When I was younger, my first exposure to politics was hearing news about President George W. Bush’s election and the controversy surrounding the Electoral College. At the time, I did not understand the nature or purpose of the Electoral College. If we live in a democracy, why don’t we just directly elect the President? Why would we need a complex system in place that could potentially undermine the will of the people?
I used to be a liberal democrat. I used to see “democracy,” meaning a direct democracy, as the best form of government. After all, if the people want something, shouldn’t our government oblige? It is a government by the people and for the people. This rudimentary and oversimplified thinking changed when I began to seriously examine politics in the 2012 election and think about my future in college and the world.
I took almost a complete 180-degree turn in my political views based on the logic and history of the Republican party and the republican system. I realized that conservatism benefits our country more, and that a republican system is a superior system of government.
Make no mistake; our system of government is a republic that the founders set up, inspired by the government of Ancient Rome. While we directly elect our legislatures, we do not directly vote on many issues, and we do not directly elect our president. In fact, it wasn’t until 1913 and the 17th Amendment that we directly elected senators; they used to be appointed by State Legislators. The reason for this removal from democracy and direct power given to the people is that the founders recognized its dangers before the rest of the world did.
Why would America trade one dictator 10,000 miles away for 10,000 dictators one mile away? The founding fathers recognized Jean Jacques Rousseau’s philosophy of direct democracy and the “General Will” will benefit all and will always be right was a dangerous concept. These fears were justified when they saw the Reign of Terror and the destruction that the “enlightened” supporters of the French Revolution carried out at the behest of the “General Will,” where the revolutionaries spread death and destruction for thousands and spread perverse laws, ideas and ideology. All of this strife in the name of “progress.” Death, destruction, irrationality: progress toward what?
Thankfully, our founders avoided the tyranny of the majority by establishing a republican system. We are protected from the insanity of General Will, as, like in Roman times, our executive is appointed rather than directly elected. We do not vote directly on most laws, as we elect and entrust our legislatures to represent our best interest. This is a true government by the people and for the people; we help create the government, which in turn acts either in accordance with or against the will of the people, but always for our best interest if working properly.
The republican system is not perfect, but it prevents some of the more inane movements from taking hold if it is utilized properly. In this time of protests, hurt feelings and movements to empower fanatical and immoral fringe groups that represent less than three percent or .5 percent of the population, we must remember that no matter what popular support is, we trust our government to act against these things if they are harmful to us. In short, your opinion does not matter to the federal government. And that’s a good thing.