It Has To Be Her
“I’m not asking you to vote for Hillary Clinton.” That’s the line that echoes in my mind after I watch the video. Celebrities in the Unite for America PSA calling on electors - members of the Electoral College - to block Donald Trump’s rise to power repeat it over and over again. I want to share the video, because stopping Donald Trump at any cost has been at the forefront of my resistance to his stolen victory in the 2016 election since November 9. I want every elector to watch it, encouraged by the public support they could receive for acting in our best interests and against the selfish and partisan interests of their party leaders.
But they’re not asking them to vote for Hillary Clinton. And that’s a dealbreaker, because it violates our democratic values and undermines the actual core issues at hand with Trump's election.
In an unprecedented political turn of events, a movement to “flip” electors from red states has been growing in might since Donald Trump’s acceptance speech on election night. Every year, the convening of electors from across the country in their respective states to rubber-stamp the electoral map from election night passes without a peep. This year, the date is marked for the revolution. The Electoral College, an institution unique to the United States that is inherently flawed and often criticized by the left, is now the last hope it has to stop Donald Trump from being president.
It’s completely legal and Constitutional for electors to vote against the popular vote in their states. In fact, in the case of this year, it may be implicitly required of them to do so. Alexander Hamilton, who designed the Electoral College, conceptualized it as a last stop for unqualified and manipulative egomaniacs who might seek the office of the presidency and somehow win it, but be unfit to hold it. The design feels paternalistic now, and it was indeed problematic then, but at its core is one mission: saving the republic from itself. If the voters were to choose a candidate who was unfit, or one managed to slither their way toward victory through manipulation and deceit, the Electoral College would be there to stop them.
Alexander Hamilton basically predicted Donald Trump. Now, there’s a growing movement to urge the esteemed members of the Electoral College to fulfill their duty and save us from ourselves accordingly.
And thus, the Electoral College, in this instance, is both part of the problem and the solution - a disproportionate weight on less populous states and a tiny margin of victory for Trump in three swing states led to him having a massive lead in electoral votes, despite a 3 million vote lead for Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. Without the Electoral College in place, she would have emerged that night in the Javits Center in white to accept her nomination. Now, she’s somewhere in the woods while the rest of us are held hostage by a set of policies and a figurehead intent on putting them in place which lack a public mandate. In the face of claims by national security agencies that Trump was directly involved in and benefiting from Russian interference in the election, the injustice of his currently predicted ability to implement a regressive agenda cuts even deeper.
Donald Trump is not my president. He is not the president American voters wanted. And if it were not for the unique structure of our representative democracy, he would no longer be allowed to run his mouth.
The Electoral College created this mess. Now, they should bail us out of it. In a heartening turn of events, it appears they may even do so; conversations around the potential for an upset on Monday are growing and electors themselves are joining in the call to make it happen. Unfortunately, many of the advocates urging them to do so are forgoing the most important part of this revolutionary political act: affirming that Hillary Clinton should be President of the United States.
A group called the Hamilton Electors - made up of members of the Electoral College and led by a blue state elector who refuses to vote Clinton on Monday because he was a Bernie Sanders supporter - has been gaining traction in media coverage and working with other electors to persuade those in red states to go “faithless” and vote against their state results for the greater good of the nation. The role they have to play is important, because they have access to electors via their esteemed colleagues and a better knowledge of the inner workings of that structure. But they - and many civilian-led groups like them - are asking Republican electors to vote not for the woman who rightfully won the popular vote despite election fraud and voter suppression, but instead to write in someone they feel is a fit alternative. Other groups are asking even Democratic electors to write in someone of their own choosing, simply in order to prevent a clear choice by the College.
Donald Trump currently leads Hillary Clinton by a predicted 74 electoral votes; if the entire map were to match up with every elector as predicted in a typical year, he would win 306 votes. She has 232. The presidential candidate with 270 is the candidate who wins.
If 37 electors reject Trump, he lacks the votes needed to become president. If 38 electors flip to Clinton, she wins the role a majority of voters supported seeing her achieve. If the electors flip to someone else in large numbers and there is nobody, at the end of the day on Monday, with 270 electoral votes, the president is hand-picked by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
That’s not the solution America is asking for. Nearly 5 million Americans signed a petition calling on the electors to vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump. Nearly 3 million more Americans voted for her than Trump. Millions of American concerned about Donald Trump’s myriad conflicts of interest, acts of corruption, and ceaseless incompetence are calling on the electors not to make a decision in place of one that’s already been made by the country, but instead to turn their body into an actual tool for democracy.
To block Donald Trump is the duty of every single elector casting a ballot on Monday. To elect his opponent affirms democracy and echoes the will of the people in an unprecedented and historic instance of electoral upset, which preserves as much of the integrity of our democratic republic as is possible. To name someone else president or put forth a candidate who lost a primary or didn’t run in one is, in any other world, a coup - and would only further the denigration of faith in our electoral system and the turmoil happening between Americans divided by partisanship.
Donald Trump is an illegitimate president-elect who may have won an electoral college victory by way of Russian interference in American democracy. His policy platform, endorsed by the GOP colleagues who have the influence to do right by the nation on Monday, was overwhelmingly rejected by voters. What’s more, he defeated not just an opponent, but a woman running a historic race for the White House - and by doing so, stole a moment in women’s history away from the movement nearly 100 years in the making.
What the electors are being asked to do on Monday is not to vote their beliefs. It is not to vote according to their ideology. It is to fulfill their constitutional obligation to the country to block an unfit president from rising to office - and in doing so, they must instead elect the only sensible and rational alternative to take his place.
The electors must reject Donald Trump. And in his place, they have an obligation to us all to choose Hillary Clinton.
Carmen Rios is the Managing Editor at Argot Magazine, Digital Editor at Ms., Feminism Editor at Autostraddle, and a Contributor at Everyday Feminism. Her words have been published by BuzzFeed, BITCH, ElixHER, MEL, and Feministing, among others, and she was once a blogger and activist with the SPARK Movement, a writer at Mic, and Managing Editor of THE LINE Campaign blog. Carmen's successful work for over eight years in digital feminism—as a writer, social media maven, and activist leader—has earned her the titles of “digital native,” “intimidating to some,” and “vapid and uninteresting.” She's too honest on Twitter, too vague on Tumblr, and consistently uses the same filter on Instagram. You can also find her at carmenfuckingrios.com.