It's called the Electoral College. Alexander Hamilton was explicit: this mechanism was designed to ensure that "the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications." In short, it was designed to prevent just this situation: the rise of an unqualified demagogue like Donald Trump.
You can make it do what it was meant to do.
The requirement here is modest: a small group of Republican electors must be persuaded to vote their conscience. No question that many of these are appalled at the prospect of a Trump presidency; surely a few are courageous enough to cast a vote for someone else. (Most if not all would vote for another Republican, of course; it doesn't seem likely that many would choose Hillary Clinton.) Depending upon how current recounts turn out, somewhere between a minimum of ten and a maximum of thirty-seven electors would have to defect in order to bring Trump's count down to less than 270.
If neither party ends up with 270 votes, then the decision passes to the House of Representatives, and a vote in that chamber determines the winner. The House is permitted to choose from among the three candidates who receive the most votes in the Electoral College. Hence, dissenting electors can rest assured that they -- and the voters they represent -- will end up with a Republican president. [...]
Why should Democrats fight for this? Because any conceivable choice on the part of the Electoral College and the House, however extreme, would be preferable to Trump.
This would not be an abuse of the Constitution. Quite the opposite, as I say: it would be the proper use of the Constitution to prevent the abuse of a general election. The Founding Fathers would have approved. More: they would have been distressed to see this not happen, given the circumstances. They chose to found a republic that was not a direct democracy, and this is why: a simple binding majority vote provides no check upon the election of a tyrant. (This election was an exception, ironically: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and direct democracy would have spared the world the terrifying promise of a Trump presidency.) [...]
So, how do you accomplish this? The process is simple: write to electors in states that went red, and beg them to vote their conscience. The complete list of relevant electors can be found here, with contact information: "Flip the 37."
We are calling on the Electors to ignore their states' votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton. Why?
Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.
Secretary Clinton won the popular vote and should be President.
Hey there shitheads. Remember me? Yeah, it's James *fucking* Madison. Third Secretary of State? Supervisor of the Louisiana Purchase? Fourth President of the United States of America? That guy. How's it going?
What's that? You're scared? You're worried you might elect as the next President a misogynistic turkey leg that somehow escaped the state fair, fell into a bale of hay, and inexplicably managed to bankrupt six companies? Oh dear, that sounds stressful. And nobody saw it coming? Wow, that sucks. I mean, Jesus Christ, how did nobody consider that one day, some insane demagogue might incite a populist rebellion and threaten to shit on our country? How did no one think to create some kind of safeguard?
OH WAIT. I DID. IN FUCKING 1787.
Remember that Constitution you guys all say you *loooove* so much? Yeah, I wrote that shit. All of it. Even though for some reason you assholes keep thinking it was Jefferson. And because I'm way smarter than all of you, I wrote in a little something I call the Electoral College.
Yeah, so, Mr. Madison's dissent aside...
The idea behind the Electoral College is that the people can't be directly trusted, and instead appoint a set of grown-ups to make the actual decisions for them. It's the same reason we have a Congress and Senate instead of just letting everyone vote on laws directly.
However, in practice what the Electoral College does is disenfranchise huge parts of the country, because its dynamics ensure that Presidential campaigns only really happen in about six contentious states, which are neither the most populous nor the most typical. The candidates focus their campaigns on those states, and the topics that resonate most with those states, and ignore the rest of the country. That's why Ohio and Florida get to decide who our President is, and California largely doesn't matter, despite having more than twice their combined population.
First, voters are effectively disenfranchised in two thirds of the states in presidential elections. Under the now-prevailing statewide winner-take-all rule, presidential candidates do not campaign in states in which they are far ahead because they do not receive any additional electoral votes by winning such states by a larger margin. Similarly, candidates ignore states where they are far behind because they have nothing to gain by losing those states by a smaller margin. Instead, presidential candidates concentrate their public appearances, organizational efforts, advertising, polling, and policy attention on states where the outcome of the popular vote is not a foregone conclusion. In practical political terms, a vote matters in presidential politics only if it is cast in a closely divided battleground state. To put it another way, the question of whether a voter matters in presidential politics depends on whether other voters in the voter's own state happen to be closely divided. In the five most recent presidential elections (1988 -- 2004), about two thirds of the states have been non-competitive, including six of the nation's 10 most populous states (California, Texas, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and North Carolina), 12 of the 13 least populous states; and the vast majority of medium-sized states.
Second, the current system does not reliably reflect the nationwide popular vote. The statewide winner-take-all rule makes it possible for a candidate to win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.
So this is why I hold two opinions that the simpleminded might see as contradictory:
- Given that the Electoral College exists, it would be right and proper, not to mention legal, to use that system to keep a fascist, racist rapist out of office.
The Electoral College is a bad system and should be replaced with a national popular vote.
There's an interesting approach underway in an attempt to make this happen without having to go the full route of a Constitutional amendment: states are individually passing laws saying "our electors pledge to follow the popular vote, but only as soon as enough other states have also signed on." (Game theory!)
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions possessing 165 electoral votes -- 61% of the 270 electoral votes necessary to activate it. [...]
Because of these state winner-take-all statutes, presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to the issues of concern to voters in states where the statewide outcome is a foregone conclusion. As shown on the map, two-thirds of the 2012 general-election campaign events (176 of 253) were in just 4 states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa). Thirty-eight states were ignored.
State winner-take-all statutes adversely affect governance. "Battleground" states receive 7% more federal grants than "spectator" states, twice as many presidential disaster declarations, more Superfund enforcement exemptions, and more No Child Left Behind law exemptions.
Two-thirds (273 of 399) of the general-election campaign events in the 2016 presidential race were in just 6 states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Michigan).
94% of the 2016 events (375 of the 399) were in 12 states (the 11 states identified earlier in the year as "battleground" states by Politico and The Hill and Arizona. This fact validates the statement by former presidential candidate and Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin on September 2, 2015, that ""The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next president. Twelve states are."