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Our Constitutional Republic and the Tyranny of Electoral Rules

A number of people are suggesting that delegates can abstain on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention if they are not supporters of Mitt Romney. Although I haven't studied this issue in detail, it would appear that there is no legal necessity that would prevent abstention.

Tom Mullen has written an interesting piece on the claim that Ron Paul's delegate strategy undermines the democratic process reflected in the primary results. He points out, yet again, that we are a republic and not a democracy and that the delegate process is a way to prevent "mobocracy," because only the most committed and informed individuals will be making decisions regarding the future of the country. A similar process existed before the Constitution was amended to allow the popular election of Senators, which were originally chosen by the States and not the populace at large. He writes:

Now that Paul’s success is impossible to ignore, the media are writing a new narrative. Headlines like “Ron Paul’s stealth state convention takeover” and “Ron Paul People Playing Mischief with Delegates” indicate that instead of ignoring Paul’s victories, they now seek to imply that there is something sneaky or unfair about them. Some even suggest that his delegate success in states where he did not win the popular vote may even (gasp!) “undermine democracy.”

Undermining democracy would be a good thing. If there is anything we have too much of in 21st century America; it’s democracy. The United States flourished as a free and prosperous society largely because it was founded as a republic. The reason for the bicameral legislature, the separation of powers, and the other so-called “checks and balances” was to protect us from democracy, which James Madison called “the most vile form of government....”

Ron Paul’s strategy takes advantage of the republican nature of the nomination process. That process does not rely purely on a popular vote to determine who will be the nominee. Instead, voters must go through a multi-tiered vetting process of successive elections in order to become a delegate to the RNC.

This does not remove all of the dangers inherent in a pure democracy, but it helps. At least a delegate has been forced to hear the arguments of other candidates before blindly casting a vote. He also must have the commitment necessary to endure the long delegate selection process.

That the process is republican rather than democratic does not disenfranchise anyone. Everyone has an equal opportunity to become a delegate. Everyone has an equal opportunity to read the rules. That supporters of some candidates choose not to go through the process does not “nullify their wishes.” That they choose not to become informed on how candidates are actually nominated does not represent a deception. On the contrary, the whole process is intentionally designed to ensure that uninformed or uncommitted people do not directly choose the nominee.


So, since the Constitution does not mention political parties, the question for me is: Why should "We the People" necessarily follow rules set out by an arbitrary organization like the Republican Party, which do not allow for the vetting process which Mullen describes and which is central to our Republic? Is not an organized effort to elect delegates a valuable counterweight to the tendency for a "mobocracy" to dominate the electoral process? Why should the only stipulation for voting for a president be that you have a warm body with uninformed prejudices? Such individuals can be driven to the polls like sheep. And, unfortunately, these sheepoid types seem to be in the majority and can be herded by anyone who knows how to dog their heels and their ingrained biases.

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Alternative to Abstention

I found an alternative proposal, viz., vote to change the rules to unbind the delegates.