The Electoral College as designed by Alexander Hamilton is meant to be the last defense against a demagogue's ascension to our country's most powerful position. This scenario has never truly come into play before this year and as such its utility as a viable option has been almost unanimously derided as unrealistic, dangerous, stupid, unconstitutional, etc.
As an increasingly desperate populace of educated citizens runs out of straws to grasp at in preventing the sociopolitical and economic disaster that will be a Trump/Pence administration, the guttering hope that enough electors will perform their constitutional duty to stop an unfit candidate from taking the White House stays softly flickering.
Monday, December 5th saw Christopher Suprun of Texas declare in the New York Times that he would not be casting his vote for Donald Trump. Many have called him heroic for this. He joins the voices of other would-be heroes calling themselves the Hamilton Electors, a group of Democrats trying to lobby at least 37 GOP members (and even some fellow Ds) to cast their vote for a yet-to-be-named moderate Republican, at which point the House of Representatives would choose from the three highest electoral vote recipients (Trump, Clinton, unnamed moderate) and—hopefully—choose the moderate.
This will not fucking work.
The House of Representatives is already in the tank for Trump. They've had opportunities to show themselves to be open to the idea of fighting him, and have denied taking them. Even in the most obvious and easiest of opportunities to take a moral stand, they've refused to show themselves as anything but mute supporters of the incoming regime's vision. They've made their bed and have climbed in to keep the sheets warm 'til January.
The moderate that both Suprun and the Hamilton Electors are leaning towards is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who isn't really moderate, and was an also-ran for his party's nomination back when marginally better also-rans like Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio were soundly beating him. He was the last to fall before Trump because he was the least threatening obstacle in the way, not because he was the best candidate for the job. Because he wasn't. Hillary Clinton was.
This course of action by Mr. Suprun and the Hamilton Electors is a half-measure, born of the wrong answer to a fairly simple question: What's more important to you: the party, or the country?
The Hamilton Electors believe the answer is absolutely “the party,” which is why their plan assumes the GOP will need to be fed an "acceptable" moderate Republican, otherwise decades of party programming will kick in and they will choose the supremely unfit candidate out of habit, misplaced duty, fear, cowardice, etc. This sounds like appeasement. It sounds like starting from a needlessly weakened position and conceding entirely too much in a skewed and almost apologetic interpretation of “fair.” It sounds exactly like something a Democrat would do.
Suprun makes the obvious case that Trump is unfit—woefully so—to the point where he compares the destructive potential of his presidency to the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and then arrives at the same place the Hamilton electors do: The Republican Party must be appeased in order to save the country. Let's unite behind a yet-to-be-named Republican candidate, a gossamer Republican concept in the vague shape of a Kasich, because to unite behind the woman with the most votes, the most experience, the obvious desire, willingness and capability to do the job is still unthinkable due to the D that comes after her name. Party before country.
Party before country is how we arrived at Trump. It is the incorrect answer that led us to this national crisis that has us now more than ever mulling the feasibility—the necessity—of Hamilton's failsafe. This half-measure won't stop Trump from claiming the White House. The House of Representatives will give it to him should neither candidate wind up with 270. Nor will it calm the gnawing certainty that you're shirking your constitutional duty as an elector to protect the country from irreparable harm. This course of action, once it fails, might force House Republicans to seriously consider the abolishment of the Electoral College, but even that mild positive would be twisted to negative, undemocratic ends, if their recent history of redistricting and gerrymandering is anything to go by.
In other years, what I'm about to say would seem ridiculous, but in 2016, when the doublespeak is so strongly ingrained that many media outlets and their readers lack the basic tools to even correctly identify it, the following statement is the only way I can express the point in a way that sounds and feels right.
Mr. Suprun, and any other potentially faithless Republican electors: If you want to make your stand and fulfill your constitutional duty to protect this country, stop overthinking your broken strategy, stop dooming yourself to half-assed, mealy-mouthed political failure of the kind your brothers and sisters across the aisle constantly swim in—be bold, be confident in your convictions, be a goddamn Republican and cast your vote for Clinton.
Give her the 270. Do not put your trust in the House. That concept is asinine in the face of the last eight years. Put your trust in the people of this country who have spoken loudly and clearly as to who they wish to run it.
In a political reality where about 100,000 people in four states got to determine the fate of the free world for the next four years, if less than 50 of our 538 electors can't correctly answer the question of party before country, then these heroic stands will prove weak and hollow, and the country will have gotten the demagogue it deserves.