Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Democracy vs. Republic

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the foundation of our government. The Founders of the United States established a republic, not a democracy. They wanted a government that would last, and they knew that democracies do not last long.

            Walter E. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University, is a very wise man. Whenever I see his name as the author of an article, I always read the article. He recently posted an article at The Daily Signal about the Electoral College titled “Why We Are a Republic and Not a Democracy.” I believe it is worth reading in its entirety, but I will share some ideas from it.

            Williams first reminds us that Hillary Clinton and many of her supporters blame her 2016 presidential defeat on the Electoral College. They think that the President of the United States should be elected by a simple majority vote that is sometimes known as the popular vote. They think that the Elector College system “distorts the one-person, one-vote principle of democracy.” The reason that they have this belief is because “electoral votes are not distributed according to population.”

            Using the examples of Wyoming and California, Williams shows exactly why people want to do away with the Electoral College. Wyoming has about 600,000 residents with one representative in the U.S. House and two U.S. Senators. They have three electoral votes or “one electoral vote per 200,000 people.” California has the largest population with about 39 million people and 55 electoral votes or “one vote per 715,000 people.” “Comparatively, individuals in Wyoming have nearly four times the power in the Electoral College as Californians.” He continues his explanation with these paragraphs.

Many people whine that using the Electoral College instead of the popular vote and majority rule is undemocratic. I’d say that they are absolutely right. Not deciding who will be the president by majority rule is not democracy.

But the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to ensure that we were a republic and not a democracy. In fact, the word democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or any other of our founding documents.

            Williams shares quotes from several of the Founding Fathers expressing their views about democracy and why they did not want the new government to be one. He then continues his explanation.

The Founders expressed contempt for the tyranny of majority rule, and throughout our Constitution, they placed impediments to that tyranny. Two house of Congress pose one obstacle to majority rule. That is 51 senators can block the wishes of 435 representatives and 49 senators.

The president can veto the wishes of 535 members of Congress. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto.

To change the Constitution requires not a majority but a two-thirds vote of both houses, and if an amendment is approved, it requires ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures.

Finally, the Electoral College is yet another measure that thwarts majority rule. It makes sure that the highly populated states – today, mainly 12 on the east and west coasts, cannot run roughshod over the rest of the nation. That forces a presidential candidate to take into consideration the wishes of the other 38 states.

            Clearly the Founders did not want our government to be a democracy, and they put many “impediments” in the way of it turning into a democracy. The best idea that I have ever heard for not doing away with the Electoral College is from an unknown source, but it basically goes like this: If there were no Electoral College and the presidency were chosen by a majority vote, then the president would be chosen by the residents of New York City and Los Angeles County.

            I want you to think about that idea. Do you really want to give up your vote for president? Even worse, do you want New Yorkers and the people who live in Los Angeles County to decide who will be your president? I do not, and the Founders did not. This is the reason why they set up the government the way they did. We should be applauding and praising them, not trying to undo their work.

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