Meritocracy After the Collapse of Democracy in America
by Terry Hulsey: Ron
Paul, After the Convention
America has failed. The Framers would not have been surprised.
idea of the American Experiment is that our several states have
united to form a republic of strictly limited federal power, not
a democracy. Without understanding this kernel idea, that the founders
repudiated democracy and consciously labored to restrain it, there
simply no possibility of understanding the meaning of America. The
most concise statement of this idea comes from Madisonís Federalist
is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and
contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security
or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in
their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.... A republic,
by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation
takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure
for which we are seeking. James
Madison, Federalist Paper #10
is the fourth and last in a series that seeks Madisonís "cure"
for the form of democracy that was feared as much as any tyranny
by virtually all of the Framers of our republic. Previously we asked:
is the essential defect of American public affairs which stymies
a return to the Constitution and to classical liberal principles?
We found the
essential defect to be the exaltation of a form of democracy alien
to the Constitution. After considering more than a dozen serious
proposals to remedy this defect, we found that all had shortcomings,
but we also saw that the task before us was clear. Madisonís original
genius was to take the Enlightenment project of applying science
to the problems of society to discover federalism, the only principle
known so far to successfully limit the scope of democracy while
preserving self-rule in a mass society. Our task was to find a way
to replace unlimited democracy, as currently institutionalized,
by restoring Madisonís original principle of federalism.
are the essential characteristics of any method that would replace
the deeply institutionalized principle of unlimited democracy?
the apparatus of the state that confronts any remedy, we found that
picking up a musket like the Concord Minutemen was least likely
to succeed: Over the course of more than two centuries the state
had erected barriers that were most formidable in that they worked
unconsciously in the mass of its subjects. However, we saw that
we were not without resource, even here. The French political philosopher
La Boétie had discovered the nonviolent principle of simply
withdrawing support for the state. The refined task then was to
come up with a simple and practical tool that applied La Boétieís
the tool must be simple, nonviolent, and suited to the times, what
can it possibly be?
We found that
the tool with the best prospect of success was conditional campaigning,
suggested by a colleague and realized in practice at the website
ThePoint.com. It overcomes the inertia of mobilizing a mass of citizens
in any opposition to a state possessed of the vast resources of
its very subjects, or for our ultimate purpose, of mobilizing their
peaceful withdrawal from overweening state power, by rewarding their
inertia in a clever way. The demoralizing, yet perfectly reasonable
complaint of "Why waste my vote?" or "Why waste my
time and money?" is silenced: No one need act or invest until
a critical mass, a like-minded quorum, is reached; and the enlistment
of this conditional support is secured by an effort no greater than
a few clicks of a mouse.
is the specific conditional campaign that will bridle democracy
by restoring federalism in Madisonís sense?
conditional campaign that will bridle democracy, that will restore
federalism in Madisonís sense, is one that mobilizes support for
the passage of the Twenty-Eighth Amendment (below) to randomize
the election of Congressmen and Senators, and indirectly, the President
of the United States.
We answer objections
to this proposal.
1. The Amendment will not provide more capable candidates than
the current system, and certainly will not provide more democratically
elected ones. Since the best candidates and the less capable candidates
will have a "statistically equal chance of selection,"
the best will assume office only by pure luck. Admittedly, the current
system does not provide a philosopher
king, but at least the victor has the approval of the majority
of voters, who therefore have no cause to show unrest when political
choices donít suit them. Since the will of the people would be expressed
entirely as a matter of chance, the Amendment would constantly invite
possibly violent discontent.
2. The Amendment does not dampen the presumed ill of democracy
Ė it inflames its worst aspect. Every two years 435 x 300, or 130,500
candidates, would stand for national office Ė and thatís not counting
of the Senate that stands for office every two years. In the
next federal election that would add 33 x 100, or 3,300 candidates
Ė 133,800 in all!
3. The Amendment will effectively annihilate political parties,
which are the only way that the public has of knowing the political
outlook of candidates. Without the vetting and approval of the party
system, there would be no way of knowing how an elected official
will vote on matters of national importance. In Congress, with no
party system to enforce fidelity to a published platform of ideas,
there would be ceaseless wrangling and nothing would be accomplished.
No national agenda would exist, since there would be no party to
publish and organize one.
4. The Amendment will place the election of the President of
the greatest nation on earth in the hands of (33 x 99) + (17 x 100)
or 4,967 randomly selected people without party affiliation, ignoring
the will of the people. Nothing would prevent these Electors from
choosing a completely unknown person, whose background and qualifications
would lack not only the examination of the party system but also
the scrutiny of public campaigning. Any President elected in this
way would become the laughingstock of nations.
5. The Amendment would replace the current system of elections,
however flawed, with a biennial carnival of chance. The character
of those presenting themselves to this spectacle would be that of
desperados with no necessary knowledge of law, statecraft, or economics.
6. Since there are two
ways to propose an Amendment Ė a two-thirds vote of both houses
of Congress or a call for a national convention by two-thirds of
the state legislatures Ė and since Congress is unlikely to vote
to destroy its method of access to power, the process of adopting
the Amendment would produce an open national convention, exposing
the nation to all of the ills of that untried process. The Amendmentís
clause to restrict the scope of any national convention to this
single Amendment is effectively demanding the enactment of a critical
part of its text merely on the basis of considering it.
contrary, the Constitution
says not one word about democracy, not one word about political
parties, and it leaves it to the states to determine the qualifications
of its Electors and the details of elections not specifically enumerated
in its text.
that, a great mythology has been erected to exalt the power
of each voter, when it should be self-evident that a single vote
is meaningless in determining the outcome of a national election.
A complementary mythology has been erected which supposes that there
exists one person who is the best representative of his electorate
in national elections. But any national election is a sampling of
the desires of a mass of voters at some moment, influenced by unpredictable
local and world events, by unforeseen turns in the economy, by rumors
and fears, by some fashion of catchwords that passes for popular
ideas. To assume that a single sampling at a single time in the
capricious national popular mood best represents the voters is a
far greater idolatry of chance than a method using a broad sampling,
over a longer time, by the mediation of several indirect bodies
to Objection 1. To admit a distinction between capable federal
elective candidates and democratically elected ones is to admit
the force of this Amendment. For what is meant by "capable"
in such a system? There is the capability of a shipbuilder in building
ships, and the capability of the mason in constructing a house;
but there is no capability whatsoever either required by law or
insisted upon by voters, even when a clearly more professional choice
is set before them. Presidents have been drawn
from the ranks of soldiers, school teachers, ranchers, tailors,
and peanut farmers; Senators have been elected from the ranks of
veterinarians, musicians, sports figures, chemists, radio talk show
hosts, firefighters, ski instructors, security guards, coroners,
morticians, and tugboat captains; and the variety among Representatives
is too prolific and spectacular to mention. But nowhere among this
wild variety is there a record of anyone elected after campaigning
as a philosopher-king; even if it were desirable, the current institution
architectonically forbids it. It is clear that the sole "capability"
of anyone elected under such a system is his capability of being
elected, without insistence upon any objective merit of vocation
or experience. The pretense of the current system in expressing
"the will of the people" is founded purely upon elective
capability, which proves that its "will of the people"
is a tautologous ephemera more evanescent than the fiction
of "society." The "will of the people" of
the current American democracy is nothing more than a talisman that
levitates quite ordinary people to the heights of public office.
It is becoming increasingly obvious to a restive populace that no
one of real ability has a chance of winning the game, and that the
pretense of fine-tuning employment, interest, and money Ė frenetically
parsing each fluctuation Ė by a mass democratic regime for the benefit
of its citizens is a machiavellian sham.
to Objection 2. How will the nationís bakers manage all
those loaves of bread? At any given time there must be millions
upon millions of them for sale! But these millions of loaves are
of no interest at all to the one man buying a few loaves from the
local market: His interest is on the shelf before him, where he
makes careful comparisons and buys exactly what he needs. This is
exactly the level of focus encouraged by this Amendment, and by
the Framers, who sought to limit the scope of democracy to the local
level, where each town hall voter knew each candidate not by the
cleverly posed advertisement but by the firmness of his handshake
and the soundness of his character. Since the several states control
the election process, there is nothing to stop them from dividing
each 300-man district into smaller units of 100, 30, or 10 men,
if that is more convenient. Indeed, such a subdivision would likely
encourage greater familiarity with the candidates, and greater local
to Objection 3. A political party is nothing more than a
despised by the Framers. Various longstanding factions offer their
candidates for national office by a haphazard process based on a
single criterion: Electability. Of course great abilities are claimed
for each candidate, and are advertised with studied melodrama. But
any virtues of an individual candidate must be subservient to the
criterion of electability because every faction imagines that once
in power their loftier goals can be realized, and that nothing can
be accomplished while out of power. A political party can never
tolerate a disinterested comparison of the abilities of the candidates,
for the triumph of the superior candidate of the opposing party
always undermines its vested interests as a party. Acrimonious politicking
instead of sober deliberation is thus institutionalized by the party
To say that
no national agenda would exist is to say that a large deliberative
group in a republic cannot arrive at purposeful action without the
myth-making, propaganda, and caricaturing of the current longstanding
factions. And if the term "national agenda" signifies
a centrally-directed secular crusade at the expense of a public
sluiced at every vein by taxation, then we concede to the objection:
Yes, the annihilation of political parties would be a blessing devoutly
to be wished.
to Objection 4. The 4,967 people serving as Electors of
the President will be drawn from those carefully selected at the
local level, drawn from the pool of would-be Senators. It must be
supposed that this number will more sober in their deliberations
than a fickle electorate composed of a mass whose single vote is
meaningless in itself. It should not be forgotten that the system
of Electors is still currently the law of the land, and no novelty.
The "will of the people" and "party system"
are fictions previously disposed of.
to Objection 5. As explained above, it is the current system
which is best characterized as "a carnival of chance"
and a kind of idolatry. Because candidates will be selected at the
level best suited to the consideration of their character, i.e.,
at the local level, it is more likely that the Amendment will produce
officials of wisdom, sobriety, and true merit, rather than media
poseurs whose primary talent is the knack of electability. By inference
the objection presents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush,
and Barack Obama as products of its system who supposedly are not
the laughingstock of nations. Which system is more likely to thwart
the wiles of "cunning,
ambitious, and unprincipled men"?
to Objection 6. The Eighteenth, ratified in 1919, as well
as the Twentieth and all subsequent Amendments have stipulated seven
year terms for their ratification. Clearly there is established
precedent for an Amendment to define the terms of its adoption.
- Each Congressional
district existing at the time of this enactment must at the next
biennial election submit to the President of the Senate the names
of 300 citizens willing to serve as United States Representatives;
and each state, at its next Senatorial election must submit the
names of 100 citizens willing to serve as United States Senators.
The qualifications and manner of providing each list of 300 Representative
candidates and 100 Senatorial candidates are to be determined
by the states respectively, with the exceptions that no particular
political party affiliation shall be considered a qualification,
and that all those qualified who present themselves for selection
must have, methodologically, a statistically equal chance of selection.
a week of the receipt of these names, the President of the Senate
must choose entirely at random one name from among those 300 for
service in each Congressional district, and choose entirely at
random one name from among those 100 for service in the Senate.
Within one week of the pronouncement by the President of the Senate
of its random choice for each seat, the Supreme Court shall validate
solely the randomness of each choice made by the President of
the Senate and no other merit. For any district not so validated,
the President of the Senate shall draw again from the 300 Representative
names and 100 Senate names already in its possession until randomness
is validated, or until three attempts have been made, after which
point a federal employee, chosen at random by the President of
the Senate and without Supreme Court validation, and earning not
more than one-twentieth the official salary of the United States
President, shall while blindfolded draw one name from a basket
containing the 300 names, or the 100 names, according to which
seat's randomness is contested, and that choice shall assume office.
to the randomness of the names as submitted by each state shall
not be heard at the federal level, nor shall any such challenge
impugn any name once received by the President of the Senate.
Redress shall be found solely within the state so challenged.
- This method
of Congressional and Senatorial election shall prevail after the
first election, as prescribed above. The phrase "by the People"
of Article I, Section 2 is hereby amended to read "randomly
by the people"; and the phrase "by the people"
of the 17th Amendment is hereby amended to read "randomly
by the people".
- In those
years when the election of Senatorial candidates shall coincide
with the quadrennial election of the United States President,
the unchosen remnant of Senatorial candidates, that is, 99 from
each state holding a Senatorial election, shall form the Electors
for those states. Those states not holding a Senatorial election
at the quadrennial election shall nonetheless submit 100 names,
as prescribed above, for the purpose of serving as Electors. They
shall convene in each of the several states at a time and place
appointed by the legislatures of those states, but no later than
one week after the random selection of their one state Senator,
as prescribed above. At that time they shall perform the duties
of Electors set forth in this Constitution, as amended.
II, Section 1, Clause 2 beginning "Each State shall appoint..."
is hereby amended to read "No person holding an office of
trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an
- Any national
convention called for the passage of this Amendment shall limit
its scope to this single Amendment. The applications of the several
states for such a convention may be differently worded, but must
be limited to the consideration of matters set forth above. Passage
must be accomplished by January 1, 2020, after which time the
amendment process must begin anew.
Hulsey [send him mail]
is a writer living in Fort Worth, Texas.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.