Democracy stinks. History is littered with short-live democracies that cratered between the bloodlettings of factions going at each other’s throats. Our Framers were well aware of their shortcomings from the lessons of history and their personal experiences since 1776.
Popular election, the democratic element in the Framers’ Constitution, was limited to the House of Representatives. This satisfied the Declaration’s maxim that consent of the governed serves as the just basis of government. In Article II, the sovereign people assigned their Natural Right to elect their chief executive to another body, their state legislatures. As discussed in a recent blog post The Framers’ President II, the first purpose of Article II was to fill the office of the president with men of the caliber of George Washington rather than that of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
An assumed entitlement to elect presidents is the NPV’s means to achieve social justice, in which perfect political equality translates into equality of opinions, passions and especially possessions. It encourages states to throw their electoral votes at the winner of the nationwide popular vote. What on earth could be more fair?
In an age when simplistic and shallow feelings of “fairness” trump rational thought, NPV breezily assumes that social justice is served if “all men are created equal” translates into popular, majoritarian will across the United States. Since classical justice, meaning compliance with the Laws of Nature, isn’t necessarily denied through democracy, NPV can at first glance appear sensible.
Here is a reminder for the NPV crowd: Governments are instituted to secure unalienable rights. As a means, NPV is hostile to the end of government, security of our unalienable rights.
Experience shows that democracy can never safely be the sole means to achieve the just ends of government. Election by NPV is thus inexpedient, because it leads to undesirable consequences, such as a president whose promises to the factions that put him in office must be kept, regardless of the covenant established with the sovereign people through his oath of office. When used wisely, the democratic element is one of several tools available to construct a government that serves the larger public good and respects the natural rights of all citizens.
Toward this end, the security of unalienable rights, the Preamble of our Constitution goes into detail: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The subsequent Articles of the Constitution structure the means of a government designed to fulfill the ends set forth in the Preamble, and social justice isn’t an end.
Why did our Framers allow so little of the popular element in the Constitution? Because they knew that left unchecked, democracy encourages the supremacy of factions. From James Madison in The Federalist #10, a faction is a group of citizens united and actuated by a common passion or interest adverse to the rights of other citizens. Factions put their interests ahead of those of the nation. While the well-structured government of 1787 as amended in 1791 recognized the free speech rights of citizens as expressed through their factions, it hindered the self-destructive tendency of factions to set Americans against themselves.
When viewed in this light, the outwardly cumbersome and complex presidential election design of Article II is thoroughly logical. It serves a higher justice than the simplistic and vicious democracy of NPV, which, as we increasingly see today, promotes factional leaders like Obama and Hillary, whose intent in office is far from protecting and defending the Constitution.
The higher justice sought in Article II is a president unencumbered by political debts and who stands above all faction. Only such men and women can dedicate themselves to keeping their oath of office.
We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States. Sign our COS Petition.
Related post: If Your State is a Mess – Scotus imposed democracy through Reynolds v. Sims (1964), and the state pension funding crisis.
Eidelberg, Paul. The Philosophy of the American Constitution. New York: The Free Press, 1968.
Hamilton, Madison, Jay. The Federalist Papers #10. (1788). Book.