Understanding indirect democracy before you vote on Tuesday

By Rich Pezzullo | The Save Jersey Blog

I am trying to relate the circus presented by the media with the election process designed by the Founders. If you think the process is broken, you might be right.

There is no mention of direct election of the president nor reference to a two party system in our Constitution. Those are creatures of each state which is why this seems so chaotic.

The chaos we are watching comes as people who seek to use the electoral system to enhance and protect their power (a force contemplated as “sinister” by the founders and the Republican Nominee) with the bulwark erected in the Constitution to prevent their efforts from being successful.

constitutionDifferent states have different rules, but the process was designed to select the best ELECTORS, not the best president.

If performed as intended by the Founders, “[t]he process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of anyone who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

“Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors” among some people, “but it will require OTHER talents, and a DIFFERENT kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union.”

That mission of selecting the president would be left to people whose sole job is vetting the best American to promote to this high office.

Regarding the vetting of the president, the Founders felt, and I agree, that “[a] small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

They said that the election should be trusted to “people most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.”

The biggest problem facing the election process? At the time, and today, they seem to be the same: ” cabal, intrigue, and corruption.” In fact, the Founders explained that that “nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle” should be made to prevent these from corrupting the election.

In a free society, the “most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter” and would be expected to raise “a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union.”

The Founders, at convention, tried to guard against a fixed group – either a foreign power or group external to the constituted government of people forcing a candidate upon the population.

They specifically designed the system where “appointment of the President to depend on any PREEXISTING bodies, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes.”

The selection of President was supposed to be “an immediate act of the people of America,” using persons chosen “for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment.”

They specifically EXCLUDED from eligibility, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office – No Senator or Representative could be involved in the process.

The goal of the Electoral Congress? Without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any bias”

Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

The other goal of a spontaneously chosen Electoral Congress was that while in office, the President would not know which group to which he should pander. There would only be a few hundred people upon whom his re-election would matter, and during his term he would have no idea who they would be. Corrupting influences would not be aware, during the term of the Presidency, which citizens would get the job of choosing the next president.

You can learn more about what the Founders were thinking by Reading Federalist 68 – written at the time of the ratification by Alexander Hamilton as they sought to get state legislatures to approve the new method of government. 

In case you need a review – here’s the official manner by which a great free republic should select it’s chief executive. I found this in an obscure document called “The Constitution of the United States.” It’s interesting reading! Maybe we should consider teaching this in our schools.

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress:

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves.

They shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify,

They shall transmit such list, sealed, to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.

The President of the Senate shall open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted.

The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President,

Only if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed;

If there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of them for President;

If no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner choose the President.

In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the SENATE shall choose from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Founder were clear – no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector. They didn’t want the President pandering to the legislature or acting as though his re-election depended on the approval of any individual or body. This is why the Speaker of The House was proper in withholding any endorsement. It was a sad day for liberty when he capitulated and threw himself in with those who seek to use the office of the Presidency to protect and enhance their own power.

The Republic will survive this election process, but we should heed the warnings that the time has come to ensure that more Americans to understand why our republic must be protected from ignorance and attacks upon its very foundation.