“In a democracy, two wolves and a sheep vote on what’s for supper. In a constitutional republic, the wolves are forbidden from voting on what’s for supper, and the sheep are well-armed.” – First part attributed to Ben Franklin
The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has prompted a new round of calls to eliminate the Electoral College. Why should someone who lost the popular vote be able to appoint judges?
And it is not just the Left that wants to end the Electoral College. The Orange Orangutan, i.e. Trump, has suggested that we should do just this. Don’t just read the article, take a minute or two and watch the video. Never mind the fact that, if it weren’t for the Electoral College, Polly Pot, i.e. Hillary, would currently be president.
The Electoral College is not simply some stupid, old, outmoded, eighteenth century, white, male, Christian, gun-toting, hetero, well, you know, thing. It is a major firewall preventing America from turning from a constitutional republic into a democracy. This is not just a distinction for philosophy professors. The implications are profoundly practical.
Democracy means majority rule. What the majority wants goes, regardless of individual rights. If the white majority votes that the black minority be forced into slavery, oh well: this is a democracy. In a democracy, the black majority in, say, Detroit or New Orleans, could vote that the city’s white population be forced into slavery and the white people would have no recourse.
Likewise, majorities in places like Berkeley and Boulder could vote to confiscate guns. And a majority in a small town in southern Utah could vote to expel all non-Mormons. And there would be nothing the losers could do.
If the majority in a democracy votes that every woman with the last name of Ocasio-Cortez must wear a burqa, then every woman with the last name of Ocasio-Cortez must wear a burqa. Too bad, so sad.
It has been said that democracies are like gang rapes, lynch mobs and “give us Barabbas!” (John 18:40) Jesus was sent to the cross because Pilate caved to the demands of an angry mob.
While we are talking about the Bible, I Samuel 8:4-20 tells how the children of Israel clamored for a king. God said, in essence, I’ll give you the kind you say you want, but you will be sorry you ever asked.
SOOO, do you still support democracy?
Contrast this with a constitutional republic such as that established by America’s Founders. The word “democracy” appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation or the Constitution. To be sure, officeholders at various levels are voted upon. However, there are numerous protections against majority rule.
- The powers delegated to the federal government are spelled out in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution and limited by the Tenth Amendment.
- A system of checks and balances prevents any of the three branches of government from becoming too powerful.
- The protections of the Bill of Rights cannot be voted away by majorities.
- Each state has two senators. California, with 33 million people, has 2 senators, just like Wyoming, which has a lower population than the city of Denver. And until the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, senators were elected by state legislatures.
- The president is elected not by the popular majority, but by an electoral college. The several states choose electors who elect the president. This process gives greater weight to smaller states less importance to larger states. As the fourth column from the right on this chart shows, votes from smaller states carry more weight than votes from bigger states. Votes in Wyoming carry much more weight than those in California. And votes in liberal places like Vermont and Rhode Island carry more weight than those in conservative places like Texas and Florida.
America has over 3100 counties. Half of America’s population lives in just 146 of these counties. In the one election in which all voters can participate, is it right that the values and priorities of 4.7 percent of America’s counties should overrule those of the other 95.3 percent?
Tyranny is tyranny. And tyranny of the majority is just as much to be feared as tyranny by one individual. And just about everybody can claim to be either a minority now or a minority at some point in the past.
Jews, Christians, Muslims, Catholics, Mormons, Chinese, Japanese, American Indians, white people, black people, Germans, Italians, Tutsis, Bosnians, Armenians, kulaks, landlords, people who wear glasses, gun owners, druggies, homosexuals, “the rich”, illegals, “useless eaters”, gypsies and numerous other demographics have, at various points in history been on the wrong side of those in power. And if their liberties and lives are trampled on, it matters not if it is an individual or a majority that is doing the trampling.
I am a quarter Jewish, so Hitler would have come after me. I wear eyeglasses, so Pol Pot would have come after me. And I am a Christian, so I would be a target for persecution in dozens of countries around the world. Whenever anyone suggests that the government “go after” a certain segment of the population, I start to squirm.
Liberals are always talking about compassion for the underprivileged, downtrodden and marginalized. As a firewall against democracy, the Electoral College really ought to appeal to them.
And, besides, they should see the big picture and imagine an America without an electoral college. What if some future Democrat candidate gets 49 percent of the popular vote but would have won 277 electoral votes? With the Electoral College, their candidate would be headed to the Oval Office. But they clamored to get rid of the Electoral College and had their way.
As the old saying goes, be careful what you ask for as you just might get it.