Christopher Suprun and the “Hamiliton Electors” are not names that leap off the front page of your local newspaper, or are featured in the lead segment of the national news no matter which network or cable channel you watch. So who are they and why are they deserving of accolades? The answers follow.
This young man, a Republican, campaigned for and won a position as one of the state of Texas’ representatives to the Electoral College (EC). Ok, so what’s the big deal? Stunningly, Mr. Suprun has gone very public (1) with his intention to withhold his EC vote for Primadonald. How can that be? Aren’t EC representatives obligated by law to cast their vote for the candidate who has won the general election?
The answer to this last query is that it depends on the state you are representing in the EC. (2). In 29 states and the District of Columbia that is exactly the case. But, in the remaining 21 states, representatives are free to vote their conscience and best judgment. Texas is one such state and Suprun is taking advantage of that latitude.
As he has stated, Suprun intends to take that tack based on his reading and understanding of Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Paper #68. In that document, Hamilton lays out the rationale for having the EC in the first place. But, he recognized that at times, even in a democracy, a mob can be swayed to turn the popular vote towards a person who is ill-suited for the job of president. EC representatives should act to prevent that person from taking office based on Hamilton’s delineation of these three criteria. The winning candidate is, none the less: (a) unqualified; (b) demonstrably a demagogue; and/or (c) would enter office beset by provable foreign entanglements and conflicts of interest. Suprun concluded that Primadonald has met this tripartite template and therefore, is not deserving of his vote.
The “Hamilton Electors”
As you would properly gather from the foregoing, there are other EC representatives who are of the same mind as Mr. Suprun. More than simply acting accordingly, they are actively inveighing other representatives to follow their lead. What is more, they have retained legal counsel to draft law suits aimed at overturning the laws in those 29 states wherein representatives are legally bound to vote for the winning candidate (see above). Based on Federalist #68, these pleadings will hold that the aforementioned laws are unconstitutional. (3)
What would it take?
As of today’s date, it would require, at a minimum, 37 dissenting EC representatives to deprive Primadonald of the 270 that he needs to be ratified as president. Currently, there are a certain three such votes making this maneuver a very long shot, especially since the EC meets in less than to weeks.
Who would benefit?
Logic would dictate that HRC should be the beneficiary given that she finished second in the election and even beat Trump by in excess of 2.6 million in the popular vote. But, that is not the thinking of the dissenters whose aim is to put a real conservative in the White House.
No matter how this ends, it will stand as just one more glaring reflection of the bitterness that has attended the just-ended presidential campaign, how disturbed some people are over an imminent Trump presidency, and how divided we are as a nation. So long as this state of affairs persists, we will be trodding a path towards the self-destruction of the unity that has bound us together for well over 200 years.
- Suprun has appeared on at least two cable news/political talk shows and also published an op-ed of his views in the New York Times.
- Two weeks ago, your blogger could not have written this current edition. That is because, like so many fellow citizens, he then held the narrow belief that all representatives to the EC were obligated by law to cast their votes for the candidate who won the general election. Only with the emergence of Mr. Suprun did he learn differently and promptly set about in the ensuing time to more fully educate himself. This has truly been a learning experience.
- See “Rogue electors brief Clinton campaign on anti-Trump plan”. In Politico 12-5-2016.