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George Rebane: Democracy destroys the Electoral College

The nation’s left is again demanding that the country should give up its republican roots and become a democracy — something which our founders warned us against and were careful to avoid when they gave us a constitutional republic, with Ben Franklin’s admonition “ … if you can keep it.”

It’s doubtful that those fine points of civics and governance are still taught in our public schools. What’s happening today in Virginia gives evidence of that.

Now that Democrats completely control what used to be a battleground state, their House of Delegates have “passed a bill that aims to do an end run around the Electoral College.” When the governor signs it into law, Virginia will become the latest state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The compact calls for each member state to award all of its electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes in the national election — 50-plus percent will do the job, leaving the other 50-minus percent voiceless in a presidential election.

Virginia ratifying the compact will bring to 209 votes in the Electoral College that will be apportioned by a democratic majority, a compact that has already been enacted into law by 15 states and the District of Columbia, and is pending in all the other states. When the total ratified reaches 270 out of the total of 538 Electoral College votes, we will have effectively done away with the Electoral College, and will then elect our president by plebiscite. This major step toward a pure democracy will mark a dangerous milestone in the regress of America’s governance from what the Founders bequeathed us.

The dangers of direct democracy have been studied for centuries; its devastating effect on nations having accepted it fill countless books and history texts.

The dangers of direct democracy have been studied for centuries; its devastating effect on nations having accepted it fill countless books and history texts. Unfortunately, America’s history texts have undergone a major rewrite since the Great Society’s onset around 1970. Under the impact of socialist and radical historian Howard Zinn, two generations of public schooled Americans have been taught that the United States is the leading dystopian country, and can be blamed for almost all of the problems now facing the world.

Our country’s left-wing ideologues in academe and the media have embraced and promoted this view, which today is firmly baked into our high school history texts. Moreover, few of our adults know what has happened to teaching American history in our schools. Due to Zinn’s influence, only 31 states still require high schools to even teach his jaundiced version of our country’s past. Progressive academics recognize that the young become more receptive and malleable as their knowledge of the past is either omitted or properly managed.

On the face of it, governance by direct democracy sounds really good to lightly read ears. They know little or nothing of its inevitable consequences such as the tyranny of the majority that already afflicts states like California with its penchant for holding emotionally managed plebiscites. Tyranny of the majority is but a temporary way station on the road from direct democracy to autocracy. In governance, its inherent weakness invites excesses of centralized rule that rapidly overcome local governments, as it promotes the abandonment of rationality, especially by voters with educational deficits and few abilities to vet the claims of their political demagogues.

That is why our founders gave us an ingeniously structured democratic republic with three co-equal branches of government that contained only one legislative chamber with members determined by popular vote who then represented the people’s will. And all of that is based on a historically novel Constitution designed to govern the government, and not the people. Our Framers agreed that government’s most basic purpose is to secure for its citizens the so-called “John Locke trilogy” or “Bastiat triangle” of rights to life, liberty, and property — the weakening of any one of these minimal yet fundamental rights immediately weakens the other two.

Today our collectivist elites know this and have used it to chart the country’s road to their promised fundamental transformation of our nation. And that is why the promotion of wholesale democracy by our socialists is now embraced by an increasing number of America’s receptive voters.

George Rebane is a retired systems scientist in Nevada County who blogs on Rebane’s Ruminations.

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