The Framers created the electoral college as a safety valve. They were not certain how the states would establish the process for selecting a president. Most assumed they’d have popular elections. But to avoid the chance that some insane passion would sweep the nation, and drive it to elect a nut, or a demagogue, they embedded an electoral college as a kind of circuit breaker. If the people go crazy, the college would be there to check it.The author then goes on to lay out his hypocrisy: "Many have rightly criticized the college as anti-democratic. I am one of those critics. But so long as it is part of our Constitution, we should take it seriously." (Emphasis in original). Then Lessig argues that because the electoral college is only there as a brake on a "crazy electorate," it shouldn't vote contrary to the wishes of the electorate if the voters were acting rational. It is at this point where Lessig inverts logic. He goes on to argue that since Hillary is a viable and valid candidate, and won the popular vote, the electors should vote for Hillary as president (rather than follow the mandate given them by the voters of their respective states). In this regard, he states:
There is no reason — either morally or politically or constitutionally — that the electors need to create this crisis now. There is no reason they need to vote against the popular will. Each elector is free to vote his or her own conscience. In a republic — aka, a “representative democracy” — it would thus be completely justified for an elector to vote to assure that the will of the majority prevails in a presidential election.Of course, much like Congress was set up to both take into account the will of the people via the House of Representatives, and protect the interests of individual states, via the Senate, so to is the electoral college also supposed to serve both roles (which is why the number of electoral votes is equal to the sum of the number of representative and senators for a particular state). Lessig is essentially pushing for a complete elimination of any protection for the smaller states.
Lessig's article came in the heat of the moment following the election, but liberals are still pushing to see if they can change the outcome of the election by convincing the electors to vote contrary to the will of the people of their respective states. A writer going by the initials RWN has penned an article at Daily Kos entitled: "I am one of those 538 National Elector's and yes the Electoral College is in play." It was published on November 20, 2016. The author of that piece suggests that electors, notwithstanding state laws to the contrary, are free to vote their conscience. He goes on to suggest a plan of action for the electors:
First order of business is to affirm our duty and right to vote our conscience. Second order is to begin the discussion of who might be a new coalition drafted presidential slate. Third order is to reach out to Republicans who have deep reservations or a revulsion to a Trump presidency and seek a coalition despite the partisan immense pressures.It is easy to see where this will go. If the electors fulfill their duties and vote as directed by the voters of the respective states, we will have a smooth transition to power.
If the electors decide to take upon themselves to elect Hillary (or some other person) for president, then all hell will break loose. There will be a flurry of lawsuits, for one thing, both between the candidates, but also in regard to states that seek to punish or replace defecting electors. It is possible that an electoral college revolt would result in there being no one that could be sworn in as President in January 2017.
If the electoral college goes against the will of the people and the states, there may be states that will refuse to recognize the results of the election. And then what? Will a rebel president elected by the electoral college use force to drag recalcitrant states into line? Will the military or law enforcement even recognize the orders from such a president? Would the military (or certain units) take their own actions to put someone in power? (Although, I have to agree with William Lind that the number of Powerpoint presentations necessary for such action would take a prohibitive amount of time and computing power).
If the electoral college goes against the will of the people and the states, there will be individuals that will never accept the result. So then what? A low level civil war? A hot civil war? Certainly, the legitimacy of the government will be gravely weakened--the key ingredient for fourth generational warfare.