by Ted Rueter
presidential election isn't over. The Electoral College will meet
on December 19 to elect the next president and vice president.
While the nation has clearly expressed its preference for George
Bush for the presidency, it has profound misgivings about Dan
Quayle. It is the responsibility of the 538 members of the Electoral
College to dump Quayle.
Electoral College has every right to take this action. The original
intent of the Founding Fathers was for the Electoral College to
make an independent, enlightened selection of the president and
vice president. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 68
that the choice of the president and vice president "should
be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted
to the station and acting under the circumstances favorable to
Constitution, the courts, precedents, and Congress affirm an independent
role for the Electoral College. The 12th amendment, modifying
Article II, specifies that the electors "shall name in their
ballots the person voted for as president and in distinct ballots
the person voted for as vice president...." Courts in Kansas
in 1986 and Ohio in 1948 have ruled that electorate may not be
compelled to support any candidate named by a political party.
"Faithless electors" exercised independent judgment
in 1960, 1968, 1972, and 1976. In 1969, Congress specifically
upheld the right of a North Carolina Nixon elector to vote for
George Wallace. An Electoral College rejection of Quayle would
be consistent with the constitutional principle of checks and
is intellectually and emotionally unsuitable for the vice presidency
or the presidency. Quayle has a questionable academic record,
a questionable military record, questionable maturity, and questionable
understanding of the issues. He is widely viewed as a Senate lightweight.
He has stated that Gorbachev "is no different from Brezhnev,"
and that "perestroika is nothing more than refined Stalinism."
He quoted Bobby Knight and Tom Clancy to justify deployment of
SDI; quoted Grandma Pullman on his philosophy of life; lied about
FDR flunking his bar exam; and three times failed to say what
he would do upon ascending the presidency, aside from saying a
prayer, holding a meeting, and reciting the first names of Bush's
the Electoral College to drop Quayle would be to affirm the public
will, not subvert it. An October CBS poll showed that 49 percent
of the public doubted Quayle's understanding of the issues that
would face a president and that 63 percent would be "worried"
if Quayle became president.
20 years ago, President Nixon nominated G. Harrold Carswell to
the Supreme Court. Republican Senator Roman Hruska of Nebraska
attempted to turn Carswell's widely perceived mediocrity into
an asset. "Even if he is mediocre," Hruska said, "there
are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are
entitled to a little representation, aren't they,
and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Cardozos, and
Frankfurters, and stuff like that there."
the Senate decided otherwise. Let us hope that the Electoral College
says the same thing about the vice presidency. Republican and
Democratic electors alike should be faithful to the spirit of
the Constitution and the will and interests of the nation. They
should unit to flunk Quayle out of the Electoral College.
Published in The Boston Globe, November 25, 1988