Far too many Democrats are still in denial, and desperately trying to avoid the obvious conclusions about their stunning collapse at every level in the 2016 election.
During the campaign, when Hillary Clinton and the media widely expected the "blue wall" of Rust Belt states (Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania) to remain in Democratic hands, no one raised any objections to the system under which this country has elected its executive since 1792. Democrats from Clinton down scorned Donald Trump for suggesting that electoral results were worth checking before accepting them. "Horrifying," Clinton remarked when Trump refused to commit to an unquestioning acceptance on Election Night.
Five weeks later, Democrats and the media have seized on the Russians as their latest explanation for losing the presidency, and in a panic, are questioning the legitimacy of the outcome. That is based on a CIA analysis that the Russian government deliberately acted to assist Trump. But remember, the White House has repeatedly stated that there is no evidence of Russian hacking in the voting process. And while WikiLeaks' release of hacked Democratic emails certainly didn't do the Clinton campaign any favors, there's hardly definitive proof that these revelations clearly and directly changed voter behavior on some massive scale.
But the panic over Russian meddling is nothing compared to Democrats' shifting attitudes about the Electoral College. Democrats have gone from total apathy before the election to total outrage in its immediate aftermath. Many have suddenly decided that the Electoral College is the bulwark of democracy against the dark night of Donald Trump.
In the immediate aftermath of the election, Clinton supporters kept tabs on her expanding popular-vote lead, now up to nearly 3 million. Many Democrats argued that a win in the Electoral College alone made the outcome illegitimate, even though we have used this system for more than two centuries and have had similar outcomes in multiple elections. Outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) demanded an end to the Electoral College, calling it "an outdated, undemocratic system."
That might be because it's not a democratic system; it's a representative system designed to balance the interests of the states in a federalist system. It prevents presidential elections from focusing on the needs of a few highly populous states and forces candidates to appeal to a wider breadth of populations.
But Trump opponents have seized on the Electoral College as a last-gasp measure to change the outcome of the election. Democrats want electors from states Trump won to change their votes, arguing that voters elected them to exercise their judgment. Clinton campaign chair John Podesta demanded intelligence briefings for electors on the Russian hacking threat — the same one they knew about in October when scolding Trump for approaching results with due caution. "Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution," Podesta wrote, "and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed."
Forget the practical issue that any briefing of significance would require 538 electors to get security clearances in the space of a week. Electors do have a "solemn responsibility under the Constitution," but it's not to act as a shadow Congress or a substitute for the voters they represent. They have one job, and one job only: to fulfill in person the results of the presidential election in each of their states. They have no other authority or jurisdiction in the Constitution or by judicial precedent.
A few of the electors have argued otherwise, claiming that voters vested in them an authority to act in exigent circumstances. This is entirely false. So-called "Hamilton electors" in Colorado lost that argument this week, thanks to a ruling from a federal judge appointed by Bill Clinton. Voters cast their general-election ballots for the candidates, not the electors, who are chosen by the parties to serve as proxies for the outcome in each state.
The desperate liberal Electoral College project will fail anyway. Thirty-nine electors demanded the briefing, presumably to justify voting against Trump, but 38 of them are bound to Hillary Clinton already. The one Republican, Chris Suprun of Texas, had already announced his intention to vote for someone other than Trump or Clinton. Trump has a 35-elector edge even without Suprun, and no other Republican electors seem interested in throwing the election to the House of Representatives, or Clinton either.
For better or worse, voters put Donald Trump in the White House. Congress can and should investigate Russian efforts to hack into political organizations and push the executive branch to do a better job in combating such intrusions and attempts at influencing American politics. That will take a realistic approach to governance, for which the incoming Trump administration must prove itself ready to provide. The absurd attempts to overturn the election results demonstrate why Democrats aren't being given that opportunity — at practically every level of government.