Abolition of the Electoral College, A Good or Bad Idea?

By: Shawn O'Connor

Given the results of the past presidential election in the year 2000, once again the ugly head which encourages abolition of the electoral college has dared to surface.  To this movement we offer the following:

When the constitution was first envisioned by the writers, one thing all of them shared in common was their complete disdain for a democratic form of government. And rightly so, as history proves that every democracy we have seen has failed, and for many reasons. Let me offer you just a couple. A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, you may verify this definition through Bouvier's law dictionary, or any dictionary which will offer you the correct definition, rather than the correct political spin on the definition. In short, in a democracy, the majority rules and the minority suffers at the hands of the majority. For example, let's say we have two wolves and a sheep and they get together to vote on what's for dinner. (I am sure you have heard this example). Fact is the wolves shall dine finely, but at the expense of the sheep.

The constitutional republic designed and envisioned by the founding father's was the type of government which would protect individual rights against the will of the majority. I have found that this is a concept which many, to my surprise, find somewhat absurd as people have been taught, that the majority should rule, because after all what is good for the majority is good for everybody, right? Just like the sheep story. Nonetheless, this was the system designed by the founding father's, i.e., a constitutional republic for the protection of individual rights.

Keeping that concept in mind, the founding father's decided that though they abhorred the idea of any democratic principles being written into the constitution, they nonetheless, recognized that there must be some participation by the people in the election of their officials if they expected the people to ratify the constitution. So here is what they did ------

First, they created a bicameral legislature, Article I, U.S. Constitution. One house would be known as the House of Representatives, the other the Senate. It was determined that the Representatives of the House would be elected by the popular vote of the people, i.e., a democratic process. This, it was reasoned, would ensure two things. The people would have their own self-elected representatives in the federal government protecting their concerns, at the same time giving the appearance that the people were participating in the election of their federal government. (This was the democratic appearance the founder's intended to use to "sell" the constitution to the people.)

Having done this, the founder's realized that such a dangerous democratic house needed to be controlled and so they created the senate. The election of senators was to be by the state legislatures, with the idea being that the states, jealous of their new found sovereignty, after conquering King George III, would desire and want participation in the federal legislative process to protect state government interest, and believe me, the delegates at the constitutional convention desired just this end. Additionally, they viewed the senate as the instrument which would control the house when the people's democratic body started getting out of control. In short, this was one of the checks and balances put in place by the founder's in order to ensure a constitutionally representative form of government as opposed to a democracy, i.e., a legislature which represented the interest of the people and which represented the interest of the states. (At least, that was the plan. [Did you ever see McKenna's Gold?])

However, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, and eventually the above theory was destroyed by the 17th amendment which allowed for the popular election of the senators. You must consider also, that the 5th Article of the Constitution, which provides for amendments to the constitution also states that " . . . .no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate." You may take note at this time that there were states that did not ratify the 17th Amendment, and in not doing so, were unconstitutionally deprived of their equal suffrage in the senate without their consent. (But that is another story for another time.)

We now have the legislature established and brought up to date for purposes of this paper.

Article II of the U.S. Constitution provides for the election of the president. The debate behind this Article became so intense that the constitutional convention, at several times, became dangerously close to being closed, and the delegates returning home. The argument for the electoral college was heatedly debated, along with the issue as to how many executive officers should head the executive department. It was finally agreed that one president and one vice president would do nicely, along with such other officers which would either be appointed by the president alone, or with the advice and consent of the senate. (Did you ever read "Advise and Consent" by Allen Drury?)

Anyway, you might ask what this all has to do with the electoral college? I'm getting there, but it is important to understand the history of the formation of our federal government to understand why we have the electoral college. You already have an idea if you read Hamilton's federalist  paper on the subject, but there is much more to the electoral college Hamilton did not disclose in the Federalist Papers. Remember, the design of the Federalist Papers was meant to sell the constitution to the people, as much as was designed to explain the reasoning of the founder's during the convention.

Upon discussion of the presidential election the founders decided they had inserted as many democratic elements as they cared to have in the constitution, i.e., representatives elected by the people to the House. Yet, at the same time, they realized the people would want some say in the election of the president, but recognizing again, at the same time the founders wanted a representative republican form of government, governed by a constitution. What a quandary they faced, if you can imagine? Here is some of the reasoning employed regarding the electoral college -------

If you have already read Hamilton  you know that the idea was to elect a person not swayed by selective groups, who was knowledgeable about the happenings of government and men, who would be, hopefully, trustworthy and faithful to the constitution and the execution of his constitutional duties. Hamilton is much more eloquent than I in this matter, but I think the point is the same. The founders did not wish to leave such an election to the populace as who was to know, except the most intelligent of men, who should be the president. (You know, if you think about it, I don't think the founders really envisioned having the president elected on the basis of his good looks, straight teeth, and ability to mesmerize  the people with this oratory skills.)

Anyway, in deciding not to leave the election of the president to the popular vote the founders figured that the people who elected their own state officials, i.e., senators, etc., would be satisfied with a representative system which would elect a president based upon the intelligence of the men they elected to office in their respective states. Hence, the people would have a voice in electing a president, but only in a representative manner, not in a popular democratic aspect. At least, that was the plan. (McKenna's Gold, again)

With this in mind the founders also foresaw the possibility that evil could be done if the electors were not independent and were put in a position to be injudiciously swayed when they voted for president. So, it was decided that the electoral college would consist of men who did not hold any office of trust or profit, and that they would be appointed by and in such a manner as was deemed appropriate to the legislature of each state. It has been mightily debated by what was meant by "appoint" an elector. But it has been decided that each state is pretty much free to "appoint" their electors as they deem provident. (That again is another story)

Another detail which was contemplated by the founders was the practicality of popular elections given the realties of those times. Back in those days you must remember that horseback was the fastest way of communication and  to wait for the count in a popular election for president to be counted, certified, and transmitted to Washington could take such a long time as to virtually have the office vacated for an unacceptable length of time. Admittedly, that problem doesn't exist today. In fact, our system of communication is so good that we now know who the president is before the vote is over or tallied. Or do we? Florida is a case in point, it would seem. Let me offer you, briefly, a flaw I perceive in the popular presidential elections held today, other then the fact that such an election is not constitutionally sanctioned in the first place.

The other flaw is, the method in which states chose to appoint electors.  In the majority of cases, the appointment of electors is contingent upon the popular vote.  In other words, the electors must take an oath to vote for the candidate who garners the majority of the popular vote.  Or, in some states, the electors must distribute their votes in accordance with the ratio of the popular vote.  In other words, if two thirds of the popular vote went to the democratic candidate, two thirds of the electoral college vote went to the democrat and the rest to the republican candidate, assuming that candidate garnered the other one third of the popular vote. The founding fathers did not allow for this contingency.  The probably didn’t envision such a contingency as they were adamant that the electors  would constitute an” independent” (look that word up) body not swayed by anyone when casting their votes.  So much for an independant electoral college.  Anyway, . . . .

The number of electors to be chosen from each state shall be the number equal to the representatives and senators from each state. In this manner, we know for certain exactly how many votes will be cast and counted. No room for mistakes in this method. When the votes are counted, tallied, certified and proclaimed, we have a president. No worry about bad ballots, computer errors, inability to read and understand instructions, mistakes ad infinitum are eliminated. However, as can be seen, today the room for error in a popular election is so great as not to carry, as they say, the will of the people to fruition, (which wasn’t intended to begin with).

In turning back to the original intent of the founders, the thought process behind the election process of the legislature and president was to avoid rule by democracy and establish and maintain a constitutional representative form of government which was governed by men of principle, who would, hopefully, uphold the constitutional mandates they took an oath to uphold, and avoid rule by the popular sentiment of the people. At least, that was the plan. Today, unless you are brain dead, it is obvious that the plan, for the most part, has been successfully defeated, not as a matter of law, not as a matter of constitutional amendment, but rather, because of the ignorance of the people. As I was told  once when  discussing such important matters with family members  -- one person cared not what the law was, but only that what she wanted achieved by government, was achieved. Unfortunately, this is a sadly accurate commentary on the mind set of the masses today.

The above is not in any way an exhaustive explanation of all there is to know and consider in this matter.  But there is an important question which one must ask, and then answer, to be able to seek and support abolition of the electoral college. "Do you prefer rule by democracy, i.e., two wolves and a sheep deciding the menu, or do you prefer rule by a constitutional republic which is designed to protect individual rights, and not politically correct collectivism?" I guess your answer to that question will determine whether any information I submit to you in the future will be worth my time or effort to submit to you and/or have any value to you?   And, the beat goes on and on and on and . . . . . . . . . . .

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 shawnoconnor.org                                                                                                          (Google) Shawn O’Connor/Federal Farmer


News Flash

Uncertainties of the Income Tax
(Courts At War with Themselves)

by Larry Becraft, Attorney

For several years now, a variety of high public officials have openly declared that the federal income tax laws are incredibly complex and need to be either substantially revised or scrapped.   But after making such statements, these officials invariably fail to identify what  specific parts of  the tax laws suffer from this condition, choosing instead to conceal them. Are the objectionable parts of the federal tax code secretly and quietly discussed behind closed Congressional committee doors? If they are, why doesn't someone inform the American public of these deficiencies so that they may likewise participate in this debate? Is it possible that it is the major and not various minor features of the tax laws which are complex, even uncertain? Is it possible that these major features are so fundamentally flawed that they simply cannot be repaired? If so, what is the legal consequence of this complexity?

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