In our divided country, a prayer for those voting in the Electoral College.

It was midnight, Nov. 8. I had just celebrated my 83rd birthday, and various friends and family members from different stages of my life had reached out to make me grateful for God’s many gifts. But as I sat alone staring at the TV screen it gradually sunk in that somehow my fellow Americans had made a terrible mistake, and so much that I had learned to love about my country was up for grabs.

I come from a very patriotic family—my father was cited for his heroism in World War I, I spent years in the army between graduating from Fordham and joining the Jesuits, and my younger brother served in the Marines reserve. I went to bed at 1:00 a.m. feeling as if I had been punched in the jaw, then woke up at 3:00 a.m. to see Donald J. Trump accept the voters’ decision to make him president of the United States.


Since then, I have followed the process of Mr. Trump selecting a cabinet, while secretly nursing the wild hope that the Electoral College would rescue us. So I rejoice in Tuesday’s op-ed article by Christoper Suprun, a Texas paramedic and one-time firefighter who responded to the Sept. 11 attacks and admired President George W. Bush’s leadership that helped unite the nation in the “tragic days that followed.”

Mr. Suprun is also a Republican member of the Electoral College who has watched Mr. Trump drive a wedge splitting the nation in two. He states that Alexander Hamilton in “Federalist No. 68” argues that the Electoral College “should determine if candidates are qualified for office, not engaged in demagoguery and independent of foreign influence.” He reminds us that during this year’s presidential campaign, 50 Republican former national security officials and foreign policy experts co-signed a letter opposing Mr. Trump, saying “he would be a dangerous president.”

He goes on to summarize the evidence that Mr. Trump, as he selects advisers and cabinet members unsuited for their jobs, does not understand the Constitution and “has played fast and loose with the law for years.”

Mr. Suprun concludes that when the presidential electors meet on Dec. 19, they have “both a legal right and a constitutional duty to vote their conscience.” He believes they should unify behind a Republican alternative, “an honorable and qualified man or woman such as Gov. John Kasich of Ohio,” who, as we reach for unity, I suggest is also worthy of Democratic support. Mr. Suprun has been moved to make this proposal because of the oath he took 15 years ago as a firefighter and prays that his fellow electors will join him.

Since my birthday, I have prayed that someone, somehow, someday would rescue the country I love from chaos and division. I pray in gratitude for this elector’s courage and initiative.

Raymond A. Schroth, S.J., is America's books editor.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Barbara DeCoursey Roy
2 years 1 month ago
"Hope is the thing with feathers . . . .I've heard it in the chillest land." I hope you get a belated birthday present on December 19th.
Andrew Strada
2 years 1 month ago
Perhaps, Father, the best way to avoid further chaos and division is to accept the election results. The Democrats won four of the last five elections. This one they lost. So it goes. If you think we have chaos and division now, wait until you see what happens if the House appoints John Kasich to be President. Or if enough faithless Republican electors vote for Secretary Clinton to make her President. You may be impressed that Mr. Suprun thinks that his opinion should outweigh that of 4.7 million of his fellow Texans who presumably thought that they were voting for Donald Trump (not for Christopher Suprun). The only thing that impresses me is the unbridled arrogance of the fellow. Taking an oath as a firefighter, while a praiseworthy action, really shouldn't give you 4.7 million times as much influence as your neighbor has.
Joan Hill
2 years 1 month ago
Dear Fr, Schroth, Amen.
Lisa Weber
2 years 1 month ago
I also hope that something can rescue us from the evil that Donald Trump brings. My sense is that he will do something worthy of impeachment within three months of taking office, so I hope that the people in Congress will have the decency and courage to throw him out of office. Trump is not only unsuitable himself, he has shown us the worst of this country. I have been appalled by the casual acceptance of sexual assault. I had not been aware of that before and I am not pleased to see it now.
Lynne Baker
2 years 1 month ago
Thank you for your thoughtful commentary, Fr. Schroth. I join with you in the hope that the Electoral College might have the courage and the conscience to stop the disastrous ascendancy of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States.
Anne Chapman
2 years 1 month ago
I join you in your prayers. The electors have a chance to save the US, and the world, If this election presages similar wins by xenophobic, nationalists and extreme right candidates in Europe, it could wipe out all of the gains - economic and political - that the west achieved during the last 70 years. It's a set back that would open the door to enormous conflict, severe economic damage to all economies, and, pose a threat to world stability. So we must also pray that the European countries with elections coming up, especially Germany and France, follow little Austria's example and reject the resurgent far right populist, nationalist parties. Perhaps these two countries and others in western Europe will have to step up to save the world, since the American president-elect seems bent on destroying what was achieved after WWII and also after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He is almost inviting Russia to proceed with its territorial ambitions in Europe, and, with his threats of trade war and the rejection of the TPP, to be pushing the Asian countries who have been our allies into the arms of China. The electors could save us from ourselves, and the world from us - but will they have the courage?
Carlos Orozco
2 years 1 month ago
How can democracies survive when international oligarchs have the last say, if TPP is ever passed? Does any mere "mortal" have access to the complete wording of the treaty? What are Russian territorial ambitions when NATO has expanded to its very borders and is dangerously near its biggest cities? You will of course answer Crimea. Well, keep in mind that is was under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the American ambassador that coordinated a bloody coup in Ukraine during the Sochi Olympic games, replacing a corrupt pro-Russian government with an even more corrupt pro-Washington government. ( Sure hope Trump is no warmonger like his presidential rival.
J Cosgrove
2 years 1 month ago
America, the magazine, has just reached a new low. A Jesuit priest is praying that the election of the president of the United States be over turned because he does not like the results. And America has published it thus giving credence to his position, I know the electors complete the process but this has been a formality for a couple hundred years. They are just volunteers who signed an oath of fidelity and are nothing special. They are not wise men and a fireman's oath hardly qualifies one as a moral and astute sage. They definitely do not have the moral right to supplant the will of the people. Does Fr. Schroth realize what will take place if his wishes come true. Probably civil war with thousands if not more dying. Any other government except the elected one will be considered invalid by a very large segment of the country. If anything Fr. Schroth has validated the hypothesis that liberals with their progressive ideas are not fit to govern. Their behavior since the election has been childish at best and dangerous in what they wish and may try to do. If we are divided, I would look to the current occupant of the White House and not to Donald Trump. The rise of Trump is a response to the divisive policies of the Democratic Party the last 8 years. I never supported Trump before the election but have been amazed at the quickness of his cabinet picks and the quality of the people chosen to help run the government. It has been incredibly efficient. Whether the government will run as smooth is always a question to be answered especially his trade and protectionist policies.
Tom Maher
2 years 1 month ago
Well of course you and everyone else were shocked and unprepared for the radically different election results than what everyone expected. Trump was supposed to lose badly Even establishment Republican election adviser, Matthew Dowd, who had advised George Bush Presidential campaigns, predicted on the Sunday ABC news show "This Week" just before the election that Trump would not only lose very badly but would also cause Republicans to lose control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. President Obama several times publically predicted Trump would not be President. To win Trump would have to get a series of near-impossible wins. Trump would have to "run the table" - win numerous very difficult if not impossible states for Republicans Presidential candidates to win. Trump would have to win most of the 10 battleground states all of which were supposed to be highly contested. But further Trump would also have to win at least one state in the "blue wall" -- states that have not gone Republican in Presidential elections for decades. The outcome of the election the nation was told would be known by about 9 P.M. election night. Well surprise. Very late election results often early in the morning the day after the election showed Trump winning well beyond the minimums needed to get 270 electoral votes and winning often by large margins in such places as Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. And by the way Republican remained in control of the Senate and House Representatives. It is impossible to ignore the fact that Trump won 306 electoral votes from 30 states in a very strong election performance. Trump's 306 electoral votes will remain. Recounts are not working and will not work to change Trump's win. Gamesmanship by rogue electors who want to deny Trump's victory are wasting everyone's time. Stop Trump efforts have been exhaustively tried since Trump first announce his candidacy eighteen months ago on June 15, 2015. All the numerous Stop Trump efforts even though very well funded and lead by experiences political figures such as Jeb Bush, Bill Crystal and Mitt Romney failed miserably. The likelihood of one misfit elector who has no experience in any political role, and no credible, accurate and complete knowledge of the role and state law and U.S. Constitutions on electors is not at all likely to change Donald Trump's election. Electors are not empowered by law or the Constitution to be super heroes who on their own personal whim can change elections by voting in persons not chosen by voters. Mr. Suprun apparently is a stranger to the simple democratic principle that voters indeed determine elections. Donald Trump's election is the only game in town. The crude rationalization of the powers of electors by Mr. Christopher Suprun shows his lack of understanding of the law, the Constitution and reality. Trump has won overwhelmingly. To all Republicans, Trump is undisputedly the President elect. No Republican will defy the voters by offering their name or support as a rogue substitute to President-elect Trump when electors vote of December 19. Suprun does not have and will not be able to get any Republican to run against Trump on Mr. Suprun's say-so, such as it is. Mr. Suprun has no support among Republicans for his crazy schemes to usurp the clear results of the Presidential election by manipulating the electoral college process. Mr. Suprun has no Republican to run against Donald Trump. For example Governor Kasich whom Mr. Suprun has repeatedly mentioned as a possible alternative to Trump has indicated he, Governor Kasich, is not interested in running against Trump. Elector Suprun has no Republican to vote for President other than Donald Trump. The overwhelming political and Constitutional reality is President-elect Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017.
Carlos Orozco
2 years 1 month ago
The election of 2016 is over. President Obama wanted a clear electoral college result, well he sure got one! Hillary had the help of the news corporate media and of Hollywood and New York celebrities; she openly cheated and was fed debate questions by the presstitute class; establishment pollsters crowned her weeks before the election; warmonger Republican neocons supported her; Russia was blamed for her inner circle's incompetent use of classified information; tens of thousands of subpoenaed emails were purposely deleted and bleached without consequences; her husband met in secret with the Attorney General before the results of the investigation on the destroyed emails was made public; her role in the imperial war crimes against the Libyan and Syrian people were ignored and, at the end, not even occult "spirit cookers" could rescue her failed candidacy. The result was epic. The holy year of Mercy ended with the threat of thermonuclear warfare greatly dissipated. Give thanks to God that America dodged the bullet and PRAY for a successful Trump presidency. I don't like the guy but since so many criminal elements hate him, he can't be that bad. Get over it.
Tim O'Leary
2 years 1 month ago
As one who never supported Trump throughout the primaries and election, I cannot agree with Fr. Schroth's hope. In fact, an elector rebellion would be highly irresponsible and likely seriously endanger our democracy. But, I also think Trump has been pretty good since the election, apart from his penchant to continue twittering. His cabinet is looking strong, and offers hope for the unborn, for defundng of planned parenthood, for those suffering under ISIS, for those getting creamed by Obamacare's ruinous bills, for a strengthening of religious liberty, possibly even school choice and the end of economic discrimination against Catholic schools, and for anyone in low-paying jobs or unemployed. While I expected a fall in the markets and very negative economic effects post Trump, I now think I might be wrong. If Trump really does get rid of the massive burden of useless regulation, and makes the tax code for corporations relatively better in the US vs. abroad, we could have a boom in the economy (at least short-term). I think the whole Russian thing is blown way up out of proportion, but I do worry about general foreign policy and I remain concerned about the treatment of immigrants and trade. I would bet that our environment will actually be less polluted in 4 years, not worse.


The latest from america

Women served as deacons in Europe for about a millennium in a variety of ministerial and sacramental roles.
Brandon SanchezJanuary 15, 2019
In preparation for the gathering in Abu Dhabi, I find myself asking why my conversations with the future Pope Francis so powerfully affected both of us.
Abraham SkorkaJanuary 15, 2019
Photo: iStock
Included on the list is John T. Ryan, S.J., who from 1989 to 1994 was an associate editor for development at America.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 15, 2019
Did you ever wonder why Jesus was baptized? What sins did Jesus have to repent of? Nothing.
James Martin, S.J.January 14, 2019