I have been thinking about our nation this week. We are the most diverse nation on earth. Not the politically correct type of diversity, but real diversity. Our citizens represent every race and religion on earth. Our nations of origin (or our ancestors) represent every nation on earth. Even the United Nations does not do that. Our political, social, and economic views represent every political, social, and economic view on earth. No other nation in the world does that. This is the greatest strength and source of the greatest internal strife of the United States. But this is nothing new. Even though we are more diverse now than we were 240 years ago, even at our founding we were the most diverse nation on earth.
At the founding of our nation Thomas Jefferson of Virginia was chosen to write the Declaration of Independence because he was from Virginia. At the beginning of our nation, Virginia was the largest and most influential of the thirteen states. This was also the reason John Adams of Massachusetts nominated George Washington as the first commander of our army.
But a decade later when a constitutional convention was held to write our constitution this worried the attendees. With Virginia’s size and influence a direct popular vote would mean that Virginia could control the national government to the disadvantage of the other twelve states.
They were looking for a way to create our legislative, executive, and judicial branches in a way that would acknowledge the size and influence of Virginia and yet also give other states, with their variety of political views, a voice in the government as well.
For the legislative branch they hit on an idea. They would create two houses within the legislative branch.
The number of members of the house of representatives would be based on the number of people living in each state. This would allow states with a larger population more influence.
In the Senate each states would be represented by two senators. This would ensure each state would have some influence in the legislative branch while giving larger states more representation.
For the judicial branch they decided to have the executive branch (the president) nominate Supremes Court justices and the Senate would approve them. This would give all states an equal voice in the judicial branch.
Now they had to decide what to do about the executive branch. If the president were selected by popular vote then the larger states would control who the president would be and the smaller states would have no voice in who became the president.
They had to come up with a way that let larger states have more influence in the presidential election but also made sure all states with their diversity of political opinion also had influence in who became the president.
The idea the founders came up with was the electoral college. Each state would have electors equal in number to how many senators and congressional representatives they had. Since each state has at least two senators and one congressional representative, then each state would have at least three electors in the electoral college. The people would vote for president and the electors would be chosen based on how the citizens of that state voted.
President John F. Kennedy (liberal) was our first Catholic president. Lyndon Johnson (liberal) our first president from Texas. Richard Nixon (conservative) our first president from California. Gerald Ford (moderate) was our first president who was not voted into office as president or vice president. Jimmy Carter (liberal) was our first president who served on submarines in the United States Navy. Ronald Reagan (conservative) was our first president who was an actor. George HW Bush (moderate) was our first president who had also been a director of the CIA. Bill Clinton (liberal) was our first president from Arkansas. George W Bush (conservative) was the second president who was also the son of a president. Barrak Obama (liberal) was our first bi-racial president as well as our first president from Hawaii.
Did you notice that among those ten presidents we have liberals, moderates, and conservatives. Of the 43 people who have been president we keep swinging back and forth between liberal and conservative (with a few moderates thrown in). Yet most of the time our country has been equally divided (or close to equally divided) between two opposing political views.
This switching back and forth is exactly what the attendees to the constitutional convention wanted. As long as our government continues to swing back and forth we will have stability in our country because whichever side is out of power will eventually come back into power.
If the day ever comes when one side or the other eventually permanently controls the government the other side will rise up in revolution.
So, if your side is out of power, be patient you’ll be back.
And if your side is in power? Enjoy it while you can.
It won’t last.
Did you also notice there are a lot of firsts among our presidents? There will be a lot more too. Think of this,
Native American president
Has there been a president from your state? What is the “first” president YOU are looking forward too?
P.S. That was not a mistake. Barrak Obama, our 44th president, is the 43rd person to be president. That is because Grover Cleveland, our 22nd president, was elected as the 22nd and 24th president.