If you think 2016 will stop being weird come
Consider independent write-in candidate for president
It's a long shot. Very long. But if McMullin managed the greatest upset of all time, it would be a very good thing, and not just because so many of us would rather see someone other than
McMullin, whom I've met several times, is an earnest, patriotic and brave man who spent nearly a decade serving his country undercover in the CIA. He was until recently the chief policy director of the
The McMullin scenario works like this: If no candidate manages to win 270 electoral votes, the electors -- i.e., the people who cast electoral votes on
Under the 12th Amendment, members of the House then must choose from the top three finishers in the
So, if Clinton and Trump fall short of the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch -- admittedly a huge "if" given that projections show Clinton grabbing as many as 341 electoral votes -- the decision goes to the new
I think I can skip a few steps and just assert that many representatives will refuse to vote for Trump or Clinton.
But what about McMullin? Here, the vanilla rule might apply. Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in America not because it's everyone's favorite, but because it is the least objectionable to the greatest number of people. There are probably no Democrats who wouldn't prefer McMullin to Trump. There are almost certainly no Republicans who wouldn't prefer McMullin to Clinton. Picking the least objectionable option is often the essence of statesmanship. If 26 state delegations pick the least-bad option, McMullin becomes the first Mormon president.
Some would complain that this isn't very democratic. So what?
By our contemporary standards, the Founding Fathers distrusted democracy too much. But they had good reasons. If you think all questions should be settled democratically, let's scrap the Bill of Rights, which elevates our most fundamental priorities out of the reach of voters pretty much forever.
Sometimes democracy steers us in bad directions. For the founders, the solution to such wrong turns wasn't despotism, but constitutionalism -- and when required, statesmanship. Imagine that in the next few days there is another scandalous WikiLeaks dump involving Clinton and another devastating revelation about Trump that truly disqualify both from higher office -- but they still get millions more votes than McMullin because of early voting and blind partisanship.
Personally, I wouldn't mind if the
Obviously, the election experts are 99.99 percent sure this scenario will never come to pass. The only reason for hope: 2016 laughs at the experts.