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November 16, 2020 9:50 am
This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs sits down with Tara Ross to discuss the beautiful singularity of our nation’s system of government, including the Electoral College.
Family policy matters and engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Ralston, presidency, family, and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will flow better equipped to be a voice of persuasion, family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters. Tracy Yvette Griggs, thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters as we transition from election season back into our more normal routines, whatever that is. In 2020 will be a good time to reflect on some of what makes America so great and so unique as an experiment in self-governance as that Democratic Republic and look at some of the nuances of the American electoral and governing systems. We thought it would be interesting to speak with Tara Ross. She's a retired attorney and prolific writer who is nationally recognized for her expertise on the electoral College, a retired lawyer online video. Do you understand the electoral college has received more than 60 million views. My goodness terrorized welcome to family policy matters. By reminding us please in case some of us have forgotten what is so unique about the American system of government from a historical perspective, you know, our founder, the Con Edison convention met at a really unique moment in time.
We don't always think about it today, but back then, there were no political parties straightening the United States at that point there were just a bunch of men gathered in the hall in Philadelphia and they were there to represent the state to the degree that they had a bias by the light is not in favor of a party is abides in favor of a large university small state bias, but these were men who are well read, they had studied history they had studied different political philosophy. These are men who were sitting there without the kind of partisan entanglements that we would think of today and that they were just sitting there trying to figure out how can we put together the best form of government.
What can we learn from the failures of the past.
We take the that you know the past, democracies and in you that.
But then, avoid their failures and avoid the pitfalls that they fell into the literally factor the whole summer and they had no topical discussion like that which you can't even imagine Congress having and they factored about how to create a new form of government and and that's what they did and I don't think that could ever be replicated again today you mentioned a couple of terms they were well read and they studied history and I know that they also study philosophers and we are not well read these days and we certainly don't have to be as well read as our country's founders but is this danger that were not keeping up with some history and some of these things that founded our country, it's a huge danger right may be in 2020 be seen so much of how that can undermine us not bashing a person believe we have watched all all year long. We've watched governors or local executives on both sides of the political aisle seat power. That's not really there. It's right because they're ignoring checks and balances. We normally have a system of we have a Congress or a state legislature or city Council and they work with the governor or mayor or president and we we sort things out and we have hearings and debates and we talk about things we've lived this whole year as if one man or one woman can just say will mount now down notes for now. Whatever the reason I mention this because the problem is that we are so uneducated in our own form of government that it's almost like nobody even stopped to think about whether this was permissible, or whether this was a good idea, and of course some of the changes now that were made were unilateral changes to election law and again at the job of the legislature. Plus, the governor to change election lot estate is not the job of governor acting alone to do that. So maybe it's no surprise after a whole year of ignoring checks and balances in and our Constitution and separation of powers, and all of the things that were we got election under the bunch of you, though, and nobody can figure out what's going on.
I would say if you ignore the rule of law or maybe don't know the rule of law and so you ignore it.
Maybe some of these things are unsurprising to talk about some of the safeguards which are in place are supposed to be in place to preserve the uniqueness of the American system of government in which of course set it apart from other systems like a monarchy or dictatorship or even a pure democracy, which a lot of people think is what were under great image so everything about our government, whether it's in the state constitutions, the federal Constitution are the whole structure of our government.
It assumes that there will never be a moment when all power is in one set of hands ever. There always checks and balances there always separation of powers, the federal government can do some things that the state government can't, and vice versa.
The legislature can do things get can make laws the governor cannot make laws.
I mean ever think that maybe the governor can veto a law code is checks and balances everybody for their own job and the idea behind that was supposed to be.
James Madison said if men were angels, no government would be necessary right you got all the checks and balances, and then he also said the reason it works it because you said ambition against ambition and write your almost expecting people to be selfish, but you've got to selfish imperfect human beings on opposite sides checking each other and it comes out right in the end, the whole system is just a delicate balance that is set up this way and so again you not to harp on it, but we been ignoring that all year long and it is to our detriment because there is no person that has the corner on the truth.
There is no person that's immune to the possibility of power going to the head.
Tina even well-intentioned people and he can look at a situation like rent today and how much better could some things upon if we just had the opportunity for to date for all sides to be heard that each of you get a variety perspective give the legislature that can with each of those members of legislature have 24 hours in their day to listen as opposed to a single individual in the governor's mansion who Pat only one set of 24 hours a day, and the limited ability to hear, even if they want to hear from everybody. It gives you more opportunities to be heard more uppercase.
Make sure that the voice of the people, which is what makes government legitimate the voice of the people is heard and so the better we do at respecting the checks and balances separation of powers in all of these safeguards in our Constitution, the more control over ultimately can have over our own lives and our own freedom just to be clear, though we we are talking about Democratic Republic right as opposed to a democracy. Can you explain the difference. Sure, absolutely. I mean it in your right to founders work deliberately trying to avoid the concept of a simple democracy they had just fought this war for Britain which they do fight for the right to self-governance. They wanted to be self-governing they could value some aspect of democracy in their government that they knew something that we have forgotten, even if they had been given a seat at the table in parliament like they wanted right like when the war first started. They said no taxation without representation. We have nothing Parliament.
This is not right. But even if they had been given, Parliament outvoted time and time again by the majority of citizens at home in England. They knew if not always enough just to get a vote. The modern example is two wolves and a sheep voting on it for dinner. Is it fair right like this. She doesn't care that I got devoted so getting for dinner doesn't care about something better than a simple democracy a simple democracy will result in purity. The majority so the founders when they were setting up our government again date they thought, you know, look, we have to figure out how to reconcile these principles, how do you have a government that is self-governing. The people do rule but also you protect minorities and so they did that by inserting all sorts of different principles.
The government I've been talking about checks and balances and separation of powers, but at the end of the day.
Our government is a planned it that have some democratic principles. We are self-governing. It also has some Republican principles small are meaning to can encourage deliberation and compromise in working together in our government we comfortable the federalism, which is a word that we don't hear that much but it basically means state-by-state action or some responsibilities are delegated to the state and the national government has no control over it. The idea being that governance is fairest went closest home because you have a better chance of influencing it, so I usually say you know me could save our constitutional republic. Or I guess you there democratic republic. I meant to say words the land were a blend of three different kinds of governmental principles, federalism, democracy and Republicanism and with The best of all of them that seems like a very good introduction into talking about the electoral college because that's one of the ways right. That was one of the things was inserted to try to make it our country, different from a democracy and inferior for all individuals. How does that work you know when the founders got the convention.
It was really important to them to come up with a good system of electing presidents because they had been so abused by King right and they needed more protection against tyranny than they had had in England so they had all those ideas but it came down to the end of the day they were talking about two major concepts.
One was a national popular vote.
Just like you hear people talking about today.
The other was legislative selection. So imagine Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell try to fight it out as the president you know that the head of Congress so they did not like the concept of legislative selection in the end it was because they felt that they can sufficiently separate powers between the legislative and executive branch of Congress is in charge of choosing the Pres. Maybe the president would always be way too concerned with keeping Congress happy and they they wanted the powers to be separated better than that, but the other idea national popular vote could really gain skiing either. And that was mainly because the small states, which would have none of it.
They were really worried. They felt like if you have a national popular vote in this wanted to get outvoted time and time again, this is ridiculous. Once the small state delegates of the guy from Delaware. His name is getting that for Junior and he said I do not trust you gentlemen, if you have the power, the abuse of that could not be checked and you would exercise it to our destruction. And that's how the small states that we will be destroyed if if this is a simple direct vote all the time. The Lord states will pick the president and we will have no say in it for the end of the day when it ends up happening is is a committee of unfinished business that goes and we don't know totally what happened there because they didn't take notes that meeting but there was one delegate. Many years later, who said that Mr. Madison meaning James Madison, took a pen and paper and sketch out an idea and then they came back and presented it to the full convention and it was essentially our electoral college. So that's how we got it. It was a compromise at the end of the convention between the large and the small states, very interesting and it does make sense when you explain it like that. It does seem that it's becoming more frequent that presidential candidates will lose the election popular vote, even though they win the electoral college and that makes some people very angry.
I think it's time to change that when you say that it's more frequent now we had a treat like this in the past and what I've been saying is where the period of time that much like that after the Civil War back then also we had just division and anger and election map that looked the same over and over very close elections over and over again. Back then there were two elections pretty close together in 1876 and 1888, where the winner of the recorded national popular vote, did not match the winner of the electoral college votes just like today and what end is.
I would argue that the electoral college actually helped to bring us out of that ugly divided place.
Now it did happen right away because people are stubborn and will try everything else first right but what ends up happening is the Democrats and the Republicans both realized it was not productive as they were. They were they had to reach out to people who are not quite like themselves. They had to figure how to be more inclusive. How to listen to voters that you may be came from a different region are had different areas of concern and early 1900s. What you find is that coalition building was so much better that you have Calvin Coolidge and FDR winning and huge massive landslides. So what I would say about today is yeah this is a really ugly place. I don't like it. None of us like it.
Both parties are making the same mistakes they are too busy catering to their base, or they're not busy enough building coalitions and you know the first party to figure it out. To do a better job is going to start winning and landslides.
If we get rid of the electoral college. We will have no incentive left left in our system for this kind of coalition building, working together with remember what we have in common as Americans like these are the kinds of incentives that the electoral college provides what a hopeful note to end on that was at was excellent. So we are about out of time before we go work in our listeners go to learn more about the electoral college and to follow your work quite annoyed my website which is just paragraph.com and all of my books are listed there that Prager University video that you mentioned at the beginning of the as is also on the homepage of my website. Not think the video did Prager University just did a fantastic job that again is Tara T a R a Ross ROS S.com I will terrorized you so much for being with us today on family policy matters. Thank you for having me listing the family policy matters. We hope you enjoyed the program employment to them again next week to listen to the show Oman into learn more about NC families work to inform, encourage and inspire families across Mr. Lana go or website it NC family.award that's NC family.org. Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family