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Op/Ed: Democracy’s Failure

JD Lock, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired), 30 January 2021


Many proclaimed that democracy didn’t fail the United States, it pretty much saved it.  The reality, though, was that democracy did fail the United States and only endured as a function of plain luck, for the threat to democracy was not from without but lay within, embedded within the U.S. Constitution, itself.

How so?  What if six additional Republicans had won a seat during the 2020 election, thus shifting the balance of power in the House to 217 Republicans and 216 Democrats, thus leaving the Republican Party in control of both chambers of Congress?

The Republican Party objected to the slate of votes presented by Arizona (11) and Pennsylvania (20).  Four other states were objected to but undebated.  Had any one of those four been successfully objected to by a simple majority in both chambers, the nullification of that state’s votes, along with Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s, would have resulted in Joe Biden’s Electoral College total falling below the necessary 270.

This would have triggered a contingent election by the House and, therein lies the deadly defect in the Constitution’s armor.  Republicans hold the majority of state delegations, 26 of the 50 legislatures.  Consequently, with just six additional House Republicans and a straight party vote throughout the certification process, Donald Trump could have overturned the election despite having lost the popular vote by seven million and Electoral College by 74.

Reelected by legally using the Constitution against itself.  Where a political party would so brazenly forsake their oath of office and betray our democracy in a treasonous, craven pursuit of maintaining power.  This was not a scenario foreseen by the Founding Fathers.

The only solution to save ourselves from ourselves is to eliminate the Electoral College, an arcane institution that has long outlasted its compromising intent.

Democracy is not perfect, nor is the Constitution.  President Abraham Lincoln once foretold, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”  On January 6, 2021, Lincoln’s warning nearly became a self-fulfilling prophecy, avoided only by the lack of six additional Republican representatives in the House.  Democracy’s survival should not have hung on six House representatives.

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