Now comes the novel The Electors, by Roy Neel. A longtime aide to Al Gore, Neel headed the vice president’s transition team following the 2000 election, which must have been something like being the captain of a ship that boldly sails into the Bermuda Triangle. From his advantageous seat on that particular bridge to nowhere, Neel got a good look at the many ways in which the garden-variety political act of voting can go wrong if a partisan Rube Goldberg designed it and mendacious people manipulate it. That folly led him to ponder the most paternalistic institution that exists in our constitution, the Electoral College, and how it might be brazenly manipulated to give the presidency to an undeserving candidate, and to serve as the premise of a fast-paced political thriller as well.
Speaking of partisan Rube Goldberg devices designed and manipulated by mendacious people, did you notice the long voting lines in Arizona during the primary there on Tuesday?
Ah, but we were talking about the Electoral College…
You know there can be faithless electors, right? And a tie goes to the House of Representatives where the rules may not be what you think they are. These things have happened before, and this novel seems pretty timely considering that the Republicans are seriously debating how to game their convention to deny Donald Trump the nomination. If they fail there, maybe they (or the Democrats) can succeed with a backup plan in the general election. Anyone planning for such a scenario should probably read Roy Neel’s book, and Jamie Malinowski’s review of it in our March/April/May issue.