By Henry Lamb
America is not a democracy. It was never intended to be a democracy. The founders worked hard to see that the new government they created was not a democracy, but a growing segment of the population seems hell-bent on transforming this great nation into a democracy in which the rights of the minority are systematically ignored.
The United States of America was quite deliberately designed to be a federal republic. The founders recognized the highest governing authority on earth to be the individual. They realized that they, as individuals, had the authority and the intelligence to create a new system of government, empowered by the consent of the governed to do only those specific chores that the people stipulated in a written Constitution.
They recognized that in such a government, there would need to be direct accountability to the electorate for every official empowered to make laws that restricted the freedom of individuals. This new federal republic had to recognize and honor the state governments that were already constructed, and the local governments within these states, if the new federal republic were to have any chance of succeeding.
The Constitution these men formulated contained two provisions to ensure that the new government would forever remain a federal republic: a Senate chosen by state governments; and a President chosen indirectly by what came to be known as the Electoral College. The 17th Amendment destroyed a major safeguard of the federal republic by allowing Senators to be chosen by the public, rather than by the states.
The 17th Amendment was a significant part of the wave of progressivism ushered in by the Wilson administration in 1913. Imposition of the income tax, the Federal Reserve, the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, began the attack by progressives on the federal republic the founders had so carefully constructed.
The Electoral College is the last and only element of the Constitution that keeps the United States of America from being formally transformed into a direct democracy. Now, the progressives have taken aim, and are attacking this last bastion of the federal republic.
Direct election of Senators came as the result of a Constitutional Amendment, which can be reversed as was the prohibition amendment - another progressive-era mistake. The war on the Electoral College is taking a different path: states are enacting legislation that authorizes all the state’s electors to be awarded to the national winner of the popular vote, regardless of the how the people voted in the state.
Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and now Massachusetts have all enacted legislation that pledges to assign their state’s electors to the winner of the national popular vote in the presidential election, regardless of how the voters in the state voted.
Prior to this new war on the Electoral College, in all states except Nebraska and Maine, all the state’s electors were assigned to the candidate who received the most votes in the state. This is the winner-take-all system. This system assures that small states have a say in the selection of the President.
Progressives argue that the winner-take-all system is not democratic. So be it. It was not designed to be democratic; it was designed to help balance the power between and among the states and the various branches of government. It was designed to make government function as a federal republic rather than a democracy.
Few people understand the importance of the Electoral College because schools have all but erased the subject from the curriculum. The Electoral College is cumbersome, it is confusing, it is frustrating for the supporters of Al Gore who saw the Electoral College bestow the presidency on George W. Bush who received fewer popular votes than did Al Gore.
Consider the effect of eliminating the Electoral College: direct democracy.
The president would be chosen by urban population centers. There would be no need to campaign in rural states. There would be no need to be concerned about the needs and cares of rural people. There would be no interest in the minority.
The genius of the American system of governance is the carefully developed balance of power between the states and the federal government, the various branches of government, and between conflicting philosophies of governance. When the minority is driven from the debate, or ignored, tyranny reins.
The first 18 months of the Democratic regime in Washington has demonstrated how the majority can ignore the minority and the Constitution. In the cycle of governance, democracy is the last phase before anarchy. The founders wanted no part of a democracy; they created a federal republic.
A democracy is often described as two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. The wolves are at the door of our federal republic.
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