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On the purpose of what we call the “Electoral College”

The Constitutional office of presidential elector has only one duty. The office disappears once that duty is carried out.  That duty is to represent people in the States, respectively, in the meeting of Electors that actually has the power to select two of the nation’s highest presiding officers. The Constitution entrusts with the power to arrange the appointment of each State’s Electors to that State’s legislature.  At present, those legislatures have chosen to do so by way of a process in which candidates for Elector run on slates that supposedly signify their common allegiance.

Those slates once represented allegiance to a common platform in respect of the nation’s common good.  But thanks to the present corrupt Party system, the commitment to a common platform has been eclipsed by loyalty to individual Presidential SmallLogoLTLcandidates, candidates who now mainly embody the common ambition for power of some fraction (I call them cliques) of the elitist faction. In service to this ambition, they promote themselves for offices the people at large are not Constitutionally empowered to fill.  This self-promotion is applauded in the name of “democracy’- but in fact it lures the people down the self-destructive path of demagoguery that America’s Founders loathed, for they understood it to be the democratic route to tyranny.

On account of the fiction that the people at large have the Constitutional power to elect the President of the United States, individual candidates for that office are these days actually required to foment support for themselves by demagogic means. These are, for the most part, means that depend on engaging the passionate selfish ambitions of other elitist individuals, especially the ones who control the money and media power to manipulate the selfish fears, needs and passions of the electorate, with a view to suborning their vote.

Thus the various elements of the elitist faction have usurped the sovereignty of the people.  As a result, at election time little or no thought is given to representing voters in their sovereign capacity as custodians of the common good of the nation. Their common good consists, in the first place, in their claim of God-endowed right and rights, including liberty.   Yet, in the present political culture, the conservation of these goods, and the Constitution meant to secure them, are regarded as relatively insignificant—barnacles on the hull of the ship of state, to use Dr. Ben Carson’s metaphor.  So America’s constitutional ship is sinking.  What were once the planks of the quarterdeck from which the sovereign the people exercised their liberty are not just being neglected, they are being systematically removed.

The quadrennial choice of the President and Vice-President of the United States is supposed to epitomize the practice of representation that America’s Founders repeatedly identified as the key to perpetuating the nation’s democratic (of, by and for the people, as Lincoln put it), constitutional republic.  True representation is essential to making sure that the decent self-government of the American people is not transformed into tyranny, like the unalloyed democracies of the past.

But ever since the founding, self-serving elitists have worked continually to construct and manipulate factious parties to serve as vehicles for their individual and group ambitions. To this end they have lately redefined the whole purpose of politics.  Elitist intellectuals have encouraged Americans to see politics as nothing more than a competition for power among selfish interest groups.  This has perverted the national party system. Once focused on platforms at least ostensibly predicated on service to the common good of the nation, it has become instead the focal point of elitist ambition, a battlefield for their struggles for power amongst themselves.

Before the United States sustained its claim to be a free nation, the people at large throughout the world were mostly just cannon fodder for such elitist conflicts.   Their body count registered the victory of this or that elitist clique. Now, in the United States, the people have become election fodder, their votes wasted on elitist power games, as their bodies once were.  With no serious thought to their own common good, they are told they must vote for people who don’t represent them, in elections that have openly degenerated into a feudalistic choice of elitist masters.

Pretend if you like that this is warfare with no casualties.  But though they are only now beginning to lose losing their lives, the American people well on the way to losing their decent way of life, the one steeped in the unalienable right of liberty that God intends for their humanity.  Our present electoral combats put me in mind of the neutron bomb. They inflict substantial losses on the American people, but by means that leave the edifices of elitist power mostly intact, if not greatly strengthened.

Unlike today’s corrupted elites, America’s Founders preferred to risk life rather than accept tyranny.  By focusing the people of the States on the choice of Electors, they sought to minimize the effective use of such demagogic ploys as are presently determining the alternatives for choice in our Presidential elections. They foresaw that voters encouraged to choose for President among people they only know by way of elitist propaganda would end up being systematically deceived and misled.

But if instead they called upon one another to come together on a platform that reflects their responsibility for the good of their communities; and to choose from amongst themselves representatives whom they knew from their own experience to be citizens like themselves committed to  preserving the goods, securing the rights and promoting the policies supported by that platform; then their more direct knowledge of the candidates and their histories would act as an antidote against the sort of con game Donald Trump epitomizes, but which in fact the whole elitist faction sham is running against the American people.

In the name of direct democracy, the present partisan sham plays on the pride, fearful passion and unavoidable ignorance of the people at large.  Thus it facilitates the oligarchic tyranny meant to replace their rule.  The Founders’ approach, based on representation, calls on the direct knowledge and experience of the people to perpetuate their true self-government.   The elitist sham lifts up rulers to replace the sovereignty of the people.  The Founders’ Constitutional provision lifts up representatives, chosen by the best informed judgment of the people, so that a judgment similarly informed may be applied to make a choice that expresses and preserves their self-government.

This is the function of representation Madison discusses in Federalist 51.  Applied to the selection of the chief executive officers of the U.S. government, it is used to refine the judgment of the people, improving the prospects for President committed to the common good much as it was intended to improve the prospects for effective legislation in the States, and indeed at every level of self-government in the United States.  We have abandoned this refinement when it comes to embodying the core power of the national government.  Is it any wonder that its powerful concentration of resources has become the key weapon being used to smash the constitutional sovereignty of the American people?

Series NavigationRestoring Representation- A Strategic Proposal III (Concluded)
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