Among the casualties of this mind-boggling situationcould well be the Electoral College. Most citizenshaven't a clue as to why we do not directly electpresidents, or how it is that a president could, asit appears in this case, narrowly win the popularvote but lose the Electoral vote. I've heard theElectoral College described repeatedly on TV as an"anachronism." And The New York Times op-ed Thursdayadvocated abolition.
But Americans need a civics lesson. This country wasnever intended to be direct democracy, nor was itintended that the president be elected by directvote. And there was a very good reason for this, onethat was greatly influenced by a Christianunderstanding of the form of government bestreflecting biblical values.
At the beginning, the Founders believed that orderedliberty could best be achieved not by pure democracybut by a republican form of government. The peoplewould choose leaders who would in turn rule over us.And, powers would be balanced between the states andthe federal government. So, to make this work, thesenators were to be appointed by the states, andelectors would be elected who would in turn chooseour president.
In a republican form of government, the senators andelectors should be persons of noble character who canrise above the public passions of the moment and whoact in the best interest of the nation.
The Founders recognized that often representativeswould have to go against the popular tide. OurFounders, you see, recognized what Alexander Tytlerlater said -- that democracies survive only until thevoters discover that they can vote for themselveslargesse from the public treasury. In this, theFounders were deeply influenced by the politicalunderstanding developed during the ProtestantReformation. Scottish cleric Samuel Rutherford wroteLex Rex, the book that said, "the law is king," andenshrined the rule of law.
John Calvin believed in the total depravity of man.So, he argued not only against the "divine rule ofkings," but also direct democracy; people, no lessthan kings, were predisposed to sin. He advocated arepublican form of government with representativeschosen to lead for us -- limited government, withpowers balanced. This, he believed, would best meetbiblical objectives.
Christians, of all people, need to understand this.And, we need to tell our neighbors why the ElectoralCollege is still important. It is an essentialingredient in a republican form of government wherestates preserve their individual political identitiesand power. It is certainly not an anachronism. And wemust not let the Electoral College be sacrificed inthe backlash to this extraordinary election.
On a final note, I want to urge all Christians topray fervently. It's imperative that cooler headsprevail in this crisis. If this election is notsettled quickly, and if the demonstrations continueand anger increases, there's a risk that publicconfidence in the greatest experiment in liberty everundertaken will be undermined. And that's a greaterconcern than the outcome of the election itself.
There are great risks in weakening the republicancharacter of this government. Through the first 130years of this nation, senators were chosen by statelegislatures. When the Seventeenth Amendment was passedin 1913, making senators directly electable by thepeople, we turned senators into nothing more thanrepresentatives with longer terms and bigger egos. Itmay have seemed at the time like a victory forpopular democracy. But I suspect it is no coincidencethat the federal government began to expanddramatically -- at the expense of the states --immediately after the amendment was passed.