US Constitution & Popular Elections
by Salvador Astucia, Nov. 21, 2004
This article is a follow-up to a previous article which I wrote on November 11, 2004:
"How to overturn the 2004 Presidential election"
Many people have challenged my proposal to do away with popular elections altogether in order to choose the President. Many have called the suggestion fascist, others have said it would cause a civil war. But few have claimed that my suggestion was un-Constitutional because, quite frankly, it is completely in line with original United States Constitution and all subsequent ratified amendments.
To clarify my position, here is what I propose, which is completely in line with the Constitution:
As you can see, I am not proposing complete elimination of the popular vote, just eliminating it as a means of choosing the President. Again, this is a completely Constitutional concept. The Framers of the Constitution never intended to choose the President by popular election, not even at the state level, which as we know, is the manner in which individual states currently elect Presidents under the Electoral College System. Since the Constitution was ratified in 1787, and the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments) was added in 1791, several amendments have been added which deal with popular elections and voting rights, but no amendment has ever explicitly stated that the President shall be elected by popular vote, not even at the state level.
The original Constitution, and all amendments thereafter which deal with elections or voting rights, have consistently stated that states shall choose electors who in turn shall cast their votes for the President and Vice-President. It is not explicitly stated anywhere in the Constitution, or in any amendment, that states are required to have popular elections in order to choose their electors. In fact, the original Constitution only specified that members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen by the People of the states (see Article I, Section 2). In addition, the original Constitution mandated that US Senators would be chosen by the House of Representative (see Article I, Section 3). Most Americans do not realize that US Senators were not elected by popular vote until 1913 when the 17th Amendment was ratified, thereby mandating that US Senators shall be elected by popular vote.
If one studies the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, it becomes clear that the Framers wanted a republic, not a democracy, but they wanted the republic to be guided by grass roots participation at the state level. The Framers wanted the People of each state to choose their state representatives by popular elections, although even this is not explicitly asserted in the Constitution or any existing amendments thereof; however, the Framers gave tremendous power to the States in an obvious effort to offset the power given to the centralized federal government. Bill of Rights Amendment 10 made the following important declaration regarding the powers of the States and People.
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
What this means, regarding elections, is unless the Constitution--or any amendment to the Constitution--explicitly states that any member of the United States Government, at any level, should be elected or appointed in a particular manner, then each state can appoint that official as it chooses. This means each state's appointment of electors who vote for the President may be chosen by any means desired by that state. If a state decides to discontinue the tradition of choosing electors by popular vote, this is completely Constitutional and quite obviously the way the Framers intended.
False premise about Freedom and Voting
In modern times, Americans have been misled into accepting a false premise about the very concept of freedom. The false premise is that the US Constitution, popular elections and freedom are all synonymous entities. They are not. Most Americans accurately associate "freedom" with the US Constitution, but they inaccurately associate freedom with holding popular elections to choose the President, a notion that has nothing whatsoever to do with the US Constitution. It is therefore a false premise that the US Constitution plus popular elections to choose the president equals Freedom. It does not.
I would agree that the US Constitution itself is the epitome of freedom and liberty; however, I disagree that the act of voting for President is a right guaranteed by the Constitution, or that voting for President is a symbol of patriotism. Both assumptions are false premises. These misconceptions have been forced on Americans for years, thereby creating enormous frustration amongst the citizenry. On one hand, we are constantly given limited choices among candidates running for President, but on the other hand, we are told repeatedly by people of influence that it is our patriotic duty to vote. If we do not vote, we are therefore unpatriotic -- another false premise. The 2004 election was the best example of poor choices among candidates in recent times. I am speaking of course of the choice between George W. Bush and John Kerry. By poor choices, I am not referring to a candidate's intelligence, charisma, or various personality attributes. I am referring specifically to their positions on matters of war and peace while America is in the midst of two large-scale wars: Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the 2004 Presidential election, both candidates--Bush and Kerry--supported both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and both candidates pledged to continue both wars if elected. Both candidates even suggested they might wage additional wars in Iran and North Korea if necessary, to prevent the development and spreading of nuclear weapons by these two nations, something the Unites States has done more aggressively than any government on earth. Within this context, it is therefore completely irrational and intellectually dishonest to claim that Americans were given a genuine choice in the 2004 Presidential election. It is even more intellectually dishonest to claim that not voting for either Bush or Kerry, or not voting at all, is somehow unpatriotic. The election itself was a hoax perpetrated on the American public, voter fraud by electronic voting machines and illegal counting practices notwithstanding.
Benefits of dispensing with popular elections to choose Presidents
First, the overall process of choosing presidents will improve because votes cast by electors will be more informed than votes cast by the citizenry. Most Americans are unqualified to vote for Presidents because casting an informed vote for a position of such vast magnitude as the President of the United States requires a great deal of knowledge in foreign affairs and world history. Quite frankly, most people are not very knowledgeable in these areas. This is true of ALL people, not merely Americans. It takes a great deal of discipline to stay informed on world affairs, retain knowledge of world history, and understand how the two areas relate to one another. It’s easier to look at the here and now, and concentrate solely on self interest, mindless tradition, emotion or superstition. Unfortunately, most voters are guided by the latter things, the less sophisticated things. Voting for things of self-interest makes sense at the local and state levels, but not at the national level. This is probably why the Framers wrote the Constitution the way they did. The People choose their local and state representatives who act in the People’s interest. One important function performed by state representatives is to choose informed electors who in turn cast votes for the President and Vice-President on behalf of the state's citizenry. If the People are unhappy with a particular choice of electors, then the People can vote against their current state representatives in the next state election.
Second, having a small group of informed electors cast their votes for the President--on behalf of the People of their states--will encourage more enlightened exchanges of ideas among the candidates. Under the current popular election system, politicians exploit the ignorance of the citizenry. Politicians are cynically aware that many voters choose their candidates purely on the antiquated notion of party loyalty—which has absolutely nothing to do with the Constitution—or their personal opinion of one candidate’s personality which too often is based on emotion combined with blind loyalty to lighter weight causes such as abortion, gay rights, gay marriage, prayer in the school, and so on. This is not to say that such issues are totally without merit, or unworthy of discussion, but it's a matter of balance. When a nation is in the midst of two major wars, does anyone really care about the gender of a citizen's life partner? By having a smaller group of informed electors, chosen by state representatives who are in turn elected by the People, this will eliminate a great deal of pandering to ignorant voters by presidential candidates. Instead, candidates will be forced to present thoughtful ideas and opinions to highly informed electors.
Third, eliminating popular elections for presidents will reduce vote fraud which most informed people realize is widespread in US Presidential elections. The reason voter fraud will be reduced is because less people will be involved in the voting process. Obviously it takes less people and less effort to count 538 electors' votes than millions of votes cast by the citizenry. Under my proposal, citizens of each state will continue to use the popular vote to choose their governor, their two US Senators, their representatives in the US House of Representatives, and their representatives in the State Legislature. So the People will continue to have a great deal of power at the grass roots level, but voter fraud will become more difficult when choosing Presidents because the number people voting will be dramatically reduced.
Where do we start?
To summarize, what I am suggesting is going back to a stricter interpretation of the Constitution regarding the manner in which Americans elect the President. This means giving states more power to choose electors in the Electoral College System. Presently, popular elections are used to determine the electors, but the process of electors casting meaningful votes on behalf of the citizenry has been eliminated and is eroding our freedoms. How can we get back our lost freedoms? The best way is to challenge the outcome of the 2004 Presidential Election. We can do that by focusing on eleven states with Democratic governors where Bush won the popular election, thereby winning electors who are bound to vote for Bush. I am suggesting that people who live in these eleven states write to their governors and request that the popular vote be set aside and Democratic electors be chosen by the governor and approved by their respective state legislatures. In the short term, this may not matter because the differences between Bush and Kerry are minimal, as I pointed out earlier. But in the long run, this could be the beginning of a new way in which we elect President. Ironically, the new way is really the original way the Framers had intended.
To read more details about how to overturn the 2004 Presidential election, click here: