OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD #1: A SERIES OF PAPERS WITHOUT MUCH CITATION SINCE THEY ARE WRITTEN QUICKLY AND JUST OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD

Alexander Hamilton designed the Electoral College (“EC”) [1] to be a check on the popular vote to make certain that the voters were not swayed or fooled by a demagogue [2] and to assure that there has been no interference in our election by foreign entities [3].

Hamilton’s idea was that it “was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person [President] to whom so important a trust was to be confided.” But to make certain that the demagogue or person tainted by foreign entities would not be elected President, the EC  was created as a last check. It was not to made up of existing elected or appointed government officials who may have a loyalty to a given person or entity. [4] [5]

Reading Federalist #68, it is clear that Hamilton wanted the EC to consider the popular vote of the people, but if out of passion or ignorance or improper influence, the public chose a candidate who was corrupt or tainted by foreign interests, then the EC was act as a barrier to that candidate ascending to the Office of the President of the United States.

Had Hamilton envisioned the EC as just a pro forma ‘rubber stamp’ procedural step in the election of a President, there would be no need for actual persons to be Electors. Any desire to merely allocate electoral weights to give smaller states more say in the selection of the President, then Hamilton could have just set up a system of weights that would be assigned without any votes or input from ‘electors’. For example, Delaware has 3 electoral votes. [6]

Instead, Hamilton specifies that the electors “acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice” indicates that they are supposed to be deliberate and judicious and not just follow the vote of their state if that vote is for a person unfit to be President.

And anyone who will not divest themselves of conflicts of interest is unfit as a person like Trump has shown that his interests in his own personal benefit pose a risk to the national security and the welfare of the U.S.

Also, given that the 2016 election was tainted by interference by not just Russia, but Putin himself, and that there is also corroborating evidence that Trump has long had questionable connections to Russian officials (thereby indicating that Trump was compromised by Russian agents as long as 8 years ago) [7] is a rational basis to conduct further investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia before allowing him to ascend to the Office of President.

BOTTOM LINE: Hamilton did not intend the EC to be a mere rubber stamp. Federalist 68 specifies the EC was intended to be a deliberate and judicious body that would assure that no one would be elected President if they were unfit due to: mental defect or ability; corruption or propensity for corruption; or if they or the election was tainted by foreign forces.

Next: Congress has the opportunity to object to the Electoral votes.


[1]See Hamilton’s Federalist 68. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed68.asp

[2] A demagogue is generally a populist agitator that stirs up the populace by exploiting their prejudices and fears.

[3] Federalist 68 “Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their detached situation, already taken notice of, afford a satisfactory prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be over thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives, which though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be of a nature to mislead them from their duty. ”

[4] At the time Federalist 68 was written in 1788, the current system of political parties did not exist. In fact, the Constitution had not been ratified yet and there had not been any federal elections.

[5] Arguably, the idea of a political party selecting the electors is contrary to Hamilton’s idea that the electors not be bound by or loyal to any particular candidate or entity. Hamilton indicates that the electors should be independent. Specifically, Federalist 68 states: “It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” 

[6] The minimum electoral vote for a small state was set as 3 electoral votes.

[7] There are numerous recent articles showing Trump’s unusual affection for Vladimir Putin as well as deeper financial ties to Russians. See, for example,

http://money.cnn.com/2016/07/27/news/donald-trump-russian-deal-mansion/

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/07/donald-trump-2016-russian-ties-214116

http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/business/real-estate/trump-former-estate-the-story-behind-the-million-mansion-tear-down/5qgtlikl46SX7KXGdtDPUI/

Donald Trump’s Many, Many, Many, Many Ties to Russia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s