December 14, 2016
The faithless elector movement is picking up steam. That doesn’t mean they have anywhere near the 37 votes they need, or that even if they did overturn the GOP-led house would do anything but vote Trump.
But 40 electors have now asked for briefing on the Russian hacking. Some are claiming that “up to 20” electors are considering voting against Trump on the 19th. And now the Trump campaign is promising “political career pressure” on those electors if they don’t go along with Trump.
A few points. First, the effort is clearly doomed if the goal is to stop Trump from being named president. He’s going to be president. There’s no alternate path. This is happening.
But that’s not the goal. For Democrats (and some Republicans) the goal is highlighting Trump’s lack of a mandate. The goal is pushing back, protesting, and showing dissent. The electoral college is not a rubber stamp, and the electors are saying as much.
This isn’t going to the House of Representatives, but imagine a world where it does. And while the result of the voting in a GOP-controlled House is not in doubt, it would make for some interesting headlines and optics. Then the election wouldn’t come down to the American people, or even the states. It would come down to Paul Ryan and his colleagues in one branch of government. That would be interesting.
But that won’t happen. I think Trump will lose some votes, sure. And those few votes will tell a story all their own. And then we’ll move past that and into confirming Trump’s cabinet picks. Which, again, will be bruising but of course most if not all will be confirmed. And then they’re going to drastically cut Medicare, Obamacare, and social security. And then they’re going to put up a Supreme Court replacement, one they took from Obama by refusing a vote.
They’re seeing themselves up for months of fights. They want to sprint out of the gate to do a lot in their first 100 days. And I get why. But has a modern president’s first 100 days ever had this much clashing and discord right up front?
And what about after the first 100 days? He’ll have his cabinet installed. Major bills will be pending or passed. The Russian probe will have been put out to pasture because it makes Trump look bad. The elector story will be a distant memory. At that point will the Democrats have been rolled? Will they just go along with what Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are trying to do?
Signs point to no. Schumer and Pelosi, if anything, are getting more aggressive with their language. Being in the minority party doesn’t just mean you lost. It means you are the counter-balance to the party in power. So far the Democrats are taking that role seriously. I wonder how things will look in 90 days.