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A Way Out For Donald Trump? A Letter To The President-Elect

President-elect Donald Trump gestures toward reporters as he arrives for a party at the home of Robert Mercer, one of his biggest campaign donors, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Head of the Harbor, N.Y. (Evan Vucci/AP)
President-elect Donald Trump gestures toward reporters as he arrives for a party at the home of Robert Mercer, one of his biggest campaign donors, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Head of the Harbor, N.Y. (Evan Vucci/AP)
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COMMENTARY

Dear Mr. Trump,

Forgive me for intruding during this busy time, but I have an idea that might interest you, a suggestion that could instantly make you one of the great heroes of American democracy.

Here’s the gist of it: Sometime before Dec. 19, you should announce that in light of Hillary Clinton’s large and growing lead in the popular vote, you are instructing the electors who are pledged to you to vote for Clinton instead.

You should explain that you are doing this because you believe in democracy, and because you know — just as you did in 2012 when you denounced the Electoral College — that democracy means that the person who wins the most votes should take office. You should call for the permanent replacement of the Electoral College with a national popular vote.

I know this might seem like an odd thing to do. But you’ve never been a typical candidate or politician; that’s your signature strength. And taking this step would have some big upsides for you.

For one thing, if Hillary Clinton were president, you could continue living in New York and not have to spend weeknights in that drafty old house in Washington. (Melania would be pleased; you could even tell her, privately, that you’re doing this for her.) You wouldn’t have to divest from your businesses, as the Wall Street Journal, among others, has asked you to do; you wouldn’t even have to figure out what a blind trust actually is.

You should call for the permanent replacement of the Electoral College with a national popular vote.

You also wouldn’t have to worry about mastering all of those complicated issues and problems that don’t really interest you: global warming, for example, or the conflicts between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. They’d be Hillary’s problem — and that would serve her right.

You also wouldn’t be nagged by those campaign promises that you made which you always knew couldn’t be fulfilled. Like The Wall. Or bringing back manufacturing jobs to Michigan or reviving the coal mines in West Virginia. Let those things not happen on Hillary’s watch.

But there’s more, much more.

You wouldn’t just get rid of a lot of headaches: You would immediately become a revered national and international hero. You would be the Man Who Sacrificed Himself for American Democracy, the courageous leader who finally rid the nation of an antiquated, obsolete and malfunctioning presidential election system. The anti-politician who put principle ahead of office.

Thousands of people would gather around Trump Tower every day to sing your praises, to chant songs composed in your honor. Streets will be named after you — and babies too! Your portrait will hang in living rooms and barbershops around the globe. You will be adored everywhere — as the man who did what was right for America.

Mt. Rushmore would hardly be out of the question. If there’s no room there, we could find a bigger and better mountain on which to carve your likeness, a likeness that would endure forever, even longer than a hotel or apartment building.

You have already won and winning is what really matters. The rest is a job -- a stressful, time-consuming job in which you will be endlessly criticized no matter what you do.

I earnestly hope that you will seriously consider this idea. I know it might seem strange to give up the brass (or gold) ring after you have won it. But that’s part of the point. You have already won and winning is what really matters. The rest is a job — a stressful, time-consuming job in which you will be endlessly criticized no matter what you do. This way you can have the celebrity and honor that comes with the presidency, and you won’t have to do all the boring stuff. Never again will you have to speak to Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney.

If you take this step, you can, so to speak, have your cake and eat it too. Your approval ratings will soar (which is unlikely to happen if you take office). You will have the adulation of crowds worldwide for the rest of your life, and you won’t have to do another thing to earn it.

You will have made America great by making it more democratic: Could a man ask for more as a legacy?

Alexander Keyssar Cognoscenti contributor
Alexander Keyssar is the Matthew W. Stirling Jr. professor of history and social policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He writes about election reform, the history of democracies, and the history of poverty.

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