Eight days to the election [full-body shudder], and the final dirty tricks of Campaign 2016 are underway, with FBI Director James Comey trying to revive the Clinton email scandal while Clinton operatives try to neutralize it, and him.
The rightbloggers who’ve gone all-in with Trump remain all-in, of course; the dumber ones just churn the usual bullshit for the entertainment of other true believers (“IT’S COME TO THIS=> Hillary Clinton Campaigns at Bar, In Florida, Mid Morning, On Sunday” — Gateway Pundit), while the smarter ones try to pull down fence-sitters, as did Instapundit Glenn Reynolds last weekend, telling USA Today readers that sure, Trump’s a sinister clown, but elect him anyway, we can control him (and no fair making the obvious comparison, it’s against Godwin’s Law).
As for the less Trump-friendly rightbloggers, well, they’re even less Clinton-friendly, so they denounce her eight ways to Election Day and mostly keep mum about what ensues if she loses.
But some of the brethren, perhaps cracking under the pressure (and unable to sustain the fiction that it’s all “rigged,” as the boss says), have been entertaining a fantasy that a white-hatted alternative will sweep in and save them from both Trump and Hillary — namely, rightwing whosis Evan McMullin, a NeverTrump candidate on the ballot in all of 11 states. Voters can’t make it happen — but, in this fantasy, voters don’t really play a role. And why should they, after they let the brethren down so badly?
The McMullin gambit, explained in detail by FiveThirtyEight a few weeks ago, requires McMullin to first win Utah — which is actually within his grasp, according to polls; McMullin’s a Mormon and Mormons hate Trump — making him one of the top three Electoral College finishers, hence Constitutionally eligible to be considered by the House of Representatives when the College deadlocks on Trump and Clinton.
That’s right — Trump and Clinton would have to tie in the Electoral College to make this thing work, and then the Republicans who run the House would have to agree to vote for a nobody rather than for the nominee of their own Party.
This is the sort of electoral fanfic you’d expect to be embraced by the nerds of conservatism — namely libertarians (and sure enough, Matt Welch at Reason has: “the media is largely ignoring the potentially massive impact that third-party candidates…”). But so have some rightbloggers who dream of a rightwing but Trump-free future.
At PJ Media, Tyler O’Neil insisted not only that “McMullin can win,” but that he must, because Hillary “has blackmailed numerous women who claimed to have been abused by her husband,” among other unproven wingnut tabloid charges, while Trump’s “notorious comments about abusing women unleashed a firestorm among the Religious Right” — which appears to mean that some Christer small-fry O’Neil found denounced Trump while most of the Religious Right superstars continue to endorse him.
As for McMullin’s qualifications, O’Neil bragged his man “worked for the CIA from 2001 to 2011, working overseas on terrorism and intelligence operations in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.” Whoa, great work on those, Evan!
Plus, O’Neil says, McMullin is wingnutty on most other subjects; though McMullin refuses “to make opposition to gay marriage a litmus test for potential Supreme Court nominees” — which O’Neil admits “is a serious criticism” — he has denounced Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s “penchant for using marijuana,” which proves that in addition to fucking up the Middle East he’s willing to criminalize victimless behavior in at least some circumstances, making him an acceptably mainstream Republican President.
At the Resurgent, Steve Berman took things a bit further, commanding the Electoral College: “You Cannot Elect Hillary Clinton.” If Clinton were to be elected, Berman said, America “succumbs to despotism” and “the oath of office loses all meaning… it would seriously damage America’s reputation, beyond salvage, forever,” etc.
Thus, Berman reasoned, “as bad as Donald Trump is, he can at least take the oath of office with a cleaner conscience than Clinton.” But since Trump is also bad, just not as bad, Berman hoped McMullin would take Utah and Trump and Clinton would tie — but even failing that, “even if Clinton wins more than 270 electoral votes and McMullin wins none” — in other words, even if she outright wins the election — Berman hectored the Electors, “you must throw the vote to the House of Representatives.”
To hell with that “will of the people” bullshit! “The job of elector is neither ceremonial nor is it pro-forma. It exists for such a time as this,” declared Berman. Surely America will understand! Besides, Electors are largely obscure figures, so no one will know whom to gun down in vengeance.
“The Constitution does not bind electors to their candidates,” agreed Graham Walker of the religious-conservative Witherspoon Institute. Thus, Utah or no Utah, if only one Trump elector gives his voters the finger, “that one vote would make that person fully eligible for election by the House.”
Also, even if Trump “wins” on election night, “by the time the Electoral College meets, Trump may have discredited himself more deeply than he already has,” fantasized Walker, “especially if he slips the leash of self-restraint even more readily than usual after Election Day…” Then, in Walker’s fevered imagining, some outraged electors would be more likely to say, you know what, I really want to go down in history as the guy who said “fuck you” to Americans’ democracy.
Of course Walker didn’t see it that way. “From the perspective of the Founders, such an outcome would not reveal a glitch in the constitutional system, but one of its features,” said Walker. Remember, these dead old white men never trusted you assholes, and have been spinning in their graves since the direct election of Senators at least — that’s why prominent conservatives like Mark Levin want to repeal the 17th Amendment — so if an ancient Constitutional mechanism overturns your votes, said Walker, “I think I’ll see James Madison smiling.” No doubt while whipping a slave!
Syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg also liked the idea of unelected president McMullin. “Some would complain that this isn’t very democratic. So what?” he said, probably with that little smirk contrarians get when they know no sane people are close enough to smack them.
“By our contemporary standards, the founding fathers distrusted democracy too much,” Goldberg continued. “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.” You like freedom of speech, right? Then you’ll love this wingnut appointed President by 538 guys you never heard of.
Like most fantasies, the McMullin dream is just a way for the brethren to indulge their deepest desires concerning the American voter. Normally, they like to think voters are with them, if sometimes confused and in need of their guidance. (We saw a bit of that last weekend, with some conservatives claiming that after Comey’s announcement “there are many [early voters] going to the polls to change their votes” — with no evidence, and showing a bogus map of states where you could do that. )
But the nominations of Trump and Clinton by actual voters, and the prospect of the election of one of them by same, has broken their hearts. So in their new fantasies they seek to punish the voters by stripping them of their power. It’s kind of like B&D, except not sexy. Butso let us not begrudge them this fantasy; soon enough reality will intrude, and then it’s possible the rest of us will wish to fantasize that we live in an entirely different country.