There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide. – John Adams
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government. – U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 4
Our Founding Fathers were acutely aware of the dangers inherent in a Pure Democracy.
Thankfully for us, they found an appropriate solution.
A Democracy is Rule by the Majority – this is the singular defining feature. Stated another way it is Majority over Man.
In a Democracy, “We the People” are viewed as a group. The purpose of a Democratic Constitution is to empower the majority of the people to rule.
At it’s core, a Democracy is a Dictatorship by the Majority.
Great Britain’s Parliamentary System is an example of Representative Democracy – no court or any other part of government can block any action by the majority in the House of Commons. The House of Commons – where power resides – is a fusion of both Legislative and Executive Powers. There is no single written constitution protecting rights of citizens. Parliament – not judges – decide what the laws are.
A Republic, by contrast, is a form of government in which political authority comes from the people. Powers are vested in the people and are exercised through representatives chosen by the people. Republics are bound by charters, which limit the responsibilities and powers of the state.
In a Republic, “We the People” are viewed as individuals. The purpose of a Republican Constitution is to secure the individual’s rights.
Of primacy is the individual’s rights – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Government is established to secure those pre-existing rights of the individual.
Governmental power is then limited to protect the individual from the government – through laws that govern those who govern us.
The United States is a Republic not a Democracy.
Specifically, we are a Constitutional Republic. A Republic with a Constitutionally Limited Government. The people elect representatives who make decisions on their behalf. Governmental powers are separated between three branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial.
Crucially, people have – and maintain – natural, inalienable rights. And people (and their rights) are protected by the Bill of Rights from the majority.
The recognition of our inalienable rights is precisely why our Constitution is a Charter of Negative Rights. A Negative Right – or Obligation – is the requirement of abstention from an activity which violates another individual’s rights.
This must be so in order to protect our Individual Rights.
For a more in-depth discussion see, Negative Rights, Healthcare & Dream Homes.
It is in our willingness to live by our Republican charter – the Constitution of the United States – that allows us to maintain our freedom. A Democracy, by contrast, is only as free as the majority’s understanding and application of the term freedom.
Our nation’s Electoral College is intrinsically tied into our status as a Constitutional Republic.
The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress.
The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators.
– National Archives and Records
The Electoral College was established for two primary purposes.
First it was meant as a meaningful conciliatory gesture to the people (remember, we are a republic) – to allow for our more direct participation in the election of the President – while (and this is crucial) still allowing for protection of an individual’s rights.
Secondly, and more importantly, the Electoral College was put in place to protect states rights (and those of the individuals residing in them). Our Founders foresaw the growth and territorial expansion of the United States and therefore provided the Electoral College as the mechanism that kept power from remaining firmly entrenched in already populated places like Boston and New York.
The House of Representatives was designed to represent states based on their population – 435 fixed seats being assigned to states based on proportional population counts every ten years in our national census – these electoral votes are assigned roughly evenly according to population.
The Senate, by contrast, represents each state regardless of population so every state gets two electoral votes automatically – no matter its population. Therefore, voters in small states have significantly greater “clout per vote” as they represent a greater proportion of that state’s electoral vote versus a populous state.
As a quick example, our smallest state by population, Wyoming, has 3.2 times the electoral clout per voter than the national average (565,166 voters per electoral vote) because their 3 electoral votes (1 House, 2 Senate) is split amongst their 532,668 census count.
The Electoral College helps maintain our federal system of government in which our national government’s power is balanced by states governmental power. Each state’s political autonomy to directly serve its own citizens is enhanced.
The Electoral process also helps dictate that no single region contains the 270 electoral votes required to elect a president. It is also a reason why presidents often select a vice-president from a differing region than their own. Candidates are require to form a loose and broad coalition of varying states and regions as opposed to promoting regional differences in order to win the presidency.
Minority votes matter – given the winner take all basis used by virtually all states (Maine and Nebraska are the exceptions) a small minority vote can mean the difference in the entire electoral votes of a particular state.
The Electoral process strongly encourages a two party system by the high hurdle of electoral votes required – which means that generally centrist views are reflected in each party.
And that is why the Electoral College is both a necessity and a gift to this country.
The Electoral College is an integral and intertwined part of your individual rights and is a an inherent protection of those rights – and of states rights as well.
Sadly, our status as a Constitutional Republic is under constant attack and pressure from the Left.
Referendums or ballot initiatives are examples where policy is decided directly by the people – and would prove troubling to our Founding Fathers.
The passage of the 17th Amendment is a far more disturbing example of ongoing erosion from the Left.
The 17th Amendment provided for the popular election of Senators by the people of each state. Under the original framing of the Constitution the people of each state elected the House members and the legislature of each state elected the Senate members.
This structure ensured that the House and Senate were each responsible to separate constituencies. Congress was created to be an arena for competition between states and national government’s competing interests. The original structure was put in place to protect states against power consolidation by the national government.
The Constitution was structured in a manner to diffuse power wherever it was able and to push power down governmental levels – towards the people – not away from them.
For a more detailed discussion of see, Repeal the 17th Amendment.
Our Republic is a great gift bestowed upon us by our Founding Fathers. We have been given a Constitutional Republic that allows for representation of all while still protecting an individual’s rights. And this gift should not be taken lightly.
For a more in-depth explanation see, Our Republican Constitution, a speech given by Randy Barnett to the Cato Institute:
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