Our State of Disunion

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We have witnessed an event that defies every principle and value which defines our nation. We need to reflect on those principles and values and define a course of action which restores them.

            The details of January 6, 2021 are on display everywhere; you don’t need me to tell you about them.

            What everyone needs to do is step back from the emotional reactions and think about solving the problem. Of course, we can’t solve a problem if we haven’t defined the problem. So, I will attempt to begin defining it.

What is the purpose of the electoral college?

            Of the many editorials that have been written, Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas provided a good explanation of the problem in his Wall Street Journal op-ed, Republican’s Fight Isn’t in Congress (Friday, January 8, 2021).

            Among some of the important points in the op-ed, the following stands out.

In Federalist No. 68, Alexander lays out the purpose of the Electoral College, arguing that an independent and decentralized body of electors should elect the president. “The choice of several, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements.” According to Hamilton, the only people in America who should not (my emphasis) be allowed to be named an elector would [be] members of the House and Senate and any “other person holding a place of trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the president in office

                Could it be said that every Republican in the House and Senate who challenge the electoral vote had “too great devotion to the President in office”? And what is the role of Congress in the election process? Rep. Crenshaw provides more insight.

Article II of the Constitution lays out a clear role for Congress. “The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.” It does not say (my emphasis) “certify”. It does not say (my emphasis) “object if you disagree.” It does not say (my emphasis) “object and decertify if you feel the state’s certification is wrong.” The only contingency the Constitution provides is in the case of a failure of any candidate to reach an electoral majority.

Rep. Crenshaw goes on to explain how the Electoral Count Act was misread by members of Congress. The essence of the Act was to allow Congress to object to competing slates of electors. In 1876, states certified competing slates and sent both to Congress. (For instance, a governor might send one slate and the legislature another.)

            However, in the 2020 election, no state submitted competing slates and no “state legislature petitioned Congress to consider different electors”.

            The concerns of Congress about the integrity of the election process are state problems; they are not the problems of the Congress. However, as Rep. Crenshaw notes: “The concerns about election integrity are real, and they must be heard.” He provides a shopping list of integrity issues. Among them are unverified signatures on mail-in ballots and a refusal to update registration rolls. He notes that Republicans should advocate for “changes in the states, which the Constitution invests with primary responsibility for conducting elections. That is where our fight is. That is the hard work. And that must be our priority.”

This is only part of the problem, but we can begin to think of a solution for this problem now.

The Solution Begins with Active Citizenship

            As I stated in My 2020 Vote: A Vote for America’s Future, “To be classified as active, a citizen should track the officials who received their vote. For instance, if your Congressman is not supporting the initiatives he or she promised to support, contact him or her. “ The time to be active is now.

            Get to know the election process for your city/town, for your county, for you state. Are the problems identified by Rep. Crenshaw a problem where you live? Are there other problems? If so, contact your state assemblyman and your state senator. Begin the documentation process of the problems. Contact your neighbors and alert them to the problems. Convince them to submit their concerns to their state representatives. Then advise your representative in Congress that you need to introduce a Resolution in the House that holds your state, county, and/or city/town accountable for correcting all issues associated with the voting process.

            Active citizens never need demonstrations; their participation in governance is demonstration enough.

            As always “Good night and good luck.” (Edward R. Murrow)

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