“AND TO THE REPUBLIC”

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 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 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.

http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/010/sovereignty/8-republic.htm

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10 Responses to “AND TO THE REPUBLIC”

  1. mvymvy says:

    The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all rule (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but now used by 48 states), under which all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

    Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided “battleground” states and their voters. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states (with less than 7 electoral college votes) were not among them. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states, and candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

    Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.

    • Chris says:

      Dear mvymvy,

      How am I to accept the numbers in your second paragraph when the statement you make in the first is wrong? You can get the following information almost anywhere. I got it at about.com.

      I will spare quoting you Article II and the later Amendment, but the electoral system is clearly spelled out in the Constitution.
      When you vote for a presidential candidate you are really voting to instruct the electors from your state to cast their votes for the same candidate. For example, if you vote for the Republican candidate, you are really voting for an elector who will be “pledged” to vote for the Republican candidate. The candidate who wins the popular vote in a state wins all the pledged votes of the state’s electors.

      The electoral system was established in Article II of the Constitution and amended by the 12th Amendment in 1804.

      Each state gets a number of electors equal to its number of members in the U.S. House of Representatives plus one for each of its two U.S. Senators. The District of Columbia gets three electors. While state laws determine how electors are chosen, they are generally selected by the political party committees within the states.

      Each elector gets one vote. Thus, a state with eight electors would cast eight votes. There are currently 538 electors and the votes of a majority of them — 270 votes — are required to be elected. Since Electoral College representation is based on congressional representation, states with larger populations get more Electoral College votes.

      You can quote all of the numbers in favor of a different form of election you wish. Members of Congress have introduced over 700 constitutional amendments to reform or eliminate the electoral system since its founding. There must be a reason why our leaders continue to use the method chosen by the founders of our nation.

  2. mvymvy says:

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Every vote would be counted for and assist the candidate for whom it was cast – just as votes from every county are equal and important when a vote is cast in a Governor’s race. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. It does NOT abolish the Electoral College. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

    The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado– 68%, Iowa –75%, Michigan– 73%, Missouri– 70%, New Hampshire– 69%, Nevada– 72%, New Mexico– 76%, North Carolina– 74%, Ohio– 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska — 70%, DC — 76%, Delaware –75%, Maine — 77%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas –80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi –77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 74% , Massachusetts — 73%, Minnesota — 75%, New York — 79%, Washington — 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    Most voters don’t care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was counted and mattered to their candidate.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 30 state legislative chambers, in 20 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington. These six states possess 73 electoral votes — 27% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

    • Chris says:

      Dear mvymvy,

      Since you have quoted extensively from a website that suits you, may I do the same?

      I am not stating that I agree with everything done at the CATO institute.

      I do think that Mr. Samples makes some valid points.

      John Samples is director of the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute. He writes:

      James Madison’s famous Federalist No. 10 makes clear that the Founders fashioned a republic, not a pure democracy. To be sure, they knew that the consent of the governed was the ultimate basis of government, but the Founders denied that such consent could be reduced to simple majority or plurality rule. In fact, nothing could be more alien to the spirit of American constitutionalism than equating democracy with the direct, unrefined will of the people.

      Recall the ways our constitution puts limits on any unchecked power, including the arbitrary will of the people. Power at the national level is divided among the three branches, each reflecting a different constituency. Power is divided yet again between the national government and the states. Madison noted that these twofold divisions — the separation of powers and federalism — provided a “double security” for the rights of the people.

      What about the democratic principle of one person, one vote? Isn’t that principle essential to our form of government? The Founders’ handiwork says otherwise. Neither the Senate, nor the Supreme Court, nor the president is elected on the basis of one person, one vote. That’s why a state like Montana, with 883,000 residents, gets the same number of Senators as California, with 33 million people. Consistency would require that if we abolish the Electoral College, we rid ourselves of the Senate as well. Are we ready to do that?

      The filtering of the popular will through the Electoral College is an affirmation, rather than a betrayal, of the American republic. Doing away with the Electoral College would breach our fidelity to the spirit of the Constitution, a document expressly written to thwart the excesses of majoritarianism. Nonetheless, such fidelity will strike some as blind adherence to the past. For those skeptics, I would point out two other advantages the Electoral College offers.

      First, we must keep in mind the likely effects of direct popular election of the president. We would probably see elections dominated by the most populous regions of the country or by several large metropolitan areas. In the 2000 election, for example, Vice President Gore could have put together a plurality or majority in the Northeast, parts of the Midwest, and California.

      The victims in such elections would be those regions too sparsely populated to merit the attention of presidential candidates. Pure democrats would hardly regret that diminished status, but I wonder if a large and diverse nation should write off whole parts of its territory. We should keep in mind the regional conflicts that have plagued large and diverse nations like India, China, and Russia. The Electoral College is a good antidote to the poison of regionalism because it forces presidential candidates to seek support throughout the nation. By making sure no state will be left behind, it provides a measure of coherence to our nation.

      Second, the Electoral College makes sure that the states count in presidential elections. As such, it is an important part of our federalist system — a system worth preserving. Historically, federalism is central to our grand constitutional effort to restrain power, but even in our own time we have found that devolving power to the states leads to important policy innovations (welfare reform).

      If the Founders had wished to create a pure democracy, they would have done so. Those who now wish to do away with the Electoral College are welcome to amend the Constitution, but if they succeed, they will be taking America further away from its roots as a constitutional republic.

      http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=4451

      In spite of the great technologies of our age, I line up with the wisdom of our Constitutional designers in this instance. It is the lack of wisdom in our world today, in my opinion, that has led to the major problems we face.

      We have an apathy in this nation about the important things. I think this proves the lack of wisdom.

      It appears that you are only trying to improve on an imperfect system. It is an admirable effort. If I thought your ideas could improve our situation, I would be with you. I choose the founders of our nation over the people at NationalPopularVote.com.

  3. mvymvy says:

    National Popular Vote has nothing to do with whether the country has a “republican” form of government or is a “democracy.”

    A “republican” form of government means that the voters do not make laws themselves but, instead, delegate the job to periodically elected officials (Congressmen, Senators, and the President). The United States has a “republican” form of government regardless of whether popular votes for presidential electors are tallied at the state-level (as has been the case in 48 states) or at district-level (as has been the case in Maine and Nebraska) or at 50-state-level (as under the National Popular Vote bill).

    If a “republican” form of government means that the presidential electors exercise independent judgment (like the College of Cardinals that elects the Pope), we have had a “democratic” method of electing presidential electors since 1796 (the first contested presidential election). Ever since 1796, presidential candidates have been nominated by a central authority (originally congressional caucuses, and now party conventions) and electors are reliable rubberstamps for the voters of the district or state that elected them.

    • Chris says:

      Dear mvymvy,

      I am aware that many have considered the possibility of popular votes in the past. Your particular version is more specific than any I have read previously.

      I used the Pledge of Allegiance in my title for a reason.

      In the Pledge of Allegiance, we all pledge allegiance to our Republic, not to a democracy.

      “Republic” is the proper description of our government, not “democracy.”

      A republic and a democracy are identical in every aspect except one. In a republic, the sovereignty is in each individual person. In a democracy the sovereignty is in the group.

      Republic. That form of government in which the powers of sovereignty are vested in the people and are exercised by the people, either directly, or through representatives chosen by the people, to whom those powers are specially delegated. [NOTE: The word “people” may be either plural or singular. In a republic, the group only has advisory powers; the sovereign individual is free to reject the majority group-think. USA/exception: if 100% of a jury convicts, then the individual loses sovereignty and is subject to group-think as in a democracy.]

      Democracy. That form of government in which the sovereign power resides in and is exercised by the whole body of free citizens directly or indirectly through a system of representation, as distinguished from a monarchy, aristocracy, or oligarchy. [NOTE: In a pure democracy, 51% beats 49%. In other words, the minority has no rights. The minority only has those privileges granted by the dictatorship of the majority.]

      Using these definitions, which are widely accepted, the USA has been a Republic since the Constitution was written and accepted as the law of the land.

      The distinction between our Republic and a democracy is not an idle one. It has great legal significance.
      The Constitution guarantees to every state a Republican form of government (Art. 4, Sec. 4). No state may join the United States unless it is a Republic. Our Republic is one dedicated to “liberty and justice for all.” Minority individual rights are the priority. The people have natural rights instead of civil rights. The people are protected by the Bill of Rights from the majority. One vote in a jury can stop all of the majority from depriving any one of the people of his rights; this would not be so if the United States were a democracy. (see People’s rights vs Citizens’ rights)

      In a pure democracy 51 beats 49[%]. In a democracy there is no such thing as a significant minority: there are no minority rights except civil rights (privileges) granted by a condescending majority. Only five of the U.S. Constitution’s first ten amendments apply to Citizens of the United States. Simply stated, a democracy is a dictatorship of the majority.

      Socrates was executed by a democracy: though he harmed no one, the majority found him intolerable.

      http://www.1215.org/lawnotes/lawnotes/repvsdem.htm

  4. mvymvy says:

    State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award electoral college votes were eventually enacted by 48 states AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, .

    The Founding Fathers only said in the U.S. Constitution about presidential elections (only after debating among 60 ballots for choosing a method): “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . .” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all rule) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, Only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote.

    In 1789 only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all rule to award electoral votes.

    There is no valid argument that the winner-take-all rule is entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all rule.

    The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state’s electoral votes.

    As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all rule is used by 48 of the 50 states. Maine and Nebraska currently award electoral votes by congressional district — a reminder that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not required to change the way the President is elected.

    The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

  5. mvymvy says:

    Documentation of my numbers can be found at http://archive.fairvote.org/?page=2450

    Now the state-by-state winner-take-all Electoral College always ignores the smallest states (3-4 electoral votes). 12 of the 13 smallest states are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota), and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in presidential elections. Eight state legislative chambers in the smallest states have passed the bill. It has been enacted by Hawaii.

    Of the 22 medium-smallest states (those with 3,4,5, or 6 electoral votes), only 3 have been battleground states in recent elections– NH(4), NM (5), and NV (5). These three states contain only 14 of the 22 (8%) states’ total 166 electoral votes.

    The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate. However,,if anyone is concerned about this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states — that is, a mere 26% of the nation’s votes.

    With National Popular Vote, big states, that are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country, would not get all of the candidates’ attention. In recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states have been split — five “red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). Among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

    With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome.. The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as obscurely far down in name recognition as Arlington, TX) is only 19% of the population of the United States. Cleveland and Miami certainly did not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida in 2000 and 2004. A “big city” only campaign would not win.

    For example, in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don’t campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don’t control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn’t have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles.

    If the National Popular Vote bill were to become law, it would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Any candidate who yielded, for example, the 21% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a “big city” approach would not likely win the national popular vote. Candidates would still have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as voters in Ohio.

  6. mvymvy says:

    Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government. The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government. The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, along district lines (as has been the case in Maine and Nebraska), or national lines.

    • Chris says:

      Dear mvymvy,

      The following is my comment to the last three you have made:

      We are reading two different history books. Every source that I’ve checked says that electoral votes elected George Washington unanimously in 1789, and again in the 1792 election. He remains the only president to have received 100 percent of the electoral votes.

      I don’t know how you ignore the reference in the Constitution to which I’ve already noted. My research indicates there were major discussions about this issue before it became part of the Constitution. As to the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton addressed it in No. 68:

      “And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.”

      I have read No. 68 and there is no question Mr. Hamilton was referring to the election of the President of the United States.

      Here’s a link where you may see the process also described in Federalist paper No. 39:
      http://electoralcollegehistory.com/electoral/federalist39.asp

      The Constitution does not specify procedures for nominating candidates for presidential electors. Thirty-six states nominate their elector candidates by state party convention, and ten of the states nominate their electors by state party committee. Generally, elector candidates tend to be prominent state and local officeholders, party activists and other citizens associated with the party for which they are nominated.

      The Constitution left the method of selecting electors and of awarding electoral votes to the States.

      The more I read, the more I am convinced that the founders knew what they were doing.

      The National Popular Vote supporters appear to be using the lack of specificity in the elector nomination process in an attempt to circumvent the Electoral College design.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I understand your goal. If you (and the National Popular Vote folks) can produce an agreement among states with a combined total of at least 270 electoral votes to automatically assign their electoral votes to the presidential/vice presidential slate receiving a plurality of the national popular vote, the Electoral College will then become meaningless.

      It seems to me that the creation of the NPV would, ironically, be a national version of the current state by state system. The difference is that the winner-take-all system would be national instead of local. This would create a myriad of other problems that I will express if you wish me to.

      The NPV website says that:

      “The National Popular Vote bill has been enacted into law in states possessing 73 electoral votes — 27% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate the legislation.”

      It is a clever way to circumvent the Electoral College system. You’ve got some work to do before you are successful.

      I must add that it wouldn’t surprise me if you eventually reach your goal. You are running out of time, however. The Republic is failing in too many areas.

      The intent of the Constitution is being eroded with the continued apathetic attitude of the average American voter. The under-girding, Godly principles of Freedom that once permeated the culture are almost gone. The opinion of the importance of the Word of God, the highest issue, has changed.

      My hope is that we will return to the God of our Fathers. He is the God who gave Moses the Law. He is the God who bore your sins and my sins on the cross at Calvary.

      An item not found in the Constitution, the “separation of Church and State” seems to be the rule of the day. Without God we are lost. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

      I think you are sincere in your efforts to create a better government.

      You will not get the opportunity unless there is a revival of Biblical values in America.

      God’s blessings,

      Chris

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