In a decision detailed in an intriguing 2,667-word explanation, East Texas welding supply salesman Art Sisneros says he’ll resign from the Electoral College rather than become a “faithless elector” who cannot cast his ballot for Donald Trump, whom he likens to Skittles.
I wrote last week about how Sisneros, selected at this year’s state Republican convention as his congressional district’s member of the Electoral College, was morally and politically conflicted because he had signed an oath to back the party’s nominee as an elector but could not bring himself to back the man the party selected.
Sisneros, who lives about 40 miles northeast of Houston in Dayton, cast a write-in vote for Tom Hoefling of Iowa after posting a lengthy, religion-based explanation of why he could not back Trump. After being very public about the dilemma he would face when the Electoral College meets Dec. 19 at the Capitol to cast its 38 votes, Sisneros fielded much pressure — some of it vitriolic — about his upcoming decision.
He called the explanation of that decision “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,” he began.
I encourage you to read his full posting. It’s thoughtful, touching on important concepts such as the difference between a republic and a “pure democracy” and how the Founding Fathers, with “the wisdom we lack,” opted for the former.
“The essence of a republic is that the authority rests in elected representatives, not in the people directly,” Sisneros wrote, adding that Electoral College members are supposed to vote as they see fit, even if it differs from the collective will of a plurality of the people.
That’s a core question I’ve long pondered to no conclusion about legislators: Are they supposed to do what they think is right or what they perceive the people they represent want them to do?
Sisneros offered what he called a “limited analogy” to another situation.
“Parents are the representative heads of their kids,” he wrote. “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. (Alexander) Hamilton, in a similar way, saw the role of the body of electors as a protection for the nation.”
That’s pretty bold stuff in so far as it likens voters to children.
For Sisneros, the bottom line is the Electoral College “was corrupted from its original intent once states started dictating the votes of the electors.” And he now believes, as a Christian, he sinned when he signed the required Texas GOP oath vowing to back the party’s nominee — assuming that person carried the state — when the time came to cast his electoral vote. It is, he wrote, “an immoral, unlawful pledge.”
“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,” Sisneros wrote.
Unwilling to break the pledge, he has opted to resign from the Electoral College, a move that will allow the other electors to select a replacement, one very likely to have no trouble backing Trump, something Sisneros still cannot bring himself to do.
“I do not see how Donald Trump is biblically qualified to serve in the office of the presidency,” he wrote. “Of the hundreds of angry messages that I have received, not one has made a convincing case from scripture otherwise.”
He acknowledged that his decision will have no effect on the outcome. “Trump will be our president,” he wrote. And, barring the unforeseen, Texas will not have its first-ever faithless elector.
“Many are furious that I am willing to have this discussion publicly,” Sisneros wrote. “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.”
So he will resign.
“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.”
State GOP Chairman Tom Mechler issued a low-key response to Sisneros’ decision, saying, “We respect Mr. Sisneros’ decision and appreciate his willingness to step down from his position as a presidential elector in Texas.”