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Conflicted Elector in a Corrupt College

When running for the Presidential Elector Nominee some six months ago, I had no idea the conflict that would ensue both from without and within. To say that it has been an “educating experience” would be an understatement. I embarked on this journey with a basic understanding of the difference between a republic and a pure democracy. I knew the Constitutional Fathers[1]  set up our government as the former and not the latter[2]. They had wisdom we lack. In my speech before the convention, I mentioned that nothing exemplified the difference between these two forms of the government more than the Electoral College. I admit, at the time, I was ignorant how deeply that held true.

Republic vs Democracy

The essence of a republic is that the authority rests in elected representatives, not in the people directly.  Noah Webster defined a republic as,

“A commonwealth; a state in which the exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people. In modern usage, it differs from a democracy or democratic state, in which the people exercise the powers of sovereignty in person.”[3]

The Electoral College was created with this mind. In the original design the Electors were chosen, either by an election or appointment[4], to represent the people of their district in the selection of a President. The assumption was these Electors would be 1) men most familiar with those that were capable of filling this office, 2) possess wisdom and discernment to know those who sought the office but weren’t capable, and 3) could be trusted to act in the best interest of those they represented. Alexander Hamilton said Electors would be,

“A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”[5]    

The Electors were to be men who were selected to make this vote based on their own discernarticle2ment.  There is no indication that Electors were ever to be directed by the population at large on how to vote. Their votes were to be their own, made in the best interest of those they represented. That is the nature of true representation. Gary Alder writes in his concise of history of this system, “A presupposition that wise Electors who know how to nominate individuals of character, experience, virtue, and integrity underlies the whole process. The wisdom and integrity of the Electors is essential. The independence of the Electors is even more crucial. For the system to work, Electors must know how to choose—not be told who to choose.”[6]

Today the average voter screams in opposition, “Why would they trust their Electors to make this choice on their own?”  It is because the framers understood the nature of a republic.  Ironically, though many of them would not have identified themselves as Christian, they understood this biblical concept of representative (covenant) heads more than most pastors do today. Representative heads act and speak on behalf of and in the best interest of those they represent.  A limited analogy can be found in the family relationship. Parents are the representative heads of their kids.[7] When parents make a decision for the family, they do so on behalf of everyone they represent.  Good parents act in the best interest of their children. At times this may even be contrary to the desire of the children. In most homes, kids do not have the right to vote to eat Skittles for dinner. It is not in their best interest. The parents have a delegated authority to protect those under their jurisdiction. Hamilton, in a similar way, saw the role of the body of Electors (representatives) as a protection for the nation.

“The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.”[8]

Unfortunately, we no longer operate with the same wisdom and discernment as our forefathers. Where they warned of the evils they experienced which “flow from the excess of democracy,”[9] we demand the voice of the people be heard. This difference between a republic and democracy is all but lost in public discourse by conservatives and progressives alike. Those on the left side of the aisle seem to bemoan the fact that the popular vote is ignored. Many don’t like that the representatives, Electors, even exist. They are calling for the abolishment of the Electoral College system completely. Conservatives aren’t much better. They don’t mind that the representatives in a republic exist as long as, contrary to Webster’s definition, no “power is lodged in their representatives.” They want the power in the people directly. The representatives are only there to do what the people demand. They want a democracy, not a republic. They want the power to vote for Skittles for dinner. This is evident by how they approach their legislators. They want them to do X, Y or Z because that is what “we the people” demand. The Constitutionality of it only matters when the legislators are listening to another faction of their constituency.

Corrupted College

The Electoral College was corrupted from its original intent once states started dictating the votes of the Electors.  The two biggest aggressors to the original system were from political parties and the switch to winner-take-all states. The rise of james-madisonpolitical parties, as George Washington prophetically predicted, has had a “baneful effect”[10] on our nation. They have all but ruined our Electoral College system. Originally Electors were free from political parties and their pledges. What mattered most was the character and qualifications of the candidate, not the viability of their path to victory (primaries) or the team that any candidate represented. The Electors were also free from these statewide popular vote contests that run all but two states today.[11] “When James Madison and Hamilton, two of the most important architects of the Electoral College, saw this strategy [statewide popular vote] being taken by some states, they protested strongly. Madison and Hamilton both made it clear this approach violated the spirit of the Constitution. Hamilton considered a pre-pledged elector to violate the spirit of Article II of the Constitution insofar as such electors could make no ‘analysis’ or ‘deliberate’ concerning the candidates. Madison agreed entirely, saying that when the Constitution was written, all of its authors assumed individual electors would be elected in their districts and it was inconceivable a ‘general ticket’ of electors dictated by a state would supplant the concept. Madison wrote,[12]

The district mode was mostly, if not exclusively in view when the Constitution was framed and adopted; & was exchanged for the general ticket.”[13]

The current pledges most political parties make Electors sign after they are elected is contrary to the original intent of the Constitution.  The fact that the pledge makes no mention of the biblical qualifications (I wrote about here) necessary for one to serve as President makes it an immoral pledge.  Most will think I am just clinging to long forgotten principles that, quite frankly, no one cares about anymore. That may be true, but I would point to Principle 1 of the Republican Party of Texas 2016 Platform, which was passed at the same convention that elected me.

We, the 2016 Republican Party of Texas, believe in this platform and expect our elected leaders to uphold these truths through acknowledgement and action. We believe in:

 “The laws of nature and nature’s God” and we support the strict adherence to the original language and intent of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions of the United States and of Texas.[14]  

The law of nature’s God give clear principles for electing civil leaders. The original intent of the Constitution gives a specific method that to apply those principles. The Republican party of Texas declares their #1 principle is to honor God and original intent of the Constitution. They then force Electors to make a pledge that is contrary to both.  To point out this discrepancy is treasonous.

Conflicted Elector

I admit all of this has left me deeply troubled and conflicted as an Elector.  When asking the three wisest men I know about the wisest decision I should make, I received three different answers. As an Elector, I came to conclusion I have three options under our current system. I can 1) vote for the nominee of their party under which I was elected, 2) vote for someone else and be considered a faithless elector (a term I despise), or 3) I could resign my position if the candidate turns out to be someone I can not, in good conscience, vote for. I believe under the right circumstances every option is not only valid, but can be ethically the righteous thing for a Christian to do. The question that everyone wants answered is, what will I, an Elector who is under the conviction that our nominee is not a biblically qualified candidate, do? After wavering back and forth, my conscience is finally at peace with the decision I’ve made.

Voting for the nominee of our party, Mr. Trump, is certainly what the vast majority of Republicans are urging me to do.  I have yet to find anyone that has biblically answered my first article. They don’t make the case that Trump is indeed biblically qualified. I have had a few people take issue with the original intent of the Electoral College and my job as an Elector. Once presented with the evidence they usually acknowledge the validity of the original intent, but claim that has changed. The biggest beef most people have with me being so “arrogant” as to publicly state “this issue is so important that I am going to think about it” is that I signed the pledge.  I have already expressed my reasons why I think the pledge is an immoral, unlawful pledge that the GOP makes Electors sign.  It undermines the Bible and the Constitution.  But they are 100% correct. I did, in fact, sign the pledge. It was a voluntary pledge and I willingly signed it. I was wrong in signing this pledge and not communicating to the body when I ran that my conscience would not be bound by it. I honestly did not have the convictions about the original purpose of the Electoral College or the biblical qualifications until after I was an Elector. The Bible calls this a rash oath and warns against making them.[15] It clearly states,

“if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it- when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters. And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.”[16]

To be ignorant of all the details involved in an oath (pledge) does not excuse the sin of making that oath. One thing is clear, I have sinned in signing that pledge. I humbly confess that it was wrong for me to do so. I am grateful for the forgiveness I have in Christ for all my foolishness. The heart of this issue now is, does honoring the pledge cause me to sin?  If it does, then I am obligated not to honor it.[17]  If it doesn’t, then I am obligated to honor it.[18]

My second option is to be a “Faithless Elector.” A Faithless Elector is an Elector that casts his vote contrary to any party pledge or state law he may be bound by.[19] On the surface this seems like it would be difficult to justify how being faithless could be a righteous act. Aren’t Electors elected to represent the people? Yes, they absolutely are. That only begs the question, what does it mean to represent the people? This is where our understanding or lack thereof of a representative form of government comes into play. As an elected representative head, I am to speak on behalf of and in the interest of the CD36. It is my conviction that the greatest danger to my district is not a Hillary or Trump Presidency, but it is the judgement of God. If we continue to disobey His clear commands, we can expect to receive His judgement. If being a “Faithless Elector” means standing alone on principle in the hopes that God would continue to grant patience on our district, then it is worth any political future, threats to my safety, and whatever else may come my way.

The last option I see for me is resigning from this position. The Republican Party of Texas has an immoral pledge because that is what the people want. They want a democracy. They want their popular vote across the state counted. They do not care about the authority of the office of an Elector. As long as they have someone to do what the people demand, they don’t care who it is.

Conclusion

I do not see how Donald Trump is biblically qualified to serve in the office of the Presidency. Of the hundreds of angry messages that I have received, not one has made a convincing case from scripture otherwise. If Trump is not qualified and my role, both morally and historically, as an elected official is to vote my conscience, then I can not and will not vote for Donald Trump for President. I believe voting for Trump would bring dishonor to God. The reality is Trump will be our President, no matter what my decision is. Many are furious that I am willing to have this discussion publicly. Personally, I wish more civil officers would be honest about their convictions.  Assuming a Trump Presidency is their ultimate goal, they will get that. The problem is, that isn’t what they want. They want a democracy. They will threaten to kill anyone who challenges their power to vote for Skittles for dinner. That is evidence alone to prove that our republic is lost. The shell may remain, but in the hearts of the people and functionality of the system our republic is gone. I also believe that a pledge is a man’s word that he will follow through on something he committed to. God’s Word is clear we should all “let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and our ‘no,’s ‘no.”[20] I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district. Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector. This will allow the remaining body of Electors to fill my vacancy when they convene on Dec 19 with someone that can vote for Trump. The people will get their vote. They will get their Skittles for dinner. I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.

Art Sisneros


[1] The true founding fathers were those men that established the culture and law of our land some 150 years before 1776.

[2] James Madison takes up this issue in Federalist# 10 http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm

[3] American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 Noah Webster

[4] In 1792- 9 out of 15 states appointed electors by 1836 23 out of 24 states went to elected electors- The Founders’ Constitution vol 3 pp. 552-553

[5] http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed68.asp

[6] The Evolution and Destruction of the Original Electoral College, Gary Alder p. 44

[7] Ephesians 5:22-6:4

[8] http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed68.asp

[9] United States-Formation of the Union, P 125 Elridge Gerry at Constitutional Convention

[10] George Washington Collection, p 519

[11] Maine and Nebraska are currently to only states that do not have a winner take all system.

[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States)#Breakdown_and_revision

[13] “Founders Online: James Madison to George Hay, 23 August 1823″.

[14] https://3npv5lo075n4f1mrxbxvz8hv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/PERM-PLATFORM-as-Amended-by-Gen-Body-5.13.16.pdf

[15] 1 Samuel 14:24-52 and Judges 11:29-40 give examples of rash oaths

[16] Leviticus 5:4,5

[17] 1 Samuel 14:44,45 Israel interposed on Jonathan’s behalf. Lev 27 details how to buy back (redeem) after a vow has been made. The vow was not eternally binding. For the Christian, redemption was accomplished on cross.

[18] Numbers 30:2

[19] Twenty-one states do not have laws compelling their electors to vote for a pledged candidate. Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia have laws to penalize faithless electors.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithless_elector

[20] Matthew 5:37


26 Comments

  1. Texas Voter says:

    What a thoughtful decision. Thank you for sharing them with us. I hope all electoral college members, and certainly more citizens, put this level of effort into thinking about the impact of their actions on the country.

  2. Paul Verberne says:

    That was a thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis. What I would ask you is, “what would Jesus do?” Would he put words over humanity, oaths over the future of our children, the poor, the disenfranchised? I submit that what he did not do is walk away. In choosing not to decide, you are making a choice, and based upon your post, it is not the choice you want to make, or the choice you believe in. There is a reason they chose the term “faithless elector.” It’s to shame those who will not do their will, rather than follow the rule upon which this country was founded; that alone is unpatriotic, and evidence that their oath is not about country or people, but greed and power. I can say with confidence that the minute you become a faithless elector, you will be shamed by many, but you will be honored by many more. Texas has no faithless elector laws; there are no legal penalties. I wish you the strength and courage to follow your convictions.

    • RY HUT says:

      I agree with this commenter and hope you will reconsider. We need independent leaders — and you are better positioned than most. There are more reasons to stay and vote than there are to leave or give in to the crowd.

  3. […] detailed his decision to resign in a little-noticed blog post over the weekend. In it, he argued that Trump is unqualified to be president — but also wrote […]

  4. Derigitable says:

    Umm, maybe you should know what you’re getting into BEFORE you get into it? I dunno. Just sounds like the smart way to run your life.

  5. […] detailed his decision to resign in a little-noticed blog post over the weekend. In it, he argued that Trump is unqualified to be president — but also wrote […]

  6. you need to EDUCATE yourself on 1400yrs muslim invasions, enslaving women, children with Sharia law, biggest killing machine in history (hindu genocide, crusades was to stop muslim invasions). History does not lie. OBAMA+Hillary lied to you saying islam is peace. islam is all about what warlord prophet said and did against nonmuslims. islam=prophet=Supremacist hate group=isis. Worship islam=worship warlord mass murderer rapist pedophile. Trump was only brave leader to speak against supremacist hate group. Only peaceful muslims are ones who are not devout and ignore hate and violence in koran,hadith. But when muslim population gets big – the power hungry clerics will impose sharia law because koran demands it. Look at demise of ignorant Europe and constant attacks, rapes nonmuslim european women. Look up The Project doc by Muslim Brotherhood detailed how take over West from within. Hillary was bought by Arabs and she said she would have let in many 60000 muslims in. That is why i voted for Trump. Lots info on net and facebook pages – connect dots. The last thing Muslims want is to be exposed but HISTORY DOES NOT LIE. Why would you allow evil to spread?

    • Al says:

      To the islamaphobe – there are 1.6B muslims. Very few are radical. We would not judge Christians by the Christian mass murderers in the US, or drug dealers in Latin America wearing rosaries while decapitating innocent people with terror campaigns, or this white supremacist group hieling Trump. A topic upon which he has been very quiet. We don’t judge christians by Timothy McVey or by the inquisition or the words of war in both old and new testaments. Islam is based on the Old Testament just as Judaism is. But Islam actually acknowledges Jesus and a lot of the positive developments preached by Jesus and Mohammed (whom they consider a prophet, not God). Mohamed argued for tolerance and for better treatment of women including protected inheritance. Most of Sharia law is about financial morals: making sure widows and children are left equally cared for, letting women own property and assets, and not participating in loan sharking. I would ask that you try to read some objective history of Islam and recognize that our Muslim allies worldwide are even more afraid of terrorism and do not recognize ISIS or Al Queda as Islam. Because they are not! And we do not accomplish much by offending good people also worried about a common enemy. This is off topic a little, but just another example of what a horrible leader Trump is, given his blatant lies on this and multiple other topics.

  7. Conscience Voter says:

    If placing your finger in the dike could save the country from flooding, that would be the right thing to do.
    However, if you continue to stand in front of a hopelessly compromised dam, both by neglect and willfull destruction, you will only be swept away by the waters.
    The only sane option is to save yourself and warn the country of impending disaster.

  8. […] detailed his decision to resign in a little-noticed blog post over the weekend. In it, he argued that Trump is unqualified to be president — but also wrote […]

  9. Rebecca R says:

    Please stay. Vote your conscious and your heart. We all have a purpose and right now, your purpose is to help save us. You were put there by God and he has spoken to your heart. Please.

  10. […] God’s Word is clear we should all “let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and our ‘no,’s ‘no.”[20] I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my […]

  11. Lisa Patrell says:

    Art, Many share the same thoughts and hold the same dread. Yet, backing-out is passing-the-buck. It is not honorable and a stateman agreed in his or her role to be honorable in carrying out their duties. Patriotism requires bravery. Be brave.

  12. Lisa Patrell says:

    Art, Many share the same thoughts and hold the same dread. Yet, backing-out is passing-the-buck. It is not honorable and a stateman agreed in his or her role to be honorable in carrying out their duties. Patriotism requires bravery. Be brave.

  13. Richard Schlotfeldt says:

    A thoughtful and intelligent post. But please reconsider your decision to resign. Wear the badge of “faithless elector” with pride. Join that small group of brave souls who have dared to follow their conscience. Did David walk away from Goliath? Stand up for what you believe in.

  14. Faithful says:

    Mr. Sisneros, I applaud the depth of thought you have given these matters. I would humbly ask that you consider one factor you may be overlooking. If you believe that this man is unqualified, and that this is a danger to the republic, stepping aside to enable another elector to do what you consider sinful adds up, for your fellow citizens, to the same thing as your actually voting for Mr. Trump. The act you deem immoral will still have been committed, just by someone else. I would submit that the difficult, but in fact faithFUL path would be to vote against him, as the Constitution asks of you. In any case, as your fellow Texan, I am thankful for your brave and public stance.

  15. Rebecca says:

    Please, stay and vote your conscience. Encourage other electors to do the same, even if it will not change the election of Trump. Why? We need to test the constitutionality of the Electoral College as it is currently operating. The republic is only lost if the electors (and the public) let it go down. I know you’re one boat against the tide, but you’re a crucial one.

  16. Al says:

    Ideally, you would do all you could to support the original intention of the electoral college which is to keep a pathological liar and con-man from the highest office of the land. You would vote your conscience. Second to that – bearing the brunt of the backlash is at least something. And it makes us feel a little bit better, a little bit more sane. So thank you.

  17. Ashley says:

    This may sound surprising coming from a Californian, who is not religious & strong Hillary supporter but I just want to sincerely say: thank you.

    Your decision is thoughtful, admirable and courageous. As a Christian Texas Republican – this took guts and serious conviction of faith. I hope everyone reads your post before attempting to criticize your actions.

  18. Rudy Koski says:

    Hi art – I would like to do an interview with you about runout resignation

    Please give me a call

    Rudy Koski
    FOX7
    Austin

    512-925-6804

  19. Joseph Smith says:

    This may be the most selfish thing I’ve ever read. Basically, all you want to do is keep your hands clean. All this is accomplishing is to stand aside so that someone else can vote for Trump. Your particular vote is still going to go to him, you just get to try and appear blameless. This is a coward’s way out. You took an oath to safeguard democracy, not march in line with the will of the State.

    You say that “The reality is Trump will be our President, no matter what my decision is.” I call bullshit on that statement. The very reason you’re there is to make a stand, and sometimes that’s not an easy thing to do. If more people had enough of a spine to do this, then, you know, maybe this won’t come to pass. Essentially saying “Good luck with that, I don’t want the problem anymore” solves nothing expect make you feel all warm and fuzzy at night.

    Going to close this with a simple quote from a source you attributed several times in this same article, and I hope you appreciate it.

    16 “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

    Revelation 3:16King James Version (KJV)

  20. J. W. says:

    There’s a group of attorneys ready and willing to defend your constitutional right to vote your conscience on December 19. Instead of resigning, you can fight to make sure you and your fellow electors are able to vote their free will, as intended.

  21. Anisa says:

    No, no no! Please don’t resign! By resigning you are essentially becoming Pontius Pilate and washing your hands! You are leaving it to others when you could be standing up for what is right! Please reconsider being a faithless elector! The Electoral College was designed for just this… to keep demagogues from gaining power! Your job is to vote with the POPULAR decision here! Please don’t abandon us!

    • Anisa says:

      To be clear – the Popular vote is now over two million in favor of Hillary Clinton. You have power. You were selected precisely because of the wisdom you are displaying in considering this important vote. Do not throw this opportunity away. Please chose to stay and vote your conscience. Will you really sleep well when Trump is elected and starts registering those of different faiths? When families are hurt? Will you sleep well knowing that you did not do everything you could to stop him? You are one of very few people in our country who is able to affect a change here. If you stand up and say, “No” to Trump, perhaps others will follow your example. Please don’t leave us all to him. Please.

  22. margemurphy says:

    Why quit? Vote your conscience as Hamilton wanted to protect us from exactly this. Please.

  23. Al says:

    I’m very impressed with the seriousness with which you take your civic duty and admire you for choosing the best course under the circumstances. I do feel so much is at stake, and this is the least ethical president elect in quite some time. He is a fraud, and he cares nothing about citizens or the republic.
    I do not consider myself religious but it’s because I see 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump, 60% of white Catholics. They were the polls surprise because of course they claimed to dislike Trump. But they voted republican in the end. Surely, Trump stands against every moral imperative we find in any religious teachings. I wish more people had your guts.

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