Donald Trump appears to be leading the pack of republicans with an overwhelming 20% or so. Of course, a plurality is not a majority, so the race is far from over.
But why are we having a race at all? Why do we have nincompoops running for the executive seat? It’s all because democracy is a horrible form of government.
It isn’t hard to see why we have these kinds of people running for president. Some seem to be experienced and qualified, but that is hardly their most appealing trait to the masses. Instead, they are looking for someone who will divide our country, who will put their political faction over the top, and rain down horror on their political foes.
How can we believe that a presidential election will ever unify our country under these conditions? No matter who wins, almost half of our country will be a loser in this winner-takes-all high-stakes game of political power.
Let’s pretend, for a moment, that we elected our presidents in the way outlined in the constitution and rather than having each state legislature delegate its responsibility to its people, it held on to it. Every 4 years, each of the legislatures would nominate and elect electors from the legislature. The governor would have little or no input in this process, except perhaps to cede some of his power to the state legislatures in negotiating for his people to get in.
Would this process be corrupt? Absolutely! This is the genius of the Founding Fathers. They knew we would corrupt and distort every aspect of the constitution, and in fact, they were counting on it.
Look what happens when legislatures corrupt their power. Either one faction rises to secure majority power, in which case, the minority is completely shut out of the process. The majority negotiates with themselves to put their people forward in the seat. They will likely give direction to the electors on what type of president they want or even who they want. If the former, then the corruptly elected electors will try to fulfill the wishes of the legislature. If the latter, then the determination on who should be president occurred in private conferences among the political elite of the state. If the legislature is divided, or the majority party fractured, then more people can get involved in this process.
Who can influence the legislators? The people who see to it that they get elected in the first place, people with political and economic power in that state.
All across the country, this drama will unfold. Somewhere, a group of people will meet and decide who their state should vote for in the next Electoral College. If they’re smart, they will be negotiating across state lines. All the powerful and influential people will be in on this, and eventually, they’ll settle on their man.
Now, let’s look at the man, whoever they choose. He will be made president because they made him so. He will owe them in a big way. But what happens when he becomes president? He becomes his own man. His mortal foes in his political battles will not be the state legislatures and the state elite, but the congress and the supreme court, along with the international forces at work. If he decides to totally acquiesce his authority to the people who put him in office, at worst, there are only regional effects and distortions. He still has to make up his mind how to deal with the federal government.
And this is the genius of the Founder’s plan. Supposing a corrupt person is put in charge of the country, his position means he will still be a decent president. If he is a corrupt person, he will be the person who the corrupt elite decide is the most suitable for the job.
But suppose, for a moment, that corruption is practically non-existent. What would the state legislatures do? I daresay they would nominate experienced and trusted electors, and give them direction to carefully consider each of the possible presidential picks. They would obviously have to take time to review and even interview possible candidates, just like boards of directors do all across our country when they look for CEOs. After a period of time, they meet all on the same day to render their decisions. The House of Representatives reads the votes and handles any edge cases. The House of Representatives is uniquely qualified to be that body to review and sustain or fix this process because they are elected by the people and they understand better than the states the federal issues facing the nation.
Now, I want you to consider this. Let’s suppose there was a corrupt corporation out there. The corruption goes all the way to the top, even the board of directors. When these cigar-smoking evil geniuses meet together to decide who to make their next CEO, what kind of person will they choose? They could choose someone just as corrupt as them, someone they can control. But really, that’s not the kind of CEO that will earn massive profits. Smart, corrupt evil geniuses will choose someone who is capable, independent, and accountable. The closer he is to being a Boy Scout, the better, because that means they can trust him to do the right thing.
And that’s the memo.
If we leave the people in charge of this process, we get what we have today: a shallow popularity contest where he who can raise the most advertising dollars wins. If, instead, we leave the state legislatures in charge, we have a great deal more hope that we’ll elect someone who is fit for the job.