Yesterday’s Electoral College vote prompted a debate over whether this way of electing a president is the best way. It reminds us once again that we are a republic, fashioned after the Roman Republic, not a pure democracy.

The Electoral College has now done its work and confirmed the results of the presidential election. But not before another election in which the candidate who received the most votes lost and caused it to become the object of a debate about the legitimacy of its role in a democratic republic.

The appropriateness of the Electoral College should be seen in light of what our form of government is supposed to be. And our form of government—”democratic republic”—should be seen in light of another expression used prolifically by America’s founders. They talked much of what they termed, “ordered liberty.” They saw order as necessary to freedom.

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martin · January 23, 2017 at 4:32 pm

I do not see the force of the argument that, because the candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country, that so should the election of a president. The Founders were fully aware of this and constructed the election of the president differently. They had reasons for doing that that were better than the reasons for not doing it.

And I did not say that making the election of the president subject to the popular vote rather than the Electoral College would make the country a pure democracy, so I don’t understand your point. My point was simply that it did bring it closer to a more purely democratic system and the Founders, rightly, resisted that. Very few pure forms of governmental systems actually exist, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appeal to them as paradigmatic.

kohler · December 21, 2016 at 12:41 am

the presidential candidate with the most popular votes. The candidate with the most votes wins in every other election in the country.

Guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate with the most popular votes and the majority of Electoral College votes (as the National Popular Vote bill would) would not make us a pure democracy.

Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on all policy initiatives directly.

Popular election of the chief executive does not determine whether a government is a republic or democracy.

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