Tuesday, December 20, 2016

electoral collage

I see that more electors defected from Clinton than from Trump. It seems to me that this is an excellent example of "You're not doing it right." In the absence of anything substantive I can do about it, I turn to historical trivia:

I have seen, but unfortunately did not keep links to, some lists of past Electoral College defectors. These lists erroneously include two cases where a candidate had died before the electors met. Those weren't faithless electors. In fact, when James S. Sherman (Republican, VP, 1912) died and the Republican electors that year voted for Nicholas Murray Butler in his place, they were being the opposite of faithless: they were following the instructions of the RNC, which had hastily met and chosen Butler as a substitute.

In the case of Horace Greeley (Liberal Republican & Democrat, Pres., 1872), nobody issued any instructions and the electors were on their own. Some bumped up his running mate, Gratz Brown; some chose other candidates; and the 3 who held fast and insisted that they'd been chosen to vote for Horace Greeley so by gum they were voting for Horace Greeley had their votes thrown out when Congress counted the ballots, on the grounds that you can't vote for a dead person.

On a similar topic of confusion, there seems to be some perplexity on the question of, if Melania stays in New York, can Ivanka be First Lady? But the answer is a simple yes, of course. Despite the pretensions of some things claiming to be official lists, "First Lady" doesn't mean "wife of the President," it means "official White House hostess." Normally they overlap, but they don't have to. Presidential daughters and sisters and such have taken that role before, due to the illness or other unavailability of the President's wife, or her total non-existence: we've had 2 bachelor Presidents and several widowers. In fact, the term First Lady was first popularized to describe bachelor President James Buchanan's niece, Harriet Lane, who had also been his formal hostess when he was Ambassador to the UK before he was President (where she charmed Queen Victoria, reportedly not an easy thing to do). The most recent case was Clintonian, when Chelsea served as First Lady for the last few months of Bill's term, while Hillary was off running for Senator.

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