There are many political thinkers on the American left who wish to rewrite our Constitution. I believe President Obama was once quoted as saying, “The American Revolution was incomplete, and the Constitution is an imperfect product of compromises.”
I recently read the blog post of an acquaintance who strongly expresses these same sentiments. He is a solid citizen of high intelligence for whom I have sincere respect. In his post he makes a strong argument for changes to our Constitution. I understand his position even as I disagree with him. The most off-putting part of his argument is the extreme anti-Republican bias reflected in his writing.
He wrote as follows:
“As a result of the electoral college, twice within this young century, Republican candidates who lost the popular vote have nevertheless won the electoral vote and been named president. In 2004, Democrat Al Gore came in second in the electoral vote but received 547,398 more popular votes than Republican George W. Bush, making him the first person since Grover Cleveland in 1888 to win the popular vote but lose in the Electoral College. Even worse, in 2016 election, Donald Trump, who four years earlier called the college “a disaster for democracy,” lost to Hillary Clinton by 2.9 million popular votes but won in the electoral college.
“It is long since time that the electoral college be eliminated. How long must we allow the Republicans and racists to prevent its abolition?
“As for the United States Senate, citizens from the smallest, Republican, and most conservative states that represent only 17 percent of the U.S. population can elect 51 senators and effectively rule the senate over the objections of the other 83 percent of us. It only takes 42 senators from smallest states representing 10 percent of the population to uphold a filibuster and effectively block any legislation favored by the vast majority. In no other western democracy is the potential for this kind of misrepresentation and minority rule so extreme.
“The senate Republicans who blocked President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, represented 20 million fewer people than the Democrats who supported him.
“So there we have it, two distortions of American democracy, the electoral college and the makeup of the senate, that punish the majority and reward the well-to-do Republican minority. Changing either of them will require a Constitutional amendment, a huge undertaking.
“But we Americans can do it if we put our shoulders to the wheel. Let’s get started”
Now, for my response.
I’m certain that you will agree that this writer makes an eloquent and logical appeal for fundamental changes to our Constitution. But is that truly what we want? Would these changes be for the good of our country? I think not.
Our founding fathers were wise men. Indeed, as a group, I would chose them over the politicians who are running our country today..When these men worked together to create a functioning government, they had certain principles to guide them. First, they were creating a union of separate colonies that must be persuaded to accept the governing instrument that they proposed. Each colony, regardless of its size and population, considered itself the equal of any other. Thus, in the upper body of the Federal legislature, each colony (state) was given equal representation. Without this provision, the Constitution would never have been accepted; and I firmly believe that no amendment changing this arrangement could ever be passed. Nor do I believe it should be.
Second, the electoral college was created because of the founding fathers’ distrust of the “mob.” They wanted to give citizens the ability to express their wishes, but they feared pure democracy and the possibility of mob rule, so they contrived a method to filter the popular vote through the state legislatures and the electors. State legislatures no longer play a role in this process, but the electoral college still endures. There are pros and cons as to its elimination, but it tends to give smaller states somewhat more influence in national elections than if we relied solely on a popular vote, and I believe that is a good thing.
Remember, the United States was not established as a democracy. It is a federated union of states with a system of representative government. No government is perfect, but I believe ours has performed reasonably well over the past 233 years. Yes, we need things like term limits and the line-item veto, but don’t change the fundamentals. Concentrate on electing the best men and women to office.
One thought on “Rewriting the Constitution”
The friend writes that he understands we are not a democracy (and are a Republic) and that the founders worked to avoid mob rule, but then he states our government “tends to give smaller states somewhat more influence in national elections than if we relied solely on a popular vote, and I believe that is a good thing.” Right, the “mob” in California and the northeast is not able to eliminate the choices desired by ‘fly-over’ country (or Missouri). THAT is the intent of the Electoral College and the two-body structure of congress as I understand them. So, I don’t understand how he weighs “popular vote” against “mob rule”. I even think all of today’s population movement between states assures citizens retain the strength of their vote wherever they live BECAUSE of the Electoral College and the structure of our congress.