Joseph Mendola: Electoral College is evidence of Founders’ brilliance

For the Monitor
Published: 7/25/2018 12:15:10 AM

In a recent article (Monitor Forum, July 11), contributor David Blair made the case that the Electoral College, gerrymandering and corporate political spending threaten our democracy.

But we do not live in a democracy. We live in a democratic republic.

While gerrymandering and heavy spending by special interest groups can be a threat to our democratic republic, the Electoral College is one institution that has protected the minority.

A democratic republic, while similar to a democracy, has a written constitution of basic rights that protect the minority from being completely overridden by the majority. A democracy, on the other hand, is ruled by the omnipotent majority over any group of individuals composing the minority, which has no protection against the unlimited power of the majority. Our democratic republic was created by the Founding Fathers in a way that gives certain protections to the minority in our country.

Just after President Donald Trump was elected a person wrote a letter to the editor comparing the Electoral College to a buggy whip. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am amazed at the genius and vision of the Founders in choosing the Electoral College system.

In 1787, the Founders were concerned that the popular vote system would give the two largest population enclaves in the country at that time – Philadelphia and New York – the power to choose the president, taking away the voice of farmers and working people in less populous states. The Founders determined that if the president was chosen strictly by popular vote, the political elite and the wealthy would always pick the president.

President Trump did what President Barack Obama did and Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney failed to do. These presidents brought a message of hope that resonated with blue-collar working people of the seven states in the Midwest. That is why these presidents won their elections and Clinton and Romney lost. The electoral votes in those seven states were enough to overcome the huge number of electoral votes in New York and California.

In the 2016 presidential election, Clinton’s popular vote plurality of 2 million votes came from Los Angeles County, Calif., (1,893,770 votes) and New York County, N.Y., (515,481 votes); Trump was chosen by blue-collar working people, not by big money interests and the political elite. That is exactly what our Founders had in mind when they created the Electoral College, which is as relevant now as it was in the late 18th century.

Blair sets up his column by mentioning a naturalization ceremony for 152 new Americans from 51 countries at Old Sturbridge Village. They did it legally. They were not illegal aliens coming across our border without papers. Those who sympathize with people who come into our nation illegally call them “undocumented immigrants” to make them sound more legitimate.

Immigrants are welcomed in this country if they come legally and they have a skill that is needed in America. There are people trying to come here because of crime in their own countries. Crime is not a justification for asking for political asylum.

If we do not control the entrance of illegal aliens, we will place our Social Security system under so much financial pressure that the people who are here legally might not have the security they are entitled to. When people cross our southern border, many of them will need government aid like Medicaid and the like. Our nation is $21 trillion in debt, and we have a responsibility to take care of our elderly and those citizens who are legally in need of Medicaid.

In terms of gerrymandering, I agree that gerrymandering is not a positive force in our democratic republic. In fact I believe that in the town where I live, Warner, the district is the result of gerrymandering by the state senator who represented District 15 before the present senator took office. Warner should be part of the Bradford or Webster Senate district, not Concord. But we cannot blame the Democrats alone for this action because gerrymandering is created by both parties working with each other to create districts that are safe for each party.

I also agree that the Citizens United decision is not in the best interest of our republic. But neither is the funding of campaigns by PACs that exert outside influence in our state elections. This is the case in our 1st Congressional District, where a Democratic candidate who has never lived in New Hampshire before this year is receiving most of her campaign funding from money interests outside of our state. We have a primary candidate running against this candidate, who is a lifelong resident of New Hampshire and has pledged to receive most of his financing from in-state supporters. So there is no difference if large sums of money come from corporations or PACs with a certain political agenda. Perhaps someday we can elect enough politicians who will really do something to get big money out of politics.

I write as an American who loves our democratic republic. We need to uphold the Constitution so that the rights of the working people in this country are not trampled. The Founders intended to make sure one group did not have absolute power over another.

So those 152 new Americans who pledged to support and defend our Constitution pledged to defend our democratic republic, not a democracy. Isn’t this the duty of all Americans?

(Joseph Mendola lives in Warner.)

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