Why We Are a Republic, Not a Democracy

Hillary Clinton blamed the Electoral College for her stunning defeat in the 2016 presidential election in her latest memoirs, “What Happened.”

Some have claimed that the Electoral College is one of the most dangerous institutions in American politics.

Why? They say the Electoral College system, as opposed to a simple majority vote, distorts the one-person, one-vote principle of democracy because electoral votes are not distributed according to population.

To back up their claim, they point out that the Electoral College gives, for example, Wyoming citizens disproportionate weight in a presidential election.

Put another way, Wyoming, a state with a population of about 600,000, has one member in the House of Representatives and two members in the U.S. Senate, which gives the citizens of Wyoming three electoral votes, or one electoral vote per 200,000 people.

California, our most populous state, has more than 39 million people and 55 electoral votes, or approximately one vote per 715,000 people.

Comparatively, individuals in Wyoming have nearly four times the power in the Electoral College as Californians.

Many people whine that using the Electoral College instead of the popular vote and majority rule is undemocratic. I’d say that they are absolutely right. Not deciding who will be the president by majority rule is not democracy.

>>> Liberals Claim Electoral College Is Biased. Here Are the Facts.

But the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to ensure that we were a republic and not a democracy. In fact, the word democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or any other of our founding documents.

How about a few quotations expressed by the Founders about democracy?

In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison wanted to prevent rule by majority faction, saying, “Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”

John Adams warned in a letter, “Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide.”

Edmund Randolph said, “That in tracing these evils to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.”

Then-Chief Justice John Marshall observed, “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”

The Founders expressed contempt for the tyranny of majority rule, and throughout our Constitution, they placed impediments to that tyranny. Two houses of Congress pose one obstacle to majority rule. That is, 51 senators can block the wishes of 435 representatives and 49 senators.

The president can veto the wishes of 535 members of Congress. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto.

To change the Constitution requires not a majority but a two-thirds vote of both houses, and if an amendment is approved, it requires ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures.

Finally, the Electoral College is yet another measure that thwarts majority rule. It makes sure that the highly populated states—today, mainly 12 on the east and west coasts, cannot run roughshod over the rest of the nation. That forces a presidential candidate to take into consideration the wishes of the other 38 states.

>>> Why We Use Electoral College, Not Popular Vote

Those Americans obsessed with rule by popular majorities might want to get rid of the Senate, where states, regardless of population, have two senators.

Should we change representation in the House of Representatives to a system of proportional representation and eliminate the guarantee that each state gets at least one representative?

Currently, seven states with populations of 1 million or fewer have one representative, thus giving them disproportionate influence in Congress.

While we’re at it, should we make all congressional acts by majority rule? When we’re finished with establishing majority rule in Congress, should we then move to change our court system, which requires unanimity in jury decisions, to a simple majority rule?

My question is: Is it ignorance of or contempt for our Constitution that fuels the movement to abolish the Electoral College?

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Here’s How Bad Left-Wing Antics on Campus Were in 2017

A frequent point I have made in past columns has been about the educational travesty happening on many college campuses.

Some people have labeled my observations and concerns as trivial, unimportant, and cherry-picking. While the spring semester awaits us, let’s ask ourselves whether we’d like to see repeats of last year’s antics.

An excellent source for college news is Campus Reform, a conservative website operated by the Leadership Institute. Its reporters are college students. Here is a tiny sample of last year’s bizarre stories.

Donna Riley, a professor at Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education, published an article in the most recent issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Engineering Education, positing that academic rigor is a “dirty deed” that upholds “white male heterosexual privilege.”

Riley added that “scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing.”

Would you hire an engineering education graduate who has little mastery of the rigor of engineering? What does Riley’s vision, if actually practiced by her colleagues, do to the worth of degrees in engineering education from Purdue held by female and black students?

Sympathizing with Riley’s vision is Rochelle Gutierrez, a math education professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In her recent book, she says the ability to solve algebra and geometry problems perpetuates “unearned privilege” among whites. Educators must be aware of the “politics that mathematics brings” in society.

She thinks that “on many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness.” After all, she adds, “who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White.”

What’s worse is that the university’s interim provost, John Wilkin, sanctioned her vision, telling Fox News that Gutierrez is an established and admired scholar who has been published in many peer-reviewed publications.

I hope that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s black students don’t have the same admiration and stay away from her classes.

Last February, a California State University, Fullerton professor assaulted a CSUF Republicans member during a demonstration against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. The students identified the assailant as Eric Canin, an anthropology professor.

Fortunately, the school had the good sense to later suspend Canin after confirming the allegations through an internal investigation.

Last month, the presidents of 13 San Antonio colleges declared in an op-ed written by Ric Baser, president of the Higher Education Council of San Antonio, and signed by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and 12 other members of the council that “hate speech” and “inappropriate messages” should not be treated as free speech on college campuses.

Their vision should be seen as tyranny.

The true test of one’s commitment to free speech doesn’t come when he permits people to be free to make statements that he does not find offensive. The true test of one’s commitment to free speech comes when he permits people to make statements he does deem offensive.

Last year, University of Georgia professor Rick Watson adopted a policy allowing students to select their own grade if they “feel unduly stressed” by their actual grade in the class.

Benjamin Ayers, dean of the school’s Terry College of Business, released a statement condemning Watson’s pick-your-own-grade policy, calling it “inappropriate.” He added:

Rest assured that this ill-advised proposal will not be implemented in any Terry classroom. The University of Georgia upholds strict guidelines and academic policies to promote a culture of academic rigor, integrity, and honesty.

Ayers’ response gives us hope that not all is lost in terms of academic honesty.

Other campus good news is a report on the resignation of George Ciccariello-Maher, a white Drexel University professor who tweeted last winter, “All I Want for Christmas Is White Genocide.” He said that he resigned from his tenured position because threats against him and his family had become “unsustainable.”

If conservative students made such threats, they, too, could benefit from learning the principles of free speech.

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How Big Government Made the Depression Worse, and Would Do Similar Damage Today

We are a nation of 325 million people. We have a bit of control over the behavior of our 535 elected representatives in Congress, the president, and the vice president.

But there are seven unelected people who have life-and-death control over our economy and hence our lives—the seven governors of the Federal Reserve Board.

The Federal Reserve Board controls our money supply. Its governors are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate and serve 14-year staggered terms.

They have the power to cripple an economy, as they did during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Their inept monetary policy threw the economy into the Great Depression, during which real output in the United States fell nearly 30 percent and the unemployment rate soared as high as nearly 25 percent.

The most often-stated cause of the Great Depression is the October 1929 stock market crash. Little is further from the truth. The Great Depression was caused by a massive government failure led by the Federal Reserve’s rapid 25 percent contraction of the money supply.

The next government failure was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which increased U.S. tariffs by more than 50 percent. Those failures were compounded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation.

Leftists love to praise New Deal interventionist legislation. But FDR’s very own treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, saw the folly of the New Deal, writing:

We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. … We have never made good on our promises. … I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started … and an enormous debt to boot!

The bottom line is that the Federal Reserve Board, the Smoot-Hawley tariffs, and Roosevelt’s New Deal policies turned what would have been a two-, three-, or four-year sharp downturn into a 16-year affair.

Here’s my question never asked about the Federal Reserve Act of 1913: How much sense does it make for us to give seven unelected people life-and-death control over our economy and hence our lives?

While you’re pondering that question, consider another: Should we give the government, through the Federal Communications Commission, control over the internet?

During the Clinton administration, along with the help of a Republican-dominated Congress, the visionary 1996 Telecommunications Act declared it “the policy of the United States” that internet service providers and websites be “unfettered by federal or state regulation.”

The act sought “to promote competition and reduce regulation in order to secure lower prices and higher quality services for American telecommunications consumers and encourage the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies.”

In 2015, the Obama White House pressured the FCC to create the Open Internet Order, which has been branded by its advocates as net neutrality.

This move overthrew the spirit of the Telecommunications Act. It represents creeping FCC jurisdiction, as its traditional areas of regulation—such as broadcast media and telecommunications—have been transformed by the internet, or at least diminished in importance.

Fortunately, it’s being challenged by the new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who has announced he will repeal the FCC’s heavy-handed 2015 internet regulations.

The United States has been the world leader in the development of internet technology precisely because it has been relatively unfettered by federal and state regulation.

The best thing that the U.S. Congress can do for internet entrepreneurs and internet consumers is to send the FCC out to pasture as it did with the Civil Aeronautics Board, which regulated the airline industry, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, which regulated the trucking industry.

When we got rid of those regulatory agencies, we saw a greater number of competitors, and consumers paid lower prices. Giving the FCC the same medicine would allow our high-tech industry to maintain its world leadership position.

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The Low Academic Quality of Too Many Teachers

My recent columns have focused on the extremely poor educational outcomes for black students. There’s enough blame for all involved to have their fair share. That includes students who are hostile and alien to the educational process and have derelict, uninterested home environments.

After all, if there is not someone in the home to ensure that a youngster does his homework, has wholesome meals, gets eight to 10 hours of sleep, and behaves in school, educational dollars won’t produce much.

There’s another educational issue that’s neither flattering nor comfortable to confront. That’s the low academic quality of so many teachers. It’s an issue that must be confronted and dealt with if we’re to improve the quality of education. Most states require prospective teachers to pass a certification test. How about a sample of some of the test questions.

Here’s a question from a recent test given to college students in Michigan planning to become teachers: “Which of the following is largest? a. 1/4, b. 3/5, c. 1/2, d. 9/20.” Another question: “A town planning committee must decide how to use a 115-acre piece of land. The committee sets aside 20 acres of the land for watershed protection and an additional 37.4 acres for recreation. How much of the land is set aside for watershed protection and recreation? a. 43.15 acres, b. 54.6 acres, c. 57.4 acres, d. 60.4 acres”.

The Arizona teacher certification test asks: “Janet can type 250 words in 5 minutes, what is her typing rate per minute? a. 50wpm, b. 66wpm, c. 55wpm, d. 45wpm.”

The California Basic Educational Skills Test asks the test taker to find the verb in the following sentence: “The interior temperatures of even the coolest stars are measured in millions of degrees. a. Coolest, b. Of even, c. Are measured, d. In millions.” A California Basic Educational Skills Test math question is: “You purchase a car making a down payment of $3,000 and 6 monthly payments of $225. How much have you paid so far for the car? a. $3225, b. $4350, c. $5375, d. $6550, e. $6398.”

My guess is that these are questions that an eighth- or ninth-grader with a good education ought to be able to answer. Such test questions demonstrate the low bar that states set in order for one to become a certified teacher. Even with such low expectations, college graduates have failed these and similarly constructed teacher certification tests. Recently, New York, after being tied up in court for years, dropped its teacher literacy test amid claims of racism.

A 2011 investigation by WSB-TV found that more than 700 Georgia teachers had repeatedly failed at least one portion of the certification test they were required to pass before receiving a teaching certificate. Nearly 60 teachers had failed the test more than 10 times, and one teacher had failed the test 18 times. There were 297 teachers on the Atlanta school system’s payroll who had failed the state certification test five times or more.

With but a few exceptions, schools of education represent the academic slums of colleges. They tend to be home to students who have the lowest academic test scores—for example, SAT scores—when they enter college. They also tend to have the lowest scores when they graduate and choose to take postgraduate admissions tests—such as the GRE, the MCAT, and the LSAT. Professors at schools of education tend to have the lowest level of academic respectability. American education could benefit from eliminating schools of education.

You might ask: Without schools of education, how would teachers be trained? I think that we ought to adopt a practice whereby teachers are hired according to their undergraduate major.

I learned this talking to a headmistress of a private school. She said she doesn’t hire education majors. She said that if she hires a teacher to teach chemistry, math, English, or any other subject, the person must have a bachelor’s degree in the discipline. Pedagogical techniques can be learned through short formal training, coaching, and experience.

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The Reason the Left Gives Communism a Pass

Before the question, how about a few statistics? The 20th century was mankind’s most brutal century. Roughly 16 million people lost their lives during World War I; about 60 million died during World War II. Wars during the 20th century cost an estimated 71 million to 116 million lives.

The number of war dead pales in comparison with the number of people who lost their lives at the hands of their own governments. The late professor Rudolph J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii documented this tragedy in his book “Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900.” Some of the statistics found in the book have been updated.

The People’s Republic of China tops the list, with 76 million lives lost at the hands of the government from 1949 to 1987. The Soviet Union follows, with 62 million lives lost from 1917 to 1987. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi German government killed 21 million people between 1933 and 1945. Then there are lesser murdering regimes, such as Nationalist China, Japan, Turkey, Vietnam, and Mexico.

According to Rummel’s research, the 20th century saw 262 million people’s lives lost at the hands of their own governments.

Hitler’s atrocities are widely recognized, publicized, and condemned. World War II’s conquering nations’ condemnation included denazification and bringing Holocaust perpetrators to trial and punishing them through lengthy sentences and execution. Similar measures were taken to punish Japan’s murderers.

But what about the greatest murderers in mankind’s history—the Soviet Union’s Josef Stalin and China’s Mao Zedong? Some leftists saw these communists as heroes.

W.E.B. Du Bois, writing in the National Guardian in 1953, said, “Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature. … The highest proof of his greatness [was that] he knew the common man, felt his problems, followed his fate.” Walter Duranty called Stalin “the greatest living statesman” and “a quiet, unobtrusive man.”

There was even leftist admiration for Hitler and fellow fascist Benito Mussolini.

When Hitler came to power in January 1933, George Bernard Shaw described him as “a very remarkable man, a very able man.” President Franklin Roosevelt called the fascist Mussolini “admirable,” and said he was “deeply impressed by what he [had] accomplished.”

In 1972, John Kenneth Galbraith visited Communist China and praised Mao and the Chinese economic system. Michel Oksenberg, President Jimmy Carter’s China expert, complained, “America [is] doomed to decay until radical, even revolutionary, change fundamentally alters the institutions and values.” He urged us to “borrow ideas and solutions” from China.

Harvard University professor John K. Fairbank believed that America could learn much from the Cultural Revolution, saying, “Americans may find in China’s collective life today an ingredient of personal moral concern for one’s neighbor that has a lesson for us all.” By the way, an estimated 2 million people died during China’s Cultural Revolution.

More recent praise for murdering tyrants came from Anita Dunn, President Barack Obama’s acting communications director in 2009, who said, “Two of my favorite political philosophers [are] Mao Zedong and Mother Teresa.”

Recall the campus demonstrations of the 1960s, in which campus radicals, often accompanied by their professors, marched around singing the praises of Mao and waving Mao’s “Little Red Book.” That may explain some of the campus mess today. Some of those campus radicals are now tenured professors and administrators at today’s universities and colleges and K-12 schoolteachers and principals indoctrinating our youth.

Now the question: Why are leftists soft on communism? The reason leftists give communists, the world’s most horrible murderers, a pass is that they sympathize with the chief goal of communism: restricting personal liberty.

In the U.S., the call is for government control over our lives through regulations and taxation. Unfortunately, it matters little whether the Democrats or Republicans have the political power. The march toward greater government control is unabated. It just happens at a quicker pace with Democrats in charge.

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Even the Best Laws Cannot Save Our Society. Here’s What We Need.

I’m approaching my 82nd birthday, and my daughter will occasionally suggest that modernity is perplexing to me because I’m from prehistoric times.

As such, it points to one of the unavoidable problems of youth—namely, the temptation to think that today’s behavioral standards have always been. Let’s look at a few of the differences between yesteryear and today.

One of those differences is the treatment of women.

There are awesome physical strength differences between men and women. To create and maintain civil relationships between the sexes is to drum into boys, starting from very young ages, that they are not to use violence against a woman for any reason.

Special respect is given women. Yesteryear even the lowest of lowdown men would not curse or use foul language to or in the presence of women.

To see a man sitting on a crowded bus or trolley car while a woman is standing used to be unthinkable. It was deemed common decency for a man to give up his seat for a woman or elderly person.

Today young people use foul language in front of—and often to—adults and teachers. It’s not just foul language. Many youngsters feel that it’s acceptable to assault teachers. Just recently, 45 Pennsylvania teachers resigned because of student violence.

Back in what my daughter calls prehistoric times, the use of foul language to an adult or teacher would have meant a smack across the face. Of course, today a parent taking such corrective action risks being reported to a local child protective service and even being arrested.

The modern parental or teacher response to misbehavior is to call for “time out.” In other words, what we’ve taught miscreants of all ages is that they can impose physical pain on others and not suffer physical pain themselves. That’s an open invitation to bad behavior.

It has always been considered a good idea to refrain from sexual intercourse until marriage or at least adulthood. During the sexual revolution of the 1960s, lessons of abstinence were ridiculed, considered passé, and replaced with lessons about condoms, birth control pills, and abortion.

Out-of-wedlock childbirths are no longer seen as shameful and a disgrace. As a result, the rate of illegitimate births among whites is over 30 percent, and among blacks, it’s over 70 percent.

For over a half-century, the nation’s liberals—along with the education establishment, pseudo-intellectuals, and the courts—have waged war on traditions, customs, and moral values.

Many in today’s generation have been counseled to believe that there are no moral absolutes. Instead, what’s moral or immoral, right or wrong, is a matter of convenience, personal opinion, or what is or is not criminal.

Society’s first line of defense is not the law but customs, traditions, and moral values. Customs, traditions, and moral values are those important thou-shalt-nots, such as thou shalt not murder, shalt not steal, shalt not lie, and shalt not cheat. They also include respect for parents, teachers, and others in authority, plus those courtesies one might read in Emily Post’s rules of etiquette.

These behavioral norms—mostly transmitted by example, word of mouth, and religious teachings—represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience, trial and error, and looking at what works and what doesn’t.

The importance of customs, traditions, and moral values as a means of regulating behavior is that people behave themselves even if nobody’s watching.

There are not enough cops. Laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct in producing a civilized society. At best, the police and the criminal justice system are the last desperate lines of defense for a civilized society.

Unfortunately, customs, traditions, and moral values have been discarded without an appreciation for the role they played in creating a civilized society, and now we’re paying the price—and that includes the recent revelations regarding the treatment of women.

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