Post # 296 OUR ILLUSION OF DEMOCRACY

One would be well justified, historically and morally, in celebrating our American mantra, “one man, one vote,” if, in its empirical implementation,  it were accurate.

We have, in past writings, recounted the plethora of  wrongful practices, some institutionalized, amounting to tactical interference with the actual casting of votes.  These included, gerrymandering voting districts, interference with voters by local officials in declaring selected voters, ineligible to vote on de minimus “irregularities” such as the absence, or presence, of a hyphen, purging of voters lists by unscrupulous officials, moving, or eliminating voting places in native American areas of residence,  misinformation, and many other like, miscreant, undemocratic behavior; practiced  to affect voter results.

“One man, one vote”, obviously incorporates the implicit understanding that each vote cast will have appropriate, and equal, significance. This issue is the specific subject of concern of this writing.

In accordance with Article 12, of the U.S, constitution, our Presidential (and Vice Presidential)  elections, have never  been, legally and historically, the result  of the popular will of our citizenry; but are elected by a “College of Electors”, somewhat responsive to the popular (one man, one vote) franchise. It is the disparate number of State selected Electors that actually elect the President. In the most recent election, which gifted to America, an unfit, egotistic and ignorant chief executive, it was the Electoral College that elected him; the popular ( and larger)  vote was for his opponent. This selection of the Chief Executive, by the Board of Electors, contrary to the tally of American voters, was not unique, it has happened several times in the past.

This legal denial of “one man, one vote” has had several purported “justifications,” none of them admirable or useful; in fact we would characterize them at best, as outmoded and unrealistic, and at worst, aristocratically snobbish and stupid, as well as bigoted. The authors of Art. 12, had little confidence as to the knowledge of the issues, by a large, widely dispersed population. Even if we choose to forgive the arrogance of such assumption  (on the grounds that our Founders actually accomplished the creation of our unique republican democracy), the widespread knowledge of issues and events have  for a long time, been well communicated  throughout the nation. We have had  national parties, capable of the dessimination of such information, and above all a universally accessible media.

There was an arguement that the Electoral College system protects the smaller States. This, we feel is absurd, If anything, the small (largely agricultural) States, in our view, have always had many unfair advantages over the large (urban) areas. Every State has two Senators irrespective of population. Obviously, and most unfairly, the number of votes, required to elect two Senators, in Idaho, Montana and Nevada, are incomparably less than that necessary to elect two Senators in California, New York and Illinois. It is the largely populated States that bear the obvious and prejudicial disability. It is certainly indisputable, that at present, the Senate is controlled, by these smaller States and its dominance over the House of Representatives, lately, is evident.

There was an outmoided theory that the selection of the accurate formula would offset the disadvantage of the slave-owning States, since slaves were included in the population of such States, but couldn’t vote. This unsavory arguement, mercifully, is not today relevant.

It is not easy to Amend the Constitution, however, if such logistically complicated politics can result in a closer step to the attainment of a truly democratic vote, [ by eliminating the undemocratic  Electoral College], it certainly seems worth it.

-p.l

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plinyblogcom

Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Literature Student and enthusiast.

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