last chance to stop what we all know is terribly wrong.
You are our fail-safe. Please don’t fail us.