Many books will be written about the presidential election of 2016, which was unique in the annals of history, but in some respects it confirms the predictive genius of the Founding Fathers, who planned for every eventuality, even those which we think of as most remarkable.
On the morning of Nov. 8, it appeared to many that the Democratic Party and the liberal faction in America were set to deliver the death blow to the Republican Party and the conservative faction it represents. It is therefore no wonder that progressives and leftists are up in arms over the election of Donald Trump.
After eight years of “fundamental transformation” of the government of the United States by the Obama administration, it would have only taken the election of one more Democratic president to complete the process — both by providing a bulwark against the repeal of countless executive orders initiated in the last eight years and by guaranteeing the appointment of an overwhelming number of liberals to the judiciary who would rubber-stamp laws and policies as constitutional that on their face were not.
Indeed, this potentially crushing blow to American conservatism — which is the prevailing philosophy in the vast majority of states — would have been accomplished handily were the presidential election decided by the popular vote rather than in the Electoral College.
Hillary Clinton, with the help of huge vote leads in places such as California (62-33 percent), New York (59-38 percent) and Massachusetts (61-34 percent), is currently ahead by more than 2 million votes. In California alone, she surpassed Trump by about 3.5 million votes, meaning that if the election were decided by popular vote, that extremely liberal state would wield massive power over much smaller states such as Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Tennessee, where Trump won by similarly large margins.
This should remind us why the country was established with checks and balances against putting too much power into the hands of any one state, and indeed any one faction.
One of those checks and balances is the Electoral College, to which the Founders gave the responsibility for choosing the winner of the presidency, instead of relying on the popular vote.
The reasons are many, but are primarily understandable, as explained by James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 10, as working to protect the rights of the minority against the “superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”
“Overbearing” is perhaps the best adjective ever invented to describe the liberal mindset of the nanny state that Democrats have imposed on the country over the past 50 years, and without the Electoral College, the popular majority would now be forcing its will upon the substantial minority who wish only to exercise their rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” without being forced to toe the line of political correctness.
Madison warned that political parties would tend to work for their own good, not for the good of the people, or as he said, they are “much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to cooperate for the common good.” Thus, allowing a party or faction by simple reason of majority to “carry into effect schemes of oppression” would lead to the destruction of the nation. Instead, as devised by the Founding Fathers, it is important that it is the Union which prevails, not any one party.
Should efforts to obviate the Electoral College prevail, we will be one step closer to that “pure democracy,” which Madison warned us has no defense against “the mischiefs of faction.”
It may not suit our modern sensibilities, but we tamper with it at our own peril. Consider the words of George Washington in his farewell address that powerful factions will work in their own interests to try to change the system of government to take advantage of you, the people.
“Toward the preservation of your government and the permanency of your happy state, it is requisite not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown.”
We have already greatly diminished the “energy of the [constitutional] system” by such changes as the direct election of senators, the effective neutering of the Ninth and 10th Amendments (which protected the rights of the states and the people), and the vast expansion of the powers of the federal government through subsequent interpretations of the 14th Amendment.
Any more “innovation” of the Constitution could very well have the effect of destroying it altogether. The temporary inconvenience of Donald Trump to liberals should not be used as an excuse to undermine the eternal genius of our Founding Fathers.
Frank Miele is managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana.