Goodbye Republic, Hello Democracy.

When the Constitution of the United States was written, the people writing it were not creating a Democracy. They were creating a Republic. They understood that the bulk of the population lacks the time, the ability, or the motivation to make politics the center of their lives. Without a near-expert level of knowledge of politics, it is difficult to make informed decisions about what laws are best for any community larger than your immediate environment. What's best for Chicago is not always what's best for Detroit. The typical citizen of Chicago isn't going to know enough about Detroit to be able to determine what's best for that city. That's why Chicago doesn't get to vote in the Detroit mayoral election. That makes sense to all of us I think. Even in this age of mass communication, this remains true. This is, in my opinion, the primary benefit to a republic. When you vote, you should be voting for someone you believe has the knowledge (and an outlook that you share) to make those decisions. This is why the Electoral College exists. However, several states, Illinois included, have decided that this isn't the best way to do things. They've decided that the current sound-bite and media driven campaign system is the best option, so rather than reforming the system to make the Electoral College work the way it's supposed to, we'll just abolish it. But, even better, we won't bother to go through the process of amending the Constitiution. That's too much like work I suppose. Rather, we'll just do an end run with the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote Act. (That's what's known as the "short title" for the bill.) In which the agreeing states will cast all of their electoral college votes based on the outcome of the popular election. This law will go into effect when it is approved by 2/3 of the states, as is required to amend the Constitution. Wait... no. It will go into effect when more than 50% of the states approve it, demonstrating a majority. Nope. Not that either. It will go into effect when states that control 50% of the electoral votes pass it. (Oh, and by the way, the law includes rules for how other states get to do things. "Any member state may withdraw from this agreement, except that a withdrawal occurring six months or less before the end of a President's term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President shall have been qualified to serve the next term."

Holy freakin' crap. Seriously? Are we, as a people, okay with this? What about the states that don't pass it? Well, their popular vote totals will be figured in, but the whole part about the Constitution being the law of the land is clearly out the window. Yes, the electoral college and the whole election progress needs some serious reform. But this seems like it's a terrible way to start. Our political system is broken. The focus has move off of representatives, who are the backbone of this system, and moved to the executives, who are supposed to merely be the hands. We have people who are choosing their presidential candidate based on 30 second campaign ads who don't know the names of their congressional representatives. We have a primary system that is set up to guarantee that the national governing bodies of the two primary political parties have the authority to decide who's vote counts and who's doesn't while insuring that anyone not in those parties won't be seen by the public.

We need to go back to a system where you can vote for someone you know and trust, rather than expecting everyone to have the knowledge of a political science professor, or to vote in a state of ignorance. But the power that's entrenched in this system knows that if the voting population was truly knowledgeable, they'd expect results. If more people understood that elected officials are our employees, there'd be a lot more firing going on. Rather than removing one avenue of electing representatives, we need to start paying more attention to who is representing us, and holding them responsible for that representation. We need more control of our government, rather than giving our govenrment more control of us. And, as always, we need to vote our hopes rather than our fears.

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