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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

What if the election were to go to the House?

We will miss this election when it's all over. Why? Here's why. (The clip is embedded at the bottom of this post.)

I've always liked Samantha Bee -- but until she got her own show, I didn't know what she was made of. This woman is more dangerous than a truck load of chainsaw killers, and I mean that as a compliment. John Oliver is the only other comic who still has the ability to make me laugh that hard at Donald Trump.

And yet...

I've noted a new scent in the air -- the smell of vulnerability. New metaphor: Although it has long been obvious that Jet Trump is not likely to crash and burn, the airliner may have begun its slow descent.

One sign of the times is this message from Michael Bloomberg, who won't be running this year. This smart man has crunched some numbers, and he can foresee the likely result of a run:
In a three-way race, it’s unlikely any candidate would win a majority of electoral votes, and then the power to choose the president would be taken out of the hands of the American people and thrown to Congress. The fact is, even if I were to receive the most popular votes and the most electoral votes, victory would be highly unlikely, because most members of Congress would vote for their party’s nominee. Party loyalists in Congress -- not the American people or the Electoral College -- would determine the next president.
In other words, Bloomberg fears that his entry would hand the election to Trump, which he (Bloomberg) clearly considers the worst case scenario. (Bravo, Mr. Bloomberg: You did not let his ego override the message of the math.)

And yet...

Some naughty part of me wants to make it happen. By "it," I don't mean a Trump presidency: I'd like to see an election go to the House. The procedure is called a "contingent election," and we have not had one since 1824.

C'mon, admit it: Don't you want to see that kind of craziness happen just once before you die? I've lived long enough to see the fall of the USSR, a truly inane impeachment, a millennium switchover, a retired Pope, a black president, and a really good TV show about Daredevil. What else is left? For me, not much: I'd like to paint a first-rate oil painting, to write a book (any book -- need not be first-rate), and to witness a contingent election. And that's it. That's the bucket list.

Do you think that Republican "party loyalists" in Congress would vote for Trump or someone else? Given the attitudes of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan toward the GOP frontrunner, I suspect that much of the vote would go to "someone else."

As I understand it, the Constitution (as amended) states that House members could vote only for the top three vote-getters. (We're talking about the top three in the electoral college, not in the popular vote.) Let us posit a scenario in which those top three are Trump, Clinton and Bloomberg: What would happen?

The Republicans would never allow Hillary to be President, even if she got the most electoral votes. We can be sure of that much.

One of the oddities of a contingent election is that each state would have only one vote in the House, no matter how many representatives that state may have sent to Congress. Alabama's vote would count as much as California's vote. Currently, the red states outnumber the blue states, although the blue states are (generally speaking) more populous. Thus, the House would never "chuse" a liberal.

(Yes, "chuse" is the spelling used in the Constitution. And yes, the red staters do think of Hillary as a liberal.)

But Bloomberg himself is far too liberal for many red staters. (Say what you like about Hillary: She doesn't give a damn about the size of your soda.) So...what to do, what to do?

I think that the representatives would quietly come up with a plan: They would engineer a three-way split which would not give an outright victory to Hillary, Donald or Mikey.

And what would happen then...?

Simple. According to the Constitution, the winner of the Vice Presidential election would become President, just as if the President had died. In a contingent election, the Senate chooses the VP.

Right now, my prediction is that Donald Trump will choose Christie as his veep pick. Thus, in a contingent election, the House and the Senate would probably collude to insure that Chris Christie walks into the Oval Office.

So Bloomberg may think that he bowed out to prevent a Trump presidency, even though he actually may have prevented a Christie presidency.

Added note. Donald Trump could have made the whole David Duke imbroglio go away with two simple words (delivered in a heartfelt manner): I'm sorry. Trump is one of those guys who would rather stab himself in the eye than show a moment's vulnerability or contrition. He can't even apologize for tactical reasons.

And here's that Samantha Bee clip we mentioned at the start...




Comments:
How fascinating! Have you heard that Mitwit Romney has filed papers to run?

It's early days, still, but my current manuscript is over 50pp now. I feel the 20 year tantrum (I turned to poetry) I threw when my second novel was not picked up is long enough. What's worked for me is writing down the lead measure I'm taking and my next step, then keep moving that forward a little. I would think your main problem would be to decide WHICH book you want to write. You have so much excellent material!
 
If by January 20th the house has failed to elect a president, the vice president doesn't become president, but will be acting president until the house elects a president, which it can do right up till the end of the term.

A Scandinavian
 
Really? I'll take your word for it, although I had been given to understand differently.

Well, the Republicans would never allow Hillary or Donnie to become president, so they would remain deadlocked semi-permanently. Christie it is.
 
It's the 20th amendment. A fun quirk in your scenario is that if a pissed-off Trump runs and wins in 2020, then the house can finally come around to elect him (say on January 19th, 2021), in order to limit his presidency to one term, as per the 22nd amendment "[n]o person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice".

A Scandinavian
 
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