Can We Keep It?

Benjamin Franklin is said to have remarked to the founders of our country, “Gentlemen, we have a republic…. if we can keep it”.

The Founders had developed a totally new concept – that the people would choose their leaders. The prevailing model at the time was heriditary monarchy. You were born into leadership. Your sole qualification. Did this ever make any sense? You had kings who were certifiably insane, feeble minded, or maybe just plain incompetent.

So the Founders decided this might be a better model – the people select the leaders. With certain limitations. We had a popular vote for a chief executive (president), but not directly. Instead, the selection was to be made by a group of wise men (white, property owners), convening as an “Electoral College”. Can’t trust ordinary folk with such responsibility (the masses are asses, after all). The electorate consisted of white men (can’t trust women, or brown/black people, at best three fifths of a person, anyway).

Yes, perfection, then as now, was the enemy of the good. Several compromises had to be made so this would fly. For example, the Founders created a bicameral legislature, one house of which allocated two “senators” per state, regardless of population. This results in the contemporary absurdity where Wyoming, with fewer than one million residents has the same representation as California (population approaching 40 million).

Can we keep it?

The Founders also did not provide for the possibility of political parties. At least one of them, representing mostly white men, sees itself becoming a permanent minority as the electorate becomes increasingly brown (and female). Its principal survival mechanism lies in preventing people from voting. This is nothing new. It took well over a century for women to win the right to vote. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation granted the franchise to former slaves in 1862, more or less. However, former states of the Confederacy enacted “Jim Crow” statutes, such as poll taxes and literacy tests aimed at black voters. It took until the late 1960’s to force these states to eliminate these impediments.

Can we keep it?

Current voter suppression tactics are a lot more subtle. In order to discourage voter fraud (which doesn’t seem to exist in any meaningful sense), “red” states have been known to:

  1. Eliminate voting sites in minority areas
  2. Limit drop boxes to one location per county, regardless of size or population
  3. Purge voting rolls
  4. Require ex-felons to pay court costs and other fines before being granted ballots
  5. Intimidate voters by “monitoring” polling places

Employment of supporters in polling places (goons?) is especially chilling. The vote tabulation is expected to extend well past Election Day, raising fears that the President will declare the election “rigged”. This might lead to invalidation of Electoral College tallies, freeing states to appoint electors opposed to the (invalid?) popular vote count in many states (there is, apparently, no Constitutional requirement that selection of electors must conform to popular vote totals). This could conceivably force the election into the House of Representatives. Republican controlled state legislatures outnumber Democratic ones 26-24.

Can we keep it?

The Electoral College, itself, has installed the popular vote loser five times, including twice in this young century (George W. Bush in 2000, and the current incumbent). No, America, we did not elect this clown (he lost the vote by almost 3

million in 2016). We must rid our political system of this anachronism.

Can we keep it?

The incumbent’s desire to cling to office appears mostly tied to the distinct possibility that, once he is again a private citizen, he will be subject to numerous legal actions which could cost him his freedom, not to mention much of his personal fortune. He appears to have no interest in a second term, other than to ward off (or postpone) his personal legal and financial troubles. Who does he owe $400M to, anyway?

Can we keep it?

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