The presidential election of 2000 is one of the great non-events of modern history. Paradoxically, it may have a powerful effect in waking people up to the reality of what we laughingly call our “democratic institutions.”

So far from this election calling into question the “wisdom of the Founding Fathers,” it proves they were right to set up safeguards against the very system we have now: mob rule in principle, the party state in practice.

Here is how American presidential elections were supposed to work. The Constitution makes no mention of political parties; it allows the several states to pick electors (and senators) according to any method they like; the electors were supposed to represent the best understanding of the communities that chose them—they were, in that sense, a representative body, not a set of puppets—and whoever received the highest number of their votes became president, while the runner-up became vice president. It was a delicate and intricate system of indirect election designed to frustrate both the ambitions of demagogues and the gullibility of the people. It might have worked, but step by step—beginning with the 12th Amendment (and the Jefferson-Burr electoral pact that partly inspired it) and culminating in the 17th Amendment mandating direct election of senators—wily politicians subverted republican government and made it, increasingly, the instrument of a rotating demagogic tyranny that is no less coercive for being more subtle than other forms of tyranny.

While all the pundits (including Hillary Clinton, who really was the best man in the New York Senate race—Rick Lazio could not even project the illusion of virility) are calling for elimination of the Electoral College and implementation of true democracy, wiser heads should be thinking about going back to square one. The best and simplest step that could be taken would be to repeal every constitutional amendment after the Bill of Rights and enact into federal and state laws any provisions (e.g., prohibition of slavery) that we found desirable.

Most Americans are beginning dimly to be aware that politicians do not simply rig elections in Rockford or Dallas or Chicago, that it is not simply the Voter News Service that may or not have engaged in hanky-panky, that it is not just the biased American media that tends to hand elections to the Democrats. No, what they are beginning to suspect is that the whole damn thing is fraudulent from beginning to end. And, allowing for a little exaggeration, they are probably right.

In the original republican America—America I, let us call it—the sense of the American people was carefully weighed and measured within the autonomous states that made up the union. In such a system, all the safeguards against mob rule and despotism made perfect sense: the sovereignty of the several states, indirect election of senators by state legislatures, property qualifications, literacy requirements, congressional districts weighted toward rural districts, exclusively male suffrage in the states, the Electoral College, and even the election of a president and vice president belonging to different factions or parties.

In the pseudo-democratic America created by the followers of Lincoln, Wilson, and the Roosevelts—America II, the sequel—the Rousseauian theory of majority rule and the General Will is supposed, in principle, to function, and the Electoral College is a mere anomaly. And, as critics of this election would say, irregularities in Florida and Wisconsin (and probably in every state) are vitiating this great democratic principle.

But what is the reality? In any recent presidential election, only about half of the citizens eligible to vote actually exercised their franchise. The winning candidate may receive a slim majority of the popular vote, or have to content himself with about 48 percent this time around, or even, in 1992, with the less than 40 percent received by Bill Clinton. No matter, of course, since the two parties have so rigged the system that all but two states award, on the basis of a bare majority, all their electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes. Thus the illusion of a popular mandate, the will of the people, and other propaganda phrases repeated ad nauseam.

Now, consider the influence of journalists, who are overwhelmingly anti-Christian leftists. Throw in the big-money lobbyists of both parties that buy them television time, and do not forget the fraud, chicanery, and corruption that have characterized every election of the past 150 years, and you will begin to get the picture that America is about as democratic as Rome in the age of Julius Caesar or the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos and his successors. If any country ever needed election observers, it is the U.S.A.

Over the past 50 years, no one in his right mind believed that presidential elections expressed the mystical will of the people. This time around, either Bush or Core will take the White House with the support of less than a fourth of the media-bewildered eligible voters they pandered to. Some Americans are waking up. They have learned something even from the potted history lessons on CNN; they have discovered that neither voting machines nor manual counting are without flaws. They have seen the spectacle of both parties getting into the gutter of the courts in an effort to twist the rules to their own advantage. And some—only some, mind you—are getting fed up.

We’re not all brain-dead—not really all. And the next best thing to voting for a third party that free Americans can do is to choose not to vote for anyone at all. If more than 50 percent of them withheld their support from the (two-)party state—for any reason, good or ill—it would be more difficult for the party leaders to claim legitimacy. They would still rule us and milk us like the cattle we are, but they could not pretend that the cattle had actually sold themselves to the political herdsman. That is how revolutions begin.

Yes, as a good American and therefore a coward, I hope that Mr. Bush can take this election from Mr. Gore by any means fair or foul, but as a republican and a patriot, I would rather spend four years seething in hatred of an illegitimate government that forced me to repeat, every morning, that Tipper really is a charming lady of style and distinction than to lend my little particle of legitimacy—roughly one 200-millionth—to a regime that will always and only give us a choice between two undoubted evils.