Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-12-2019, 01:33 AM
kirkrapine is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 381

Was the Electoral College intended to be an independent deliberative body?


The impression I get from Federalist 68 is that the idea was the electors would gather without prior commitments to any candidate, but, rather, discuss among themselves who should be president, the way Congress discusses legislation.
  #2  
Old 09-12-2019, 07:58 AM
Bryan Ekers's Avatar
Bryan Ekers is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Montreal, QC
Posts: 59,259
Well, just for laughs, I looking into the early cases of "faithless" Electors (i.e. ones who vote in ways other than expected) and it looks like the first case was a mass revolt in 1836 by Virginia's slate. I gather from this that Electors had previously been expected to vote in a certain predictable way, and had they been independently discussing their choices, there would be earlier examples of surprise outcomes, i.e. they were never intended to be independent (though the penalties for "breaking faith" were tepid), regardless of how their role is constitutionally defined.
  #3  
Old 09-14-2019, 10:31 AM
Max S. is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 1,592
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post
The impression I get from Federalist 68 is that the idea was the electors would gather without prior commitments to any candidate, but, rather, discuss among themselves who should be president, the way Congress discusses legislation.
Any deliberation would be specific to each state, as electors meet in their own state. But the system is was designed to work without the general population becoming involved in electing the president and vice president, without political parties, and without national campaigns.

It was written for a Republic, not a Democracy.

~Max

Last edited by Max S.; 09-14-2019 at 10:35 AM. Reason: twelfth amendment
  #4  
Old 09-14-2019, 10:56 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 85,174
They originally were intended to be independent, but like so many of the Founding Fathers' plans, that plan didn't survive even first contact with reality. Remember, the Founders never even conceived of the notion of political parties, even though they themselves were members of them.
  #5  
Old 09-14-2019, 02:02 PM
Bryan Ekers's Avatar
Bryan Ekers is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Montreal, QC
Posts: 59,259
On reflection, the electors were probably intended to be independent in the same sense that the election of the president and vice-president were intended to be separate. It's true on paper and in theory, rather less so in practice.
__________________
Don't worry about the end of Inception. We have top men working on it right now. Top. Men.
  #6  
Old 09-14-2019, 10:11 PM
kirkrapine is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 381
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
It was written for a Republic, not a Democracy.
Let's drop that canard. The USA is a democratic republic -- as opposed to, say, an aristocratic republic like the old Venetian Republic, where only the nobility of the Golden Book could vote. (Granted, in the early USA there were sometimes property or even religious qualifications for voting -- but the seeds of democracy were there, and universal white manhood suffrage was thoroughly established by the time of the Jackson Administration.)

IME, anyone who says "America is a republic, not a democracy," is not arguing but ranting. When he actually means anything by it, what he means is that America is a federal state, not a unitary state -- which is true, and important, but has nothing to do with any supposed antithesis between a democracy and a republic.

Last edited by kirkrapine; 09-14-2019 at 10:12 PM.
  #7  
Old 09-14-2019, 11:04 PM
Flyer is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,355
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post
Let's drop that canard. The USA is a democratic republic -- as opposed to, say, an aristocratic republic like the old Venetian Republic, where only the nobility of the Golden Book could vote. (Granted, in the early USA there were sometimes property or even religious qualifications for voting -- but the seeds of democracy were there, and universal white manhood suffrage was thoroughly established by the time of the Jackson Administration.)

IME, anyone who says "America is a republic, not a democracy," is not arguing but ranting. When he actually means anything by it, what he means is that America is a federal state, not a unitary state -- which is true, and important, but has nothing to do with any supposed antithesis between a democracy and a republic.
I would really like to know why you think that a republic is a bad thing.
  #8  
Old 09-14-2019, 11:33 PM
kirkrapine is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 381
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
I would really like to know why you think that a republic is a bad thing.
It is not a bad thing, and is not in any way incompatible with democracy. Granted, there are such things as aristocratic republics, but even those are probably preferable to hereditary monarchies.

Last edited by kirkrapine; 09-14-2019 at 11:34 PM.
  #9  
Old 09-15-2019, 12:37 AM
Bryan Ekers's Avatar
Bryan Ekers is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Montreal, QC
Posts: 59,259
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post
It is not a bad thing, and is not in any way incompatible with democracy. Granted, there are such things as aristocratic republics, but even those are probably preferable to hereditary monarchies.
So.... is North Korea preferable to Canada? Maybe I should move.
__________________
Don't worry about the end of Inception. We have top men working on it right now. Top. Men.
  #10  
Old 09-15-2019, 02:38 PM
kirkrapine is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 381
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
So.... is North Korea preferable to Canada? Maybe I should move.
Canada is a monarchy like NK is a democracy.
  #11  
Old 09-15-2019, 05:20 PM
Bryan Ekers's Avatar
Bryan Ekers is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Montreal, QC
Posts: 59,259
Legally, Canada IS a monarchy and North Korea is a republic with some arguable form of aristocracy (i.e. privelege to those born to certain families), but no matter.
__________________
Don't worry about the end of Inception. We have top men working on it right now. Top. Men.
  #12  
Old 09-15-2019, 06:32 PM
E-DUB's Avatar
E-DUB is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 4,826
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
Legally, Canada IS a monarchy and North Korea is a republic with some arguable form of aristocracy (i.e. privelege to those born to certain families), but no matter.
Given who its' last three rulers were, one could call North Korea a hereditary monarchy without torturing the term very much.
  #13  
Old 09-15-2019, 06:41 PM
octopus's Avatar
octopus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 9,013
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
Legally, Canada IS a monarchy and North Korea is a republic with some arguable form of aristocracy (i.e. privelege to those born to certain families), but no matter.
Is a completely farcical monarchy actually relevant though?
  #14  
Old 09-15-2019, 07:29 PM
Bryan Ekers's Avatar
Bryan Ekers is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Montreal, QC
Posts: 59,259
Quote:
Originally Posted by E-DUB View Post
Given who its' last three rulers were, one could call North Korea a hereditary monarchy without torturing the term very much.
Well, you wouldn't have to torture the term. Sending the term and its children and grandchildren to a re-education camp should suffice.
__________________
Don't worry about the end of Inception. We have top men working on it right now. Top. Men.
  #15  
Old 09-15-2019, 07:46 PM
whitetho's Avatar
whitetho is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: USA, North Carolina, Cary
Posts: 2,645
My understanding is that, instead of a single deliberative body, the individual state electors were more akin to a number of independent nominating groups, and the expectation was that in most cases there would not be an immediate winner of a majority of votes, so the members of the House of Representatives, voting as individual states, would make the final decision from a slate of candidates. Remember that the original provision in the Constitution specified that the top five electoral vote-getters were the ones that the House members would choose from, if no one received a majority of electoral votes.

Last edited by whitetho; 09-15-2019 at 07:51 PM. Reason: Vote for me!
  #16  
Old 09-15-2019, 09:31 PM
Northern Piper is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: The snow is back, dammit!
Posts: 29,767
That was Farrand's understanding. In the "Framing of the Constitution", one of the first detailed studies of the documents from the Constitutional convention, he concludes that the drafters thought most elections would be decided in the House.

Bear in mind, the US at that time wasn't a nation in the modern sense of of a unified political culture. Communications were poor, and someone who might be a political heavyweight in Georgia could be a complete unknown in Massachusetts, and vice-versa. The Electors would nominate local political figures, and the House, made up of individuals who had greater familiarity with politicians from other states,would decide.

One of the unexpected successes of the US experiment was the rapid development of a national political culture, aided by political parties. That political culture quickly eliminated much of the regional uncertainties that the drafters were familiar with, and enabled the emergence of national political figureres. Politicians in Massachusetts began to know political figures in Georgia and so on. The Electors didn't ever really fulfill that role of nominators.
__________________
"I don't like to make plans for the day. If I do, that's when words like 'premeditated' start getting thrown around in the courtroom."
  #17  
Old 09-17-2019, 01:59 PM
Max S. is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 1,592
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post
Let's drop that canard. The USA is a democratic republic -- as opposed to, say, an aristocratic republic like the old Venetian Republic, where only the nobility of the Golden Book could vote. (Granted, in the early USA there were sometimes property or even religious qualifications for voting -- but the seeds of democracy were there, and universal white manhood suffrage was thoroughly established by the time of the Jackson Administration.)

IME, anyone who says "America is a republic, not a democracy," is not arguing but ranting. When he actually means anything by it, what he means is that America is a federal state, not a unitary state -- which is true, and important, but has nothing to do with any supposed antithesis between a democracy and a republic.
Not a canard. I said "was" and I meant it, too. Andrew Jackson does not count among the founding fathers of this nation; most of the actual founding fathers were decidedly aristocratic by modern standards, the social elite of their own day.

~Max
  #18  
Old 09-17-2019, 02:51 PM
kirkrapine is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 381
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
Not a canard. I said "was" and I meant it, too. Andrew Jackson does not count among the founding fathers of this nation; most of the actual founding fathers were decidedly aristocratic by modern standards, the social elite of their own day.

~Max
True, but, I should hope, no longer relevant.
  #19  
Old 09-17-2019, 03:03 PM
Max S. is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 1,592
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post
True, but, I should hope, no longer relevant.
It would be relevant to adherents of originalism, eg: Justice Ginsberg, Justice Gorusch, or most famously the late Justice Scalia.

~Max
  #20  
Old 09-17-2019, 03:08 PM
kirkrapine is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 381
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
It would be relevant to adherents of originalism, eg: Justice Ginsberg, Justice Gorusch, or most famously the late Justice Scalia.

~Max
The Dred Scott decision was predicated on the assumption that, in the time of the FFs, the consensus was that a black man had no rights a white man was bound to respect. But I doubt any originalist would be so bold as to rule that the Constitution requires property qualifications to vote because that's how it was back then, or anything else that would be an element of an aristocratic republic.
  #21  
Old 09-17-2019, 03:26 PM
Max S. is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 1,592
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post
The Dred Scott decision was predicated on the assumption that, in the time of the FFs, the consensus was that a black man had no rights a white man was bound to respect. But I doubt any originalist would be so bold as to rule that the Constitution requires property qualifications to vote because that's how it was back then, or anything else that would be an element of an aristocratic republic.
I consider myself somewhat of an originalist. I agree with the legal argument in the Dred Scott decision, the part that actually carried the majority. The Constitution gave Congress alone the power to naturalize citizens; Congress never naturalized anyone but whites; therefore, slaves descended from African immigrants (and not from slaves emancipated on or before 1789) did not enjoy the rights of citizenship, including the ability to be heard in the Supreme Court.

Taney's racist dictum is quite disagreeable. If you want to make a separate thread about the Dred Scott decision I'll continue this discussion there, but I don't think your bringing it up here had the desired effect.

~Max
  #22  
Old 09-17-2019, 10:29 PM
kirkrapine is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 381
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
The Constitution gave Congress alone the power to naturalize citizens . . .
Actually, all parts predating the 14th Amendment are silent on that point.
  #23  
Old 09-17-2019, 10:51 PM
Max S. is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 1,592
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post
Actually, all parts predating the 14th Amendment are silent on that point.
In direct contradiction to your assertion, Congress has since its inception possessed the enumerated power "to establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization" (Art. I sect 8). They exercised this power in the year 1790 and specifically conditioned naturalization on the alien being "a free white person" (1 Stat. 103). I have put the original Naturalization Act in a spoiler for your convenience.

SPOILER:
CHAP. III.--An Act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.(a)

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any alien, being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof, on application to any common law court of the record, in any one of the states wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such court, that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law, to support the constitution of the United States, which under oath or affirmation such court shall administer; and the clerk of such court shall record such application, and the proceedings thereon; and thereupon such person shall be considered as a citizen of the United States. And the children of such persons so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, and being under the age of twenty-one years at the time of such naturalization, shall also be considered as citizens of the United States. And the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States: Provided also, That no person heretofore proscribed by any state, shall be admitted a citizen as aforesaid, except by an act of the legislature of the state in which such person was proscribed.(a)
APPROVED, March 26, 1790.


~Max
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:54 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017