As I mentioned in my post on the "pizzagate" conspiracy, aside from my focus on religious freedom issues, I try to write most of my articles from a neutral political perspective and only delve into political issues that touch on the general themes of this blog. Today I'm going to deviate from that a bit, in order to touch on a bit of religious lore that could become relevant to the current situation - this is, if a whole series of relatively unlikely events actually takes place.
Still, given all that's gone on in 2016, you never can tell. The bit of religious lore that I'm talking about is a prophecy attributed to Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS Church, dubbed the White Horse Prophecy. From Wikipedia:
Latter Day Saint movement founder Joseph Smith went to Washington, D.C. in November 1839 in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain help for his persecuted followers. Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune writes that from then on, Smith and his followers "considered themselves the last Real Americans" and "the legitimate heirs of the pilgrims and Founding Fathers", who would be called upon one day to save the U.S. Constitution. Smith is believed to have then said, in 1840, that when the Constitution hung by a thread, Latter Day Saint elders would step in on the white horse to save the country.
According to a diary entry made by John Roberts of Paradise, Utah in 1902, Joseph Smith gave the White Horse Prophecy in early May 1843, during the period in which the Latter Day Saints were headquartered in Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith is recorded as saying that the Mormons "will go to the Rocky Mountains and will be a great and mighty people established there, which I will call the White Horse of peace and safety." Adding that "I shall never go there" and predicting continued persecution by enemies of the church, Smith reportedly said that "You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber.... I love the Constitution; it was made by the inspiration of God; and it will be preserved and saved by the efforts of the White Horse, and by the Red Horse who will combine in its defense."
The article goes on to explain that the prophecy is not official doctrine of the LDS Church, as aside from the diary entry that was written years after the fact, there is no other historical evidence of Smith actually making the recorded comments. It easily could have sprung up from misremembered quotes and evolving oral tradition. There was talk that during the 2012 election, Mitt Romney considered the possibility that he might in fact be the White Horse - though again, I have no idea whether that was really the case, or if it was just a rumor.
I would hope that it should be clear to anyone outside the tinfoil conspiracy crowd that Barack Obama posed no existential threat to the Constitution in 2012. He did continue a number of the questionable programs of the George W. Bush administration, but it seems to me that many politicians before him posed bigger constitutional threats, especially if you look back through the history of the entire twentieth century starting in 1902. But depending on the outcome of various investigations and so forth, 2016 might turn out to be a different matter altogether.
Donald Trump's surprise electoral college win turned the political system on its ear. Since the election, Trump's behavior has been just as un-presidential as before. He keeps tweeting nonsense. He insists that he "doesn't need" daily intelligence briefings. He has shown no signs of "draining the swamp," but rather has been filling his cabinet with a mix of political insiders and members of the global business elite. And now, the CIA has determined that Russia hacked the DNC and RNC, and strategically released the information they obtained to Wikileaks in order to influence the election in his favor.
There may not be collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, but the possibility is troubling enough that it requires investigation. It would have been a reasonable move for Russia to prefer Trump to Clinton even without collusion, as he made a number of statements throughout the campaign skeptical of the role of NATO in the world and critical of sanctions imposed on Russia after the annexation of Crimea. But still, Paul Manafort's connections to the former pro-Russian government of Ukraine raised suspicions that forced Manafort's resignation from the Trump campaign in August, and a number of other odd coincidences seem to link Russia with the campaign.
Now if a foreign power really did influence the 2016 election, and especially if they colluded with an American presidential campaign, it seems to me that this is a bigger potential threat to the Constitution than anything that happened during the Obama administration. If the White Horse Prophecy is true, could this be the time in which it will unfold? Again, those are whole lot of "ifs" - but as I said, this is 2016 we're talking about. "Ifs" seem to be par for the course this year, rather than outliers like they would be any other year.
At this point, the only way for Donald Trump to be denied the presidency is for the electoral college to refuse to vote for him. Electors are not necessarily required to vote for the candidate who won their state, but only a handful of them have ever changed their votes. In Trump's case, 37 electors would have to refuse to vote for him in order to throw the election to the House of Representatives - and to be clear, barring something entirely unprecedented, that won't happen. But if it did, who would they vote for instead?
Members of the Electoral College are not necessarily candidate loyalists, but they are selected for being party loyalists. That's why so few "faithless electors" have ever been seated. Because of this, it seems to me that there is absolutely no chance that enough Trump electors will change their votes to Hillary Clinton and give her a win. If they're going to vote for someone else, I think we can be fairly certain that it will be another Republican. Furthermore, the Republican Party currently controls the House, so if the election is referred there, I don't see them voting for a Democrat either.
So this is not about getting Clinton elected. Where the White Horse Prophecy comes into play is that one of the possible candidates being floated as an Electoral College alternative for Republicans is Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee. Another qualifying possibility might be Evan McMullin, a Republican who ran as an independent conservative - although McMullin struggled with ballot access and his percentage of the popular vote was behind even the Green Party's Jill Stein. Like Romney, McMullin is also a Mormon.
So here's the long, crazy series of "ifs" that I think could be interpreted as the prophecy coming true. If (A) Donald Trump is found to be a threat to the Constitution on the basis of his ties with Russia (rather than just on the basis of being a total doofus), (B) at least 37 Republican electors vote for another candidate, (C) this alternate Republican candidate wins in the House of Representatives, and (D) this candidate is a Mormon, such as Romney or McMullin. Will any of that actually happen? Quite probably not. But this year, who knows?
Guidelines For Comments: Since my "pizzagate" post kind of went off the rails here and over on Facebook, I want to point out ahead of time that I'm really not interested in discussing the relative merits of Clinton versus Trump - or Obama, for that matter. I'm neither a Clinton fan nor a Trump supporter. I think that Trump is going to be a terrible president, but I'm not interested in debating that either, unless it's directly relevant to the content of this post. Thanks in advance for understanding.