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The Electoral College Hampered: The Case of Nixon’s 1968 Campaign Treason

While he was running for the U.S. presidency in 1968, Richard Nixon told H.R. Haldeman “that they should find a way to secretly ‘monkey wrench’ peace talks in Vietnam” by trying to get the South Vietnamese government to refuse to attend peace talks in Paris until after the U.S. election.[1]Specifically, Nixon gave instructions that Anna Chennault, a Republican fundraiser, should keep “working on” South Vietnamese officials so they would not agree to a peace agreement before the U.S. election.[2]“Potentially, this is worse than anything he did in Watergate,” said John Farrell, who discovered evidence of Nixon’s involvement from Haldeman’s notes on a conversation with the candidate. That Nixon committed a crime to win the election is itself an indication that the way Americans elect the federal president was flawed. That he went on to cover up the Watergate crime committed during the 1972 campaign only to win by a landslide should give pause to anyone having faith in an unchecked popular election.  I contend that the American Founders had designed the Electoral College in part to catch such a candidate from becoming president, even if the College had never operated as such. Yet it could.

The full essay is at “The Case of Nixon’s Treason.”


1. Peter Baker, “Nixon Sought ‘Monkey Wrench’ in Vietnam Talks,” The New York Times, January 3, 2017.
2. Ibid.

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Larry Lessig: Harvard prof, anarchist

If this article is right, then it’s right to call Harvard law professor Larry Lessig a liberal anarchist. According to the article, Prof. Lessig “is claiming 20 Republican members of the Electoral College are considering voting against President-elect Donald Trump.” Specifically, Prof. Lessig “announced earlier this month he would offer free legal assistance to electors […]

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Larry Lessig: Harvard prof, anarchist

If this article is right, then it’s right to call Harvard law professor Larry Lessig a liberal anarchist. According to the article, Prof. Lessig “is claiming 20 Republican members of the Electoral College are considering voting against President-elect Donald Trump.” Specifically, Prof. Lessig “announced earlier this month he would offer free legal assistance to electors […]

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Karen Finney, Clinton hack

According to Wikipedia, Karen Finney is a time-tested veteran of high profile campaigns. Among other tours of duty, “Finney served four years as the spokesperson and Director of Communications at the Democratic National Committee.” Later, “Finney joined Media Matters as a senior fellow and consultant” on November 25, 2014. Ms. Finney isn’t a centrist Democrat […]

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How American Presidents Are Selected: Beyond Russian Interference

Most delegates in the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787 recognized the value of constitutional safeguards against excess democracy, or mob rule. The U.S. House of Representatives was to be the only democratically elected federal institution—the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Supreme Court, and even the U.S. Presidency were to be filled by the state legislatures, the U.S. President and U.S. Senate, and electors elected by citizens, respectively. The people were to be represented in the U.S. House and the State governments in the U.S. Senate. The Constitutional Amendment in the early twentieth century that made U.S. senators selected by the people rather than the governments of the States materially unbalanced the original design. In terms of the selection of the U.S. president by electors, the political parties captured them such that whichever party’s candidate wins a State, the electors there are those of the winning party. Even if the electors could vote contrary to the popular vote in a State, such voting could only be a rare exception given the party-control. Hence the electors have not been able to function as intended—as a check against excess democracy. The case of Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016 presents an additional use for the Electoral College, were it to function as designed and intended. Of course, this is a huge assumption to make, even just in taking into account the American mentality regarding self-governance.

The full essay is at “How American Presidents Are Selected.”

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The Electoral College and Democratic sore losers

The left is determined to undermine the credibility of the Electoral College. It’s best to think of this as their latest childish hissy fit. The Democrats’ latest hissy fit is to convince 37 Republican activists to shift their votes to Hillary Clinton. The chances of that happening are less than my chances of getting struck […]

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The Electoral College: Beyond the Conventional Wisdom

The matter of how the U.S. President is to be selected was a tough nut for the delegates in the Constitutional Convention in 1787 to crack. Mason observed the following in convention, “In every Stage of the Question relative to the Executive, the difficulty of the subject and the diversity of the opinions concerning it have appeared.”[1]The alternative proposals centered around the Congress, State legislatures, the governors, the people, and electors designated for the specific purpose as the possible determiners. Although the delegates were men of considerable experience, their best judgments about how the alternatives would play out were subject to error as well as the confines of their times. In re-assessing the Electoral College, we could do worse than adjust those judgments and rid them of circumstances pertaining to them that no longer apply. For example, the Southern States no longer have slaves, so the question of whether those States would be disadvantaged by going with a popular vote no longer applies; the alternative of going with the popular vote nationwide no longer suffers from that once-intractable pickle. Yet lest we rush headlong into a popular vote without respect to the States, we are well advised not to dismiss the points made by the convention delegates, for we too are constrained by our times, and we may thus not be fully able to take into account points that have been forgotten.

The full essay is at “The Electoral College.”


1. James Madison, Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison (New York: W. W. Norton, 1966): 370.

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Picking a U.S. President: Excessive and Insufficient Democracy

Even as the Electoral College has never performed as intended, that the delegates at the U.S. federal constitutional convention devised it can help us to flesh out some of the hidden, or overlooked, deficiencies in how a U.S. president is selected in t… . . . → Read More: Picking a U.S. President: Excessive and Insufficient Democracy

President Obama Overreaching on Trade

Throughout the twentieth century, the U.S. Government grabbed more and more power from the governments of the member-states. Even within the U.S. Government, presidents have tended to over-reach. Specifically, they have put their role in proposing legislation and treaties above their role as that government’s chief executive in enforcing existing laws. In May 2015, Sen. Elizabeth Warren issued a report whose thesis is that presidents of both parties had failed to enforce the labor-provisions in the existing trade treaties. That the current president, Barak Obama, was in the midst of negotiating yet another trade treaty said to have labor provisions included opens him up to the charge of over-reaching. That is to say, rather than focusing first on enforcing existing trade arrangements to which the U.S. was then a party, he was going beyond—that is, over-reaching—to negotiate yet another deal. Such over-reaching is akin to going beyond the negative legislative power in vetoing legislation to spend a lot of time proposing legislation at the expense of devoting time to running the executive branch as its chief executive and conferring with members of Congress on ways to improve the administration of existing law. In this essay, I use Warren’s report as a means into answering why the overreaching habit has become so ubiquitous among American presidents that the electorate barely recognizes it as such.

The full essay is at “Overreacting on Trade.”

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George Will’s defeatist attitude

The first thing I need to say before getting into this post’s substance is that George Will is one of the brightest conservatives I’ve ever listened to. That’s why it was difficult for me to watch this video: Here’s the transcript from the important part of Fox News Sunday: WALLACE: George, where do you think […]

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Beyond Breaking California Up into Six States: A Federalist Alternative

In any epoch and in any culture, the human mind displays a marked tendency to accept the status quo as the default—being so ensconced in fact that efforts at real change almost inevitably face formidable road-blocks. In this essay, I analyze the 2014 failed ballot-petition that would have put the proposal of breaking California into six separate states to Californians. I contend that the proponents could alternatively have taken up a more optimal alternative—one much easier to put into effect. Interestingly, that idea comes from the E.U. rather than the U.S.

The entire essay is at “Beyond Breaking California Up

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