America’s Founders thought that the institutions they established for the government of the United States would mitigate the effects of demagoguery, which human society appears to make inevitable. Once upon a time, the mechanisms they built into the U.S. Constitution for this purpose (like the so-called system of checks and balances, an independent Judiciary, the impeachment and removal of U.S. government officials, the residual sovereignty of the State governments, and the important fiscal initiative reserved to the U.S. House of Representatives, etc.) had to be the focus of intelligent attention for anyone who wanted to be taken seriously as an adherent of our Constitutional Republic.
Even these once well attended antidotes to demagoguery are now rarely discussed, and almost never seriously employed. It’s no surprise that another antidote, overshadowed almost from the very beginning of the Republic, should now be entirely lost in the dark. This is what the method for electing the presiding officer of the United States, and of the State governments in their collective national capacity (the Vice-President) is structured to be. Tragically, at a time when harping on the alleged misdeeds and failures of the Founders is almost a mandatory requirement for participating in our politics, what has proven to be their most fatal misstep, disfiguring the national electoral process with factional Party politics, goes almost entirely unremarked.
Yet this purpose is clear in Hamilton’s explanation of the reasons for process in Federalist 68:
It was…peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This was no least to be dreaded in the election of …the President of the United States
Hamilton cites two characteristics of the process meant to achieve this aim:
- [T]hat the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided; And
- [T]hat the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the states, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern the choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.
The corrupt personal or ideological ambition characteristic of the present elitist faction sham has given currency to the view that this was meant somehow to infringe the people’s rule by handing the choice of President over to an elitist few. But in fact, that is what the present sham has actually done. Before the nationalization of the information media made it possible for a handful of magnates to propagandize the entire country, its size and diversity mitigated against oligarchic control of the national elections. What we now call the Electoral College approach was designed to make sure this would happen. On General Election day, voters are not Constitutionally empowered to decide what national figure they would trust with the Presidency. What national figure could they possibly know well enough to make such a decision? But they can know which people in their state, county, city, town or neighborhood they would trust to make a decision in this regard that capably represented them, once they had a chance to devote time and attention to apprising themselves of the information needed to do so. Rather than trust people to make a choice few are likely to be well informed enough to make properly, the Constitution provides for them to make a choice that requires no more information than they are likely to have acquired already from their experience as citizens of their local and regional districts, and of their respective States.
Far from eliminating the need for this careful attention to the capacity of the people, the nationalization of our media has exacerbated the challenge. Who believes that the national media can be trusted to serve any purposes but their own ambition and that of the powers, financial and otherwise, on whom they depend for their livelihood. These days the so-called national news media have degenerated into shameless instruments of elitist faction propaganda. Indeed, every aspect of the elitist faction information media is being abused to propagate the self-serving, literally depraved mythology their faction is determined to weave into a fabric that shapes and blinds our nation’s consciousness of its past, and its expectations for the future.
These days, the chief themes of that propaganda are fear, betrayal and humiliation; the chief passions it foments are fear, resentment and anger. It is no coincidence that these are also the substantive themes and characteristics of the political campaigns being waged by the phony alternatives being on offer from each and every party the elitist faction suffers to exist. Gone are the days when the ruling fear of America’s life as a people was the fear of God, and the ruling passion was the thirst for justice and a decent life for all.
So, pretending to be their foe, Donald Trump adopts the same empty theme of longing for regretted “greatness” that the Clintons invented. And he adopts the insulting, vulgar tone characteristic of the leftists’ caricature of ordinary folks they call “the masses”. Meanwhile, all the so-called parties and individuals they are willing to cite as alternatives to the elitist faction’s abandonment of America’s creed show the same obsession with materialism, licentious freedom and open or implicit contempt for any law or judgment higher than human will and feeling.
If William Kristol’s plan to challenge the elitist faction’s deep corruption of American self-government was sincere, he wouldn’t be leaving it to others to call his proposed candidate for the Presidency a figurehead. He would openly declare that it is so because the existing, Party obsessed process, utterly dominated by the spirit of faction, forces people to accept the pretense that they are making a choice the Constitution gives them no power to make. Instead of seeking to contrive some backroom coalition of opponents to the elitist faction sham, he would call on the people themselves to organize for the choice the Constitution entrusts to their care- the choice of those whom they trust to represent them in the actual vote that elects the President and Vice-President of the United States.
On second thought, why should the people who the nation’s Creed and Constitution above party and their own selfish whims wait upon phony pundits and media hacks to reclaim the responsibility the Constitution entrusts to them. The people who were capable of rallying against the elitist faction’s bipartisan abandonment of their nation when they raised up the movement that became known as the Tea Party have already shown what it takes. What they did was not, in the first instance, about candidates and parties. It was about securing liberty’s blessings for our posterity, instead of enslaving them with debt. It was about securing the nation’s character by respecting the obligation to do right that is the basis for our God-endowed liberty. It was about demanding that our sovereignty be respected, on our borders; in our laws and in our willingness to put the nation’s good above our own selves. It was about respecting our obligation to demand respect for the Constitution we the people have ordained and established to govern our nation. All that’s needed between now and November 2016 is to repeat that performance with a movement that concentrates on electing slates of Electors pledged to choose a President and Vice-President with the proven qualifications and commitment to represent us as a nation as we do those very things.