More on the “Republic, not a Democracy” Business as Linked to the Electoral College

Be clear on what one is defending.

constitution-preamble-quill-penIt has been quite fashionable in the last several weeks, chiefly in defense of the electoral college, to proclaim “the United States is a republic, not a democracy” or to specifically state “we have a constitutional republic.”  I will note that the explanation usually goes not further than said statement, but the implication is clear that a republic is superior, in some way, to a democracy and that said superiority has something to do with protecting individual or minority rights.  I have to infer a lot of that, because I have rarely encountered anyone who goes much beyond just making the declaration on this topic to actually tell me what distinction is actually being drawn.

Now, I have extensively written on this before (even in print), with my most complete post (I think) being Madison’s Defintion(s) of Republic which details pretty well the origins of the democracy/republic contrast that James Madison introduced into American political discourse (and what it really should mean to contemporary deployments of the terms in question).  I have also contributed A “Republic v. Democracy” Lexicon which provides numerous definitions to the terms under discussion (and is, in many ways, a companion to this post–and indeed, some of this post contains variations on language used in the other).

In regards to most claims that “we have a republic, not a democracy,” I think that a lot of the conversation is focused on confusion over when a system should employ majority-based decision rules and when it should privilege minority preferences. Specifically, the sense one gets from the declarations is that a “republic” somehow better protects minority rights than does a “democracy” because the latter values majority will over minority (sometimes to the tyrannical application of the majority’s will over the minority).

However, in the modern context (i.e., since the 19th century, give or take) the idea of “democracy” is one of representation coupled with majority rule for basic governance and a profound protection for human rights, i.e., minority protections.  Indeed, the quality of a given democracy focuses on both the degree to which its electoral system captures an accurate representation of the population (i.e., reflects majority rule) and the degree to which is protects minority rights and preferences (i.e., access to rights, privileges, and representation for all members of its society).  I cannot stress enough that what I am here describing is true in all the democracies I have names so far in this piece (as well as any others one might care to name).

Also:  the most basic definition of “republic” is simply a state whose head of state is not a monarch.  It has nothing to do with protecting minority rights.

As such, proclamations that republicans protect citizens better than democracies is incorrect, and is founded in, at best, fuzzy understandings of the terms being used.

So, beyond definitions, let’s look at the issue of whether majority or minority preferences should be preferred (even to take into consideration minorities of one, i.e., individuals). It should be noted, above all else, that all democracies (in the modern sense of the term, see below for more) function mainly on principles that take seriously majority preferences, and usually privilege them in most circumstances–especially day-to-day decision-making (e.g., legislation). However, it is also true that all democracies give serious weight to minority rights.  This fact has zero to do with any distinction one could make between democracies and republics.

There are two kinds of minority empowerment.  The first kind (the democratic kind) is that which ensures protection of minority rights even if the exercise of those rights runs counter to majority preference. Allowing a religious minority the right to worship fits here, as do policies that dismantle discrimination against specific groups, such as the move to desegregate schools as the result of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.

The second kind (the undemocratic kind) is that which allows a numeric minority to have undue influence over the majority, either by design or by accident.  If we operate from the notion that all humans are equal, then their preferences should be counted as equivalent unless there is some compelling higher reason (such as protecting fundamental human rights) to not do so.

It is also important to note that simply empowering minority preferences in a way that trumps majority will is anti-democratic unless such empowerment is necessary to allow enjoyment of basic human rights.  So, curtailing majority preferences on racial discrimination is a democratic act in the sense that it is helping to extend fundamental human rights to all co-equal citizens.  However, to create institutions that empower minorities to make decisions in the hopes of thwarting majority will when there is no over-riding need to thwart said will, is inherently undemocratic.

So, for example, the electoral college has inherently undemocratic elements:  it counts some citizens as more important than others.  Specifically, if undervalues the power of the vote for citizens in larger population states and over-values the vote of citizens in lower population states.  It violates the very nature of the dictum:  ”all [humans] are created equal” as well as the core idea of one person, one vote.  And it is worth noting that it does so in a way that does not further any specific protection of minority rights as described above. So, if one’s goal in saying “we have a republic, not a democracy” is to defend the electoral college, then one is defending anti-democratic practices that value some voters over others for no particularly good reason (or, at least, to defend a political compromise from the 1780s, and nothing more). It is to defend a system of minority privilege that does not rectify an injustice or extol in some way fundamental individual rights.  Rather, it undemocratically allows less voters to thwart the will of other voters in an asymmetrical fashion.  A voter in California or Texas is undervalued versus another voter in Wyoming or South Dakota. And before one tries to argue urban/rural balancing, I would note that there are far more rural persons in California or Texas than there are in Wyoming, and yet the system inherently favors the citizens in Wyoming over the citizens in California or Texas.

To defend the electoral college is to defend the notion that not all citizens are equal. It is to defend the idea that voter A is less democratically significant than voter B.  It is an undemocratic system and it even violates the basic notion of republicanism–the idea of power from the people, so even the “we have a republic” bit doesn’t really make senses, unless one is talking the kind of republic they have in China.

At least be clear on what one is defending.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Pch101 says:

    the most basic definition of “republic” is simply a state whose head of state is not a monarch. It has nothing to do with protecting minority rights.

    Thanks for pointing this out. But I doubt that the average person understands the distinction between head of state and head of government.

    To defend the electoral college is to defend the notion that not all citizens are equal.

    Not exactly. What it does is to acknowledge that the states should also play a role in the presidential election. I presume that you wouldn’t argue that the Senate is not democratic, even though it gives equal status to low-population and high-population states.

  2. Gustopher says:
  3. @Pch101:

    But I doubt that the average person understands the distinction between head of state and head of government

    Indeed–especially in a country with a presidential system. Another entry for another lexicon, I guess.

    What it does is to acknowledge that the states should also play a role in the presidential election. I presume that you wouldn’t argue that the Senate is not democratic, even though it gives equal status to low-population and high-population states.

    There isn’t an especially good argument, in my opinion, for including states in the process (save that it was necessary for the deal to be made in the 1780s–and it was more about slavery than states, per se).

    I think there is a critique to be made of the Senate’s democratic bona fides. I think that the filibuster is anti-democratic (especially given the distribution of seats to states). I also think that the two senators per state distribution is democracy distorting given the growth in the gap between the largest and smallest states from 1789 to now. That is my simple answer (in blog comment box size), but a full explanation would require much more.

    I will add that I see a role for a second chamber to represent sub-unit interests, although if I had my druthers, I would prefer something like Germany (also a federal system) where truly national issues only go to the first chamber and the second chamber only addresses certain kinds of legislation. But, again, that is the short version of my answer.

  4. Gustopher says:

    @Pch101:

    What it does is to acknowledge that the states should also play a role in the presidential election.

    Should states have more rights than the citizens who reside in those states? That’s the scenario that the electoral college has created.

    (The Senate too, for that matter)

  5. gVOR08 says:

    I first ran across this a long time ago in High School. Rockford IL was something of a hot bed of the Birch Society, and they kept saying that, with the lack of explanation you cite above. I’ve heard it off and on in person and in print ever since and never heard an explanation. In context, it never struck me as having anything to do with minority rights, but quite the opposite. The speakers seemed always to regard themselves as the majority, no matter how many people voted against them.

    It seemed to me that they were trying to make a distinction between representatives who were expected to express the will of their constituency and representatives, as the Founders seemed to envision, who were chosen as the best men in their community and then voted their own conscience or opinion without reference to the will of the “mob”. Unpledged EC delegates, for instance. I think it reflects the conservative psychology of needing to believe themselves the best people, the elect. So they wish to be governed by the best people, people like themselves, the common clay of the new West.

  6. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There isn’t an especially good argument, in my opinion, for including states in the process (save that it was necessary for the deal to be made in the 1780s…)

    Small states needed to be provided with additional motivations to cede some sovereignty to a new central government. Smaller states still have cause to feel that way.

    The European parliament allocates disproportionately more seats to smaller nations for the same reason — tiny countries don’t want to be automatically bulldozed by the Germans just because the Germans have more people.

    I don’t object to the states playing a role in choosing the president. I do object to electors acting merely as rubber stamps, and I would favor scrapping the college if that doesn’t change (and no, I am not expecting it to change.) If the electoral college won’t keep someone such as Trump out of office, then it is a failed institution.

  7. @Pch101:

    Small states needed to be provided with additional motivations to cede some sovereignty to a new central government. Smaller states still have cause to feel that way.

    Well, there is a difference between making a deal to create a new political order and what needs small states may have now in terms of choosing the president–especially since the smaller states don’t get more attention in this system, while swing states do.

    The European parliament allocates disproportionately more seats to smaller nations for the same reason …

    Which is an argument for the Senate, not for treating the populations of state differently in the EC.

    If the electoral college won’t keep someone such as Trump out of office, then it is a failed institution.

    Indeed: the EC is why we will have President Trump–because it does not treat all voters as equal.

  8. Tyrell says:

    My understanding (from a 10th grade history class) was that the leaders saw what was going on in France concerning the events of their revolution and felt they had to firm things up to prevent mob rule.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:
    Do you ever listen to podcats? There’s a very good one on the French Revolution. Go to the podcast store, it’s called Revolutions podcast, and if you scroll back he does a big long like 30 part thing on France.

  10. Pch101 says:

    Incidentally, this “United States is a republic, not a democracy” nonsense is produced by know-nothing right-wingers who are really trying to say that “the United States is for Republicans, not for Democrats.”

    As usual, these people can be most politely described as idiots. Aside from being aware that July 4 is Fireworks Day, they know nothing about constitutional history or law.

  11. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As you know, Federalist 39 addresses what Madison referred to as the “compound” nature of the executive, and what distinguishes a federal government from a national one. The argument for state participation in the country’s governance at the federal level isn’t just limited to the Senate.

  12. @Pch101: Yes, I understand the argument. I don’t find it defensible, especially in 2016.

    And while I (clearly) hold the Fed Paper in high regard, it has to be remembered that they were primarily ex post facto arguments used as propaganda to sell the constitution to those who would ratify in it NY. Madison was trying to sell the notion that the new constitution wouldn’t create a unitary state that made the 13 states superfluous. He had originally argued for the congress to choose the president. Beyond that, the debates make it clear that a major, if not the major, reason we have the thing is to placate the southern states (probably more significant than the small state arguments).

    Beyond that, as I have repeated noted, the institution never even worked as intended, so I find arguments based on intent or design especially wanting in its case.

    But really: intent and design are great, but the issue should be whether the institution makes sense now.

  13. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The small state aspect of the electoral college seems to work as intended. The independent electors component, not so much.

  14. James Joyner says:

    Federalism and its many manifestations (district-based representation in the House, sovereign equality in the Senate, and the mirroring of the two in the Electoral College) made absolute sense in 1787 and almost none now. Then, 13 quasi-sovereign entities were uniting to form a union, mostly on foreign affairs and commerce. It was akin the EU today and it would be absurd, indeed, for the EU to operate on a one-man, one-vote principle.

    Outside of the original 13 states—and perhaps Hawai’i and Texas—none of the other states have any independent claim to sovereignty. They were all creations of the federal government as the nation expanded westward through acquisition and conquest. Alabama and North Dakota never existed apart from the United States.

    Aside from that, modern life is simply different. Most of us are mobile, having lived in multiple states. My primary–and really only–political loyalty is to the nation. I think that’s true for the overwhelming number of us nowadays.

  15. Andy says:

    I find the “republic v democracy” debate a little strange since the United States is neither – we are a political union. The Constitution guarantees that the states that make up that union will be republican and democratic – and they are. States, as political entities, were never equal in terms of comparing the power of a citizen in one state compared to a citizen in another state. This is not a design flaw, this is the main feature of our system of government.

    There will never be the national political equality that some people want as long as the state remains the fundamental political unit of our federal union. I understand the appeal, expressed by James and others, that states should be mere administrative divisions of a national government, but that is unlikely to happen absent some existential crisis which redefines the entire political compact in this country.

    It’s true that Federal government power and authority expanded over time thanks to a few factors (I won’t belabor here) combined with creeping normalcy, and it’s true we are much more a “national” people in terms of identity, but the states retain significant power, even if they don’t exercise it very often. A sure way to wake them up is to try to take away their independence which is why no one bothers to try.

  16. Pch101 says:

    @Andy:

    A republic is a government with an executive who is appointed or elected. (In other words, the executive is neither a hereditary monarch nor a dictator.) The US is a republic for that reason, no ifs, ands or buts.

    The distinction that you are attempting to describe is one of federal vs. national, not republic vs. democratic — this is what Madison described in Federalist 39.

    There is no contradiction between between having an appointed or elected executive (a republic) and popular elections (democracy.)

  17. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    In a system built upon a foundation of respect for and consideration of precedent, the history-doesn’t-matter arguments don’t really work. (We don’t have to be slaves to precedent, but we also can’t just ignore it.)

    The strongest case that you make is that the system doesn’t work as intended. If original intent hasn’t materialized into actual practice (and in many respects, you are correct that it has not), then one should endeavor to create a system that at least accounts for the aspects of original intent that remain relevant today. I would suggest that the small state aspect remains relevant, and that the position of president is important enough that there should be some sort of check-and-balance for keeping a bad one out.

    Irrespective of how the states were created after the original thirteen, the fact is that the US regards states as being constituents of the federal government on par with the citizenry. If you don’t think that states have unique interests that are worthy of separate representation, then you should also be arguing to get rid of the Senate, since that institution makes no sense if states don’t really matter within a US national context. And as the Senate seems to be the more rational of the two legislative branches, I wouldn’t be too eager to do that.

  18. @James Joyner: I think that you hit on some key issues. I would expand to state that there was the issue of the original federal bargain: that which was necessary to convince 13 sovereign units to become part of one sovereign whole. Them there is the other part, the simple necessity to govern a large country. So, federalism became the fact that certain element of policy are handled on a day-to-day basis. Most large (geographical) countries are federal in that sense.

    But this is key, and most people don’t think about it:

    Outside of the original 13 states—and perhaps Hawai’i and Texas—none of the other states have any independent claim to sovereignty. They were all creations of the federal government as the nation expanded westward through acquisition and conquest. Alabama and North Dakota never existed apart from the United States.

    It also means that the drawing of boundaries (which are politically very important) were rather arbitrary and did not fully take into consideration long-terms implications for things like the Senate and House.

  19. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It also means that the drawing of boundaries (which are politically very important) were rather arbitrary and did not fully take into consideration long-terms implications for things like the Senate and House.

    Nope. And some of it was pure guesswork. Presumably, we wouldn’t have created TWO Dakotas if we thought so few people would move there. But they’re about the size we consider normal for a state so that’s how we mapped them out.

  20. @Pch101: You state that we do not have to be slaves to the past, but then you lay down intent as the key determinant for change. I would say that that is being a slave to the past. We would not apply such logic to our cars or our computers—there is no good reason to apply it to our institutions. Keeping in mind, of course, that I fully recognize that changes to institutions should be undertaken slowly and carefully–and really all I am doing here is conversing.

    The bottom line is: are we committed to the notion of democracy, or are we committed to the notion of revering the past? Do we believe in one person, one vote or do we think that certain citizens ought to count more? Is there a defensible reason that voters in some states should have more say in choosing the national executive than do others? The president is the one truly national office-holder, should it not be filled with the views of the nation taken equally into account? Is there even any evidence to suggests (either from the US or from other cases) that tell us that a national vote damages small states or that the EC helps create some kind of balance between large and small that would not exist without the EC?

    And yes, the Senate is problematic in a number of ways. Since I am writing here blog posts, an not a book, I chose not to address it n(and because I was writing about two specific issues–the EC and the rep v. dem issue). There are better arguments for having the federal chamber in a bicameral system represent sub-units differently than does the first chamber, although the way we do it is too rigid (it is not democratically defensible to give two seats to CA, TX, FL, and NY as well as to AK, ND, SD, and WY). The filibuster makes it several degrees worse (as does the lack of competitiveness in House elections).

    Discussing the functioning (and maladies) of the legislative branch is a much longer and complex issue than the EC, which is far more straight-forward. (And, quite frankly, the chances of changing the EC, slim as they are, are far higher than the chances of making structural changes to the Congress).

  21. @Andy:

    we are a political union.

    This is factually accurate, to a a very generic degree, but it is not a description of the rules for governing. Yugoslavia was a political union as well.

  22. Joe Mucia says:

    I see no reason why we can’t maintain a federal system keeping the idea of separate state and national governments having a combination of unique and overlappng powers while also kicking states out of being the intermediaries between the citizenry and the national government.

    Keep the states with their own taxing and regulatory power but get rid of the Senate and electoral college and move elections for both president and Congress to national control rather than state control (states could run concurrent elections, but the ballots and rules for ballot access for the presidential and congressional elections would not be determined by the state).

  23. @Joe Mucia: It certainly the case that a country can have federalism without structures like the EC or with the extremeness of the way we distribute power in the Senate.

    The German system, for example, limits the power of the second (federal) chamber to matters directly relevant to the lander (states) as units and leave truly national issues to the first chamber.

    There are multiple ways to manage federalism, but Americans tend to only know one way of doing things, so assume it is the only way to do them.

  24. Lynn says:

    @James Joyner: “My primary–and really only–political loyalty is to the nation. I think that’s true for the overwhelming number of us nowadays.”

    I would like to believe that, but the number of Confederate flags around makes me question it.

  25. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You state that we do not have to be slaves to the past, but then you lay down intent as the key determinant for change.

    I didn’t claim that it was a “key determinant.” I said that it was a factor.

    At the very least, we should have a solid rebuttal to the arguments that the founders offered for their positions. They offered justifications for their positions, and so should we.

    You could compare it to the liberal view of the judiciary: We are free to reinterpret the law and precedent as did the Warren court, but we do have to address that precedent and justify those reinterpretations. Just dismissing the past out of hand because it’s the past is not acceptable in our system — this respect for precedent is what we inherited from Britain and the common law.

  26. @Pch101: I would argue that I have offered numerous justifications. I do understand that one’s response to those justification will vary.

    I would argue, however, that having 2 out of 5 elections end up with ev/pop vote inversions to be sufficient cause to revisit the institution.

  27. Andy says:

    @Pch101:

    You’re correct of course. What I meant is that republic v democracy isn’t that relevant to the discussion about what people (wrongly) mean in believing that it’s republicanism that protects minorities or individual rights. I pretty much agree with your second comment.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Outside of the original 13 states—and perhaps Hawai’i and Texas—none of the other states have any independent claim to sovereignty. They were all creations of the federal government as the nation expanded westward through acquisition and conquest. Alabama and North Dakota never existed apart from the United States.

    Why is that “key?” It’s interesting historical trivia but is not otherwise relevant.

    It also means that the drawing of boundaries (which are politically very important) were rather arbitrary and did not fully take into consideration long-terms implications for things like the Senate and House.

    I’d have reread my history of this area, but I don’t think they were as arbitrary as you suggest. Also, they could not consider the long-term implications since the implications were unknowable. Composition of states can change but there is currently very little support for this.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    This is factually accurate, to a a very generic degree, but it is not a description of the rules for governing. Yugoslavia was a political union as well.

    Details obviously matter a great deal which is what separates us from what used to be Yugoslavia, and every other country in the world for that matter. The point is, on the questions about composition of the Senate, the EC, central government authority, etc., the political union aspect is the reason why the system is what it is today. States have much more sovereignty than most people realize but, as I mentioned, they choose not to exercise it in many cases.

  28. @Andy:

    they could not consider the long-term implications since the implications were unknowable.

    Which is a good reason for thinking through the implications of the way we added states and pretending like the reason behind the federal bargain struck among the original 13 should shape our thinking about the long-term development of all institutions linked to statehood.

    My point on “political union” is that is not a useful category for making the claims you are making.

  29. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Lynn: I suspect that it’s true for Dr. Joyner and many other people who have “lived in multiple states” (although I wonder how many of them would be as exercized about it were we not about to inaugurate President Trump). The real question may be how many people have lived in multiple states. I expect that number is relatively small.

  30. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Which claims?

  31. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101: They do have a solid rebuttal: “my candidate didn’t win.” (I will offer Drs. Taylor and Joyner the concession that this question, for them, is strictly hypothetical but will have to note that the rebuttal so far offered by them is less than compelling to me.)

  32. @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Seeing as how I was writing about this well before this election, attributing my position as having to do with the electoral results is problematic, to put it politely.

  33. I have not seen any justification, by the way, for why a vote in Wyoming should have such a disproportionate value vis-a-vis a voter in CA.

    I would submit that most defense of the EC are rationalizations based on a culture of respect for the Framers. I think that Americans (myself included for years) start with the premise that the Framers were right (if not transcendently so) and work very hard to justify their work.

    I know that that assertion will not win any arguments today (and, indeed, will likely solidify already hardened positions), but I think it is worth thinking about over time.

    We constantly confuse a brilliant political compromise that served a specific point in time with timeless political brilliance.

  34. And the solid rebuttal is this: a system that was designed as a political compromise to placate slave states (and to quell fears over popular democracy, as well as a belief that national candidates weren’t possible) so the constitution could be ratified in 1789 does not trump the notion of one person, one vote in 2016.

    Further, as noted: there is no evidence that shows that small states someone are benefiting from this system in a way that protects them from the large states.

    And the coup de grace is that it never worked as designed.

    (And I have said all of this before).

  35. Lynn says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: “The real question may be how many people have lived in multiple states. I expect that number is relatively small.”

    You may well be right. My impression is that those in the south have moved less often. but it’s simply an impression. See http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2008/12/17/who-moves-who-stays-put-wheres-home/

  36. @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: I am from a state which has a huge self-importance (Texas) and live in a region with a great deal of local pride (the deep south), but ultimately I think it is thoroughly the case that for citizens of those states that their “primary–and really only–political loyalty is to the nation.”

    Indeed, is not the south consistently the most patriot segment of the country?

  37. michael reynolds says:

    You all realize this thread is basically a cry for help from Dr. Taylor, right? It’s Christmas break, all his students are away at home, safe from discussions of political arcana. . .

  38. @michael reynolds: Weirdly, having time for this kind of stuff is relaxing, given my recent Deanworld life.

    And fret not: the NFL is on and the family around. 😉

  39. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Which is the reason for my parenthetical allowance of your position as based on hypotheticals rather than election outcome based. I still don’t find your argument compelling, though.

    On the other hand, I haven’t voted for a Democrat or a Republican for national office in, like, ever, so I don’t really got a dog in this fight. Consider me a troll on this topic if you wish.

  40. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t think we can really say one part of the country has more patriotism than another, at least not without defining patriotism.

    The flag decal on the back of your car, “America Fwck Yeah!”, “if you don’t like it, leave” noisy version of “patriotism” isn’t something I am willing to call patriotism. That’s nationalism or jingoism.

    America is a set of ideals — inclusionary, liberating and welcoming. America hasn’t always lived up to the lofty ideals it was founded on — they are bold radical ideals, made by bold, radical idealists who proclaimed that “all men are created equal” when that was clearly not true.

    To me, patriotism isn’t just putting the country before your party or yourself, it’s putting the ideals of the country ahead of the country itself, because our country never lives up to its ideals.

    America has done horrible and terrible things — the extermination of Native Americans, slavery, Jim Crow, the Japanese internment, discrimination and modern country music. I don’t think you can really be a patriot without trying to acknowledge these crimes, and wanting to rise above them and make our country closer to those lofty, radical ideals it was founded on.

    It’s a very different definition of patriotism than supporting bombing whichever brown people we are bombing this week.

  41. James Joyner says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Both Steven and I have written multiple Electoral College posts going back more than a decade now. It’s not a reaction to Trump. And, indeed, changing the rules at this point would do nothing about President Trump. He won under the existing rules.

  42. Lynn says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “Indeed, is not the south consistently the most patriot segment of the country?”

    They say they are, but they often fly an enemy flag.

  43. @Lynn:

    They say they are, but they often fly an enemy flag.

    Which is, I will allow, a contradiction that is seemingly lost on many.

  44. @Gustopher:

    I don’t think we can really say one part of the country has more patriotism than another, at least not without defining patriotism.

    Please note: I am trying to claim some prize for the SE on this topic. But if you look at things like overt displays of patriotic symbols, military service, and general adherence to patriotic rituals, the South is steeped in all of it. IIRC, there are studies on this type of thing.

    I was not trying to start a contest on the topic. I was responding to the claim that people who never leave their states might be more attached to their state than to the nation as a whole. I do not think that this is the case. Even in the deep south, with its weird attachment in some quarters to the CSA is extremely nationalistic vis-a-vis the good ol’ US of A.

    If we want to get into deeper meanings of responsible patriotism, that is another issue.

  45. @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: The parenthetical was unclear to me–thanks.

    I would assert, however, that regardless of how one votes, one has a dog in the fight over the quality of our democracy.