Saturday, April 02, 2016

American Elections 6 - Tips for International Followers - Who votes in America?

What the news media and political parties are not telling us about our $5 billion election this year?

Our media and politicians tend to portray the United States of America as the ultimate democracy in the world and have consistently presented us as the defenders of freedom and democracy.

Well I must be confused because nowhere is the word "democracy" mentioned in the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution. How could that be?  Come to think of it, no where are the words capitalism or political party mentioned either.

Our government is supposed to be a democracy!

What exactly is the definition of a democracy?

The Cambridge Dictionary - Definition of "democracy"

The belief in freedom and equality between people, or a system of government based on this belief, in which power is held by elected representatives or directly by the people themselves.

A country in which power is held by elected representatives.

The Cambridge Dictionary - Definition of "republic"

A country that is governed by elected representatives and an elected leader.

So in a pure democracy power is held by the people directly, while a republic elects representatives to look out for the public interest.  Well let us look at that in light of the current state of American participation in the election of our representatives and leader.

Pythagorean Analysis of Voter reality in America

Total USA Population Today           325,332,205
Total Population under 18                 78,000,000
Total Population 18 and over          247,322,000

Total Eligible Voters 18+                 247,322,000

Total Registered Voters                  142,200,000
Percent                                                            57%

Total Voter Turnout 2012                121,757,000
Percent of Registered Voters                       85.6%
Percent of Eligible Voters                             49.2%

Total Obama Votes 2012                   62,615,406
Percent of Registered Voters                       44%
Percent of Eligible Voters                             25.3%                                                                        

Total Romney Voters 2012               59,100,000
Percent of Registered Voters                      41.5%
Percent of Eligible Voters                            23.9%                                    

Total Eligible Voters not Voting      125,565,000
Percent of Eligible Voters                            50.8%

Total Leaning Independent                          43%
Total Leaning Democrat                              30%
Total Leaning Republican                            26%                           

Nothing can be more dramatic than the realization that not only do we not have a democracy we do not even have a functioning republic in this the citadel of world democracy.  For perhaps the first time in our history, more Americans refused to participate in the voting process by refusing to register to vote, a consequence of freedom or common sense I suspect.

Our political system has failed to support our constitutional requirements for a republic.  Yet I do not hear a single candidate for either party raise the issue of the disconnect between our political parties and our constitutional rights.

Wake up America!  Better yet, wake up news media and politicians who are ignorant of history and fail to understand the meaning of a republic.  As a last, gasp effort to steer them in the right direction, here is an explanation of the American system of government as envisioned by our founding fathers back before the concentration of power in our news media and political parties.

Is the United States a democracy?  Here is an explanation by

The Pledge of Alliance includes the phrase: "and to the republic for which it stands." Is the United States of America a republic? I always thought it was a democracy? What's the difference between the two?

The United States is, indeed, a republic, not a democracy. Accurately defined, a democracy is a form of government in which the people decide policy matters directly--through town hall meetings or by voting on ballot initiatives and referendums. A republic, on the other hand, is a system in which the people choose representatives who, in turn, make policy decisions on their behalf. 

The Framers of the Constitution were altogether fearful of pure democracy. Everything they read and studied taught them that pure democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths" (Federalist No. 10).

By popular usage, however, the word "democracy" come to mean a form of government in which the government derives its power from the people and is accountable to them for the use of that power. In this sense the United States might accurately be called a democracy. However, there are examples of "pure democracy" at work in the United States today that would probably trouble the Framers of the Constitution if they were still alive to see them. Many states allow for policy questions to be decided directly by the people by voting on ballot initiatives or referendums.

(Initiatives originate with, or are initiated by, the people while referendums originate with, or are referred to the people by, a state's legislative body.) That the Constitution does not provide for national ballot initiatives or referendums is indicative of the Framers' opposition to such mechanisms. They were not confident that the people had the time, wisdom or level-headedness to make complex decisions, such as those that are often presented on ballots on election day.

Writing of the merits of a republican or representative form of government, James Madison observed that one of the most important differences between a democracy and a republic is "the delegation of the government [in a republic] to a small number of citizens elected by the rest."

The primary effect of such a scheme, Madison continued, was to:

. . . refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the same purpose (Federalist No. 10).

Later, Madison elaborated on the importance of "refining and enlarging the public views" through a scheme of representation:

There are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career and to suspend the blow meditated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice and truth can regain their authority over the public mind (Federalist No. 63).

In the strictest sense of the word, the system of government established by the Constitution was never intended to be a "democracy." This is evident not only in the wording of the Pledge of Alliance but in the Constitution itself which declares that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government" (Article IV, Section 4).  Moreover, the scheme of representation and the various mechanisms for selecting representatives established by the Constitution were clearly intended to produce a republic, not a democracy.

To the extent that the United States of America has moved away from its republican roots and become more "democratic," it has strayed from the intentions of the Constitution's authors. Whether or not the trend toward more direct democracy would be smiled upon by the Framers depends on the answer to another question. Are the American people today sufficiently better informed and otherwise equipped to be wise and prudent democratic citizens than were American citizens in the late 1700s? By all accounts, the answer to this second question is an emphatic "no."

Note Data Source for statistics: U.S. Bureau of the Census. "Projected Population by Single Year of Age (0-99, 100+), Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for the United States: July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2060." Released December 2014. Web-based data files available at:


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