The Hamilton Electors were dealt a blow yesterday in a Colorado court room, when a district judge ruled against their challenge to the state law that binds electors to vote as pledged. The packed courtroom apparently got a major history lesson. The judge clearly showed that he does not appreciate the original intent of the Electoral College when he said, “I bet if Hillary Clinton had actually prevailed in the national vote … we wouldn’t be here,” and that it seemed like a “political stunt” to stop Trump from getting elected. Um, if Clinton had gotten elected, the Electoral College wouldn’t need to play the role of stopping a demagogue who’s election was helped by foreign influence. Which is a role that was intended by the Founders. The electors vow to fight on by appealing the case and voting their conscience even if the law is not overturned by the lower courts (the penalty is just a misdemeanor). Still, the case does show clearly that if the Electoral College successfully throws the election into the House of Representatives (again, I reiterate, that is still a big longshot), major legal battles will result.
Meanwhile, the number of electors demanding an intelligence briefing in regards to Russia’s involvement in the election has grown in number. Still, at this point the list only includes one Republican, which isn’t going to get it done. Further, the GOP is keeping close tabs on all its electors, and feels pretty certain all but one of them (that guy from Texas) is going to fall into line.
This is not the first time that the Electoral College has been a subject of national debate. Here is a pretty decent review of the “The history of the Electoral College debate.”
Yesterday I argued here that we have reached the point where searching for historical parallels to what is going on with the election has become more or less pointless, because we are in such uncharted waters. On NPR, political historian Rick Perlstein makes kind of the same point, but does so by noting that history (despite the cliche) really never repeats itself. Still, he concludes, “We need to look at Europe’s experience with fascism if we really want to understand Donald Trump.”
And now for something completely different!
Season Two of WGN’s awesome series, Underground is set to premiere in March. Today the network released a teaser trailer. Clearly, Harriet Tubman will be a focal point. Check it out!
It is past the time of year when I usually start to include some Christmas history with my round up of web links, so I will finally get started today! Time has a good little essay on “the real reason Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol.” Whenever I teach Western Civ, I discuss Dickens and the purpose of the story, arguing that it has to be understood within the context of the industrial revolution, the writings of Marx and Engels, and the debate in the late 19th century over how to best help the poor . . . if they should be helped at all. Dickens’ story is weightier and more complex than many people realize, but his solution is easily understood and obviously still resonates.