2nd Am Rev- anti-democrtc text – cut & pasted my other files

January 30, 2018

Anti-democratic text

As mentioned earlier, the Founding Fathers concluded that the length of federal office – 2, 4 or 6 years — would give members of Congress and the president btw 1 and 5 years of ‘protection’ from the negative effects of public opinion. This decision is more understandable when you know that the House of Representatives used to be elected for only one year. Doubling it to two years meant their first year in Congress could be solely focused on passing legislation that the ‘masses’ might not understand or approve of.

In addition to the effect of longer terms for federal office, citizens in the colonial period of our history had to travel hundreds of miles over rugged terrain on unpaved roads in horse-drawn buggies in order to personally confront federally-elected representatives in Washington, DC. When this physical barrier was combined with the issue of lapsed time – the many years btw elections, the political influence of elected and appointed officials was virtually walled off from real-time public view, thus protecting these representatives and their appointees from an electoral backlash.

The Founding Fathers, who believed these obviously smarter and more ethical office holders needed freedom from public scrutiny in order to work their ‘magic’ unencumbered. During this freewheeling phase, the “smartest guys in the room” would pass legislation they firmly believed would be “good for the country”, but might not be embraced by most ordinary citizens, who weren’t smart enough to understand why it was such a good idea.

This fear-based form of democracy actually contained a strong anti-democratic element, which was made more pernicious by the Founding Fathers’ assumption that the American population generally wasn’t able to understand the complex concepts of governing. At the same time, our Founders were justifiable afraid that politically active factions, should they find out about the proposed legislation before it was a ‘done deal’, could successfully block passage of these “good for Americans” laws favored by the Congress and president during the first several decades of our federal government. This provided another rational for blocking access and political influence by ordinary citizens.