Monday, July 26, 2004

Tyranny of the Majority?

The electoral college buffers our individual votes from the actual outcome.

Is it a democracy, or isn't it?

The answer is, yes it is a democracy, but it is modeled as a representative democracy rather than a direct democracy.

It turns out that the electoral college was put in place for several reasons, and one of them was to protect the country from a tyranny of the majority. 

A what? 

A tyranny of the majority? 

Isn't the majority what a democracy is all about?   Well -- not ours, necessarily as it turns out.   We don't vote on every issue.  We have three branches of government to check and balance each other.  And it appears that the electoral college was created in part to check the power of more densely populated geographic areas of the country over the interests of people in less densely populated geographic areas.

Our forefathers were smarter than a lot of people give them credit for.

For instance -- even today, the majority of the US population is Christian, and in the past even more so.  If this were a pure democracy, the Christians could simply vote to amend the constitution to repeal the separation of church and state, and establish a Christian Theocracy by popular vote.  That's tyranny of the majority.

It was also put into place to protect against an uneducated (on the issues) public from being manipulated by clever men (anyone come to mind this year?  Hmmmm?) 

"A popular election in this case is radically vicious. The ignorance of the people would put it in the power of some one set of men dispersed through the Union, and acting in concert, to delude them into any appointment." -- Delegate Gerry, July 25, 1787

"The extent of the country renders it impossible, that the people can have the requisite capacity to judge of the respective pretensions of the candidates." -- Delegate Mason, July 17, 1787

"The people are uninformed, and would be misled by a few designing men." -- Delegate Gerry, July 19, 1787.

Well!  How do you like them apples?

If you look fuzzily at the general election results, you see that states with more rural populations went for Bush in 2000, while states with more urban populations went to Gore.   Maybe this is not so far from what the founding fathers intended.

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