The Constitution and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers

By Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Jan 02, 2020

I am not sure that many folks today understand the wisdom of those men of more than two centuries ago who wrote our United States Constitution. People seem confused or have no knowledge about what is going on in our government today. The emotion of the moment seems to be more important than the “why” of how the government functions.

There is a common thread in this confusion. Why are the representatives in the House of Representatives elected to shorter terms and more frequently than the senators in the Senate? Why is there an Electoral College? Why are there three co-equal branches of our government?

Basic public education in times gone by instilled this information in students before they entered into adulthood and began participating in the electoral process. I am not so sure that this happens today.

Why are the representatives in the House of Representatives elected to shorter terms than the senators in the Senate? The House of Representatives is to be the “people’s house.” It is to be a reflection of the general population of the country. The short two-year terms are so that as the views of the voters change the representation in the House will change to reflect that on a frequent basis.

The Senate is not designed to be a representation of the general population, but is to be a representation of the states. Two senators are elected from each state. The senatorial election process was changed by amendment but the design remains the same, as senators are elected from each state to six-year terms with the terms staggered so that one third of the total number of senators are elected every two years .

The wisdom of this design is currently on display in the impeachment process of our current president. A totally partisan display of power has resulted in a vote to impeach President Trump by the House of Representatives. Due process was completely ignored and much of this process was carried out in complete secrecy by the Democrats. The Democrats successfully voted in a totally partisan manner for impeachment. However, the process must be completed in the Senate.

The Senate is controlled by Republicans and the House Democrats seem to now realize that the Senate is also capable of a completely partisan trial. This is exactly what the Founding Fathers wanted to avoid. By making the process difficult, they thought that impeachment would be rare and for such extraordinary offenses that partisanship would be laid aside.

Why is there an Electoral College? In the colonial United States there were some relatively large cities and much of the rest of the country was rural. As the United States matured, the development of our demographics has remained remarkably similar. We have numerous large cities and much of the country is rural. The founding fathers did not want the highly populated cities and/or states to rule the country at the expense of the less populated areas.

Much has been made of the fact that President Trump did not gain the majority of the popular vote in the 2016 election. However, the loss of the popular vote was 100% due to the voting in the New York City area, the Los Angeles area, and other large cities. The foresight of the founders was accurate in that they did not want the country dominated by just the big cities.

Let us remember that one of America’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, only received roughly 40% of the popular vote and yet became president because of the Electoral College.

Why are there three co-equal branches of government? The founding fathers understood that, from the beginning of civilization, humankind has always had a quest for more and more power. In our governmental system, Congress alone cannot dictate new law, as the president must agree. If the president does not agree, then his veto must be overridden by a supermajority in the House of Representatives and the Senate before it can become law. If the Congress and the president agree on a law and the general public finds the law onerous, then the public may petition the courts for relief and the courts may choose to nullify the law.

All of this is designed so that out-of-control raw power can be held in check. Consensus and gridlock were built into the system and they are formally called “checks and balances.”

Before condemning the process, Americans should take time to understand the wisdom behind the dictates of the Constitution.

Comments (8)
Posted by: Stephen J. Melchiskey | Jan 08, 2020 17:20

Wow, regardless of if you realize it or not, Ron both eviscerated and excoriated your arguments in one fell swoop. I often wonder how it feels when the various so called “Concerned Citizens “ are faced with their twisted reasoning and bases being exposed.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Jan 08, 2020 11:40

And it took you all this time to find it, Dale?  Or to Google "Clinton impeachment?"  Why even ten year olds are better than that.  And what exactly are your thoughts on Judge Andrew Napolitano's statements?  Or did you just ignore them like conservatives do with every contradiction.  No doubt.



Oh, and by the way, here's the real reason for the Electoral college as stated by:

 

"Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Paper Number 68:  The Electors were supposed to stop a candidate with “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming President. The Electors were supposed to be “men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.”

 

They were to “possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations” as the selection of the President, and they were supposed to “afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder.” They were even supposed to prevent “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”

 

Hamilton was talking about demagogues. The word “demagogue” appears in both the first and last Federalist Papers; in Federalist Paper Number 1, for instance, Hamilton worried about the “military despotism of a victorious demagogue.”
http://time.com/4575119/electoral-college-demagogues/


Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68:

 

"Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office."

 

I wonder if Hamilton realized that the electors could also undermine"an immediate act of the people of America" by giving the office to someone of "low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” in spite of the popular vote going to his opponent?

 

 

A few years later he elaborated:

 

"The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion. .??.??. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’ " -Alexander Hamilton, a few years after Federalist 68, when serving in the Washington administration

 

Really, could he have been describing trump any more perfectly?



Posted by: Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Jan 08, 2020 10:37

Ron

I do happen to have a hard copy of the Federalist Papers and to research them.  Do you?  In addition look up "Clinton Impeachment" on Wikipedia.  Ken Starr was appointed by a Democrat Attorney General, Janet Reno and the entire process was orderly and very non-partisan.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Jan 04, 2020 14:49

Here ya' go, Dale.   A little help with your "research" from a Fox News expert, no less.

 


"Fox’s legal expert Judge Andrew Napolitano has emerged as one of the few voices defending the facts on his network, and today he revealed the real reason why House Democrats are able to hold closed depositions for the impeachment inquiry into the president’s abuse of power.

 

“I’ll tell you what I did for you, Kilmeade,” said Napolitano to the Fox & Friends co-host who said ‘ok’ meekly in reply. “I read the House rules. And as frustrating as it may be to have these hearings going on behind closed doors; the hearings over which Congressman Adam Schiff is presiding. They are consistent with the rules.”

 

“And when were the rules written last? In January 2015,” said Napolitano “And who signed them? [Former GOP Speaker] John Boehner [R-OH].

 

“And who enacted them? A Republican majority,” he concluded.

 

The rules say, this initial level of inquiry can be done in secret,” said the former New Jersey judge, who has recently drawn lie-filled public criticism from the President.

 

That’s right, it was House Republicans who engaged in a multi-year quest to abuse the powers of Congress to engage in baseless investigations with ever-increasing consequences. Under Speaker Boehner, the House weaponized its subpoena powers when it expanded Oversight Committee Chairman’s unilateral subpoena power by extending it to fourteen committees.

 

Closed-door depositions were used extensively in the House GOP’s Select Benghazi panel.

 

Napolitano concluded that the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s quid pro quos for election help with taxpayer money appropriated for Ukraine “is like presenting a case to a grand jury, and that’s never done in public."
https://occupydemocrats.com/2019/10/24/foxs-napolitano-sorry-republicans-the-hearing-rules-schiff-is-following-were-written-by-you/?fbclid=IwAR37-fKEJVf34rHBF4G5V4OWyCVebnPQHnxXBeR-4o0v91J4t7ZH9BewdGA



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Jan 02, 2020 14:43

You know, Dale, most responsible writers do their research before submitting for publication but since you're the Trump supporter I suspect truth and accuracy are of little concern.  I suggest you start your education with the Federalist papers.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jan 02, 2020 12:44

Not knowing the constitution has nothing to do with a bunch of dishonest politicians. Most people realize that greed has overridden any sense of fairness. It seems the more educated and wealthy one becomes, the less they care about anyone but themselves. Write a column about some poor working stiff trying enjoy living on substandard wages. People that have never gone without should not dictate to the masses.

 



Posted by: Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Jan 02, 2020 12:13

Ron

Once again a nice job of ignoring the premise of the entire article.  I also think your claim about the Republicans and the Clinton impeachment is either completely off base or ignores the differences in the process at the time.  However, I hope to do a little research and come back to this.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Jan 02, 2020 10:32

"Due process was completely ignored and much of this process was carried out in complete secrecy by the Democrats."

 

All according to rules created by the Republican party during the Clinton impeachment.

 

Just another "partisan" screed by our local right wing cabal.



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