people who continue to talk about America being a democracy. This bothers me when anyone does it, but I can somewhat understand it from the general public. They've been told over and over and over again, in school and elsewhere, that ours is a democratic government. The ones, though, that really infuriate me are those who most definitely know better. It would seem that these people refer to America as a democracy because of ulterior motives. Take the New York Times, for instance.
The Times does not like the Electoral College because it enables a candidate that did not win the popular vote to win the presidential election. The problem for them? The Electoral College for US presidential elections is mandated in our Constitution. It's difficult to get an amendment to the Constitution ratified. So, they're in favor of a new idea that would eliminate the need for a constitutional change. I have two major problems with their justification of this process.
Americans are rightly cautious about tinkering with mechanisms established by the Constitution. But throughout the nation's history, there have been a series of reforms affecting how elections are conducted, like the ones that gave blacks and women the vote and provided for the direct election of United States senators. Sidestepping the Electoral College would be in this worthy tradition of making American democracy more democratic.
I agree that Americans are cautious about changing the Constitution, and that they should be. But then they justify this attempt to disregard constitutional intent by referencing changes to eletoral process that were actually changed by amending the Constitution. Right to vote for blacks - Amendment 15. Right to vote for women - Amendment 19. Direct election of Senators - Amendment 17.
And in the last sentence we come to the pet peeve, "making American democracy more democratic." As I said before, these are the ones that infuriate me. The writers at the NY Times know very well that this is not a democracy in its form of government. We are a republic. As a matter of fact, our founders abhored the idea of a democracy as a form of government.
"... democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths, " James Madison, The Federalist Papers "Essay #10".
We may be a democratic society, but ours is NOT a democratic form of government. The Times knows the distinction. They are not talking about a democratic society in this context, but a democratic form of government. Whatever their disagreements with the Electoral College, they should present their arguments on a factual, reasoned basis, instead of closing with two sentences full of distortion. If this was some random blog, I might be more forgiving, but it's the NY Times. There is should be no question that they know the truth, and insist on printing lies instead. Then again, if their editors do not know the truth, that is an entirely different, and perhaps more disturbing, situation.
Thanks to Opinion Journal.