The Proper Role Of Presidency And The Electoral College – Constitution Alive, Segment Six, Part Two: Do we really want a democracy? What is this Electoral College thing? It’s actually the brilliant design of the Founding Fathers for how we elect our President. As we approach the elections, there are a lot of questions about the Electoral College. Do you understand it completely? On today’s broadcast, we took a deep dive into its history, why we still use it today, and an in-depth description of how it works. Tune in to listen as we continue airing Constitution Alive!
Air Date: 10/12/2022
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture; this is WallBuilders Live where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics. We’re talking about policy, faith, all these things and how they impact the culture. Of course, we’re always looking at these hot topics from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
We’re with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder of WallBuilders. Tim Barton’s with us; he’s a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And, my name is Rick Green I’m a former Texas legislator.
You can visit us online at WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com. You can also email us your questions. R[email protected] is the easiest way to do that.
Just send in your questions; or, maybe you’ve got a topic you would like us to cover here on WallBuilders Live! We’re constantly looking at things from both a Biblical and historical point of view.
Constitution Alive! with David Barton and Rick Green
And, David and I had the chance to do that for an extended period of time together in a program we recently put together called Constitution Alive! with David Barton and Rick Green. This was a chance for us to walk through the Constitution and say, “Look; this document is not dead. Yeah, it was more than 200 years ago; but, the principles they put in place are still alive and applicable today.”
And, if we’re going to restore our constitutional republic, we’ve got to realize that our Constitution still applies. If we want to make a change in it, fine. Article 5 gives us the ability to do that.
It should not be done by five out of the nine justices on a whim, based on how they feel. It should be done in the constitutional way laid out there in Article 5 of the Constitution. But frankly, folks, the principles put in place by our Founding Fathers produced the most successful nation in the history of the world.
This formula works; this secret sauce for how a nation should operate absolutely produced incredible results. And, if we want to keep those results and remain free, if we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy freedom and prosperity, then we better restore those constitutional principles. The only way to do that is for us, We the People, the citizens, to learn what the Constitution says, what the Founders intended, what that original intent of the Constitution was.
Then, learn how to protect and preserve it, defend it, and actually stand up for those principles. And, that’s what David and I do in Constitution Alive! It’s a 12-hour program; so, there’s no way we can squeeze it all into today’s radio program. But, we encourage you to check it out.
You can find out more at ConstitutionAlive.com. We’re going to bring it to you here on WallBuilders Live! We’ve shared a couple of the sections of that entire program over the last month or two.
Section Six: The Presidency
And, this week, we’re sharing a news section we’re sharing “Section Six” which is on the presidency. We wanted to point out from the original document what are the proper powers of the presidency. Then, what can we do to get the presidency into its proper place and make sure that it’s done constitutionally?
So, today we’re picking up where we left off yesterday. This is going to take four programs for us to share “Section Six” out of Constitution Alive! Yesterday was Part One; today, Part Two, and we’ll get Part Three and Four over the next couple of days.
So, let’s pick up right where we left off yesterday. This is David Barton and Rick Green on Constitution Alive!
John Jay, exactly, first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. One of those authors of the Federalist Papers. And, here’s the quote that drove everything we did last night; and, it will again tonight as well.
He said, “Every member of the state,” so, that’s all of us, “ought diligently to read and to study….” Again, remember that what we talked about was the “study” part means we’re going to crack open the minds of the Founding Fathers, get inside there, and find out what they were thinking, intended, and actually were trying to do with the words they put into the Declaration and the Constitution. So, “read and study the Constitution.”
“Teach the Rising Generation to be Free.”
And then, “teach the rising generation to be free.” I love that phrase, that idea of passing the torch of freedom to the next generation, making sure that they get it as well. It’s not enough for us to study it; we’ve got to pass it intact to the next generation.
“By knowing their rights, they’ll sooner perceive when they’ve been violated and be the better prepared to defend and assert them.” So, our purpose is to know our rights, know what these guys we’re putting in place for us, and then know how we’re to constitutionally, properly defend and assert them. That will drive everything that we do. And so, we spent a little time last night talking about the seeds of liberty, what these guys in this room actually put into those documents that caused us to be the most successful nation in history. And, I told you last night, coming in here reminds me of National Treasures and in Nicholas Cage coming in here and finding the glasses, the secret message on the back of the Declaration. Obviously, we’re not going to have anything like that happen.
The Seeds of Liberty
But, we are going to be reminded and restore that message on the front side of the Declaration and the Constitution, those words given to the world, really defining our secret sauce, our formula, for the future of our nation. And, it worked incredibly well. The seeds that they planted gave us the most successful nation ever.
We talked; or, at least the kids came up and explained those four principles out of the Declaration, the idea that there are truths and concepts of right and wrong, that these guys were willing to pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. They wouldn’t do that for just anything. They did it because they believed in right and wrong, moral absolutes, and a set of values, a set of ideas that was worth fighting and dying for.
And, I mentioned last night that quote from George Washington. It comes from this speech right here; it’s his farewell address. This is actually a 1796 printing of that address; it’s an old, old book.
And, I want to just read directly out of the book for you if I can. It’s tough, that Old English, and the way they did the S’s and all of that. But, let’s see if I can get it right for you.
“Religion and Morality are Indispensable Supports.”
He said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, the firmest props of the duties of man and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them.
“A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.”
Moment From American History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Revisionists today often assert that our Founding Fathers were atheists, or agnostic, or deists. This charge is not new. In fact, Patrick Henry was even called a deist in his lifetime.
Clearly, no one could question his patriotism. But, Henry was hurt that they would question his Christianity. Against the charges he was a deist, Patrick Henry thundered,
“Deism with me is but another name for bias and depravity. I hear it is said by the deists that I am one of their number. And, indeed, there are some good people think I am no Christian. This thought gives me much more pain than being called a traitor. Being a Christian is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast.”
Patrick Henry was quick to refute the charge of deism and to declare his open belief as a Christian. For more information on God’s hand in American history, contact WallBuilders at 1-800-8- REBUILD.
Being Held Accountable to a Higher Being
He was saying that religion and morality were connected to both our private happiness and our public happiness. For our nation to be successful, it was connected that.
“Let it be firmly asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice.”
He’s saying that if you don’t have that private expectation of I’m going to be held accountable to a higher being, then when you take an oath in court, for instance, you’ve got no reason to tell the truth. Why would you tell the truth if nobody else there would know? That oath means nothing without that belief in God, without that belief that there’s Somebody that’s going to hold me accountable outside of just this group in the room.
So, he goes on to talk about the importance in religion and education. I just think it’s so neat to bring these guys, bring their actual words from over 200 years ago, and be reminded of what they gave us. We also talked about the fact that they did believe that there was a higher being that that’s the source of our freedom.
We don’t give it to each other or get it from government. It comes from God; therefore, government can’t take it away. We can’t take it from each other, a very important concept.
The Consent of the Governed
Then, we talked about the consent of the governed, the idea that the only just power of government comes from us. It comes from you, comes from me. We’ve got to be engaged giving or refusing that consent.
And, lastly, Rhett talked about the pursuit of happiness. The free enterprise system that’s so important to our system of government.
Then, we went into kind of stepping back and saying, “What’s the 30,000-foot view?” And, remember how quickly we flew through the entire Constitution, just to get a big picture of what it’s all about. We covered the seven articles, 27 amendments.
And, we just flew through all of them, skipped over the Bill of Rights, which we’ll get to tonight. But, it gave us a big picture. Then, we zoomed in during the last part of our class to the enumerated powers of Congress, what the do’s of Congress actually are.
And we found those in Article 1, Section 8, and spend our time on Article 1, Section 8 to identify those important do’s of Congress, those enumerated powers.
Tonight what we want to do is dive in now to Article 2. We want to step in and see what the executive branch was designed to do. What’s the proper function of the presidency in our nation?
We’re not going to be able to cover every little thing in our Quick Start Guide. I’ve tried to pick out some of the hot topics, if you will, the things that have been in the news lately, and the things that we’re most concerned about with regard to the executive branch. So, we’re going to jump into the presidency.
And, there are a lot of things we could talk about. We’re not going to go through much of the details in terms of two terms, age requirements, that sort of thing. I want to jump right into the Electoral College first because this is an idea that really encapsulated what these men thought was important.
The Electoral College
As we said last night, for our special form of a republic, for our kind of federalism, we wanted representation at the federal level for the people and for the states. That’s why the House was elected by the people, and the Senate by the state legislatures, until we changed that with the 17th. But, the Electoral College was still a way for both the people to have a voice and the states to have a voice.
You and I, we get to vote for president; but then, our vote is cast with our state. So, we get our individual vote within our state; then, our state casts its votes together, within the Electoral College. So, here’s a couple of maps that give you an idea of that.
In the 2004 election, you see the red states and blue states. That’s a breakdown of how the states voted for president. Then, the 2008 results, that was actually the first time, by the way, that we had a state split their vote. It was Nebraska; you had actually one district in Nebraska–Maine and Nebraska are the only ones that have it in their state requirements for how they choose their electors and can actually split their vote.
But, this was the first time that had happened. One district actually went to President Obama. All four of the other delegates for Nebraska went to John McCain.
But, what these guys did when they gathered in here, they really had a hard time initially deciding how they wanted to set up the presidency. They looked at a lot of different options. There was actually a committee of eleven guys that debated.
Why Not Be Like Europe?
They said, “Okay, should we have, for instance, the Congress choose the presidency, sort of a parliamentarian system like many nations in Europe?” It was said, “No, that’s a bad idea because we’ve seen what happens. The president is held to just those folks that elected him out of Congress.”
He’s kind of feels like he’s beholden to those guys and they get special favors back and forth. The Founders just didn’t like that idea. So, they said, “Well, how about direct election by the people?”
And they said, “No, we don’t like that idea because you’ll have the most populated areas outvoting in the more rural areas. There’ll be regions of the nation going against other regions of the nation.” They said, “Well, why don’t we have the states choose?
“Just have 13 votes and the states choose.” They said, “No, same problem. You got certain regions of the of the nation, or you’ll have the small states ganging up against the big states. It just won’t work.”
“We’ll Give the People and the States a Voice.”
So, they came up with a brilliant idea, the Electoral College, which combined all three of those things. They said, “Actually, what we’ll do is let the people have a voice. Then, it’ll be within the states; and, if no one wins the majority of the Electoral College, then it goes to Congress. And, Congress gets to decide at that point,” which has actually happened before.
It happened with John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, who was in here for the Declaration. But, here’s what they really–the concept behind the compromise that they made with those three things. They said, “We want two things to occur.
“We believe that our executive, our president, should have two things: a sufficient vote of the people, not necessarily the majority of individual votes, but a sufficient vote, meaning real close, if not the most. Also, he should have a sufficient distribution of that vote.
So, not just have a lot of votes, but have those votes spread across the nation. And, that’s how the Electoral College sort of encompasses those two requirements. Probably the closest thing to that that we’ve seen, in our lifetime anyway, was of course, the 2000 race, where you had two candidates that got very, very close on the popular vote, on the number of individual votes.
Four Times the President Lost the Popular Vote
Al Gore edged out George Bush on the number of votes; but, they both had a sufficient number of votes. Bush had more of a distribution of votes. If you just look at the map there with the red and blue, clearly his vote was distributed more across the nation. So, he edged out, just barely, in the Electoral College.
That’s not the first time. We’ve had four times where the president lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College or was chosen by Congress. So, this balance that they gave has actually served us really well.
The Electoral College has been a great tool for us as a nation. And, I like the way Benjamin Rush describes why they thought it was so important not to have just a popular vote, in terms of your big cities being the ones that choose. Just think about it.
I mean, if you had just a popular vote and not Electoral College, who’s going to be the major deciders for who’s going to be president? You’re big cities, even in the state. So, you’re going to Houston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York. And, that’s going to be where the vast majority” those are the only places the president is going to campaign.
Hi, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders and I want to encourage all the pastors out there with a unique opportunity that we’re presenting it WallBuilders. We’re doing a special tour just for pastors that you can come and learn more about the spiritual heritage of our nation. Not just seeing the sights but understanding the significance of what they are and what they represent.
We get to go to the Capitol at night. And, we get to see the spiritual heritage of our Founding Fathers, of who we are as a nation, where we came from. We bring in congressman that will tell you about current legislation, about our religious liberties and freedom, and what’s going on in Washington, D.C.
If you’re a pastor or if you want to recommend your pastor for this trip, you can go to our website at www.WallBuilders.com. And, there’s a link that’s for scheduling. If you click on that link there’s a section for pastor’s briefing. There’s more information about the dates, when it’s going, and how it’s going to happen. If you want to know more about our nation, our religious liberties, our freedom, our spiritual heritage, this is a trip you want to be a part of.
Benjamin Rush on the Electoral College
Your big cities are going to be where your presidential elections really take place.
Here’s what Benjamin Rush” now, Rush was a great Founding Father. He’s one of the guys who sat here and gave us our Declaration of Independence.
He was a medical doctor, trained about 2000 doctors. He was just an incredible guy, a real renaissance man who did a lot of amazing things. But, I love the way he says this, and you’ll just have to forgive the description that he uses.
He’s a medical doctor, alright; you’ll recognize why I’m saying that in a second. He said, “I view great cities as pestilential fuel to the morals, the health, and the liberties of man.” This is in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
He’s telling Jefferson, “I agree with you and your opinion of cities.” Further, “Cowper, the poet, very happily expresses our ideas of them compared with the country: “God made the country; man made the cities.’ I consider them with the same light that I do abscesses on the human body; it has reservoirs of all the impurities of the community.”
You know, I mean, when you think about that” now, I’m a country boy; so, I get a good kick out of that, all right? But, even if you’re a city boy, think about it. What he’s saying is–
The Nature of Man
Remember, these guys were really into understanding the nature of man, and they understood the depravity of man, that just the nature of man is that they’re going to do bad things. And, if you have a lot of people congregated together, you’re gonna get more bad things. It’s just the nature of mAn.
So, they said, “We don’t want those great cities to be making the decision, but want it to be spread all across the nation.” Now, though, there’s a movement to reverse what these guys did. It’s called the National Popular Vote movement.
National Popular Vote
And, what they’re doing is using Article 2, Section 1 language. You can actually turn to that on page 18 of your Constitution Made Easy. And, what they’re doing is they’re saying, “Look; it says that any state can can choose their electors any way that they want.”
You see the language there: “Each state shall appoint in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct a number of electors,” it goes on to describe. And, that’s true. The state gets to choose how they’re going to choose the electors.
I cannot possibly imagine that these men would have ever thought that the choice that a state would make would be to not choose, because that’s what National Popular Vote does. If a state adopts National Popular Vote, what they say is, “No matter what the people in our state choose, if another candidate gets the popular vote in the nation, our Electoral College votes go to that person.”
So, in other words, if you think back to that map that I showed earlier and take my home state of Texas in the 2008 election; it went for McCain. But, if we had adopted National Popular Vote, our Electoral College votes would have gone to Obama. You think of a state like California that clearly supported President Obama, their Electoral College, had McCain gotten the popular vote, their Electoral College votes would have been taken away from Obama and given to McCain.
Who Wants a Pure Democracy?
It really is, I think, a very bad idea that’s going to become very unpopular once it actually kicks in, if it kicks in. And, it will kick in once enough states adopt this law that the total of the states that have adopted it is more than 270, because that’s the magic number in the Electoral College to win the presidency. So, let’s look at why they’re doing it.
This assemblyman up and in New York is actually a Republican assemblyman. He said, “The Electoral College is an 18th-century anachronism that no longer serves the goals of a pure democracy.” Do we want a pure democracy?
Anybody here want a pure democracy? Do you think any of these guys wanted a pure democracy? Absolutely not.
Witherspoon, Adams, & Rush on Democracy
They were incredibly outspoken against a pure democracy. In fact, that phrase is used by John Witherspoon. Witherspoon sat here, was a very influential man among the Founding Fathers, gave us the Declaration of Independence, trained a lot of these guys.
Witherspoon said this about pure democracy: “Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the Department of State. It is very subject to comprising the madness of popular rage.” “The madness of popular rage.”
Here’s John Adams: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
And, then back to Benjamin Rush Benjamin Rush, who said it best: “A simple democracy is one of the greatest of evils. A democracy is a mob-ocracy.”
They didn’t want a democracy. It Drives me nuts when a lot of my friends in the political realm talk about how they’re for democracy and want democracy. That word, certainly as understood by these guys, was very different from a republic.
We’re Going to Be a Republic
They did not want a democracy. In fact, in Article 4, Section 4, our Constitution guarantees we’re going to be a republic, and that every state is going to be guaranteed to be a republic. Take a look at that slide there.
That’s the states that have already adopted National Popular Vote. If you add up their Electoral College votes, we’re halfway there to getting rid of the Electoral College. That’s 132; and, it’s probably going to be adopted by New York.
There’s several states that are seriously considering it right now. I personally think the momentum is against what I prefer, which is what these guys prefer, the Electoral College. National Popular Vote is gaining steam in the nation.
And, the reason, if you think about it, it’s actually the arguments for them are quite simple: Shouldn’t the person with the most votes win? And, that sounds great if you don’t understand federalism, if you don’t understand a republic, if you don’t understand the idea of the states having a voice, and all the things we just talked about with the Founders.
Unfortunately in one line, you can tell their side of the story. How long did it take me to go through and explain the value of having an Electoral College? So, it’s harder for us.
Education of the Public is a Must
That’s why we have to educate people about what these guys were thinking, what the purpose of the Electoral College was, and why it’s been good for us as a nation. I do think we can turn the tide on this, because it’s something that just requires education. The fact that we’ve had 5000 people go through this class already, I think if we get enough people studying the Constitution and the original ideas, we can win that battle.
But, it’s gonna take a lot of work. You guys are from all over the country. I challenge you to go home to your state, find out if there’s a bill being considered in the legislature to abolish the Electoral College or adopt the National Popular Vote, and lobby against it.
I encourage you to do that and protect the constitutional idea that these guys put into our original document. So, that’s the Electoral College.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution but just felt like, man, the classes are boring or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago or I don’t know where to start? People want to know. But, it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the Constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the Constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the QuickStart guide to the Constitution because in just a few hours through these videos you will learn the Citizen’s Guide to America’s Constitution. You’ll learn what you need to do to help save our Constitutional Republic. It’s fun! It’s entertaining! And, it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at WallBuilders.com.
Importance of the Oath of Office
You guys got a question on that one before I move on to the next part of the presidency?
This is from Sabrina in Michigan; it’s more of a general question. She asks, “Well, since the emphasis on the oath of office was huge for the Founders, how do we emphasize the importance of the oath of office for the legislature, presidency, and judiciary? How do we enforce or encourage enforcement?
Great question. So, the question for Michigan was: If the oath of office was so important to these guys, and they talked about the meaning behind it and why it meant that you were accountable to someone besides those in the room, how do we–I guess if I could rephrase what she said–re-emphasize that today? How do we get back to that idea, so that when people take an oath as a legislator, for instance, or as a judge, that they again take that oath very seriously and are true to that oath?
Because if you think about it, if you get elected to the legislature, for instance, most of what you do is not in the public eye. Most votes are not record votes. The majority of deals, if you will, are made behind the scenes.
Honesty and Integrity Are a Big Deal
Most of the activity happens in committee; all that stuff is going on behind the scenes. That’s why the Founders were so big on the idea that you’ve got to vote for honest people, people of integrity that you can trust, because you’re not going to be able to hold them accountable in everything that they do.
Yes, you get that voting record where they do keep the voting records; you can hold them accountable in that way. But, it’s limited. And so, honesty and integrity was a big deal.
So, if you elect people that are honest and have integrity, then that oath is going to be very important to them. When they take that oath, they’re going to want to uphold the Constitution and uphold that oath. I think the answer to the question is, the way you get those running for office to take it seriously when they win is for We the People to demanded of them.
RICK in Studio:
We’re out of time for today, folks. That was Part Two in a four-part series this week where we are sharing “Section Six” out of Constitution Alive! with David Barton and Rick Green. That’s our Quick Start Guide to the Constitution.
The Proper Role Of Presidency! Constitution Alive!
It’s our 12-hour program where we walk you through the entire Constitution, every article, every amendment; and, we give you the original intent. Half of our time spent in Philadelphia, in Independence Hall where the constitution was framed. The other half of our time is spent in the WallBuilders’ library, where David takes things off the shelves and shares with you those original documents and that amazing library.
And, we talk about what the Founding Fathers originally intended with the Constitution, each and every clause. Then, we talk about how to restore it, what we can do to restore our Constitutional Republic.
This week we’re sharing with you the section on the presidency. Today was Part Two out of Four parts. Tomorrow we will pick up right where we left off today.
If for some reason you missed Part One yesterday, you can get it right now at WallBuildersLive.com, in the archives section. The same goes for today.
Be sure and share those links with your friends and family.
And, we’ll pick up tomorrow; then, we’ll get the conclusion the following day. Thank you for listening today to WallBuilders Livewith David Barton and Rick Green.