2016 presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich told electors not to vote for him. Here's why it doesn't matter.
The United States’ Founding Fathers laid out a thorough plan for the way our leaders are chosen and how to protect our nation's interests and security. These men, having waged bloody revolution to break free of the tyranny of the Crown, envisioned a nation free of Old World ways of governing which allowed men in power to destroy lives and livelihoods for personal gain.
The Founding Fathers established a new system in which citizens elected their leaders through a general election. In their prescient wisdom, they also anticipated things might one day go wrong in the general election and designed a failsafe: the Electoral College.
Members of the Electoral College, as laid out by the Twelfth Amendment and Federalist No. 68, are constitutionally obligated to choose a qualified candidate of “preeminent ability and virtue” if the winner of their state’s popular vote is deemed to be unfit to serve. There is no clause requiring that the alternative candidate chosen by a state’s electors be anyone on the general election presidential ballot, nor is there a provision stating an alternative candidate’s active participation is needed to be elected. That means that if the winner of the state popular vote is unqualified, the Founding Fathers instruct that it is the job of the Electoral College to deliberate amongst themselves to select a qualified candidate. If a majority is not chosen in the Electoral College, then the House of Representatives must choose a president who “in their opinion may be best qualified for the office.”
This is called a draft, and John Kasich is a compelling Republican choice for such a movement if Republican electors do not feel swayed to align with the national popular vote.
As governor of Ohio, Kasich established the Ohio Ethics Law, banning state officials and employees from conducting public business with conflicts of interest. This demonstration of professional political ethics is in direct and stark contrast with Donald Trump, who has spent the past month using the presidency as a platform for his own business dealings while actively ignoring national security briefings more than any other president ever. Kasich has the years of executive experience required to run a country. After years serving as chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee in the Nineties, Kasich turned Ohio’s $6-8 billion dollar budget deficit into a $2 million dollar rainy day fund during his tenure as Governor.
And if it’s any indication of his appeal to moderates on both sides of the aisle looking for a way out of a Trump presidency, the 2016 Ohio primary saw large numbers of Democrats and Independents voting along with Republicans for Kasich to block Trump from winning their state. Whoever a draft candidate might be, they will need to be able to garner support from both Republicans and Democrats alike when House Republicans split over Trump and the alternative. Kasich has recently proven he can do this.
Governor Kasich's refusal to go against his party and promote himself as a white knight signifies many things about his statesmanship and respect for his party and our democratic system, but it does not signify a deterrent for electors considering drafting Kasich, or any other eminently qualified candidate, to stop Trump. If Republican electors agree that Kasich has the statesmanship and experience required, they can write him onto their ballots December 19 and are in fact compelled to do so.
Texas, for example, would be fertile ground for a draft movement. Texas may have voted red but is far from being Trump country (Trump lost Texas by a landslide to Ted Cruz in the Republican primaries). Texas also has 38 electoral votes, which is one more than the total needed to stop Trump. In other words, Texas could single-handedly save the country if Republican electors there vote their conscience. The vote would then pass to the House of Representatives, where Republicans and Democrats would need to rally behind the alternative candidate to form a coalition administration.
Whoever that candidate should be, as a patriot, he or she would have no choice but to answer the country’s call for proper leadership in what has become one of our nation’s darkest hours.