The vote by the Electoral College has produced two clear results: First, Donald Trump will be our President. Second, my email inbox is apparently the Internet’s official drop box for expressions of hate.
I’m happy to be held responsible for what I said—at least, for what I actually said. Over the course of the last two weeks, I’ve said three things, carefully and consistently:
(1) On Chuck Todd a week ago, I reported that I believed there were at least 20 GOP electors “seriously considering” a vote of conscience. As I explained then, and every time I made that representation, I based that judgment on my assessment of the reports of the three entities I knew of who were in contact with electors — ElectorsTrust.org, Hamilton Electors, and an effort organized by a Boston lawyer, RJ Lyman. As I explained then, and every time I made that representation, I was not myself speaking with electors. ElectorsTrust.org had made the confidentiality of electors central to its mission, and they only spoke to the lawyers we retained. But I represented as they did based on my confidence in the reports I received from these three entities. I’ve known Lyman for sometime, and had absolute confidence in him. I knew my own organization, and had confidence in it. And I knew some of the people in Hamilton Electors, and based my estimate on the most conservative number I could draw from them. When some were insisting on a more direct source, I asked RJ Lyman to come forward on his own. He and I were on CNN the following day together. He then did numerous interviews, describing the process he had undertaken to connect with, and offer support to, electors.
(2) On Chuck Todd, and in every interview I gave, I made the obvious point about that number: That unless it reached above 37, it was not likely to yield much more than a couple actual votes against Trump. Electors knew there would be a high price to pay for defection. Though they may have been willing to pay that price if there was a significant chance it would succeed, I did not expect many (or any, beyond Chris Suprun) to step forward without clear assurance they would not be on their own. And though again I was not close to the communication with the electors, my understanding was that by the end, no one could represent in good faith that there were 37 electors willing to vote their conscience.
(3) On Michael Smerconish, Saturday, I said what we all need to say — however difficult it may be: If Donald Trump received 270 votes in the college, he would “be my president.”
He did, and he is. As an American, there is a point at which we must accept, and rally around the results of an election. I know many think—and I know this because they’ve shared their expletives-filled, violence threatening views with my inbox—that we all should have done that accepting and rallying after a popular vote in which the winner was declared the loser. I’ve said consistently since 1998 (at a conference at GW Law School)—and expressly against my political preferences in 2004—that I believe the popular vote should have a moral priority in our Republic. We are a lesser democracy because it doesn’t. But given the democracy that we are, we need to accept the results and allow a government to move forward. That is always hard on this side of victory. I know that will be especially hard this time around.