Elections

Elections have consequences. They decide who holds power and therefore the laws that we live under. But they also reflect principles of federalism and consent of the governed, as well as the complexity of the American system. They can be moments of high drama and low farce. Some candidates can inspire their fellow Americans while others make people wonder what could ever recommend them for public office. Shockingly, candidates in the latter category sometimes win. Because of the drama of electoral combat between two opponents, we tend to neglect factors that structure how campaigns are organized and operate.

We also often forget that the campaign is only a precursor to the more important task of governing. But campaigns can often constrain how officers will govern—and not always in ways that are desirable.

Perhaps the most perplexing institution of American politics is the Electoral College. Instead of being elected by the people, presidents are officially elected by members of the Electoral College. Today that means that when you vote for a presidential candidate you are actually voting for a slate of electors from that candidate’s party. Two troublesome results are possible with this system.

The first is that the winner of the Electoral College does not have to win the popular vote, which happened in three presidential elections: 1876, 1888, and 2000. This appears antithetical to democratic principles of political equality. If we are equals, then our votes should be equal and the person who secures the most votes should win. In response, defenders of the Electoral College point out that a contest conducted under the Electoral College does not indicate what the popular vote would have been under a pure national popular vote.

The campaigns base their strategy on the rules of the system. Thus candidates try to increase their vote total in key, closely contested states rather than just trying to increase their overall vote tally. Just as gaining the most yards in a football game does not guarantee a victory, receiving the most votes does not guarantee victory in a presidential election. The reason for this potentially anti-majoritarian result is the federal nature of the Electoral College. Votes in the Electoral College are allocated based on a state’s total representation in Congress. This apportionment means that each state gets one elector for each Representative and Senator. Since each state has two Senators regardless of population, less populous states have a disproportionate influence. This effect is exaggerated by the fact that all but two states allocate their Electoral College votes on a winner-take-all principle. Hence, someone could win 50.1 percent of a state’s votes in the popular election but would receive all of the state’s votes in the Electoral College.

A second potentially troublesome possibility is that members of the Electoral College can vote for anyone.

Under the Constitution they are free to cast their ballot as they wish. State parties do have their slates of electors pledge to vote their party’s candidate but that pledge cannot be legally binding upon the member of the Electoral College. Some electors can be and occasionally are “faithless electors” who do not vote for their party’s candidates. In a close race such an elector or electors could end up being decisive allowing one or few electors’ judgment to supplant the will of a majority of voters. However, faithless electors have been very rare in American history. And one can imagine a variety of scenarios where their discretion could prove useful.

Defenders of the Electoral College point out that despite these problems the system has compensating virtues. Or as Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist No. 68, the Electoral College is “not perfect,” but “it is at least excellent” (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 68, 1788). Under the Electoral College candidates are forced to build a larger geographic base of support. They cannot expect to win and only be popular in a particular state or region. Forcing candidates to have a broader appeal, the founders hoped, would also reduce the possibility that a demagogues could win the presidency. Part of what made the Electoral College excellent, Hamilton argued, was that “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union.” Since the Constitution establishes a compound republic, the Electoral College reinforces the importance of states as well. The primary alternative to the Electoral College, a popular national vote, invites the risk of lengthy and traumatic disputes in close elections. With the Electoral College, recounts are confined to individual closely contested states.

With a pure national election, narrow elections would require recounting ballots across the entire nation with interminable battles over how ballots should be recounted and what standards should be used to evaluate contested ballots.

While the Electoral College is the most controversial feature of our electoral system, perhaps the most important feature is the nomination system. Millions of Americans are constitutionally eligible to be president, but the nomination system winnows that number down to the two candidates from the major parties. How they select their nominees shapes the type of person who will get elected and how that person will govern. Initially parties controlled the nomination process through a convention system. Party regulars would select their party’s candidate at a national convention. But during the twentieth century the parties moved to a primary system where nominees seek the nomination in popular primaries and caucuses. This allowed candidates to “self-select” and choose to run on their own rather than being called by the party. Because of this change, potential presidential candidates are engaged in a “continuous campaign” and begin organizing their campaigns and raising money years before the general election. The danger of this system is that campaign politics will intrude into the ordinary process of governing. Presidential candidates who currently hold another office will often base their decisions not what is best for the country but what will maximize their chances of winning their party’s nomination.

2000 election
In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote.

While presidential elections receive the most attention, congressional elections are also important means express popular sovereignty and the principles of federalism. The Constitution’s system of separation of powers requires the House and Senate to each have an independent electoral base, which allows members of each chamber to exercise independent authority. Members of Congress are meant to resist the demands and entreaties of presidents and their method of selection reflects this intention. In the House of Representatives, Representatives’ first object of loyalty is their constituents. Members of the Senate are meant to prioritize the best interest of the state over the popular will. However, with the Seventeenth Amendment, which changed the method of selection of Senators from appointment by the state legislature to popular elections, the Senate’s function as a “cooling saucer” for popular passions has somewhat diminished and is now more likely to reflect the immediate popular will. Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate also have different terms that also shape Congressional elections. Senators have six-year terms and staggered elections, which lends stability and deliberateness to the institution whereas members of the House have two-year terms. While presidents are limited to two terms, members of Congress can be reelected indefinitely.

As incumbents, officials already holding office, they have significant advantages, such as name recognition, over challengers.

Because its members face reelection every two years, one would expect the House to experience substantially higher turnover to the Senate. But the power of incumbency combined with gerrymandering mean that incumbents are reelected nearly 90 percent of the time. Gerrymandering is the process of drawing legislative districts for partisan advantage. Redistricting occurs every ten years after each census. In state legislatures, which usually control the redistricting process, members of both the Democratic and Republic parties often work to protect their own party’s incumbents from challengers making redistricting an “incumbency protection act”. Hence, they try to protect Democrats from Republicans and vice versa. This has led to the rise of safe seats where the general election is a mere formality and opposition candidates and have little chance to win. In 2012, for example, 85 percent of all house races were won with over 55 percent of the vote and 66 percent were won with over 60 percent of the vote.

One cause of increased gerrymandering were Supreme Court rulings in Wesberry v. Sanders (1964) and Reynolds v. Sims (1964) which required all districts in the House of Representatives and state legislatures to follow the principle of “one man, one vote,” which required equal populations in legislative districts. This principle precluded state legislatures from drawing district lines along geographic or county lines and encouraged them to draw district lines for political advantage.

Gerrymandering
This early political cartoon criticized the use of gerrymandering in the new nation.

While the Electoral College and gerrymandering are controversial, another complaint about American campaigns and elections is the role of money. Two distinct questions are often raised: does money buy elections and do campaign finance regulations infringe on freedom of speech? Complaints about the baleful influence of money are common. The underlying assumption is that those who can spend more, win more. But there are reasons to doubt that money buys elections. In addition to incumbency and gerrymandering, which often guarantee that no amount of money would allow an insurgent candidate to win, other factors such as the performance of the economy play a more significant role in determining electoral outcomes than campaign spending. The amount of money a candidate raises is sometimes an indication of their attractiveness as a candidate. A good candidate is then responsible both for the money they raise and the votes they receive.

The second question raises more fundamental constitutional concerns. In response to fears about the potentially corrupting influence of money on elections, Congress began enacting restrictions on how much individuals could give to political candidates and to political parties in 1971. But limiting the ability of individuals and parties to raise money also limits their ability to spread their political message. While money is not speech it does enable speech. And if you put impediments in the way of speaking you obstruct the ability of individuals to exercise their First Amendment rights. In the same way flying is not speech but does enable speech. If the government restricted how much you could fly during a campaign, you would certainly contend that your right to freedom of speech had been unconstitutionally impeded.

The Supreme Court has been repeatedly called upon to decide the constitutionality of these regulations. In general, the Court has upheld restrictions on donations but struck down attempts to limit how much candidates could spend.

Regardless of the constitutionality of campaign finance regulation, two of its obvious effects have been to increase the amount of time candidates have to devote to fundraising and to increase the power of incumbency. Limiting the amount of individual donations means that candidates have to spend more time securing individual donations. This in turn makes it appear that political candidates are only interested in raising money. Since incumbency bequeaths huge advantages, insurgent candidates have to acquire much larger war chests to be competitive. But campaign finance laws limit their ability raise sufficient money to conduct viable campaigns.

One final controversial part of American campaigns is their allegedly increasingly negative nature. Each election cycle brings fresh lamentations from the press and public officials about how nasty and divisive our politics have become. These complaints, however, are historically uninformed. By almost any reasonable evaluation American campaigns have always been negative. In the election of 1800, for example, supporters of John Adams said that a victory by Thomas Jefferson would lead to “murder, rape, and incest” being “openly taught and practiced” and “female chastity violated” with “children writhing on a pike.”

Jefferson responded by calling Adams “a hideous hermaphroditical character with neither the force and firmness of a man or the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

More recently, in 1964 in the most famous presidential television campaign advertisement, the “Daisy Spot,” with a nuclear explosion on screen Lyndon Johnson said "These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die" (Lyndon Johnson Presidential Campaign, “Daisy Girl,” 1964). A vote for his opponent, Barry Goldwater, was all but a vote for nuclear war. What counts as a negative ad is often in the eye of the beholder. One candidate’s negative ad is another’s factual presentation of his opponent’s record. Analysis of negative ads by political scientists has shown that negative ads contain far more information than positive ones. Hence, negative ads do more to help inform the public about where candidates actually stand on important issues than positive ads. While negative ads can certainly lie and mislead, positive ads tend to focus on gauzy but unimportant aspects of a person’s fitness for office. Seeing candidates smiling with their spouses and children might warm the hearts of voters, but these sorts of ads do not provide any information about the principles or abilities of office seekers. It is far more important for voters to be able to gauge a candidate’s political philosophy and capacity to be an affective political leader.

While exaggerated, concerns about campaign finance and negative campaigning do help remind us of the importance of elections to our political system. Elections channel public sentiment and reinforce the principle of self-government. Concerns about the legitimacy of elections should be taken seriously. But ultimately elections point to our responsibility as citizens to exercise our right vote thoughtfully. There is no perfect political world where candidates refrain from attacking their opponents or where campaigning does not cost money. If citizens cannot critically evaluate the merits of candidates and can be manipulated with emotional appeals financed by campaign war chests, then there is little reason to trust voters at all. The Framers of the Constitution, however, believed that a system based on the consent of the governed was not only possible but also necessary for a free society to function. Our duty is to prove that their faith was not misplaced.

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Law of Demand
As prices decrease, the quantity demanded increases or as prices increase, the quantity demanded decreases.
Natural rights
Rights which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.
Inalienable rights
Rights which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.
Liberty
Except where authorized by people through the Constitution, government does not have the authority to limit freedom.
Popular sovereignty
The power of government flows from the people.
Separation of powers
A system of distinct powers built into the constitution, to prevent an accumulation of power in one branch.
Checks and balances
Powers distributed among the branches of government allowing each to limit the application of power of the other branches and to prevent expansion of power of any branch.
Federalism
The people delegate certain powers to the national government, while the states retain other powers; and the people, who authorize the states and national government, retain all freedoms not delegated to the governing bodies.
Justice
Fairness or reasonableness in the way people are treated or decisions are made.
private property
The natural right of all individuals to create, obtain, and control their possessions, beliefs, faculties, and opinions, as well as the fruits of their labor.
limited government
Citizens are best able to pursue happiness when government is confined to those powers which protect their life, liberty, and property.
representative government
(or republican government) Form of government in which the people are sovereign (ultimate source of power) and authorize representatives to make and carry out laws.
republican government
(or representative government)Form of government in which the people are sovereign (ultimate source of power) and authorize representatives to make and carry out laws.
civil discourse
Reasoned and respectful sharing of ideas between individuals is the primary way people influence change in society/government, and is essential to maintain self-government.
Constitution
The fundamental principles by which a state or nation is governed. The United States Constitution, written in 1787, lays out the roles and powers of each of the three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial), the protections of due process and rule of law in the states, a republican form of government, and the manner in which to amend the document.
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson was a Virginia plantation owner who was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson served as a legislator and governor in Virginia, as well as an ambassador to France, Secretary of State under George Washington, Vice President under John Adams, and the third President of the United States. During his political career, Jefferson founded the Democratic-Republican Party with James Madison, and he bought the Louisiana Purchase from France. After his presidency, Jefferson started the University of Virginia near his home, Monticello.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the Constitution, ratified in 1791, which limit government power and protect individual liberties, including the freedoms of speech, press, religion, petition, and assembly, as well as protections against cruel and unusual punishment, unreasonable search and seizure, and other due process rights.
Second Amendment
Ratified in 1791, it protects citizens’ rights to create a militia and to bear arms. “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Due Process
The government must interact with all persons according to the duly-enacted laws; applying these rules equally among all persons.
Equality
Every individual is equal to every other person with respect to natural rights and treatment before the law.
Consent of the governed
The authority of the government must come from the people through elections and through the people’s interaction with government.
Individual responsibility
Individuals must take care of themselves and their families, and be vigilant to preserve their liberty and the liberty of others.
Rule of law
Government officials and citizens all abide by the same laws regardless of political power.
Declaration of Independence
The document written in 1776 by the Founders to send to Britain’s King George III in which independence from Britain was declared and the reasons for the separation were explained.
Articles of Confederation
The first national government document developed in 1781 by the Founders. The Articles created a federal legislative branch, but there was no executive or judiciary. The states retained most of the governmental powers.
Founders
The group of people who wrote and influenced the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the United States Constitution, and the United States Bill of Rights. These men were instrumental in establishing the nation and its governmental documents and practices.
Federalist Papers
A series of 85 essays written to convince the people of New York to ratify the Constitution. The authors were James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. These documents are considered to be the most authoritative explanation of the political theory of the Constitution.
First Amendment
Ratified in 1791, it protects the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Law of Supply
As the price drops, the quantity supplied also drops.
Fourth Amendment
Ratified in 1791, it protects citizens’ rights against unreasonable searches and seizures of property and explains that warrants must be issued with probable cause. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Fifth Amendment
Ratified in 1791, it protects the right indictment by a jury, against double jeopardy, self-incrimination, loss of life, liberty, or property without due process, and just compensation for private property taken for public use. “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Tenth Amendment
Ratified in 1791, it states that the powers not enumerated or delegated in the Constitution are reserved for the states and the people. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Eighth Amendment
Ratified in 1791, it protects against excessive bail and fines and cruel and unusual punishments. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Ninth Amendment
Ratified in 1791, the listing of certain rights protected by the Constitution cannot be used to deny rights not enumerated in the document. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Alexander Hamilton
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton served as General Washington’s chief of staff, promoted the ratification of the Constitution in the Federalist Papers, and founded the nation’s financial system and first political party.
James Madison
Madison was a Framer who was instrumental in writing the Constitution and Bill of Rights. He is known as the “Father of the Constitution.” Madison partnered with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers in support of the ratification of the Constitution. He also served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, the United States House of Representatives, Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson, and the fourth president of the United States.
George Washington
First President of the United States, George Washington served as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
John Locke
An English philosopher and physician, John Locke was one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and is known today as the Father of Classical Liberalism.
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress, comprised of delegates from 12 of the 13 American colonies, represented the colonists during and after the American Revolution. The Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence and ratified the Articles of Confederation.
King George III
King George III was the King of Great Britain at the time of the American Revolution. His actions towards the American colonies, outlined in the Declaration of Independence, spurred the American Revolution.
Great Depression
Spanning ten years from 1929 to 1939, the Great Depression was one of the longest-lasting economic downturns in the history of the United States affecting the U.S. and most of the world.
Preamble
An introductory statement, preface, or introduction.
Tyranny
Cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others.
Tyrannical
Using power over people in a way that is cruel and unfair.
John Adams
Before becoming the second President of the United States, John Adams served as the country’s first Vice President under George Washington. Adams was an advocate of American independence from Britain and a Federalist.
John Jay
Founding Father John Jay was one of the signers of the Treaty of Paris and served as the first Chief Justice of the United States. He was also one of the authors of the Federalist Papers.
Third Amendment
Ratified in 1791, it protects citizens against the quartering of soldiers in private homes without their approval. “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
Sixth Amendment
Ratified in 1791, it protects the rights of impartial jury trials, the right to be informed of the accusations against you, the right to be confronted by witness, and the right to be assisted by counsel. “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
Seventh Amendment
Ratified in 1791, it protects the right of jury trials in law suits dealing with more than twenty dollars and protects against reexamination of the trial in any court if decided by a jury. “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”
Alexis de Tocqueville
French political thinker and historian, Alexis de Tocqueville is best known for his works Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution. He visited the U.S. in the 1830s and wrote admiringly about many aspects of American law and society.
Democracy in America
Written by Alexis de Tocqueville after visiting the United States, Democracy in America contains de Tocqueville’s analysis of and reflections on the United States’ democratic system and society. The first volume was published in 1835 and the second in 1840.
Magna Carta
Written in 1215, it is the oldest document in the British and American heritage of rights. Contributed to the adoption of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments of the Bill of Rights, and speaks of these rights as ancient.
Two Treatises of Civil Government
Written by John Locke in 1690, the Two Treatises of Civil Government criticize absolute power for kings and outline Locke’s suggestions for a more civilized society based on natural rights and the social contract.
Thirteenth Amendment
The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. “Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Framers
The group of people who actually attended the Constitutional Convention and participated in writing the Constitution.
Fourteenth Amendment
Ratified in 1868, it states that all people born or naturalized in the United States are citizens and ensures that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Sixteenth Amendment
Ratified in 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment gave Congress the ability to collect income taxes. “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census of enumeration.”
Eighteenth Amendment
atified in 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment introduced Prohibition, the period of United States history when the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol was made illegal throughout the country. “Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited. Section 2. The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.”
Twentieth Amendment
The Twentieth Amendment was ratified in 1933, and it establishes procedures for presidential succession and the start and end of federal officials’ terms of office. “Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3rd day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
Twenty-First Amendment
In 1933, the Twenty-First Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, ending Prohibition. “Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited. Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.”
English Bill of Rights
Passed by the British Parliament in 1689, the English Bill of Rights limited the power of the British monarch, outlined the rights of the Parliament, and guaranteed Protestants the right to bear arms.
Parliament
The legislative body of the United Kingdom (known as Great Britain or England during the Founding era).
Benjamin Franklin
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was a statesman, author, publisher, scientist, inventor and diplomat. He served in the Second Continental Congress during the American Revolution and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. In addition, Franklin helped negotiated the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War and later served as a delegate to the convention that produced the U.S. Constitution.
Suffrage
The right to vote.
Republic
A government in which the power belongs to citizens through the right to vote.
Fifteenth Amendment
Ratified in 1870, it states that the right could not be restricted based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” “Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Seventeenth Amendment
Ratified in 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment introduced direct election of Senators. “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures. When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct. This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.”
Nineteenth Amendment
Ratified in 1920, the amendment stated that a citizen’s right to vote must not be restricted based on gender. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Direct Democracy
Direct democracy is a political system in which the people vote directly on policies or laws, as opposed to voting for representatives who enact laws on their behalf.
Arbitrary
Not planned or chosen for a particular reason; done without concern for what is fair or right.
Judicial Review
The process by which courts analyze the constitutionality of an act of government.
Majority rule/minority rights
laws may be made with the consent of the majority, but only to the point where they do not infringe on the inalienable rights of the minority.
Fiat
An arbitrary order or decree.
Property
Something that is owned by a person, business, etc. This includes possessions, beliefs, faculties, and opinions, and the fruits of one's labor.
Democracy
A government in which the power is held by the people.
Electoral College
A body of electors chosen by each state to vote for the president and vice president of the United States.
Virtue
Conduct that reflects universal principles of moral and ethical excellence essential to leading a worthwhile life and to effective self-government. For many leading Founders, attributes of character such as justice, responsibility, perseverance, etc., were thought to flow from an understanding of the rights and obligations of men. Virtue is compatible with, but does not require, religious belief.