Conflicted Elector in a Corrupt College


When running for the Presidential Elector Nominee some six months ago, I had no idea the conflict that would ensue both from without and within. To say that it has been an “educating experience” would be an understatement. I embarked on this journey with a basic understanding of the difference between a republic and a pure democracy. I knew the Constitutional Fathers[1] set up our government as the former and not the latter[2]. They had wisdom we lack. In my speech before the convention, I mentioned that nothing exemplified the difference between these two forms of the government more than the Electoral College. I admit, at the time, I was ignorant how deeply that held true.

Republic vs Democracy

The essence of a republic is that the authority rests in elected representatives, not in the people directly.  Noah Webster defined a republic as,

“A commonwealth; a state in which the exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people. In modern usage, it differs from a democracy or democratic state, in which the people exercise the powers of sovereignty in person.”[3]

The Electoral College was created with this mind. In the original design the Electors were chosen, either by an election or appointment[4], to represent the people of their district in the selection of a President. The assumption was these Electors would be 1) men most familiar with those that were capable of filling this office, 2) possess wisdom and discernment to know those who sought the office but weren’t capable, and 3) could be trusted to act in the best interest of those they represented. Alexander Hamilton said Electors would be,

“A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”[5]    

The Electors were to be men who were selected to make this vote based on their own discernarticle2ment.  There is no indication that Electors were ever to be directed by the population at large on how to vote. Their votes were to be their own, made in the best interest of those they represented. That is the nature of true representation. Gary Alder writes in his concise of history of this system, “A presupposition that wise Electors who know how to nominate individuals of character, experience, virtue, and integrity underlies the whole process. The wisdom and integrity of the Electors is essential. The independence of the Electors is even more crucial. For the system to work, Electors must know how to choose—not be told who to choose.”[6]

Today the average voter screams in opposition, “Why would they trust their Electors to make this choice on their own?”  It is because the framers understood the nature of a republic.  Ironically, though many of them would not have identified themselves as Christian, they understood this biblical concept of representative (covenant) heads more than most pastors do today. Representative heads act and speak on behalf of and in the best interest of those they represent.  A limited analogy can be found in the family relationship. Parents are the representative heads of their kids.[7] When parents make a decision for the family, they do so on behalf of everyone they represent.  Good parents act in the best interest of their children. At times this may even be contrary to the desire of the children. In most homes, kids do not have the right to vote to eat Skittles for dinner. It is not in their best interest. The parents have a delegated authority to protect those under their jurisdiction. Hamilton, in a similar way, saw the role of the body of Electors (representatives) as a protection for the nation.

“The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.”[8]

Unfortunately, we no longer operate with the same wisdom and discernment as our forefathers. Where they warned of the evils they experienced which “flow from the excess of democracy,”[9] we demand the voice of the people be heard. This difference between a republic and democracy is all but lost in public discourse by conservatives and progressives alike. Those on the left side of the aisle seem to bemoan the fact that the popular vote is ignored. Many don’t like that the representatives, Electors, even exist. They are calling for the abolishment of the Electoral College system completely. Conservatives aren’t much better. They don’t mind that the representatives in a republic exist as long as, contrary to Webster’s definition, no “power is lodged in their representatives.” They want the power in the people directly. The representatives are only there to do what the people demand. They want a democracy, not a republic. They want the power to vote for Skittles for dinner. This is evident by how they approach their legislators. They want them to do X, Y or Z because that is what “we the people” demand. The Constitutionality of it only matters when the legislators are listening to another faction of their constituency.

Corrupted College

The Electoral College was corrupted from its original intent once states started dictating the votes of the Electors.  The two biggest aggressors to the original system were from political parties and the switch to winner-take-all states. The rise ofjames-madisonpolitical parties, as George Washington prophetically predicted, has had a “baneful effect”[10] on our nation. They have all but ruined our Electoral College system. Originally Electors were free from political parties and their pledges. What mattered most was the character and qualifications of the candidate, not the viability of their path to victory (primaries) or the team that any candidate represented. The Electors were also free from these statewide popular vote contests that run all but two states today.[11] “When James Madison and Hamilton, two of the most important architects of the Electoral College, saw this strategy [statewide popular vote] being taken by some states, they protested strongly. Madison and Hamilton both made it clear this approach violated the spirit of the Constitution. Hamilton considered a pre-pledged elector to violate the spirit of Article II of the Constitution insofar as such electors could make no ‘analysis’ or ‘deliberate’ concerning the candidates. Madison agreed entirely, saying that when the Constitution was written, all of its authors assumed individual electors would be elected in their districts and it was inconceivable a ‘general ticket’ of electors dictated by a state would supplant the concept. Madison wrote,[12]

The district mode was mostly, if not exclusively in view when the Constitution was framed and adopted; & was exchanged for the general ticket.”[13]

The current pledges most political parties make Electors sign after they are elected is contrary to the original intent of the Constitution.  The fact that the pledge makes no mention of the biblical qualifications (I wrote about here) necessary for one to serve as President makes it an immoral pledge.  Most will think I am just clinging to long forgotten principles that, quite frankly, no one cares about anymore. That may be true, but I would point to Principle 1 of the Republican Party of Texas 2016 Platform, which was passed at the same convention that elected me.

We, the 2016 Republican Party of Texas, believe in this platform and expect our elected leaders to uphold these truths through acknowledgement and action. We believe in:

 “The laws of nature and nature’s God” and we support the strict adherence to the original language and intent of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions of the United States and of Texas.[14]  

The law of nature’s God give clear principles for electing civil leaders. The original intent of the Constitution gives a specific method that to apply those principles. The Republican party of Texas declares their #1 principle is to honor God and original intent of the Constitution. They then force Electors to make a pledge that is contrary to both.  To point out this discrepancy is treasonous.

Conflicted Elector

I admit all of this has left me deeply troubled and conflicted as an Elector.  When asking the three wisest men I know about the wisest decision I should make, I received three different answers. As an Elector, I came to conclusion I have three options under our current system. I can 1) vote for the nominee of their party under which I was elected, 2) vote for someone else and be considered a faithless elector (a term I despise), or 3) I could resign my position if the candidate turns out to be someone I can not, in good conscience, vote for. I believe under the right circumstances every option is not only valid, but can be ethically the righteous thing for a Christian to do. The question that everyone wants answered is, what will I, an Elector who is under the conviction that our nominee is not a biblically qualified candidate, do? After wavering back and forth, my conscience is finally at peace with the decision I’ve made.

Voting for the nominee of our party, Mr. Trump, is certainly what the vast majority of Republicans are urging me to do.  I have yet to find anyone that has biblically answered my first article. They don’t make the case that Trump is indeed biblically qualified. I have had a few people take issue with the original intent of the Electoral College and my job as an Elector. Once presented with the evidence they usually acknowledge the validity of the original intent, but claim that has changed. The biggest beef most people have with me being so “arrogant” as to publicly state “this issue is so important that I am going to think about it” is that I signed the pledge.  I have already expressed my reasons why I think the pledge is an immoral, unlawful pledge that the GOP makes Electors sign.  It undermines the Bible and the Constitution.  But they are 100% correct. I did, in fact, sign the pledge. It was a voluntary pledge and I willingly signed it. I was wrong in signing this pledge and not communicating to the body when I ran that my conscience would not be bound by it. I honestly did not have the convictions about the original purpose of the Electoral College or the biblical qualifications until after I was an Elector. The Bible calls this a rash oath and warns against making them.[15] It clearly states,

“if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it- when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters. And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.”[16]

To be ignorant of all the details involved in an oath (pledge) does not excuse the sin of making that oath. One thing is clear, I have sinned in signing that pledge. I humbly confess that it was wrong for me to do so. I am grateful for the forgiveness I have in Christ for all my foolishness. The heart of this issue now is, does honoring the pledge cause me to sin?  If it does, then I am obligated not to honor it.[17]  If it doesn’t, then I am obligated to honor it.[18]

My second option is to be a “Faithless Elector.” A Faithless Elector is an Elector that casts his vote contrary to any party pledge or state law he may be bound by.[19] On the surface this seems like it would be difficult to justify how being faithless could be a righteous act. Aren’t Electors elected to represent the people? Yes, they absolutely are. That only begs the question, what does it mean to represent the people? This is where our understanding or lack thereof of a representative form of government comes into play. As an elected representative head, I am to speak on behalf of and in the interest of the CD36. It is my conviction that the greatest danger to my district is not a Hillary or Trump Presidency, but it is the judgement of God. If we continue to disobey His clear commands, we can expect to receive His judgement. If being a “Faithless Elector” means standing alone on principle in the hopes that God would continue to grant patience on our district, then it is worth any political future, threats to my safety, and whatever else may come my way.

The last option I see for me is resigning from this position. The Republican Party of Texas has an immoral pledge because that is what the people want. They want a democracy. They want their popular vote across the state counted. They do not care about the authority of the office of an Elector. As long as they have someone to do what the people demand, they don’t care who it is.

Conclusion

I do not see how Donald Trump is biblically qualified to serve in the office of the Presidency. Of the hundreds of angry messages that I have received, not one has made a convincing case from scripture otherwise. If Trump is not qualified and my role, both morally and historically, as an elected official is to vote my conscience, then I can not and will not vote for Donald Trump for President. I believe voting for Trump would bring dishonor to God. The reality is Trump will be our President, no matter what my decision is. Many are furious that I am willing to have this discussion publicly. Personally, I wish more civil officers would be honest about their convictions.  Assuming a Trump Presidency is their ultimate goal, they will get that. The problem is, that isn’t what they want. They want a democracy. They will threaten to kill anyone who challenges their power to vote for Skittles for dinner. That is evidence alone to prove that our republic is lost. The shell may remain, but in the hearts of the people and functionality of the system our republic is gone. I also believe that a pledge is a man’s word that he will follow through on something he committed to. God’s Word is clear we should all “let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and our ‘no,’s ‘no.”[20] I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district. Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector. This will allow the remaining body of Electors to fill my vacancy when they convene on Dec 19 with someone that can vote for Trump. The people will get their vote. They will get their Skittles for dinner. I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.

Art Sisneros


[1] The true founding fathers were those men that established the culture and law of our land some 150 years before 1776.

[2] James Madison takes up this issue in Federalist# 10 http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm

[3] American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 Noah Webster

[4] In 1792- 9 out of 15 states appointed electors by 1836 23 out of 24 states went to elected electors- The Founders’ Constitution vol 3 pp. 552-553

[5] http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed68.asp

[6] The Evolution and Destruction of the Original Electoral College, Gary Alder p. 44

[7] Ephesians 5:22-6:4

[8] http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed68.asp

[9] United States-Formation of the Union, P 125 Elridge Gerry at Constitutional Convention

[10] George Washington Collection, p 519

[11] Maine and Nebraska are currently to only states that do not have a winner take all system.

[12]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States)#Breakdown_and_revision

[13] “Founders Online: James Madison to George Hay, 23 August 1823″.

[14] https://3npv5lo075n4f1mrxbxvz8hv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/PERM-PLATFORM-as-Amended-by-Gen-Body-5.13.16.pdf

[15] 1 Samuel 14:24-52 and Judges 11:29-40 give examples of rash oaths

[16] Leviticus 5:4,5

[17] 1 Samuel 14:44,45 Israel interposed on Jonathan’s behalf. Lev 27 details how to buy back (redeem) after a vow has been made. The vow was not eternally binding. For the Christian, redemption was accomplished on cross.

[18] Numbers 30:2

[19] Twenty-one states do not have laws compelling their electors to vote for a pledged candidate. Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia have laws to penalize faithless electors.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithless_elector

[20] Matthew 5:37

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