Faithless Elector (Part 1)

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My conversation with Bill Greene began with one simple question: “How does a person get free beer wherever they go for the rest of their life?”

His answer, boiled down, was four simple words.

Now to fulfill on those four words, is no easy task and not for a person lacking in grit and principled reason. I was excluded from Bill Greene’s free-beer-method immediately based on a handicap of foreign citizenship and it was just as well. I have a hard-enough time curbing my alcohol intake when I’m footing the bill for it, let alone having access to an ever-flowing copper pipe of liberty looking to thank me by lager, ale or stout.

Since his college days Bill has been an active Republican in the Grand Old Party. He’s held positions including Precinct Chair on the County Executive Committee, on the District Executive Committee, and on the State Executive Committee. He’s attended county and state conventions and four national conventions. He’s ran as a Republican for City Council, State House, and U.S. Congress.

In 2016, at the Hidalgo county GOP Precinct convention, Bill was the new kid on the block, having just moved to Texas. His “unknown” status seemed to rattle the cages of some of the establishment republican types. The idea that newcomers need to be managed and surveilled is not uncommon in conservative circles. It’s important to keep things under control and not stray too far from the flock; to toe the party line as it were. So, when one gentleman, a heavily armed, overcompensating gorilla type of a man, asked him if he was going to the state convention in order to run to be a delegate to the national convention, Bill’s answer was “No.”

Perhaps a sigh of relief was breathed and perhaps the expression on the man’s face made evident his relief. But the relief would have been short-lived for the next words out of Bill’s mouth were the kind that will antagonize any schoolboy trying desperately to climb the social hierarchy of grade school, especially when coming from the lips of the new kid. Bill had declared he was going to the state convention in order to run to be an elector nominee for the GOP.

Not that what Bill had said should be considered offensive but that what he said challenges the natural, passive and easily controlled state of the school yard. Had they still been schoolboys, and Bill, on his first day, had declared his intent to secure a high-profile position on the football team, the other boys reaction would have differed very little then it had for this grown man at the Hidalgo County GOP convention in 2016.

His declaration was met with snide dismissal, but the only good argument against him was that he didn’t know anyone. It was the type of reaction you’d expect from someone who is nervous in their experience of losing control. It’s not as though Bill doesn’t have the political experience, I prefaced that above, and it’s not that he doesn’t have a thorough understanding of America’s Electoral College. Jesus, he’s a professor of political science at South Texas College. He teaches courses on the subject, that and the American Constitution to two hundred plus students a year. No, Bill was considered an outsider and that’s enough to turn off the more tribal types in the GOP. Texas, however, is one of the few states that still holds on to a grassroots style of party republicanism, if only because they have yet to update their policies.

And so, though I’m sure there were many bumps and bruises along the way, Bill did secure his nomination as an elector. After speaking with him it’s easy to see why. He’s a strict constitutionalist and this carries heavy favor in a state like Texas. He has the credentials. He’s easy to talk to and well spoken. He comes across as one of the good ol’ boys, the kind that you might go years without speaking with but can always pick up right where you left off and probably over a cold brew.

When I first told Bill I wanted to write this story he asked me “What do Canadians care?” We had a good laugh. My answer was a canned one, which I keep for instances like this, where I’m prodding my nose into the affairs and politics of a foreign nation. Affairs that have little or nothing to do with my homeland. It is true though when I say that “American politics is the NFL and Canadian politics is the CFL.” As far as entertainment value is concerned, many Canucks pay more attention to what’s happening south of the medicine line, both politically and in football.

During the Republican primaries Bill was a “Stand with Rand” guy. He has long advocated for smaller government. If you had followed him on social media you would have seen pictures of him at End the Fed rallies or heard him proposing a non-interventionist foreign policy, or retweeting Justin Amash and Thomas Massie. After the senator from Kentucky had withdrawn his nomination for top dog, Bill wasn’t exactly quiet about his disappointment in the remaining republican nominees, especially when the crunch was on. Although he didn’t hide his distaste he wasn’t a “never-Trumper” either. I’d still say he restrained himself to some degree, focusing his online political advocacy on sharing hilarious memes about Hillary Clinton and also a few articles explaining the Electoral College.

The United States Electoral College operates cyclically. The cycle is simple: it is forgotten about for roughly 43 months and 20 days. Then after the presidential election, there is a 6-week period that can best be described as digestion, in the chemistry sense. The process of treating a substance by means of heat, enzymes, or a solvent to extract essential components. During this phase, the organs of political powerhouses begin to exert pressure on the members of the Electoral College. This goes largely unnoticed by the general public, who view the electors as something mainly symbolic. Trump had won the votes he had won in the states he had won them in and the same was true for Crooked Hillary. So now the party representatives from those states would merely have to ceremoniously sign a piece of paper acknowledging who had won the state. But here’s the trick: once the party has decided on its electors, the electors make an oath not to their respective parties but to the Constitution of the United States and are not obligated to vote for their parties’ preference.

This process is overlooked even by political strategists until the day after the election. Then all kinds of madness and harassment goes on leading up to the Electoral College vote. After the vote we see 2 months of protests and calls to abolish the Electoral College, especially in cycles where a republican has won, on the argument that it’s an archaic and out of date ceremony that threatens a stable democracy. During this time, the new president has already been installed. And finally, March Madness, an opportunity for Americans to wean themselves off of the sporadic adrenaline spikes that are part and parcel with a presidential campaign. Sport is the great national unifier in spite of the division of politics.

Most people in America and many others abroad remember exactly where they were on November 8, 2016 during the 58th American presidential election. Many people even remember the moment that news outlets started reporting that Trump had won Ohio. I was drinking cheap white wine at “The End of the World Celebration”, a semi-formal soiree at a conservative think tank in Calgary. I forget what I paid to be there, but recall it included a few drink tickets. Some meat and cheese plates were put out for people to snack on and we had access to something like 40 big screen TVs, all with different coverage from every major American network. It seemed more like the backroom of a casino where you can watch the horses race in real time on any track in North America. Flashing icons and unintelligible numbers filled the borders of the screens and half-cocked oil and gas executives provided a running commentary on the results. By the time you could confidently predict that Trump had it in the bag, I had exhausted all of my witty small talk and some of the crowd was beginning to take in long, curious examinations of me, wondering why I was there. They eyed me up, as if they might have to describe me to the police later. So, I left with a couple jokers in Reagan/Bush ‘84 hats and we headed to some shithole bar to get drunk and act like lunatic Trump supporters. Claiming that “Now, being 30-something-year-old white men, we can just go around and grab anyone we want by the pussy. Even you.”  We threatened the bartender, a tall, thin Irishman with mutton chop sideburns.

I don’t know what Bill was doing that night, I’ve never asked him. I like to think he was at home or maybe at an acquaintance’s, having a nice evening with family and friends. But what I do know is that by the time I had fully recovered on November 12 from a sad, obnoxious election night drinking binge, Bill Greene had gone dark. His Facebook, Twitter, everything had disappeared. He was unresponsive to emails, of which he would amass 90,000 at his South Texas College address in the upcoming weeks. Once it was clear that Trump had won the popular vote in enough states to ensure his likelihood of winning the Electoral College vote, Bill quickly realized that 43 months and 20 days had expired. The left was about to realize that old Orangeface hadn’t actually been elected yet, and perhaps the electors could be persuaded to vote for someone else. So, Bill Greene disappeared. He took down all of his social media presence. He even tried to take down his South Texas College email address, but that was a no go.

Bill spent the next little while collecting and grading research papers, administering exams, grading those exams and so on. It was the end of the semester and he was able to happily keep up with his workload without the distraction of thousands of panicked liberals begging him to cast his vote for someone, anyone other than Trump, and maybe even Hillary. His work email he ignored for the most part, and if some nervous MAGA freak from his own party was having a fit of anxiety over Bill’s lack of communication, Bill might have ignored his call too. By complete accident I’m sure. “Don’t worry” he’d tell them “I’m not voting for Clinton.”

The Electoral College vote was scheduled for December 19, 2016, the same day that final grades were due. Bill was supposed to be in Austin a few days early before the vote. Who knows what goes on at these things? Dinner and speakers probably; a chance for electors and delegates to hobnob with some of the other political brass before the official business. Bill, free from distraction, submitted the final grades in advance of his departure and headed for Austin. And days later, a van load of his students followed him there to get an up close and personal view of how government works, or as Bill describes it “doesn’t work.”

Bill wore a decent suit, nothing flashy. He sat down in a big leather-bound chair imprinted with the State of Texas seal in gold-leaf. He picked up a cheap, generic white pen with a green lid, provided by the State of Texas. And he cast his vote.

The four words that will get you free beer wherever you go for the rest of your life: “Vote for Ron Paul.”

Click here for part 2.

* Darcy Gerow is a family man and tradesman. He is a national board member for the Libertarian Party of Canada and the co-founder of @TheHardTruthsBookClub, an organization committed to causing greatness in working age me through brotherhood and literature.

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