“…The immediate election [of the President of the United States] should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons [the Electors of the Electoral College], selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” – Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers: No. 68
Dear Members of the Electoral College:
I write to express my deep concerns about the election of Donald J. Trump to President of the United States. But first, I want to say that, although I voted for a Democrat in this election, my reaching out to you has nothing to do with partisan politics. While I may disagree with many of the policy proposals of the Republican Party, I do not doubt that Republicans are acting in good faith to try to create a better country and world for all. And in the past, I have not worried that should the Republican candidate win—George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney—the foundations of our democracy would be at risk. I am writing, in fact, not to ask that you cast your vote for Hillary Clinton at all, but rather for a moderate Republican such as Mitt Romney or John Kasich, which the Constitution makes clear that you can do.
I ask that you do so because I fear that our democracy IS at risk. Mr. Trump’s statements, promises, and actions during the campaign and since the election trouble me. As a Jew whose distant family members died and were persecuted in the early 20th century, it scares me to see him speak of registering Muslims, an act that is all-too-reminiscent of Jews who were forced to register in the 1930s; to hear him promise to jail his political opponents; to watch white supremacist groups yell “Hail Trump” while doing the Nazi salute; to recall the times he encouraged violence against protestors; to know that he mocked the disabled and a Gold Star family; to remember that he felt a Mexican-American judge would be biased simply because he is “Mexican,” demonstrating a bias against those of Mexican heritage; and to observe his admiration for Vladimir Putin, an autocrat and enemy of the United States.
I understand that millions of people voted for him because they wanted a change and felt like the political system was ignoring them, but I also recognize that he lost the popular vote by over 2 million votes. Obviously that does not matter from a technical point of view (he clearly won enough electoral college votes to become President), but you have the legal right as an Elector to choose to vote for someone who will respect and protect our democratic norms and traditions.
I know that this is a big ask, and one that may cause a constitutional crisis. But I strongly believe that Mr. Trump’s presidency would result in an even greater constitutional crisis. The conflicts of interest arising from his vast business empire are impossible to know (because he bucked decades of tradition and refused to release his tax returns), and many of his cabinet picks raise questions about those with whom he is choosing to surround himself: people like Mr. Bannon, who has been blatant about his racism and anti-Semitism, have no place in the White House.
I also want you to know that millions of people, myself included, are just plain scared of what the future holds. I run a nonprofit that works with minorities, the disabled, survivors of sexual assault, and other vulnerable populations. Women who heard Mr. Trump brag about sexual assault were deeply hurt by the language, even if it was just “locker room talk.” Muslims are terrified of rising hate crimes against them. The disabled are mortified that a man who mocked a disabled reporter won the election. Jews like myself are seeing more and more Swastikas online and in graffiti. Gays and lesbians wonder about their rights and safety given that as Congressman, the Vice President-elect “supported the use of federal funding to treat people ‘seeking to change their sexual behavior'” (in other words, gay conversion therapy) and as Governor expressed profoundly anti-LGBT views.
In short, I have deep and grave concerns about Mr. Trump’s suitability to hold the highest office in the land and be the most powerful person in the world. I believe that if we can find a consensus candidate—again, even if it is a moderate Republican—we will be safeguarding our long tradition of a free and open society against hatred and bigotry. At our core we are a tolerant, welcoming, and loving nation. In my opinion, and that of millions more, Mr. Trump simply does not represent the fundamental decency of the American people.
Moving forward, it is clear that we will need to rethink how presidents are elected, but for now let us use the system we have—one that was clearly designed to protect against people like Mr. Trump from ascending to the presidency—to do what’s best for the nation.
A final note: there is a movement afoot among some Electors to change their vote to prevent a Trump Presidency and become so-called “Faithless Electors.” You are not alone is worrying about Mr. Trump, but only you—and your 537 fellow Electors—can do something about it!