What have we Wrought?


At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked, "What have you Wrought?" He answered, "a Republic, if you can keep it". As Eugene Volokh of the UCLA School of Law notes, the United States is a Constitutional Republic, where some (often local) decisions are made by direct democratic processes, while others (often Federal) are made by democratically elected representatives. In the last four years we witnessed turbulent Trump Presidential rule, Covid-19 and more than 200,000 related deaths, divisive racial tensions, polarizing campaign and narrow and still unsettled victory for Joe Biden the Democrat Candidate. In times like this we ask, can we keep the Republic? How long can the current method of electing the President endure? In times of frustration our impulse is to scrap the whole system. Before we want to replace the Electoral College system with popular votes let us examine the past elections. In the last 60 years, in only two Presidential elections, the winning candidate for President got less popular votes than his opponent. In 2000, George W. Bush got about half a million votes less than his opponent Democrat Al Gore. In 2016, Donald Trump got about 2.9 million votes less than Hillary Clinton. On both these occasions there were uproars. At the outset, this seems like an outrage. However, closer examination reveals that in 2000, Gore got 1.3 million more votes in one State, California. In 2016 Clinton got 4.3 million more votes in the same one State, California. So, take away California, both Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2012 got more votes in the other 49 states combined. Many people conveniently overlook this point. How many of you would like the mandate for President come from just one State? I like California, but not that much! I am not sure popular votes are the answer. The founding fathers of our Country: 1) did not want concentration of power in any one person or branch of government 2) they wanted to avoid mob rule 3) they instituted several checks and balances at every step The people's direct representation is guaranteed by election of the members of the House of Representatives based on the population. To check the pulse of the country periodically, the Congressmen are elected once in every two years. The States rights are guarded by the equal number of Senators (2) in each State. After all. we are the United States of America. The President is elected by people in each State through an "Electoral College" as a check against dictatorship and mob rule. To be sure, thanks to the Electoral College, the entire country (and not just the population centers) is fully engaged in the election. In my opinion, the system has withstood the test of time for almost two and a half centuries. We can spend rest of the time arguing about alternatives to the Electoral College. Or, we can focus on the urgent change needed - "term limits for the U.S Members of Congress and the Senate". Let us face it. That is where the real concentration of power lies. For free subscription to all posts go to www.murthysmusings.com

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