Faithless electors are just trying to take political “selfies”


We have become a selfie-obsessed culture, where anonymous hard work no longer seems to be good enough.

That appears to be true now for membership in the Electoral College, as well.

I don’t think I would be out of line to guess that you can’t name the electors in your state. You have faith they will reflect the will of the people in your state and vote for the candidate who won the state’s election for president, as the overwhelming majority did on Monday.

But Maine’s David Bright couldn’t resist taking the symbolic equivalent of a selfie Monday by attempting to cast a vote for Bernie Sanders. Bright, a Democrat, was expected to vote for Hillary Clinton, who won in Maine. Instead he wanted to strike a blow for the young people who liked Bernie.
He said it was the only positive statement he could make, given that Hillary wasn’t going to win the overall race.

A positive statement? Is that the point of being an elector?

In an op-ed, the National Review’s Jim Geraghty said Bright and other “faithless” electors should listen to the words of the late filmmaker Samuel Goldwyn. “If you have a message, call Western Union.”

Geraghty wonders, “Is the job of an elector to send a reassuring or encouraging message to discouraged activists?” He asks whether the majority who voted for Hillary “deserve some encouragement, too?”

One of the reasons the founders established the Electoral College was to guard against someone unqualified, or someone under foreign influence, becoming president. Given the records of several men who have held that office throughout history, it’s hard to make the argument that Donald Trump should be dismissed for that reason out of hand.

Bright’s effort failed, by the way. When his vote was ruled out of order, he quickly changed it to favor Clinton. In Colorado and Minnesota, Democratic electors also tried unsuccessfully to vote for Sanders.

As I write this, it appears only in Washington State and Texas did electors succeed in voting for candidates other than the one chosen by state voters. Hillary was hurt more by this movement than was Trump, which also seems odd. Dismissing Hillary as a protest against Trump is illogical.

But of course, if you’re just looking for a way to take a political selfie – to be remembered rather than to simply do your duty – it wasn’t odd at all.

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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

One comment

  1. Lew E. Jeppson

    “Given the records of several men who have held that office throughout history, it’s hard to make the argument that Donald Trump should be dismissed for that reason out of hand.”

    Yes, but most of them didn’t have nukes. What we know: Trump tells big lies, e.g. birtherism, Cruz senior was linked to the Kennedy assassination. He demonizes groups, e.g. the handicapped, blacks, and women (how dare they menstruate?). He is unbelievably petty. His campaign was in full league with the retrograde Putin government. Trump loves Putin. Trump is for the leveling of the Palestinians by Israel. His chief political adviser is a FASCIST, to put in simply.

    We now have a fascist government. I don’t believe the Trumps will leave office voluntarily.

    I’m still waiting for the Deseret News to react.

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