I supported Bernie Sanders for president. When he failed to obtain the Democratic Party’s nomination, it was a fait accompli that on January 20, 2017, my country would be inaugurating a president I did not wish for that office. My misgivings about Hillary Clinton were—and are—too great for me to be “with her.”

But Donald Trump is something else entirely. He campaigned on an unprecedented combination of fabulation, bigotry, and nationalist fear-mongering, rhetoric seemingly more at home in 1930s Germany or fin de siècle Africa, except that his recent success has proven that indeed it can happen here.

No less worthy of consideration is what Trump would bring to the office. Never mind that he has no pertinent experience. (We should mind, but the Constitution mandates only that he be native-born and over 35.) But we have to mind that Trump will assume the presidency fatally compromised by an array of foreign business entanglements and pending lawsuits.

All of this and more is why a raft of Republican pols—from Mitt Romney and John Kasich to Scott Rigell and Lindsey Graham—along with virtually every major newspaper editorial board in the country, came out against Trump. Washington Post columnist George Will, whom the Atlantic Monthly calls “the dean of conservative columnists,” went so far as to leave the Republican Party once Trump was the presumptive nominee. “Make sure he loses,” Will said in June. “Grit your teeth for four years [of a Hillary Clinton presidency] and [then] win the White House.”

Republican Electors should take Will’s words to heart, hold their noses, cast their votes for Clinton, and gear up the Grand Old Party for 2020. They should do this not because they desire a Clinton presidency or even find the prospect tolerable: they should do it because a Trump presidency would be that bad.

In 1998’s Achieving Our Country, Richard Rorty warned his fellow Americans—us—of the scenario today’s Electoral College is less than a month away from introducing into reality:

[F]ascism may be the American future. […] The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out. For once such a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen. In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly overoptimistic.

 One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words “nigger and “kike” will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.

 But such a renewal of sadism will not alter the effects of selfishness. For after my imagined strongman takes charge, he will quickly make his peace with the international super-rich, just as Hitler made his with German industrialists. He will invoke military adventures which will generate short-term prosperity. He will be a disaster for the country and the world.

In “The Federalist Papers,” Alexander Hamilton recommends the system that would come to be known as the Electoral College by assuring us that

[this] process of election affords a moral certainty, 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. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.

It is the job of the Electoral College, then, to act as an emergency brake when the country would otherwise barrel into the particular sort of presidential disaster that would ensue were such a lofty office attained by a person not genuinely endowed to an eminent degree with the requisite qualifications. Republican Electors should ask themselves whether Hamilton (a bit of an authority on the Electoral College, considering that he was its chief architect) would regard @realDonaldTrump to be just such a case in point, a man whose success among the electorate came not by way of his qualifications for office but through his talents for low intrigue and the little arts of popularity.

It is beyond dispute that most Americans do not find Trump worthy of the presidency. Poll after poll (including even one by Fox News) shows that the American people do not feel Trump is qualified for the office, and he lost the popular vote even though he benefited from millions of votes thrown his way as a referendum on how unpopular—as opposed to unqualified—Clinton is. And in the final days of election season, his campaign was simply far better than hers at speaking to the nonsuburban electorate in a few strategically valuable states. So here we are.

I get the anti-Clinton sentiment (at least as far as it is tied to her actual character and positions, as opposed to the rabid Clinton antipathy with which a portion of the Right is infected). On Election Day, partly because I believe in Green Party principles and partly because my home state (California) was not in danger of going to Trump, I punched a reluctant protest vote for Jill Stein.

But were I an Elector, on December 19 I would have no choice but to vote for Hillary Clinton, because this is the precarious moment in the history of our democracy that Richard Rorty (among others) foresaw. Donald Trump is Rorty’s imagined strongman. That Trump may not be consciously genocidal should be no consolation—disaster comes in many forms. A Trump presidency will be a disaster for our country and our world. In a great nation such as the United States, where we respect and practice the lawful and orderly succession of power, our Electors are the only people left on Earth who can spare us that disaster.

Appendix: The day after Election Day, a California resident started a Change.org petition asking the Electoral College not to make Donald Trump president. It is already the most popular petition in Change.org history, with over 4.5 million signatures. To add your signature, go here.

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