Extra: Electors elect

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19 December 2016

NH State House (snowy)

Four of the electors had to put on snowshoes and mush to this building in order to do their self-evident and utterly unremarkable task.

CONCORD, New Hampshire -- Capping this impossible year in which the snake-bitten Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series and the perennially awful Cleveland Cadavers won the NBA, the most improbable thing of all has occurred: America's 538 Presidential electors assembled here and in the other state capitals and more-or-less did what the voters had told them to do.

306 304 of them voted for Donald Trump, whereas 232 227 of them voted for Hillary Clinton, as the nation knew they would, five tumultuous weeks ago.

The Electoral College was a 1787 innovation to get the American people to believe they were electing a President while safely insulating them from the actual levers of power. Back in the "good old days," for example, President was not even on the ballot in New York State. Rather, the Electors met in a "smoke-filled room" at Tammany Hall and voted for whomever promised the state the largest amount of highway money without putting any of them in jail.

Chris Christie microphone

Gov. Christie as a candidate could be a bridge between parties, except for that indictment thing.

In the five weeks since the Electors got their marching orders, however, the nation has been hit with a flurry of Fake News spread by the usual green ink crowd. The key story said that dozens of Electors — who are the oldest, crustiest, hell-or-high-water excuse-makers of their respective political parties — were getting cold feet about actually making it official that their nominee had carried their state, given the most loathsome pair of opponents in history since Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012.

The Fake News said that an epidemic of Electors would discard their party careers, get an attack of conscience, and "do the right thing" as defined by rich Hollywood stars. Martin Sheen and other celebrities made a video imploring Electors to flip their voters the bird and vote for someone respectable, perhaps John Kasich or Jim Gilmore. "We're not asking you to vote for Hillary Clinton," Sheen stated reassuringly. The result would have been that, instead of the Electors picking Trump, the House of Representatives would have picked Trump. But everyone could feel cleaner.


Even Jebbers could be a compromise candidate that would let the Republicans claim their victory but not actually achieve results.

The notion to head Trump off at the Electoral College was a rebirth of dozens of Rock 'n' Roll careers built on the notion that, merely recording or buying albums could induce the world's soldiers to end all war by abandoning their training, dropping their weapons, and "talking it out" (in English) with the enemy in the moments before he squeezed his own trigger.

However, at the end of the day — and after hundreds of Republicans had been admitted to hospitals for palpitations and dizziness — the Electors simply did their electing. The year's bizarre outcomes in baseball and basketball did not occur in the nation's true full-contact sport, and it was not necessary to call any Flagrant-2 Fouls.

To be sure, there were some defections. Two Republican Electors were "faithless," one voting for Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, whom he had just seen on Broadway, and another voting for Harold Stassen. "He used to run, year after year," said the wistful Elector. However, five of Mrs. Clinton's own Electors became Defectors. One each voted for Julian Assange, Vladimir Putin, Che Guevara, and the late Fidel Castro, even at the risk of endless debate over the "natural born citizen" rule. One even went for Bernie Sanders, which may give him the unfortunate idea it was all worth it. Schoolchildren around the country will now learn the Defectors' names in case they ever become contestants on television's Jeopardy! or want to do a New York Times crossword puzzle.

Electors in both Minnesota and Maine also tried to vote for Sanders but were marched out of the meeting, their votes cast by replacements. Bill Clinton was an Elector from New York State, and did his job right for once, though he did chuckle that there were a couple sexy chicks in the back of the room he would have to check out.

The nation still has grounds for hope, however. The Electoral Votes from each state will not be counted and certified until January 6, 2017 in Washington, D.C. So there are still three entire weeks in which our system of arithmetic can come apart, or the new House of Representatives might simply forget to do it.

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