Book Review: Securing Democracy

Securing Democracy:  Why We Have An Electoral College, edited Gary L. Gregg II

One of the more obvious and lamentable aspects of contemporary political science is reading from snobbish intellectuals about how backwards the Constitution was and how we need to move beyond the Constitution to keep our ideas up to date, which inevitably involves supporting some sort of corrupt European-style political elite that fancies itself to be nonpartisan.  This book is a welcome relief from all of that baloney in a series of essays that defends the Electoral College and its continuing worth.  As someone who has written about the electoral college and its implications for American federalism, it is definitely worthwhile to see what people have to say that contradicts the fashionable nonsense of our times that the Constitution is obsolete and that later Progressive thought has anything worthwhile to offer in terms of political philosophy.  Obviously this book will be more enjoyed by those who have a high view of the Constitution and correspondingly less appreciated by those who are in favor of Progressive ideals.  My own perspective is clear and so this book was definitely a worthwhile one that had good prudential as well as constitutional reasons for cheering on the Electoral college.

This book is a short one of less than 150 pages and it consists of seven essays and other supplementary material.  The book begins with an introduction by “Cocaine” Mitch McConnell, senator from Kentucky.  After that Gary Gregg II discusses the origins and meaning of the Electoral College (1) and Andrew E. Busch talks about the way that historical developments in the American democracy led to the development of the Electoral College through its first few decades of existence (2).  After that there was a discussion by James R. Stoner Jr. about the relationship between federalism, the states, and the electoral college, a particular interest of mine (3) as well as a discussion of the way that the American system moderates the political impulse from Paul A. Rahe (4).  There is then a discussion about the future of American political parties as it relates to the Electoral College by Michael Barone (5) as well as a way that the Electoral College demonstrates the uniqueness of the American political system by Daniel Ptrick Moynihan (6).  Finally, the book closes with an essay about the creation of electoral majorities after the election of 2000 by Michael M. Uhlmann (7), an afterward by Walter Berns on the outputs of the Electoral College in presidents with a mandate to lead, and two appendices that show Article II and the 12th Amendment (i) as well as Federalist Papers 39 and 68 (ii) as well as notes, some information about the contributors, and an index.

What is the magic of the Electoral College?  For one, it is a sign of the division that exists in the United States and the way that each state at least potentially has its own culture and its own identity and therefore a reason to desire some aspect of that seperateness recognized.  In addition, the Electoral College provides a refutation of the idea of one person-one vote that demonstrates the way that different interests have to be balanced together through compromise and consensus building, rather than seeking to dominate through sheer numbers without concern for other interests of smaller groups.  Besides this, the existence of the Electoral College strongly encourages elections to be 51 smaller campaigns rather than simply one race to acquire the most votes in districts that one controls, which at least puts a brake on the sort of massive fraud that has tended to exist throughout the course of American history.  Since men are not angels we have definite need of government, and it is interesting to note the different attitudes towards government that exist when it comes to respecting the weight of tradition or fancying ourselves to be more righteous and knowledgeable than those who came before us.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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