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Securing Democracy: Why We Have An Electoral College

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Gary L. Gregg

These essays in defense of the Electoral College, edited by Gregg (The Presidential Republic), a professor of leadership at the University of Louisville, echo the conservative ethos: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Admittedly, the college is a peculiar … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Gary L. Gregg
Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute
1 review about Securing Democracy: Why We Have An Electoral...

Won't fit on the back of a Volvo

  • Jan 17, 2002
Rating:
+3
As editor Gary L. Gregg notes in his preface, opponents of the Electoral College can employ simple slogans -- like 'Majority Rule!' or 'Democracy!' -- to advance their arguments. Proponents of the College, however, find their arguments 'won't fit on the back of a Volvo' (as the noted thinker Linus Van Pelt said, 'There's a difference between a philosophy and a bumper sticker.'). They need books like ... well, like this one. People who support the idea of the Electoral College, or who are inclined at least to give the Founders the benefit of the doubt, will find reinforcement and useful ideas to advance their arguments. Opponents probably won't be convinced.

Part of the problem is that to grasp why we have an Electoral College requires some familiarity with America's founding, the nature and purpose of the Union, the meaning of federalism, the role of the States (are they the creatures of the central government, or vice versa, or what?), and ... heresy of heresies ... the dangers of 'democracy,' which the Founders more or less equated with mob rule. In short, some effort and discipline and time have to be put into the question, plus what Daniel Patrick Moynihan refers to as 'solemn, prolonged, and prayerful consideration' (p. 88). It's so much easier just to watch Dan Rather and get good and worked up about 'the stolen presidency.'

As with any collection of essays, this book doesn't carry a logical strain of argumentation through from page to page. The contributors approach the question of the Electoral College from various perspectives, and inevitably there is some rehashing of history and theory, and a few divergences of opinion. The overall effect, however, is positive.

The other characteristic in a collection of essays is that some contributions are better than others. That's certainly true in this case. However, I disagree with the institutional reviews of this book that suggest the 'invective' employed by some of the contributors damages their arguments irreparably. People who throw around loaded words like 'theft' and 'coup' have to expect strong language from the other side too.

In all, Gary Gregg's book goes a long way toward confirming Sen. Moynihan's belief (in the same paragraph I quoted above) that abolishing the Electoral College would be 'the most radical transformation in our political system that has ever been considered.' It's just a shame that so few Americans will expend the effort to figure that out.

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