Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hands Off the Electoral College

Hands Off the Electoral College; Ron Paul; Texas Straight Talk; December 27, 2004

The intense media focus on the divide between “red” and “blue” states in the wake of the presidential election has raised new questions regarding our federal voting system. One U.S. Senator has promised to introduce legislation to abolish the electoral college, claiming it is an anachronism that serves no good purpose in modern politics. Her stated goal is “simply to allow the popular will of the American people to be expressed every four years when we elect our president.” Many Americans agree, arguing that the man receiving the most votes should win; anything else would be unfair. In other words, they believe the American political system should operate as a direct democracy.

The problem, of course, is that our country is not a democracy. Our nation was founded as a constitutionally limited republic, as any grammar school child knew just a few decades ago. Remember the Pledge of Allegiance: “and to the Republic for which it stands”? The Founding Fathers were concerned with liberty, not democracy. In fact, the word democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. On the contrary, Article IV, section 4 of the Constitution is quite clear: “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a Republican Form of Government” (emphasis added).

The emphasis on democracy in our modern political discourse has no historical or constitutional basis. Yet we have become obsessed with democracy, as though any government action would be permissible if a majority of voters simply approved of it. Democracy has become a sacred cow, a deity which no one dares question. Democracy, we are told, is always good. But the founders created a constitutionally limited republic precisely to protect fundamental liberties from the whims of the masses, to guard against the excesses of democracy. The electoral college likewise was created in the Constitution to guard against majority tyranny in federal elections. The President was to be elected by the states rather than the citizenry as a whole, with votes apportioned to states according to their representation in Congress. The will of the people was to be tempered by the wisdom of the electoral college.

By contrast, election of the President by pure popular vote totals would damage statehood. Populated areas on both coasts would have increasing influence on national elections, to the detriment of less populated southern and western states. A candidate receiving a large percentage of the popular vote in California and New York could win a national election with very little support in dozens of other states! A popular vote system simply would intensify the populist pandering which already dominates national campaigns.

Not surprisingly, calls to abolish the electoral college system are heard most loudly among left elites concentrated largely on the two coasts. Liberals favor a very strong centralized federal government, and have contempt for the concept of states' rights (a contempt now shared, unfortunately, by the Republican Party). They believe in federalizing virtually every area of law, leaving states powerless to challenge directives sent down from Washington. The electoral college system threatens liberals because it allows states to elect the president, and in many states the majority of voters still believe in limited government and the Constitution. Citizens in southern and western states in particular tend to value individual liberty, property rights, gun rights, and religious freedom, values which are abhorrent to the collectivist elites. The collectivists care about centralized power, not democracy. Their efforts to discredit the electoral college system are an attempt to limit the voting power of pro-liberty states.

Comment: I will post articles I find on the effort to do away with the Electoral College because the march toward consolidation of federal power through the mask of democracy is undeniably connected to the 17th and 16th Amendments.


JohnJ said...

Bullshit the Founders didn't care about democracy. They knew that the only way to protect liberty was to secure democracy.

From wikipedia (Jeffersonian democracy): "The core political value of America is representative Democracy; citizens have a civic duty to aid the state and resist corruption, especially monarchism and aristocracy."

Washington, in his farewell address, said, "The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government."

Of course the Founders wanted democracy. They knew that liberty could not survive any other way.

Brian said...

I have to disagree with you. It has been well established through the writings of both the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers that almost to a man, all feared “democracy” and the mob rule. All wanted to have a “republican” form of government so that democrat tyranny would not destroy this county.

The idea of removing all vestiges of republicanism is the result of the socialist movement.

Anonymous said...

The idea of removing all vestiges of republicanism is the result of the socialist movement...

Please! You really don't think that the terms "Democracy" and "Republic" mean Democrat and Republican parties do you?! Go back to school! The Electoral college was initiated when America was a rural country and most voters not only had to travel hours if not days to cast a vote, but for the most part many had no clue who was running for what. So, the Electoral College was formed as a state institution in order that a candidate had representation in that state. The time has long come and gone where the voters are unable to vote or find out about a candidate. The Electoral College should go the way of the steam engine and horse and carriage. It's lived its life. Let it die and let Americans choose who should represent them. It's not a socialist plot nor is it a Democrat or Republican advantage. To say that a couple of coastal states can decide every election is alarmist politics at it's worst. I for one want my vote to count or why bother to vote at all?