July 4th will mark 240 years since 1776 when the United States declared its independence from England. The way the election of 2016 is going, however, perhaps we should re-apply to join the British Commonwealth. Our founding fathers fears that the rabble in our citizenry would eventually come to dominate the election process, and put someone wholly unfit into a position of power, is on the cusp of becoming a reality. When the Constitutional Convention of 1787 finished its work, a woman asked Ben Franklin, one of the key players in formulating the Constitution, whether the Convention had given us a monarchy or a republic. “A republic, if you can keep it,” replied Franklin. Now, after more than 200 years, we may very well find that the American people can no longer keep it together as a republic.
Our f0unding fathers were highly skeptical about giving the “common man” the right to directly elect those that would govern them. Founders such as John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton (currently of Broadway musical fame), and others,believed that those they considered the riff-raff of society could not be trusted to vote intelligently, i.e. to not be beguiled into electing a demagogue that would appeal to their basest instincts. Hence, instead of the people directly electing our president, the founders concocted a system called the electoral college which has the sole power of putting a candidate into the Oval Office. To this day, that Constitutional provision has never been amended. It reared its ugly head in the 2000 presidential election, when Democrat Al Gore received a majority of the popular vote, but Republican George W. Bush won a plurality of the electoral college, and hence, the presidency.
A lot of really bad stuff ensued from that nasty 2000 election. Bush decided to invade Iraq on the pretense that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which he did not. Al Gore would have never made that decision. As a result of that invasion, over the years, Iraq has degenerated into a multi-split territory, with barbaric Islamic Jihadists such as ISIS, unfortunately controlling a significant portion of this territory. Yes, Saddam Hussein was pure evil, and the world is a lot better off without him sucking in oxygen. But he held his country together and prevented the Jihadist terrorists from gaining a foothold. I guess the lesson to be learned is that when faced with nothing but bad choices, the least worst choice is your best option. In any event, the electoral college continues to exist, ever ready to inflict further damage.
Another example of our founders distrust of the average citizen’s wisdom during the election process, was the method of electing someone to the Senate. Many founders believed that only those citizens that owned property, or were otherwise well financially endowed, should be allowed to vote. Other founders were in favor of allowing everyone to cast a ballot. (Everyone, of course, that wasn’t a woman or a Negro.) So a compromise was reached whereby the House of Representatives would be directly elected by popular vote, but it would be only state legislatures that could put Senators into office. It took until 1913 for a constitutional amendment to pass that allowed the people to directly elect its Senators. Women were finally allowed at the ballot box in 1920, after another amendment gave them the right to vote.
The point to all of this is that many of our founding fathers had a deep mistrust of allowing the average citizen to participate in the balloting process. They believed that those that were basically penniless with nothing to lose, the riff-raff as they were called, would put any smooth-talking con artist or snake-oil salesmen into positions of power, if sold the right bill of goods. Whereas land-owners or people of wealth had too much to lose to be so beguiled. Where they right? We’ll find out in a few months when the republic that Ben Franklin and the other founders labored so hard to give us might no longer be keepable. When the rabble of today, although usually not penniless, nevertheless, seem to be mostly ignorant of relevant issues, and susceptible to being sold the elixir of a smooth-talking snake-oil salesman. Ironic, isn’t it, when there’s a wealth of information at everyones finger tips to be obtained on each candidate, in this computer age.
That the general election in November will come down to a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, is now a foregone conclusion. That Trump has a huge, enthusiastic fan base is also a given. This base is built on Trump’s snake oil salesmanship of a neo-fascist, xenophobic vision of America that basically demonizes all foreigners, and throws all undocumented Hispanics out of the country. And builds a near 2000 mile long wall to keep them out. Also, not to allow any of the 1.6 billion Moslems that populate this planet into the country. So fierce is the rabble’s enthusiasm to demonize all things foreign, that Trump is correct about one thing he said. He could stand on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and shoot someone dead, and there would, nevertheless, be no diminishment of his followers. Which is tragically true.
Of course, Clinton and the Democrats are not exactly great prizes either. The Democrats have become so pathetic that their only hope to retain the White House rests on the shoulders of an aging woman who has been involved in a multitude of scandals over the past 30 years or so. Like the recklessness of using a personal server in her home to send and receive classified government e-mails. An unprotected server that could have been easily hacked by any foreign power. To say nothing of Bill’s sexual proclivities from the 1990s that the GOP will blame Hillary for.
So there you have it folks. The choice comes down to highly unpopular candidates from each party. The difference is, however, that if Clinton wins, the the Constitution, and the republic that the founders strove to give us, will likely stand. But if Trump wins, we can kiss our Constitutional freedoms goodbye, and devolve into a tyrannical dictatorship. And you can thank the rabble and the riff-raff amongst us for that delightful end result.