CULTURAL REVOLUTIONSrnTHE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONrnof 2000 is one of the great non-events ofrnmodern history. Paradoxicallv, it mayhaverna powerful effect in waking peoplernup to the realit)’ of what we laughinglyrncall our “democrahc institutions.”rnSo f;ir from this election calling intornquestion the “wisdom of the FoundingrnP’athers,” it proves tliey were right to setrnup safeguards against the very system wcrnhave now: mob rule in principle, the part}’rnstate in practice.rnHere is how American presidentialrnelections were supposed to work. ThernConshtution makes no mention of politicalrnparties; it allows the several .states tornpick electors (and senators) according tornany method they like; the electors werernsupposed to represent the best understandingrnof the communities that chosernthem—they were, in that sense, a representativernbody, not a set of puppets—andrnwhoever received the highest number ofrntheir votes became president, while thernrunner-up became vice president. It wasrna delicate and intricate system of indirectrnelection designed to frustrate both thernambitions of demagogues and the gullibilityrnof the people. It might havernworked, but step bv step — beginningrnwith the 12th Amendment (and the Jefferson-rnBurr electoral pact that partly inspiredrnit) and culminating in the 17thrnAmendment mandating direct electionrnof senators —wilv politicians subvertedrnrepublican government and made it, increasingly,rnthe instrument of a rotahngrndemagogic tyranny that is no less coercivernfor being more subtle than otherrnforms of t}’ranny.rnWhile all the pundits (includingrnHillar)- Clinton, who really was the bestrnman in the New York Senate race —RickrnLazio could not een project the illusionrnof virilit}) are calling for elimination ofrnthe Electoral College and implementationrnof true democracy, wiser headsrnshould be thinking about going back tornsc|uare one. The best and simplest steprnthat could be taken would be to repeal everyrnconstitutional amendment after thernBill of Rights and enact into federal andrnstate laws any provisions (e.g., prohibitionrnof slaverv) that we found desirable.rnMost Americans are beginning dimlyrnto be aware that politicians do not simplyrnrig elections in Rockford or Dallas orrnChicago, that it is not simply the VoterrnNews Service that mav or not have engagedrnin hanky-pank, that it is not justrnthe biased American media that tends tornhand elections to the Democrats. No,rnwhat they are beginning to suspect is thatrnthe whole damn thing is fraudulent fromrnbeginning to end. And, allowing for a littlernexaggeration, they are probably right.rnIn the original republican America —rnAmerica I, let us call it—the sense of thernAmerican people was carefully weighedrnand measured within the autonomousrnstates that made up the union. In such arnsystem, all the safeguards against mobrnrule and despotism made perfect sense:rnthe sovereignty of the se’eral states, indirectrnelection of senators bv state legislatures,rnproperty qualifications, literacyrnrequirements, congressional districtsrnweighted toward rural districts, exclusiveh’rnmale suffrage in the states, the ElectoralrnCollege, and even the elecHon of arnpresident and vice president belonging torndifferent factions or parties.rnIn the pseudo-democratic Americarncreated by the followers of Lincoln, Wilson,rnand the Roosevelts—America II, thernsequel —the Rousseauian theory of majorit}’rnrule and the General Will is supposed,rnin principle, to function, and thernElectoral College is a mere anomaly.rnAnd, as critics of this election would say,rnirregularities in Florida and Wisconsinrn(and probably in every state) are vitiatingrnthis great democratic principle.rnBut what is the reality? In any recentrnpresidential election, only about half ofrnthe citizens eligible to vote actuallv exercisedrntheir franchise. The winning candidaternmay receive a slim majority of thernpopular vote, or have to content himselfrnwith about 48 percent this time around,rnor even, in 1992, with the less than 40rnpercent received by Bill Clinton. Nornmatter, of course, since the two partiesrnhave so rigged the system that all but hvornstates award, on the basis of a bare majorit}’,rnall their electoral votes to the candidaternwho recei’es the most votes. Thusrnthe illusion of a popular mandate, thernwill of the people, and other propagandarnphrases repeated ad nauseam.rnNow, consider the influence of journalists,rnwho are overwhelmingly anti-rnChristian leftists. Throw in the big-moneyrnlobbyists of both parties that buy themrntelevision time, and do not forget thernfraud, chicanery, and corruption thatrnhave characterized ever}- election of thernpast 150 years, and you will begin to getrnthe picture that America is about asrndemocratic as Rome in the age of JuliusrnCaesar or the Philippines under FerdinandrnMarcos and his successors. If anyrncountr)’ ever needed election observers, itrnistheU.S.A.rnOver the past 50 years, no one in hisrnright mind believed that presidentialrnelections expressed the mvstical will ofrnthe people. This time aroimd, eitherrnBush or Core will take the White Housernwith die support of less than a fourth ofrnthe media-bewildered eligible voters the’rnpandered to. Some Americans are wakingrnup. They have learned somethingrneven from the potted history lessons onrnCNN; they have discovered that neitherrnvoting machines nor manual countingrnare without flaws. They have seen thernspectacle of both parties getting into therngutter of the courts in an effort to twistrnthe rules to their own adantage. Andrnsome — only some, mind you — are gettingrnfed up.rnWe’re not all brain-dead — not reallv all.rnAnd the next best thing to voting for a thirdrnparty that free Americans can do is tornchoose not to vote for anyone at all. Ifrnmore than 50 percent of them withheldrntheir support from the (two-)party state —rnfor any reason, good or ill —it would bernmore difiFicult for the part}’ leaders to claimrnlegitimacy. The’ would still rule us andrnBOOK OF NEXT MONTHrnOur book for next month is the Penguin Classics editionrnof Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Thisrnfirsthand account of the descent of a state from a republicrninto an empire is the kind of histop,- that Americans havernnever been able to write about their own country.rnJANUARY 2001/7rnrnrn