A Small R Republican History Lesson

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

One wonders if the calls to end the electoral college come from the type of people who think it is an actual college. As economist Walter Williams recently pointed out, even a superficial review of our history gives an idea of its importance.

“Subjecting presidential elections to the popular vote sounds eminently fair to Americans who have been miseducated by public schools and universities,” the George Mason University professor writes. “Worse yet, the call to eliminate the Electoral College reflects an underlying contempt for our Constitution and its protections for personal liberty.” If you think this is an indication of how pernicious a notion this is, you’re right.

“Regarding miseducation, the founder of the Russian Communist Party, Vladimir Lenin, said, ‘Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted,’” Williams writes. “His immediate successor, Josef Stalin, added, ‘Education is a weapon whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.’”

Williams goes on to show that there might be a reason why students no longer are required, if they are not actually discouraged, from reading the founders, other than their mortality status and skin color. “A large part of Americans’ miseducation is the often-heard claim that we are a democracy,” he avers. “The word ‘democracy’ appears nowhere in the two most fundamental documents of our nation—-the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”

“In fact, our Constitution—-in Article 4, Section 4—-guarantees ‘to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.’ The Founding Fathers had utter contempt for democracy. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, said that in a pure democracy, ‘there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual.’ At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Virginia Gov. Edmund Randolph said that in tracing these evils to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.’”

“John Adams wrote: ‘Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide.’ At the Constitutional Convention, Alexander Hamilton said: ‘We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty’ is found not in ‘the extremes of democracy but in moderate governments. … If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy.’”

“For those too dense to understand these arguments, ask yourselves: Does the Pledge of Allegiance say ‘to the democracy for which it stands’ or ‘to the republic for which it stands’? Did Julia Ward Howe make a mistake in titling her Civil War song ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’? Should she have titled it ‘Battle Hymn of the Democracy’?” This might explain why the Pledge is not said as frequently in schools anymore.

Williams comes back around to take apart the “fairness” and “equality” arguments against the electoral college. “Were we to choose the president and vice president under a popular vote, the outcome of presidential races would always be decided by a few highly populated states,” he argues. “They would be states such as California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, which contain 134.3 million people, or 41 percent of our population.”

“Presidential candidates could safely ignore the interests of the citizens of Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Delaware. Why? They have only 5.58 million Americans, or 1.7 percent of the U.S. population.”

“We would no longer be a government ‘of the people;’ instead, our government would be put in power by and accountable to the leaders and citizens of a few highly populated states.”