Home Trump Electoral College, Part 3: Pussy, Trump, and the Vice Presidency

Electoral College, Part 3: Pussy, Trump, and the Vice Presidency

5

usmail

by Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB

Recently, the Republican candidate for president of the USA referred to a female colleague as a pussy. I suppose that’s not too bad. But now “a video has surfaced” – from 2005 – in which Trump talked about forcing himself on women, and used the phrase “grabbed her by the pussy.”

This has got the GOP – Grand Old Party — i.e., Republicans, into quite a state of animation. There is now much talk about the party itself unloading Trump as their candidate. The national chairman has advised “the vulnerables” contending for Congress to distance themselves from the pussy-grabber.

God help us. Of all the many things the national Republicans could advise on!

For instance, they could advise on obeying the Constitution. In this article I point to a very little-known fact: the Vice President is to be elected separately from the President, by the electoral college.

Electoral College

The members of the electoral college are required to meet on a certain day and, by voting as individuals, vote for one person to become president and another to become vice-president.

Whom could they choose? ANYONE who meets the specific requirements for a president (born in the US, age 35, and at least 14 years resident in the US). And how would the “picks” from each state’s electoral college arrive in a central location to be pooled?

First, recall that there were only 13 states when the Constitution was written (1787), and no mechanized vehicles to transport the ballots from, say, Georgia to the nation’s capital, and of course no telephone/fax to transport the material magically over a wire. But there were horses. That is good enough. And today they use mail.

Where do the Electors send their ballots? To the president of the US Senate, for counting in January.

The Vice Presidency

You probably won’t believe me when I tell you how much the Constitution has been violated in regard to the electoral-college provisions. One aspect of this is so blatant nobody could miss it. The way in which Americans today acquire their VP is all wrong.

I will now quote Article I, section 1 of the Constitution as regards the method of choosing a VP. I am using a copy of the parchment that includes the relevant amendment. (Note Americans do not keep redrafting the Constitution. It remains pristine and the amendments stand separately at the end, but I am doing a merger. The content of Amendment 12 belongs in Article I, section 1:

“The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President.

“The person having [nationally] the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President.”

(The word ‘majority’ there means 270 votes, that being half of the total, of 538, plus one.)

Parties and “Tickets”

The Constitution makes no mention of political parties. A party is a private organization. Congress has never dictated party behavior by law. (I believe the same is true in each state but am not sure, and cannot at the moment research all 50 states.)

At some point in the twentieth century, there developed the practice of the presidential campaigner naming a “running mate.” Thus, for example, in 1980,when Jimmy Carter was the front-running Democratic Party candidate for president, he chose Walter Mondale as his “vice president,” while Republican Ronald Reagan chose George Bush Sr, to appear with him on the “Republican ticket.”

A citizen walking into a polling booth in November 1980 could tick the box (or pull a lever) for either Carter/Mondale or Reagan/Bush. I mean to make the point that no electors were asking themselves “Let’s see, who would be a good vice president, to take office next January 20?” They were, instead thinking of the package deal they were being offered.

The spirit of the electoral college is virtually unknown today. Or else it is denigrated, with “thinkers” saying it is undemocratic to have a handful of electors choosing the prexy.

If you go to Google Scholar and ask for Electoral College, you will mainly get articles about the use of strategies by presidential campaigners. Most of them say a candidate should only bother to campaign in a state that has many electoral votes.

But at the moment I want to stress how blatantly the Constitution is disobeyed.

Amendment 12 calls for the ballots for president to be opened first and if there is no clear winner, the House of Reps will vote, by using only the highest contenders (“not exceeding three”) from the electoral offerings. (In my lifetime, America always had a clear winner for the presidency; someone always got 270 electoral votes.)

Next, the man in charge (Biden) opens the ballots for vice president. Again, imagine that one candidate has a clear majority of all the electors ballots for VP. Fine — he or she is in, for four years, to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

So What’s My Beef?

I complain that VPs get ushered into office based on a “running mate” system for which there is no Constitutional basis. People have not risen up (as far as I am aware) about the deviation from the Constitution’s requirement that votes for VP be independent of votes for president.

I have never heard this argued but I suppose a pro-ticket arguer would say that all is well because the states have allowed their polls to do the ticket-thing. And, subsequently, when each states’ electors meet, they do write onto the proper VP ballot paper the name of the “correct” person.

My beef is that the whole idea of intelligent electors using their best wits to come up with good candidates has been lost. Well, it hasn’t really been lost insofar as the Constitution is still there. Hooray! This could be the year for caring electors in each state to apply wisdom.

It is ridiculous NOT to use the electoral college to get us out of the mess we are in.

— Mary W Maxwell is a graduate of Emmanuel College, Johns Hopkins University, and Adelaide Law School

Photo credit: img1.etsystatic.com
SHARE

5 COMMENTS

  1. This was written by Ruth C Silva in 1948, and not a minute too soon:

    “The governors of seven Southern states recently agreed that if the Democratic national convention nominates a presidential candidate advocating anti-segregation, anti-lynching, anti-poll tax, and fair employment practices legislation, they will attempt to keep the Democratic electoral votes of their states from being cast for such nominee.”

    Go, Governors!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here