What If?

I started noodling on a few “What if” thoughts about this long election cycle the other day, but the one on my mind this afternoon is this: What if the electoral college actually worked the way the framers intended—as a gathering of eminent citizens who would pick a good man to be president, rather than a Byzantine mechanism merely for channeling a popular majority? Remember, in most states you aren’t actually voting for either Trump or Clinton or Gary Johnson—you’re voting for electors pledged to them. And I believe it is not possible legally to bind electors, and we’ve had a few “faithless electors” in recent decades. (One Ford elector in 1976 cast his electoral college vote for Ronald Reagan, for example.)

So what if Trump won an electoral college majority on election day, but then a number of electors cast their votes for Mike Pence instead, thus throwing the presidential selection to the House of Representatives? Since the Constitution provides that the House chose from the top three finishers, they could then select Pence to be president. Crisis solved. (Not really: Trump and his passionate supporters would scream from the rooftops, sue everybody in sight, and it would be a worse mess than Bush v Gore in 2000. But it’s interesting to think about.)

Some other what ifs:

What if? What if Jeb Bush had not run, and Mitt Romney had run again instead? Romney was rightly faulted for being relatively inarticulate, especially about conservative ideas. Next to Trump, Romney is Demosthenes. All the more reason to be annoyed that Jed scared off Romney from running again, only to train his fire mostly on Rubio and others in the field who might have stopped Trump.

What if? What if Marco Rubio had not been part of the ill-considered “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill of 2009? Or what if he’d simply apologized early in the campaign, admitted that he made a mistake in backing comprehensive immigration reform, instead of trying to defend his ghastly mistake?

What if? What if Republican leadership had taken more seriously the portents of the Tea Party defeats of Bob Bennett, Richard Lugar, and Eric Cantor? These men were not RINOs, and yet did not see, as much of the party still does not see, the depth of the discontent with Republican leadership at the present time.

What if? What if we find out six or nine months from now that the Clintons were secretly behind Trump’s candidacy? Sort of the way Nixon is said to have helped pave the way for McGovern to be his opponent in 1972? We know that Trump is said to have spoken with Bill Clinton about whether he should run. . .


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