Hillary’s Last Hurrah: Clinton Carries Massachusetts; Trump Still Wins
By State House News Service | December 19, 2016, 19:59 EST
STATE HOUSE – With Hillary Clinton’s loss to President-elect Donald Trump still raw for Bay State Democrats, party leaders and electors on Monday – without mentioning Trump’s name – rallied Clinton supporters to regroup and pick up where her campaign left off fighting for causes like “economic justice” and the environment.
In a ceremony notable for its pageantry more than its suspense, all 11 Massachusetts electors cast their votes for Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine. In her losing effort nationally, Clinton secured 60 percent of the vote in Massachusetts with nearly 2 million ballots cast for the former secretary of state and first woman to earn an electoral college vote.
Sen. Marc Pacheco, one of the 11 Massachusetts electors, cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton during the Electoral College session Monday at the State House. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]
“After today, we begin the governing process,” Secretary of State William Galvin said during introductory remarks. “While we go ahead together as Americans, we’re nevertheless Democrats and we have an obligation, I believe, to speak out against the politics of plunder in favor of the principles of freedom that we stand for.”
Galvin also drew thunderous applause from the gathering when he reflected back on Massachusetts’s place in the 1972 election of President Richard Nixon.
“I’ll conclude by reminding you that 44 years ago this day at this proceeding, Massachusetts stood alone as the only state not voting for the constitutional winner of that election. Less than two years later, he was no longer president,” Galvin said.
The Electoral College voting on Monday carried a whiff of suspense with some opponents urging Republican electors to buck the will of their states and not vote for Trump, but in Massachusetts Clinton’s support among electors chosen by the Democratic Party was never in doubt.
As similar scenes played out across the country delivering Trump the requisite Electoral College votes to become the next president, Massachusetts electors – dressed in formal wear and tuxedos – gathered in the House chamber of the State House to celebrate history.
The assembled electors and guests, including many elected officials, were treated to patriotic songs performed by student bands and multi-faith prayers.
“To my colleagues and to our guests who worked hard to elect our Democratic ticket but came up short, today is not a day to disparage or lament,” said Jason Palitsch, an elector from Shrewsbury. “Today is a day for renewal and resolve. This is not the end of one campaign, but the beginning of a time when we recommit ourselves to fighting for what is right.”
Sen. Marc Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat and also an elector, placed Clinton’s name in nomination, and described Democrats as proud that the former First Lady of Arkansas and New York senator attended Wellesley College and went door-to-door in Massachusetts as a young lawyer with the Children’s Defense Fund.
“We voted for our values. We voted for equality. We voted for economic justice. We voted to protect our planet. We voted for religious freedom….,” Pacheco said. “Massachusetts also voted to reject fear. We voted to reject hate. And we voted against divisive rhetoric that has put the entire world on watch.”
Donna Smith, a Stoughton elector chosen as president of the College by her colleagues, drew from Clinton’s concession speech for inspiration.
“The next election is two years away, but the fight for America has already begun,” Smith said. “In her concession speech, Hillary said never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it. I am a believer and I hope you are too.”
The Electoral College itself did not escape scrutiny either.
Marie Hurley, an elector from Jamaica Plain, noted the “2.8 million cracks in the glass ceiling,” a reference to Clinton’s margin of victory over Trump in the popular vote.
While Galvin called it “cause for concern” that the popular vote winner and winner of the electoral college were not aligned for the second time in the past five presidential elections, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said he would support abolishing the institution.
“I’d be happy to see it changed. I think it’s an antiquated system and I think in this country, as we know in every election, it should be the majority rules and this allows for a majority of the people to elect someone, but then for the College to actually cast votes that produce a different result. So I’d love to see a popular vote,” Rosenberg told reporters as the ceremony was taking place.
Gov. Charlie Baker, however, defended the Electoral College, calling himself “a big fan of the electoral college.”
“I think the Electoral College preserves the importance and the status of small states,” Baker said.
Baker, a Republican who opposed Trump, said Massachusetts residents living in a state that votes reliably Democratic in national elections understand what it feels like to be ignored by presidential campaigns.
“If we really played this game on a popular vote only, literally half the states in the United States would be disenfranchised and no one would campaign there and no one would care and I think that would be a huge problem,” Baker said, adding, “Otherwise, I think you really sacrifice small states at the expense of larger ones, and I don’t think that’s good for democracy.”
Massachusetts is already one of 11 states to enact a law that would commit its electors to the winner of the national popular vote once enough states to control 270 Electoral College votes – the magic number to become president – join the compact.
Earlier in the day, a large group of protesters gathered on the steps outside the State House to protest Trump and urge electors from states that backed the president-elect to block his ascendancy to the White House.
Inside the the building, however, there was no conspiring to deny Trump the presidency.
“Even if our candidate, the best candidate, the most qualified candidate, is denied this opportunity to serve, Massachusetts refused to sit back and rest on those values,” Pacheco said. “The residents of this great commonwealth will continue fighting to promote and defend what we believe in and what we know is right in the face of any challenge that lies ahead.”
— Written by Matt Murphy