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OPINION: If this play doesn’t work, it’s game over

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By Randy Patrick

We live in dangerous times.

The rise of the Islamic State is the greatest threat to peace, but the enemy Ronald Reagan described as the Evil Empire is reasserting itself.

Communism may be dead, but Russia’s old guard is alive and in charge. Its duplicitous and authoritarian president, Vladimir Putin, is a former head of the KGB whose government has invaded the Ukraine, annexed the Crimea, murdered journalists, targeted Syrian hospitals with precision missiles and, according to the CIA, waged cyber war against the United States to influence the outcome of our election.

Donald Trump doesn’t believe the CIA, just as he didn’t believe the FBI when it concluded Hillary Clinton committed no crimes.

Trump has expressed admiration for Putin, even though we are engaged in a proxy war with him in the Middle East. Putin backs Syria’s bloody tyrant, Bashar al-Assad against the rebels we’re supporting. Assad’s massacre of his own people, as underscored last week in Aleppo, is tragic.

In his most important appointment, Trump, a businessman with no government experience, chose as secretary of state a businessman with no government experience: Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, a friend of Putin.

For national security adviser, Trump chose retired Gen. Michael Flynn, whom President Obama fired for mismanagement of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Flynn has propagated conspiracy theories, including retweetinv the bizarre fake news story that Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, were running a Satanic child sex-slave ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. That story could have gotten people killed when a guy walked into restaurant with an assault rifle to rescue children he thought were being held in the basement.

Give Trump a chance, said many, including President Obama. Trump's bizarre campaign utterances were hyperbole, supporters said; he should be taken seriously but not literally. But in recent weeks, we have witnessed what 50 former Republican national security and foreign policy experts warned about  in a letter — that Trump would be a dangerous president.

According to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, in an interview with President Bush’s former CIA director, Gen. Michael Hayden, Trump asked an adviser three times why the U.S. couldn’t use nuclear weapons. That’s frightening, because the president can launch a nuclear attack with no provocation and no one’s consent.

Trump is the man who said he knew “more than the generals." What's even more bizarre is that he said, “I love war.”

According to Hamilton Electors, a Democratic group, Trump is the sort of populist demagogue Alexander Hamilton created the Electoral College to prevent from becoming president.

Hamilton was not enamored of “democracy,” which he and other Federalists equated with the mob rule they were to witness in France. Steeped in the English ideal of a nation of laws and not of men, they preferred a constitutional system of checks and balances. The Electoral College is one of those checks.

Hamilton wrote that it is desirable that the will of the people be a factor in choosing the president, but it is “equally desirable” that the choice “should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station,” so the office should “never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

The Electoral College also, Hamilton said, would be a bulwark against “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”

Most Americans think Trump was elected Nov. 8, but the real election is Dec. 19. That is when the electors across the country meet in state capitals to vote for president.

Hamilton Electors know there is no chance of electing Clinton or any Democrat. What they are proposing is that at least 37 of the Republican electors vote for another Republican — a consensus candidate such as Republicans' 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, or Ohio Gov. John Kasich. That would deny Trump the 270 votes he needs to be elected, and the decision would go the House of Representatives.

The House is also controlled by the GOP, but Hamilton Electors are counting on them being as contemptuous of Trump as Trump is of the Republican establishment. Or putting principle before party.

If Clinton released her 232 electors and they all voted, along with 38 Republican electors, for an alternate Republican, the decision wouldn’t go to the House. But that’s a big if.

The chance of Trump not being elected is almost nil.

Rather than being the independent patriots Hamilton envisioned, most electors are loyal party activists. And most members of Congress aren’t profiles in probity. It’s dismaying to see even Speaker Paul Ryan evolve from critic to sycophant.

The Hamilton Electors play is a Hail Mary pass, but it’s better than accepting defeat when there’s still a little time left on the clock.