Constitution Day – Quote from Saving American Elections by Anthony Gierzynski (Cambria PIPPA Series Publication)
Quote from Cambria Press Publication
Following last night’s GOP debate and in celebration of Constitution Day, we share a quote from Anthony Gierzynski’s well-reviewed book, Saving American Elections, that astutely captures this moment in American political history:
“Americans love to have choices. In general, they demand—and get—a seemingly endless variety of options, whether groceries, home-improvement supplies, shoes, clothes, electronics, or cars. To the American way of thinking, more is always better when it comes to choices.
This obsession with choice extends to all aspects of U.S. culture, including elections. Following the more-choices-are-better mindset, the United States has, through the course of its history, haphazardly constructed a byzantine electoral structure (often in the name of reform) that affords U.S. citizens the opportunity to make more decisions about their governments than citizens in almost all other democracies. But having more choices actually renders the choices voters make less important.
Elections in the United States have not always featured so many choices. The framers of the U.S. Constitution did not create a system that would maximize direct popular control, nor did they intend to do so. Only one part of the government as originally established by the framers was popularly elected—the U.S. House of Representatives.
Originally, the Senate was chosen by state legislatures until the early twentieth century, the president by the Electoral College, and the Supreme Court justices were (as they still are) appointed. The separation of powers and the division of governmental authority between the national and state governments were designed to moderate direct popular control of government for fear that factions, “whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole,” might promote their interests at the expense of others’ or at the expense of what is good for the nation as a whole.” (p.155 from Saving American Elections)
Saving American Elections is part of the Cambria Press PIPPA Series, headed by Scott Frisch and Sean Kelly.
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