A republic is a nation in which supreme power lies with the voters. Specifically, per Merriam-Webster, “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.” (Full definition here.)
Not with the people. Never with the people. Supreme power lies with the voters.
When our particular republic was codified, voters were white males who owned land or were otherwise prosperous and educated. Today a significantly broader cross-section of America is entitled to vote. Some of them do. Voters are people over 18 who show up to vote.
I hope I don’t sound really stupid in this essay. The point I want to make is so basic, so simple, as to be hard to express without sounding like an 8th grade civics class. I’m writing it out today because I don’t think the Democratic Party as I understand it to be thinks about it. And it really matters. All the voters spread over all the country run the country.
The country we are living in today is the country that a (geographically weighted) majority of all the voters have chosen, on purpose, over all of the elections since about 1980.
The voters of America intentionally made the America we live in today. It’s pretty much the country they were promised. Their Representatives in their respective statehouses and in Congress are, in fact, representing their wishes. Now what?
Our republic has 51 separate main governments, each of them chosen by voters. 50 state governments and one federal government. The voters have chosen the Republican Party to run the vast majority of all those governments, including the big one.
Americans who don’t vote have zero power. They have no influence whatsoever over the nature of the governments they live under. Americans who don’t vote have exactly as much direct input in shaping their government as George Washington’s slaves did.
The country we are living in right now today was chosen by a majority of the voters over a majority of the nation. Not a majority of the people. Not a majority of qualified voters, or a majority of registered voters. A majority of the people who have voted.
Before we continue, allow me to address some specifics about the structure of our particular Republic. They are embedded in the Constitution and are the rules we have lived under since the day we became a nation. Some of them upset some people, but they are the structure we have. In the short term, at least, we are stuck with them. Voters exercise their power within these rules.
First, not all votes carry the same weight in Congress or in Presidential elections. This was done on purpose, giving more sparsely populated states power in the federal government closer to that of densely populated states and therefore out of proportion to their populations. That is why we have a Senate, to balance the voices of sparsely populated states more nearly equal to those of densely populated states. That is also what the Electoral College does. It’s not about slavery; it’s about geography. I understand that many of you who live in densely populated states object. Those of us who live in sparsely populated states see it differently.
Second, at each level of government, what voters actually do is choose people to represent them. Groups of voters who mostly agree about what government should do find a person who mostly agrees with them, and they elect that person to go speak for them. They elect Representatives. Voters don’t all go to the Capitol Building in their state and hash out the highway budget, nor to the Capitol Building in Washington to decide whether to bomb another country. Instead, voters in smaller geographical subdivisions – districts – pick one of themselves to speak for them in government. Almost 140 million people’s voices (as of 2016) are consolidated down into 435 voices in our nationwide government, 435 Representatives in Congress. The wishes of those same 140 million voters, this time aggregated on a per-state basis in each of the 50 separate states, are spoken by 100 Senators, two per state. (Over 231 million people could have had their voices in there. Some 90 million of them chose to be not heard.)
So: votes are weighted geographically, and the way we exercise our power is by electing people to represent us in government. Voters elect representatives who will shape the society they – those voters – wish to live in.
It is not the point of this essay to recommend means. I do that in other work. The point of this essay is to advocate a strategic objective: Get more votes, everywhere, than the other guys.
The party which gets the most votes over most of the continent governs the country. If the Democratic party wishes to govern this country we must get the most votes over most of the country.
There is no other way to become the governing party. It really is that simple.
Aside from demanding reasonable truth and lawfulness in the effort I don’t care how we get there. I don’t care whether we choose to change current voters’ minds, whether we get the 40+ percent who are currently not exercising their power to come out and vote, or some combination of the two. Actually I do care, but that is not the point here. This is not about how we do it.
My point is one of focus. Get the most votes over most of the country. Or remain irrelevant. There is no third possibility.
Republics are governed by their voters’ representatives. Representatives are elected under a known set of rules. If you want to govern all you have to do is get the requisite number of votes under the rules.
Anything that Democrats are doing that is not focused on getting most of the votes over most of the country is not productive.