Thursday, December 8, 2016

So I wrote a letter to the electoral college....

I realize that writing a letter to the electoral college asking people to consider acting as unfaithful electors is unlikely to make any impact, and I also realize that such action may be very misguided. But as I thrash about endlessly trying to take action against what I perceive will be a calamitous four to eight years,  I caved and wrote to the electors because not-my-president elect's choice of climate change denier Scott Pruitt to head the EPA put me over the edge, into another full-blown state of panic (these have been coming in waves since November 9), and I felt, once again, that I needed to do any and everything possible to deter what seems more and more inevitable: the end of days. 

Anyway, there's a handy web cite called #AskTheElectors, which provides a tool for contacting everyone in the electoral college, so I used it and sent what I thought was a very thoughtful, polite, and informed entreaty for the electors to please consider being unfaithful.  I'll post it below, and it's also posted on the #AskTheElectors page.  

I didn't really expect anyone to respond, but a few electors have -- either via a form letter or directly to me -- and those responses are fairly appalling.  I'll post the responses below, and I'll update them if and when I receive more.

My letter:

Dear Electors;
Thank you for your participation in our democratic process and for the care and thoughtfulness that I feel certain must be a part of your decision making process.  I am a college professor at a university in rural North Carolina; a state where my family has lived since the 1700s. Over the course of Governor Pat McCrory's time in office; I have watched as funding for our public schools and universities has been cut; environmental protections have been gutted; fair access to the right to vote and access to women's health care have been limited. McCrory finally conceded to Roy Cooper just this week; and I am hugely relieved; even as I know that Cooper will have a difficult (if not impossible) time enacting significant change; given the republican supermajority in our legislature.  Nonetheless; I now have some hope for the future.

The future after the 2016 presidential election; on the other hand; terrifies me. Given the things that he said and did prior to the election; I was already worried about what a Trump presidency would mean for the rights of the citizens of this country and for the health of the planet.  I worried about the overt and explicit racism that has now; as expected; lead to an increase in hate crimes and harassment.  I worried about the misogyny that I watched be made acceptable by a candidate who has a vile record of using the most reprehensible rhetoric about women -- not to mention assaulting them with impunity -- and as a woman; I watched the campaign play out in ways that challenged my own sense of self; my self worth; my value as a human being.  And I watched as a qualified woman lost the election to an incompetent man; a person with no experience in politics.

Now I am watching as our president elect appoints cabinet members with no experience; people who I fear will do irreparable harm to the most vulnerable members of our society.  The president elect has chosen white nationalist Steve Bannon as his chief strategist.  He has chosen school voucher advocate Betsy DeVos as his secretary of education.  But the choice of Scott Pruitt; an avowed climate change denialist to head the Environmental Protection Agency; is the choice that terrifies me the most -- and it is the reason for which i am writing to you today. 

This choice is clearly about the influence of the fossil fuel industry; it has nothing to do with protections of any kind; except for the protection of that industry.  This is about dismantling; not leading; the EPA.  It's about denying our responsibility to care for our natural resources not only for the citizens of this country but also for the rest of the world.  The pick of Pruitt signals the unmaking of our country and our planet.  Four or; heaven forbid; eight years of what happens next will take us to places from which it will be impossible to return.  It will lead to damage impossible to repair.

I write to ask that you please vote for Hillary Clinton on December 19.  I realize that you're unlikely to do this; but I also feel that I have a moral and ethical obligation to ask you; to try to convince you of the gravity of your choice; and the reality of what it means to do otherwise.  Thank you for your service to our country; and thanks as well for taking the time to read my letter.

Thank you for your time and consideration, I appreciate and respect the role you serve in our electoral process.

Laura Wright

And the responses (verbatim):

1. From L. Scott Mann
Texas Elector, Congressional District 19

Good Citizen,

I am sorry that, because I have received more than 60,000 emails, I can no longer personally respond to you. I gave up after about 1200. Given that the content is fairly universal, I am comfortable offering this universal response.

Thank you for your communication and for your passion for the Republic. I prefer writers to rioters.

Several things merit mentioning. First, you have every right to lobby an elector. I welcome the contact from a fellow American.

Second, this is not a pure democracy, it is a republic. The corollary to that fact is that even if the majority did rule, and it does not, there was no absolute majority winner in this election.

Third, the Electoral College does not exist in order to give you a "do over" because you don't like the results; it exists to preserve the nature of the the republic.

Finally, your feelings notwithstanding, it is not my duty to care one whit what the plurality or majority of Americans want. My job is to represent the decision of the winning party in the Texas Presidential election.

It's not that your feelings don't matter at all, they just don't matter here. The law and U.S. Constitution do.

For those who believe I should change my vote to HRC because of your intense feelings about Donald Trump, surely you must know that for every person who feels you have elected the worst person to ever hold the office, there is another who would have felt exactly the same that had we elected HRC: that she is unfit for office and her husband has committed multiple sexual assaults.

Nevertheless, I think it safe to say, my good citizen, you would not have agreed with electoral nullification of a Clinton victory. Nor would I.

This is why we have elections.

If you disagree with the electoral college concept, and some do, you have the opportunity amend the constitution. But elector nullification is not the answer.

I will vote my conscience. You need have no fear. I have never intended to do anything more or less.

Please allow me to illustrate my point from America's favorite pastime, baseball. In the 1960 World Series the Pirates beat the Yankees 4 games to three. But, the Yankees scored a total of 55 runs while the Pirates could only muster 27 total runs.

Unfair? No, those are the rules of baseball. We choose the winner of the World Series by number of games won, regardless of the disparity of the total runs. If the rules were different, teams would strategize differently and the result would likely be different. That the Yankees outscored the Pirates in 1960, or that the Cubs tied the Indians in runs scored this year, is nothing more than an interesting statistic.

In a Presidential campaign, if the rules were different, candidates would strategize differently and the result would likely be different. Donald Trump won according to the rules. Everything else, including the popular vote, is merely an interesting statistic.

Indirect election of the chief executive is the rule under parliamentary forms of government. No one in Canada or the United Kingdom votes for Prime Minister. The election is indirect.

In closing, I am delighted that many are reading the Federalist Papers. I've been reading them for twenty years. They are a fascinating insight into the minds of the framers of the Constitution, aren't they? The Anti-Federalist papers are equally educational. I recommend them for your reading also.

Yes, I agree with Hamilton in Federalist 68. No, I do not believe that the election of Donald Trump rises to that level.

If you have read this far you deserve my thanks, and to know that I do browse for responses. I read them and sometimes respond personally as time allows.

May God bless America and may God bless the great state of Texas.
Best regards,

L. Scott Mann
Texas Elector, Congressional District 19

OK, fine.  He also includes a bunch of links that might be "of interest," including this one about how most letter writers are women who are scared because Hillary scared them.

2. Alex Kim
Elector, Texas Congressional District 24

Thank you for writing.

I am receiving about 4,000 emails a day so I have set this to an auto-response.

You should know that I have no interest in Hillary Clinton becoming our next President.  I reject the Democratic Party principles and I reject Hillary Clinton.

I will not do anything that will open a path for HRC to become our next President.

There is no such thing as a national popular vote.  The only vote that matters to me as a Texas Elector is the Texas vote.

We are not a democracy, we are a republic, for good cause.

We all have differing opinions and I respect your part in the political process, but frankly, the political opinions of non-Texas voters means nothing to me.  I do not vote or get involved in your state, I am not sure why you are trying to interfere in mine.

I encourage you to be more active in the political process where your vote matters.

Best Regards,

Alex Kim
Elector, Texas Congressional District 24

3. John Haggard, Michigan (and by far my favorite for so many reasons)

Laura see you are a Professor and I assume you are sending these email on School time and being paid for this when your job is to teach the students what is in the English book and not what you think.   Problem with education today is the instructors like you teach the kids what you think and not what is in the books.   Again you are on the College time card.   Thanks John

Yeah, just me over here, being a dangerous professor....  Cheers.


  1. I applaud your strength and willingness to share. I am, frankly, disturbed by these responses.

  2. Yes, I did the same and got the same disturbing responses. I have no reservations now in dismantling the electoral college. It will be the only way to break out of a two party system and fulfill the will of the people