WOULDN’T BET THE RANCH ON IT

1. It’s Thursday, December 15, 2016.

2. On this day 225 years ago, the Bill of Rights went into effect when Virginia’s legislature approved it.

The Bill of Rights. In the Trump era, is it about to become a museum piece?

3. There’s still a way for Trump not to become president.

It’s a hope clung to by Democrats and the straggler #NeverTrump types on the right who are still in shock that such a thing could happen.

It goes something like this: 37 of the 306 electors awarded to Trump on Nov. 8 must opt not to vote for him when the Electoral College convenes Monday. That would leave him at 269 electoral votes, one shy of the 270 needed.

What would entice those 37 to not vote for Trump?

Some might be troubled – as well they should be – by the indications that the Russians manipulated the election. In this reasoning, they hacked into both political parties and released damaging information about the one they wanted to lose – the Democrats.

Some might be troubled by the rampant conflict of interests that seem to lurk around this particular president-elect. There are few people who don’t seem to believe this guy is using the highest office in the land to get rich. It should be unsettling.

But 37 is a lot of electors. About one in eight.

Now, the second thing that would have to happen in the next four days is for there to appear some candidate who those electors believe would make a better president than Trump.

4. And there’s one other person who has to agree with them.

Hillary Clinton.

Yeah, remember her. The one who got 2.83 million more votes than the guy declared the winner.

What Clinton would have to sign off on is the idea that the 232 electors slated to vote for her should be freed to vote for someone else. Namely, the candidate that the 37 faithless Trump electors want.

And who would that be?

If you’re a liberal Democrat like me, or just a person who thinks there should be something noble about the USA, let me ask a question. Which would you prefer right now – Trump or either President Willard Mitt Romney or President John Sidney McCain III?

That, to me, is a no-brainer. Yes, Romney and McCain are conservative Republicans, and will probably act on the same agenda that Trump seems set to endorse. We’re going to have to fight for Medicare and Obamacare and a woman’s right to choose and who knows what else.

But at least we’d be dealing with someone proven to be above self-interest. Actual patriots who are not puppets of Vladimir Putin.

If Clinton checks off on the choice, that would give both Trump and either Romney or McCain 269 electoral votes. That would throw the election to the House.

5. In the 115th Congress, 32 state delegations are all or mostly Republican, 17 are all or mostly Democratic and one, Maine, is divided.

So the 17 Democratic delegations and, since we’re being fanciful, Maine, would have to flip eight Republican delegations from Trump to Romney or McCain.

Another tall order. But if we’re conducting this exercise, let’s take the final leap and say Utah, Arizona and six other states that would put country over party – with the help of patriotic Democrats.

On Jan. 20, Romney or McCain would take the oath of office. Trump would be apoplectic. Ditto his followers.

But a sane man would be in the Oval Office. Putin would be thwarted.

It’s a nice dream in the middle of our national nightmare.

6. Here’s why it won’t happen.

It is doubtful that one in eight electors is faithless. I know that there are reports that there might be 20 or so. I don’t believe it.

Republicans like one thing more than their principles – they like to win. And, despite putting up the least qualified candidate for president in American history, and being fully prepared to disown him had he lost as expected, the R guy won.

There’s another more principled reason why this is a fantasy.

Do we really want these electors to decide for themselves who should or shouldn’t be president when the people of their state have made their choice? Who the hell are they?

Yes, you could make the argument that we didn’t know the extent that the information upon which Americans were basing their choice was tampered by a hostile foreign power.

Perhaps the drip, drip of hacked e-mails that Putin’s tame pets, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, released made the Democrats seem petty and untrustworthy.

But let’s face the facts.

While Hillary Clinton, as of the moment I’m writing this, got 2,838,506 more votes, 62,951,513 people actually voted for Trump. They actually looked at these two people, watched one of them campaign in hatred and pettiness, and said, “Yeah, he should be president.”

There’s no getting around that.

That more people in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania wanted the horse’s ass is something this country will wrestle with for perhaps the first half of this century. I believe I won’t live to see the damage totally undone – if it ever is.

It would be nice if Trump didn’t become the 45th President of the United States. Really, really nice.

But it’s just a dream.

On Monday, unless there is some kind of thunderbolt, the Electoral College will confirm the people’s second choice.

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