Everyone's focused on the Electoral College today, and for good reason. If enough electors vote faithlessly, then there's a chance that Donald Trump won't become the next president. But don't get your hopes up — Donald Trump will become the next president, even if he doesn't get the requisite 270 electoral votes. It's a nice to imagine that maybe House Republicans, if given the chance, would rally around an alternative candidate for the sake of the country. But, unfortunately, it's naive to have any real hope of that happening.
If the country has learned anything in the past six months, it's that for the grand majority of Republican politicians these days, their loyalty to the party comes first — sometimes at the expense of their loyalty to the country. Since Trump began his rise to power, there have been numerous examples of this playing out.
There were politicians coming out against him, then endorsing him once the going got tough in their own races and they needed his support. There were others who once spoke out against him, but then decided that they wouldn't mind a job in his administration. There were others still who expressed their disappointment in his actions but then still refused to say that they weren't voting for him — one of whom was, importantly, Paul Ryan. Do you think that the Speaker of the House is going to change his mind now, after all that hypocrisy?
Party before country, that's how it's played out so far. The most recent, and by far most stunning, example of this is the furor surrounding the CIA's report of Russian hacking. While many Congress members, both Democratic and Republican, quickly called for a full investigation into the CIA's claim that Russia had interfered in the American election specifically to help elect Trump, some have been quite a bit more reticent. Again, Paul Ryan was in that group.
American intelligence agencies say that a foreign country, one that the U.S isn't on the best of terms with, attempted to influence an American election. And what's the response from the Speaker of the House?
...Exploiting the work of our intelligence community for partisan purposes does a grave disservice to those professionals and potentially jeopardizes our national security. As we work to protect our democracy from foreign influence, we should not cast doubt on the clear and decisive outcome of this election.
Many House Republicans, the ones who would hold the decision about the 45th president in their hands if the faithless electors get their way, probably understand the threat that Trump poses to the country. However, they're also smart enough to understand that the people who elected Trump are the same people who elected them. Paul Ryan surely does; there's certainly no other explanation for his actions over the past six months. They've gotten the power that they wanted, and their party is poised to get a stranglehold over the three branches of government. Why would they risk getting voted out by choosing for president anyone other than the man who the people chose?
How many House Republicans can you honestly expect to risk their seat in Congress and risk angering the Republican base on a gamble that enough other congressmen and women would do the same thing and pick someone else?
Yes, John Kasich — or, really, anyone else — would be a better choice, and if the Electoral College and then the Republicans in the House of Representatives banded together to get him elected president, then there would definitely be an Oscar-winning political blockbuster in the works immediately. But in this world? Not happening.