A lot of people mistakenly think the 2016 Presidential Election ended early Tuesday morning when Hillary Clinton conceded to Donald Trump via a telephone call. It should have been. But we live in a country that has a lot of extra safeguards (as was always seen with Hillary Clinton previously with the superdelegates that made sure the Democratic Party could not be infiltrated by an independent). The Electoral College is the ultimate shadow government safeguard against someone like Donald Trump securing the presidency.
On December 13, the Electoral College will cast votes for the office of President of the United States. The concept here is that each member of the college casts the vote according to what the voters selected. That is generally how it goes, although on occasion there have been defectors. For some states and districts, it is technically against the law for the elector to go against the wishes of his constituents. However, none of these are major crimes. They only have small fines, leaving the door open for the Electoral College to change an election as it sees fit with minimal consequences.
It goes without saying that this has never happened. While some isolated electors have changed their minds and went against the wishes of voters, when it is all said and done, the Electoral College has always voted to install the President in accordance with the election results. This is controversial at times because it can mean that the winner didn’t necessarily win the actual popular vote of the nation. This infamously happened in the 2000 election when Al Gore technically had more votes than George W. Bush, but the Electoral College system caused Bush to still take the presidency. It appears that Hillary Clinton may have found herself in a similar predicament in 2016, although all votes have not been officially tallied.
It’s never happened, this is true. But this election has been nothing like normal, and there is tons of rhetoric out there that Donald Trump is an existential danger to America. Could the Electoral College decide that since Hillary Clinton got more votes anyway, it’s just better to install her as President and avoid potential disaster?
Absolutely they can. And you can bet you will hear rumblings about it. There are going to be people on the Democratic side that think it’s worth the fallout to stop Trump from becoming President of the United States. However, that’s not the scary part. Remember, it’s not just Democrats that oppose Trump. The establishment, both sides of it, want desperately to stop him. It could be that both Republican and Democratic electors decide mutually that it is in the “best interest of the nation” to not allow Trump to rise to the highest office in the land. The race was tight, and it wouldn’t take that many defectors to change the result. They may very well see themselves as patriots or saving the nation from all the rhetoric about Trump.
Is it likely? History would indicate that most likely Donald Trump will be inaugurated as President in January. But is it possible? Absolutely. And you could make a strong argument that while it is not likely, it is more likely than it ever has been before. Generally in these situations, you have one party or the other steadfast behind their candidate. That is not the case here. It is unprecedented for both parties to be so dead set against a candidate as they have been for Trump. This could be historic, and over half of the nation that voted for Hillary Clinton may very well be happy about it if it were to happen. That’s important, because the main thing that keeps electors in line is the threat of retaliation from constituents in future elections. If Democrats and Republicans felt there was no legal fallout and no political fallout, then why not? And if you don’t think Hillary Clinton has already considered this scenario, you are nuts. She knows better than anyone how this system works, and you can bet that there are people behind the scenes testing the waters for a lobby to the Electoral College.
Okay, so having said all of that, there is one more thing to consider. There is over a month between Election Day and the Electoral College casting the votes. That’s plenty of times for Donald Trump to become embroiled in a scandal, either created by his political opponents or real. Imagine if Donald Trump were indicted on rape charges between now and then. Imagine if he were arrested. Imagine if some unbelievably damning evidence appeared connecting him to something horrible materialized. This would just be fuel for the Electoral College to act.
The Electoral College exists for only one real reason: to give the shadow government that last area of influence in Presidential elections. They have that one last opportunity to stop it from happening. They have never used this ability thus far. They haven’t had to. They have not found manipulating and fixing elections that difficult, but this era of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is changing the rules. Could we see the Electoral College cut and run on America? It’s possible, if not likely, and there is plenty of time for any number of things to happen that could boost that possibility.