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There were four candidates for president in 1824: Secretary of Treasury William H. Crawford, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Tennessee Senator Andrew Jackson, and House Speaker Henry Clay (L-R, above). Since none of them received a majority of votes in the Electoral College, the decision fell to the House of Representatives. According to the 12th Amendment, the House elects the president “… by states, the representation from each state having one vote.” Even though Jackson had won twelve states in the College as well as a plurality of the popular vote, thirteen states in the House — the slimmest possible majority at the time — selected Adams, who subsequently became our sixth president.
Flash forward to the present day and the near future. Say one of the Republican dropouts (or perhaps more than one) runs as a third-party candidate. Senator Bernie Sanders can run, too, to cannibalize the Hillary vote. None receives a majority when the Electoral College meets in December, so the House elects the president. According to the blessed 12th, the House must choose from among the top three Electoral College vote-getters, one of which could be a third-party ex-Republican.
Republican-controlled state delegations are a clear majority in the House now, and this would likely remain true even if the Republicans lost the House majority and the House vote didn’t occur until after the 115th Congress is sworn-in on January 3rd. Most Republican House members prefer someone other than Trump — and won’t even consider Hillary Clinton — so they would elect the other guy.
And, as if by magic, the Trump/Hillary choice is longer inevitable and we can all move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. Otherwise, we will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age.
Either that or the SMOD.Published in