To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Monday, April 02, 2007

E.J. Dionne Would Let Hitler Become U.S. President

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne makes a good, but not great, case for electing U.S. presidents by popular vote instead of through the electoral college. Given the rising support among voters and politicians for such a sweeping change to the U.S. Constitution I think it's only a matter of time before it happens. I find this mass ignorance of the difference between majority rule and democracy startling. Democracy is a system of government in which the people rule. All people. Not just 51% of the population. As such, something can be democratic even if it's anti-majoritarian. Like the Bill of Rights. And the electoral college, which serves two functions crucial to protecting both liberty and democracy.

1) The electoral college ensures that presidents at least try to represent all Americans, no matter where they live. Eliminate the electoral college and presidential candidates will skip campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire, Kansas, New Mexico, Indiana and pretty much any state with a small population. Once elected, a president would care less about how a particular policy affects people in Nevada, Kentucky, Wyoming, etc. It's the electoral college that makes small states relevant politically. It keeps America democratic. Without it Californians, New Yorkers, and Floridians would rule over the rest of the country, at least when it comes to the presidency. People can cry all they want about how Gore won the majority vote in 2000, but his support was based in only 20% of U.S. counties. Bush won a majority of the vote in 80% of America. Look at this map and decide for yourself who represented most of America.

2) The electoral college is the last line of defense protecting minorities from the tyranny of the majority. If the day ever comes when the American people are so stupid that they vote for a Presidential candidate who pledges to suspend the constitution, put Muslims in concentration camps, and rule by decree - all in order to better fight the war on terror - members of the electoral college could - and should - ignore their votes and elect somebody else. In E.J. Dionne's world view, the majority should be able to elect whoever they want - including Hitler. That's not democracy.

Labels: , , ,