Four more years
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- Fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections in 121 seats on Thursday
- April 16 campaign roundup: Narendra Modi in firing line of Gandhis
- N Srinivasan faces serious charges, canât return until probe: Supreme Court
- Kolkata Knight Riders seal opener in comprehensive fashion
It was not so close an election after all. At least not in terms of the electoral college votes while in popular vote the result was much closer. This is the anti-democratic element of the American Constitution. The founding fathers did not trust the people in whose name they spoke. So barriers were placed in their way so the people could not have their way. America had a previous Constitution in which the State legislatures had a lot of power and the people who elected them could swing things their way. It led to a tax strike by farmers and attacks on property.
So the grandees met in Philadelphia and rewrote the Constitution. America became a Federation. Even so, the Centre was not very strong but in taxation and currency the powers were with the Centre.
To preserve the Federation, the fears of the smaller states had to be assuaged so Senators were to be the same number from each state regardless of size. The House is of course elected on a popular vote; the Senate had no popular voting till early 20th century. Caucuses were powerful and the electoral college is an example of that.
My favourite Western is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance in which the shy diffident hero played by James Stewart is credited with killing the town bully and his friend, who was the brave person behind the act, is played by John Wayne. There is an election caucus where John Wayne argues for the election of James Stewart as the Senator on the ground that he had killed the town bully. The entire 'electorate' is crammed into a single noisy room with fisticuffs and the loudest voice wins attention. That caucus will give you an idea of how rough and ready American democracy used to be.