- Restoring Representation- A Strategic Proposal-I
- Demagoguery vs. Representation
- Restoring Representation-A Strategic Proposal II
- Restoring Representation- A Strategic Proposal III
- Restoring Representation- A Strategic Proposal III (Cont’d)
- Restoring Representation- A Strategic Proposal III (Concluded)
- On the purpose of what we call the “Electoral College”
Step One: Focus on the Electors
A. Rely on the people for what they do best
On Election Day 2012 when they go to the polls to vote for President and Vice-President most Americans will perceive their action in terms that ignore the electoral function the U.S. Constitution assigns to the sovereign body of the people. Nothing better illustrates the elitist faction’s deadly subversion of the thoughtful good will with which America’s founders applied themselves to the task of safeguarding the sovereignty of the people. The Founders understood that factional demagoguery posed the greatest danger to the stability of the species of republican government (of, by, and for the people) they meant to establish and perpetuate in the United States. They anticipated that scheming factional demagogues would carefully identify and exploit the weaknesses associated with the people’s exercise of sovereign power, weaknesses demonstrated in every episode of its ancient and modern history.
In this regard the people’s greatest weakness in the administration of government is an aspect of their critical contribution to the justice with which it is administered. When as individuals their own safety or advantage is not immediately involved, people are inclined to make fair judgments about things they have directly experienced, and about the character and abilities of people they encounter in the course of their experiences. But when dealing more abstractly, with things and people they know only from sources reputed to be more educated or informed than they are (elite sources) their common sense naturally leads them to be less certain of themselves. As a result they are more credulous, and susceptible to manipulation; at least until bad experience teaches them to be more distrustful.
Put simply, once removed from their own neighborhood, people are more easily conned, especially when it comes to unfamiliar subjects, human or non-human. America’s founders saw that, as a rule, it would best serve justice to make the people the arbiters of political power. But they also saw that the people would not be at their best if called upon to make abstract judgments about unfamiliar things. In that event, their inclination to defer to elite sources would effectively transfer their power of judgment to the elites, eliminating the people’s critical contribution to justice.
What Madison calls “the scheme of representation” aims to guard against this transfer of power by relying on the people’s decisions in the context where their judgment is apt to be most reliable; that is, when they are asked to choose, from amongst people they actually know, the people they would most readily trust and rely upon to make a just decision for themselves and their community. Starting at the level of their own neighborhood, where they choose from amongst people who live in the same conditions as themselves, the people send emissaries they trust to represent them in the councils of their larger neighborhoods. At each level the representatives thus chosen become the outstanding focal points of the community’s interest, members of an elite whose status depends upon the direct judgment of the people selecting them.
B. The people must directly determine who chooses, elsewise others determine the choice.
The integrity of this pyramid of representation obviously depends upon the fact that it begins with the direct involvement of the people themselves, who are both the source from which all available choices emerge (their matter or substance) and the ones whose predominant will decides the outcome of their choice (its makers). If, with respect to either of these functions they or their representatives are taken from this initiating position, the choice passes out of the people’s hands and into the hands of the ones who have usurped their role.
Within certain bounds of population and geography it’s not hard to see how the integrity of this scheme of representation can be maintained. Representatives chosen with integrity at the levels where the judgment of the people has its surest moorings (Let’s call these levels the grassroots.) become focal points of influence when they are called upon to choose people for offices at a more general level. But when choosing people for positions in the national government the people at the grassroots are brought into competition with forces and influences beyond their immediate experience and control. These forces and influences can intervene in ways unknown to them to corrupt the results of their choice, turning them from representatives of the people into representatives of the forces and influences that have corrupted them.
When dealing with the national legislature the goodwill of America’s founders led to provisions in the U.S. Constitution intended to mitigate this corruption of representative government. Elections for Representatives in the House take place in Districts of a size and population intended to preserve conditions more favorable to the sway of grassroots voters. Elections for the U.S. Senate originally occurred in the State Legislatures, where the Senators formed a body of electors chosen directly by the people of their respective State Senatorial Districts. The vote for U.S. Senator took place only after the most recent election had given the people an opportunity to alter the composition of that electoral body. U.S. Senators were thus chosen by electors (the State Senators) chosen by the people; but only after the people’s most recent opportunity to make sure the composition of the State Senate accurately reflected their general will.
In this respect the election for President of the United States poses perhaps the greatest challenge. How can the best judgment of the people be mobilized in a way that takes account of the fact that the office of President demands a choice made in light of the common good of the nation as a whole? In some respects the judgment involved in choosing the President is like the judgment that was involved in fashioning the Constitution itself. The various particular interests of the people in their States and Districts must be taken into account. But they must be weighed in light of the determination of the American people to maintain their identity as one nation (the Union), and to uphold and defend the Constitution that serves and preserves their ability to act as a free people (their Liberty). This requires not just a choice but a deliberate choice arrived at after conscientious reasoning and discussion.
The Electoral College is the U.S. Constitution’s answer to this challenge. It adapts the logic that was reflected in the Constitution’s original provision for the election of U.S. Senators. Like that provision it can be superficially criticized as a departure from “democracy”. But, also like that provision, it aims to safeguard and stabilize the sovereignty of the people. It does so by offering an opportunity for the people to choose the right representatives, and for their representatives to make the right decision with respect to a choice (the Presidency) that requires combining a broad experience of particular persons with an understanding of more abstract goods and principles, in order to achieve an outcome that reflects the general will of the people in light of their common good.
C. Better to choose true representatives to make the choice as you would make it, than to settle for a choice that doesn’t represent you, made by forces you don’t control, who say “you’ll just have to take it.”
On Election Day in 2012 when the elite faction media reports to the world that America’s voters have elected (or re-elected) the President of the United States, their report will be a lie. Though many will do so in ignorance, the voters, in their respective States, will actually have chosen Presidential Electors, from slates handpicked before the vote of the people and mostly without their knowledge or participation. It is these electors who will, sometime in December, cast the votes that actually elect the President and Vice-President.
Thanks to the factious overlay that currently usurps the functioning of the Constitution’s actual provisions, the wise arrangements of America’s founders have literally been turned upside down. Instead of focusing the people on what they do best i.e., choose from amongst themselves those who will justly and properly represent them, the election cycle’s mock political contests dissipate the public’s political energy as they focus on choosing from amongst prescreened factional figureheads. This allows the elite faction’s masters of demagoguery every opportunity to deceive and manipulate the people. It also exhausts the people’s interest and resources on a process, irrelevant to their will and judgment; which has no purpose except to clothe in an increasingly faded aura of legitimacy the elite tyranny that has gradually replaced their true self-government.
During the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia Alexander Hamilton proposed an election process for President and Vice-President that placed the decision in the hands of Electors, chosen by electors chosen by the people. These days anyone tempted to snicker at the absurdity of his proposal should consider the fact that, after a multi-tiered process that includes a welter of poorly attended factional caucuses, primaries, and conventions at various levels, the people at large end up with no direct say at all in the composition of the Electoral College. That is decided in the board rooms and back rooms of the partisan factional empires.
This is a far cry from the fiction that on Election Day the President and Vice-President are chosen directly by the people themselves. The whole cumbersome factional process is an extra-constitutional distraction. But the distraction has worked so well that most Americans never consider that the Founder’s scheme of representation implies that the Electors should reflect their choice, not the choice of virtually invisible money masters and party bosses, abetted by their bought-and-sold talking bobbleheads in the media.
D. The Electoral College- a new paradigm
But what if the people themselves, at the grassroots, could effectively determine who shall be the members of the Electoral College? By doing so they would take back the choice stolen away by the present factional partisan usurpation of grassroots initiative. The Constitution says that the Chief Executive is to be chosen by a body that assembles in the respective States just once, for the purpose of the election. Before and after the election the Electors have no Constitutional existence or prerogative. Their sole purpose is to represent the sovereign people of the United States in making the most critical political decision they have to make, apart from those which affect the Constitution itself.
No wonder conniving elites anxiously and elaborately contrive to erase the memory of this fact from the minds of the people. Or else, by defaming the arrangement, they seek to engineer its practical extinction. This is not unlike their efforts to erase the 10th Amendment from the public’s consciousness; or to finance the national government by means of a tax that routinely extinguishes the constitutionally mandated immunity of accused persons from self-incrimination; or to impose on the people a false doctrine of church-state separation that defeats the Creator driven logic of unalienable human rights in the Declaration of Independence (upon which logic the whole edifice of self-government is erected.)
Representation is the Scepter America’s founders placed in the hands of the people. Elections that truly implement representation are the people’s Crown. By offering to people at the grassroots an opportunity periodically to renew their control over the integrity of their political representation the Constitution sets up the Presidential Electors as the jewels in the crown. For some time now these national treasures have been secretively disposed of by private collectors. For public display they have been replaced by worthless counterfeits, produced by a process that beguiles people with a show of false “Democracy” and “Republicanism”. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, factious elites with no allegiance to God-endowed rights and liberty, are dismantling the Constitution of the people’s truly democratic and republican self-government.
At present it serves the purposes of elite usurpation to focus on what doesn’t happen on Election Day, instead of what does happen. But what if we reject that focus, and instead concentrate on the fact that that is the Electors who are chosen that day, not the President and Vice-President? Instead of asking “How can we elect so-and-so for President?”, what if we ask instead “How can we win the election?”, reading the word election to mean what it actually does mean on that day, i.e., the opportunity to choose who shall be President and who shall be Vice-President. Instead of winning an electoral college majority for this or that candidate so-and so, people would focus their efforts on winning an electoral college majority composed of people who truly represent them, and who would therefore search for and elect a President and Vice-President who also represented them.
This way of understanding the goal of victory on Election Day involves a paradigm shift in comparison to the factious, partisan, elitist approach to the National Election. Under this new paradigm the Electoral College majority is the search committee for the President and Vice-President of the United States, acting to represent the voters who elected them, much as a company’s board of director’s acts on behalf of the majority shareholders. Like such a board, they vet all the possibilities suggested by the people whose votes they represent, following agreed upon guidelines that reflect and articulate the moral character and principles of these constituents, as well as their priorities and goals for action. Then they settle on a choice they conscientiously believe the voters themselves would select if, for several weeks they could give top priority to the task of sifting through all the relevant facts and information.
This is, in effect, exactly what the people’s legislative representatives are supposed to do for them with respect to the day to day business of legislation. In fact, the Framers of the Constitution considered entrusting the role of Presidential Electors to the State legislatures. But they feared, among other things, that their preoccupation with their State’s interests would interfere with the ability to see and give due weight to the nation’s common good. They did, however, leave it to the States to decide the manner in which the Electors would be appointed.
In the first years of the republic, the different States adopted various methods for choosing the Electors:
Some State legislatures decided to choose the Electors themselves.
Others decided on a direct popular vote for Electors either by Congressional
district or at large throughout the whole State. Still others devised some
combination of these methods. But in all cases, Electors were chosen
individually from a single list of all candidates for the position.
What all these methods had in common is that they focused voters’ attention on the individuals being considered for the office of Elector, not on their allegiance to any Party or candidate. In this way all the States acknowledged and respected the fact that the Constitution says simply that the individual Electors will cast their votes, not that they do so at the direction of their respective States. Thus it does not require that they do so in accordance with any slavish allegiance to any State, Party or individual that might supersede their allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, and the people whose sovereign voice it represents.
(In this respect members of the Electoral College are in much the same position as were the members of the U.S. Senate during the time when the original provision of the Constitution was in effect that placed the election of U.S. Senators in the hands of the State legislatures. Once elected the fact that they were chosen by their respective State’s legislature did not per se give the legislature any prerogative simply to dictate how they would vote on any given issue. Of course, since U.S. Senators could be re-elected, they obviously had a political interest in maintaining majority support in the legislature, especially during the election cycle in which they approached the end of their six year term. But Presidential Electors have no office that endures beyond the performance of the singular function for which they are elected.)
In order to restore the integrity of representation grassroots voters must reclaim the initiative in the political process. What better way could they have of dramatically ending the elite faction’s usurpation of their initiative than to demonstrate their ability to outflank its usurping forces in the context of selecting the most visible and important individual officer in the land.
[Next: The Continuation of Part III outlines first steps in implementing the a paradigm for Electoral Politics in choosing members of the Electoral College.]