On January 20th, 2017, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, assuming that he’ll get at least 270 votes in the Electoral College this coming Monday. Originally the Electoral College, established by the 12th Amendment of the US Constitution, was created because the Framers didn’t really trust the voters’ ability to choose a competent president, so instead of allowing a direct vote with a simple majority they built a buffer between the electorate and the presidency, a college of informed and responsible citizens who would ultimately select its next incumbent. Bluntly stated, the Electoral College was created to keep idiots, crooks and hucksters out of the White House, and as such it could perfectly serve its purpose on Monday, but that is not very likely to happen. With the emergence of national political parties in the late 18th century, who developed more or less transparent processes to select candidates for the presidency and the vice-presidency, the college became obsolete, but it didn’t disappear.
The reason for its persistence was, as is so often the case with dysfunctional phenomena, America’s original sin, slavery. The southern states, more than 60 years before the Civil War, feared that in a direct national election by free men they would be vastly outnumbered by the North, which at some point might very well result in a government intent on abolishing slavery. So they struck a deal, of the kind that president-elect Trump might very well appreciate: the Electoral College was maintained, and southern states were allowed to add three fifths of their number of slaves to the electorate that determined their representation in the college. As a result, Virginia became the strongest state, and for 32 of the Constitution’s first 36 years a white slaveholder from Virginia occupied the presidency. Without the Electoral College votes generated by the slaves this would never have been the case, and the obvious perversity of this arrangement was that slaves were not allowed to vote, or have any other civil rights for that matter.
Although the option of putting a lying huckster like Trump in the White House would be an appropriate reason to revive the original intention with which the Electoral College was created, the overwhelming odds are that Trump’s presidency will be confirmed. So far only one elector from Texas, who is supposed to vote for Trump because Trump won his state, has indicated that his conscience prohibits him from doing so, and one is not enough.
Since both the CIA and the FBI have concluded that Russian hackers, with direct support from Putin, have tried to skew the election in Trump’s favor by only releasing emails from Democrats, an argument has been made that the Electoral College should take those facts into account, but even that last minute information won’t stop Trump’s election.
So Trump will have to be deposed of by traditional means, impeachment, and there will be plenty of reasons. A brief selection: violations of the Constitution, corruption, nepotism, brownnosing Putin, encouraging an Israel-Iran war, starting dumb trade wars and letting the planet die.