The U.S. Constitution is a conceptually amazing document. Here we are in 2016 and I have not heard even one person say that our constitutionally laid out process may very well may save us all from ourselves this presidential election.

Here’s how.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it prescribe that there be only two political parties. The system is designed to favor a two-party system, however historically, when a major party goes too far off course, other parties act as course correctors. If the parties do not course correct, they will disappear and be replaced. Anyone remember the Federalist Party, the Whigs or the Democratic-Republican parties? Don’t worry if you can’t — they are long gone.

This map shows state-by-state electoral college votes, as apportioned following the 2010 census. The legend shows which states lost and gained votes in that apportionment.

This map shows state-by-state electoral college votes, as apportioned following the 2010 census. The legend shows which states lost and gained votes in that apportionment.

Wikimedia Commons

So this year, we have the most historically measurably unpopular presumptive nominees running against each other. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have consistently had unfavorable ratings in the neighborhood of 60 percent and we have only gotten started with negative ads, so there is room for both of them to become even more unpopular. Democrats win with turnout by demonizing the Republican candidate. Republicans win with voter suppression in swing states combined with making Democratic voters so disgusted with their candidate and the race that they stay home.

Now remember, this country has a pretty evenly divided electorate that has produced some pretty close elections: Bush vs. Gore and Bush vs. Kerry were not that long ago.

Enter the alternative parties. This year, the Libertarians have fielded two popular former Republican governors (Gary Johnson and William Weld) who are not only bankrolled by the considerable wealth of the Koch brothers but have formidable and extensive political machinery that arguably rivals that of the Republican Party. They are also likely going to be on the ballot in all but a few states. They are currently polling at 10 percent in the national surveys. To get into debates, they only need to be able to hit 15 percent in five polls.

The Greens are polling at 3 percent, but they are headed toward ballot access in more than 40 states and will pick up a lot of the Sen. Bernie Sanders fundraising and activist apparatus. If they get a Sanders on the ballot, they are likely to hit their fundraising and 15 percent polling marks.

Faced with a four-way race where no one can raise the bogey monster of “the spoiler” and everyone gets to vote for the candidate they want rather than simply against the candidate he/she despises, these smaller parties may actually win states and that means electoral votes. Winning electoral votes in a four-way race may mean no candidate will get the majority of electoral votes. Let me reiterate that sentence for emphasis: Winning electoral votes in a four-way race may mean no candidate will get the majority of electoral votes.

Faced with a four-way race where no one can raise the bogey monster of “the spoiler,” and everyone gets to vote for the candidate they want rather than simply against the candidate he/she despises, these smaller parties may actually win states, and that means electoral votes.

Holey molely! The Constitution requires a candidate to get over 50 percent of the vote to be elected president of the United States of America. So what happens then? Glad you asked! Allow me to introduce you to “the Electoral College” — you know, the thing you liberals have been trying to get rid of ever since Gore lost to Bush. It is not a useless appendage, like a spleen. There are many good reasons to keep it around. This circumstance is just one of those reasons, but not the only one by any stretch. There’s a popular misunderstanding that Electoral College electors have to vote with the popular vote in their state. Nope! To quote directly from the U.S. Archives website:

“Are there restrictions on who the Electors can vote for?

“There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their States. Some States, however, require Electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories — Electors bound by State law and those bound by pledges to political parties.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not require that Electors be completely free to act as they choose and therefore, political parties may extract pledges from electors to vote for the parties’ nominees. Some State laws provide that so-called “faithless Electors” may be subject to fines or may be disqualified for casting an invalid vote and be replaced by a substitute elector. The Supreme Court has not specifically ruled on the question of whether pledges and penalties for failure to vote as pledged may be enforced under the Constitution. No Elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged.”

Oh, and by the way, if the Electoral College doesn’t produce a candidate with the majority of electoral votes, then the House of Representatives gets to decide who the president is. So if Libertarians are getting real help from Republicans who feel Trump will lose, they push the Libertarians who can easily throw the election to the House of Representatives all by themselves. Speaker Paul Ryan may have a hard time getting Republicans to vote as a block on some things, but I guarantee that this wouldn’t be one of them. Be prepared to say, “All hail our glorious leader, Donald J. Trump!” And maybe throw in a “Zeig Heil” and goose step for good measure.

If the Dems help the Greens get ballot access and threw them Bernie Sanders, or hell, any Sanders, said Sanders would pick up the Libertarians, Reagan Democrats, rural whites and moderate Republicans and add them with the true progressive base. Then, the Electoral College electors would be able to put together a real, power sharing deal. Not ideal, but the alternative is to let the Republican House decide, and last I heard, polls showed most Dems would be perfectly happy with either Hillary or Bernie, in the theoretical abstract.

So, what do all you paid Hillary trolls say? Win or Trump? Shoe’s on the other foot when you can’t play the whimsical made up “spoiler” card, huh? Well, don’t say you weren’t warned, because I’m sure the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove know exactly what they are doing.

And before you say, “Oh that’s crazy — it’ll never happen,” check out the presidential election of 1824. There were four candidates on the ballot: John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson and William H. Crawford. Clay was the speaker of the House, too. Adams got Clay’s support and beat back Jackson in a vote of the House.

Don’t even get me started on the importance of naming a strong progressive as Clinton’s vice president. That’s another whole Community Voice all by itself …

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