As George II’s war swollen popularity evaporates, many recall the 2000 election and suggest that getting rid of the Electoral College would do much, or at least something, to improve the political climate in America. In truth eliminating the Electoral College will only mire us deeper in the muck of democracy.
As most of us know, the kindly robot AlGore got more votes in 2000 than George II. Never the less, by carrying Florida, by whatever means, George had a majority of the Electors’ votes, and became president as the Constitution requires. This supposed miscarriage of the will of the people put Democrats into sputtering dudgeon and made millions of Americans aware of and opposed to one of the last vestiges of the republic the Founders so carefully crafted.
If you think the Electoral College is undemocratic, you are exactly right. The Founders intended it to be undemocratic. To a man they lived in horror of democracy. They hoped to avoid what they all knew were the many perils of majority rule.
Most Americans today have a great reverence for democracy. Most never consider democracy’s potential to become intolerable tyranny. Few but the chronically cantankerous publicly suggest that the most complex ideas a mob of voters can embrace are idiotically simple slogans. Democracy is rarely examined in its essence — two wolves and a chicken voting on what’s for lunch.
America is now spending blood and treasure to introduce the blessings of majority rule to the barbarians of Mesopotamia. The Founders would spin in their graves to learn what had become of their peaceful commercial republic.
Those learned, dedicated men could hardly mention the word democracy without saying what a lousy idea it was.
John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
Discussing the Constitutional Convention in 1787 the chief author of the Bill of Rights, Edmond Randolph, wrote: “The general object was to produce a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origins, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.”
And James Madison, one of the Constitution’s primary authors, wrote, "Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security and the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
Clearly the men who designed our government never intended that it be a democracy. They created a republic — a system of government based not on the whims of the masses, but on the rule of law and God given rights to life, liberty and property.
John Adams eloquently expressed the basic premise of republican government when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe."
The founding documents of the American government were designed to protect the individual from that government. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are full of prohibitory language directed at Congress. Phrases like: shall not inhibit, shall not infringe, disparage or deny, and shall not be violated, appear throughout. The Constitution granted no rights, it simply recognized them, and sought to protect them from the predations of politicians, the politically privileged and a larcenous majority.
As American government slowly morphed from republic to democracy, the Constitution, designed to restrain our government and require our permission for any increase in power over us, became a nuisance, easily ignored or sidestepped with the help of the right judge. Today “we the people” must beg government permission for nearly everything we do, from earning a living to educating our children, from traveling to certain places to consuming certain foods or herbs, from developing our land to investing our money.
The government no longer needs our permission even to start a war. Opinion polls now drive every policy decision. If polls show public approval for an attack on dirt-poor peasants in some Godforsaken corner of the world, we attack. If polls show approval for increased benefits from the public treasury, benefits increase. If polls approve locking up swarthy looking men without charges, we lock ‘em up. If polls approve strip-searching old ladies in airports, we strip ‘em.
The Electoral College is the last undemocratic mechanism protecting the ragged remains of the republic. Though it has obviously done little to restrain rapacious politicians and an electorate convinced that everyone can live at everyone else’s expense, its elimination would place the cherry on top of democracy’s big rock candy mountain of free benefits, wealth without work, retirement without saving and security through world conquest.
I’d like to think the Great Legislator of the Universe would keep the Electoral College. He’d certainly never put it or your rights to a vote.