November 19, 2020
Author: Chilton Williamson
American conservatives today think of the late Samuel T. Francis when they hear the words “the stupid party.” In fact, the author of the phrase was not Sam but James Fitzjames Stephen, the British lawyer, judge, and writer in the middle and latter part of the 19th century, who invented it to designate the Tory Party. Recognizing its applicability to American politics in the 20th century, Sam resurrected and borrowed the term to describe the Grand Old Party. In the 21stcentury, Donald Trump and his supporters have done much in a mere four years to rid that party of much of its stupidity. That makes the news that some of those supporters—including Donald Trump, Jr. and Senator Lindsey Graham—are toying with the notion of urging state legislatures, the majority of them Republican, to designate slates of electors in favor of President Trump to Congress in disregard, if necessary, of the number of counted and certified votes in their various states, the more shocking.
Such a thing would, of course, be complete madness. So mad, in fact, that Democrats might well be willing to acquiesce in this desperate tactic of weakness and final resort, calculating (correctly) that tolerating Trump in the White House for the next four years would be an ordeal well worth the winning of every presidential vote for the foreseeable future in exchange for the relatively brief ordeal.
Elements in the Democratic Party, and a number of states controlled by that party, have been considering the same strategy for some years now; arguing that the Electoral College is undemocratic and that presidents should be elected by the national popular vote alone. The idea was rejected by the Constitutional Congress, which recognized that in a nation so geographically and culturally diverse as the new nation they were in process of designing would be, the sole way of accommodating and reflecting those differences was to recognize regional votes along with the national one, if the country were to be held together in the years and decades following ratification—if, indeed, the document they were drafting were to be ratified at all. The United States, though far more culturally homogenized in 2020 than it was in 1787, remains an association of widely various and distinct regions, whose interests have as much need—and right—as individuals to have those interests reflected and recognized by the Congress sitting in Washington. Hence the Electoral College.
The Republican Party has always been the defender of the electoral system, partly in its own interest, partly in the interest of the country. For it to abuse that system now would be wholly to destroy its reputation as the defender of the Constitution itself against the Jacobin left that seeks to exploit, ignore, and finally destroy our founding document–and with it democratic government in America– by transforming the country in the image of the Democratic left. The Electoral College is one of the few major advantages that the Republican Party, American conservatism, and free individuals enjoy at the end of the first fifth of the 21st century. For Republicans to ignore it for the sake of winning a single presidential election would be suicidal as well as immoral. As the closest thing the United States has to a Christian party, the GOP should reflect before it acts so rashly and so immorally where it is that we are promised suicides go when they die.