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Mazzuca: Double jeopardy

Life will go on regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, but the recent election pulled back the curtain on a very troubling aspect of our political process. It appears the mainstream media and much of voting public has either forgotten or has never understood the underpinnings of our republic.

Born out of the enlightenment, our founding documents are the philosophical descendants of Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau, great thinkers whose core philosophies were studied and expanded by the Founding Fathers and formed much of the basis for our Constitution.

The founders wanted a government that allowed for as much personal freedom as possible while still protecting the life, liberty and property of its citizens. They understood too, that the power of the federal government had to be limited, so they provided us with the Bill of Rights — the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.

Most know the First Amendment provides for freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition, and religion; but how many realize of those five guarantees that “freedom of the press” was intended to be the unofficial fourth branch of government?

The founders envisioned a free press as the watchdog to keep the government in check by informing the citizenry of potential abuses to our liberties. As Thomas Jefferson told us, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” But over the past four years “the press,” i.e., what we refer to today as the mainstream media, has not been a neutral arbiter of ideas or information; in fact, quite the opposite.

The first priority of those seeking power is to control information, which is also the first step toward creating a totalitarian state; compelling one to ask, why has the media relinquished Jefferson’s mandate?

Once upon a time, newspapers investigated and reported their findings. But today the big media outlets such as the New York Times create the narrative, then their agenda-driven stories are relayed to newspapers across the nation to be read by millions.

One would have to live under a rock not to see the media has been openly hostile to the president. In fact, the only other time in American history the media coalesced into a single mindset to crush a presidential candidate was prior to the Civil War when the southern press excoriated Abraham Lincoln relentlessly. So, while the incessant negative coverage of the president by the mainstream media inured to the benefit of the left, America lost one of its primary checks on governmental abuse.

What should be of equal concern was the passage of Proposition 113 in Colorado, the measure assigning the state’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.

“The national popular vote is a very straightforward concept,” said state Sen. Michael Foote, “One person should always equal one vote, and the presidential candidate who gets the most votes should win the election.”

Ah yes, the epitome of bumper-sticker mentality — reducing the wisdom of the founders to a catchphrase. Mr. Foote obviously feels he has a better understanding of the Constitution than did Madison, Hamilton and Jefferson, so let’s be thankful he’s not doing something really important like teaching American history to our children.

This ill-considered vote makes Colorado a part of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Fortunately, it cannot take effect until its members control 270 electoral votes (it’s at 196 now) — and if or when that occurs, America will be fundamentally changed forever.

My April 2019 commentary, “The Electoral College debate” received a Colorado Press Association award for Best Serious Column Writing, which I encourage you to read. After reading it, I think you’ll better understand why the Electoral College is absolutely central to our form of government, because without it, our republic is no more secure than any of history’s many failed democracies.

The late Edward R. Murrow cautioned, “Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions,” which is exactly what politicians like Sen. Foote are doing; they’re reducing the unqualified genius of the Electoral College to a pedestrian process.

By circumventing the Electoral College, we would effectively relegate ourselves to a pure democracy, something the founders were adamantly against. As James Madison lectured, a pure democracy soon becomes the tyranny of the majority.

It’s been said, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And while societies come together slowly, history has shown how they can unravel quickly when they eschew that which brought them to greatness in the first place.

Quote of the day: “The Constitution is not a document for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain government” — Patrick Henry

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.

 


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