The Shift Network Blog

A Strategy to Keep Trump from the White House
Stephen Dinan
By Stephen Dinan
CEO of The Shift Network

As the intensity of the election process heats up amidst accelerating revelations about Russian involvement and bi-partisan calls for deeper investigation, it’s important that we have a realistic strategy that can prevent Donald Trump from assuming the Presidency, particularly if more damaging information emerges.

The first step is a stalemate in the Electoral College on Dec. 19th. If there is no candidate that reaches 270 votes in the Electoral College, the decision-making goes to the House of Representatives, which is constitutionally required to select from the top three vote-getters in the Electoral College. Specifically, each state delegation will need to align on a candidate and the winning candidate needs a majority of states.

At this stage, it is very difficult to imagine that the requisite number of House Republicans would swap sides to vote with Democrats for Hillary Clinton. However, it is plausible that if Donald Trump is so badly damaged by what emerges in the days and weeks ahead that a third candidate could gain the support of enough Republicans and most of the House Democrats and thus be elected.

So the core of the strategy needs to be three-fold:

  1. Have 37 electors currently pledged to Trump abstain or shift their vote to someone else in Monday’s Electoral College.
  2. Ensure that a third candidate receives enough votes in the Electoral College to be in the top three (which can be an entirely new candidate)
  3. Have Democrats rally around that third candidate and be joined by a sufficient number of House Republicans, thus electing them President.

The key to making this work is to find the most unifying Republican candidate that Democrats can support along with enough Republicans.

That person would be unlikely to step forward as an official candidate right now because it would be quite risky to do so. It would have to be someone who is known to put country first above party and essentially drafted into the role.

I believe that unifying candidate is Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, for the following reasons:

First, Senator Susan Collins is one of the most moderate Republicans and represents a typically blue state, so she’s used to working in a bi-partisan way. In fact, the Lugar Center ranked her as the most bi-partisan senator in the 114th Congress.

Second, she has 78% approval ratings, the highest of any sitting Republican senator. She understands how Congress works, with twenty years of experience in the Senate.

Third, and perhaps most importantly for the left, she took the courageous step of publicly saying she would not vote for Trump and wrote a bold New York Times article about why.

She thus fits the bill for someone who puts country above party, is not a Trump supporter, and is willing to take a courageous stand on principal.

Finally, the vast number of Democrats who had been hoping for our first female President would gain some satisfaction that the last glass ceiling was finally broken.

The fact that Senator Collins didn’t actually run for the position this year could be a plus because she hasn’t created a lot of polarization. In other words, she could be an effective bridge-builder and healer of the extreme divides that would need to be addressed in the aftermath of the kind of electoral drama that would put her into office.

Ideally, the House could explore the idea of ratifying her as an interim President, perhaps for one year, while a new election were called if it becomes clearer that the results of the 2016 election were compromised.

So here’s how it can work:

  1. The eight Democratic Hamilton electors (who are committed to vote for a unity Republican candidate if one emerges) decide to vote for Senator Susan Collins as a group, giving her at least 8 votes and the third highest total in the Electoral College. They could also welcome Republicans to vote for her as well but it is likely not necessary.
  2. At least 37 Republican electors would be encouraged to abstain, partially on the basis of emerging evidence of Russian involvement, essentially pushing the final decision to the House of Representatives on January 6. They would rest easy knowing that the worst-case scenario on January 6 would likely be the election of a more moderate Republican.
  3. Between Dec. 19th and January 6th — Senator Collins would have to be convinced to agree to be President, if the House selects her.
  4. In the meantime, between Dec. 19th and January 6th, there would be more time to do the serious investigation into Russian involvement and potential hacking of the election so that the full truth can be discovered. Ideally, the report that Obama has called for on Russian involvement would be released by Jan. 6th so that the House had the maximum information to make their decision.

I believe this is the highest integrity pathway available to protect our democracy. If the inquiries into Russian hacking, interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign turn up nothing substantial in the intervening weeks, the House could simply elect Donald Trump on January 6.

If enough damaging evidence emerges to suggest that the election was severely compromised or Trump himself was party to it, then the House would have the option of selecting Senator Susan Collins.

The advantage of this strategy is that it does not try to get Republican electors to vote for Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College, which is unlikely, but simply abstain from voting for Donald Trump until investigations of the election can be completed. By doing this, they essentially pass the decision to the House, which would be better informed by that point.

It also only requires Democrats to nominate Senator Collins as the third candidate. Although more votes from Republicans would be welcome, none are needed to secure the third slot as long as there is not large-scale defection to another unity candidate on the Republican side.

It effectively buys time for the serious, bi-partisan investigations into Russia’s involvement that are now underway.

If you think this is the right strategy, please share this article everywhere you can and especially get it in the hands of the right people before December 19th. We need particularly to focus on electors, who you can write to individually using this site, although time is short: http://directelection.org/ Otherwise, spread the idea through all the circles you can.