I remember our amazement in Social Studies class when we learned that one job of the electoral college is to step up and protect the public from voting in an unfit tyrant.
I had no idea, but it turns out some of the electors took their Social Studies seriously and there was an organized effort to change votes in 2016. Here’s the Wikipedia article on it. It would have been nice had they searched their hearts and then all voted for Clinton, but they were not that generous. They only needed enough Trump votes to change to take away his majority, and the decision would go to the Republican-run House of Representatives.
They failed, but I wonder if next time there will be enough “faithless” electors to spark a coup. It’s happened before - Andrew Jackson, the man on the twenty, didn’t win the presidency in 1824 because there wasn’t a majority in the six-way election.
I think my Social Studies class was placated by the teacher telling us we’d probably never see that particular check and balance actually happen. She didn’t realize how much quirky political stuff I’d witness later in life. Of course nothing has yet surpassed President Ford, the President no one voted for. The 2000 election came close: the motorcade turning around, Bill Hemmer going to Pluto, Al Gore certifying his loss with protesting Senators. That was the same election in which I happily cast my vote for a dead man. I’ve been around for three of the four impeachments too. What’s left? I haven’t seen the Speaker of the House ascend to the presidency, or the designated survivor, and I haven’t seen a military coup. Short of a fistfight in the Senate, that’s about all that’s left to surprise me.