On his radio show today, Glenn Beck argued that democracy does not work because voters have the ability to directly elect the president. Beck said, “This direct vote just put Barack Obama into office. Congratulations on that direct vote.” The problem is that the United States does not directly elect the president, and the system isn’t a direct democracy.
Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:
Beck said, Direct-issue voting is a democracy. Democracies have never, ever stood. They — our Founders did an awful lot of work and an awful lot of study of different systems. Democracy does not work. You need a republic. You can’t have direct voting.” (If he is discussing direct democracy that is correct, but not democracy itself, as there are many forms).
He then continued to mix up his terms, “We have the government that quite, frankly, we deserve. We have the government that — we have direct vote. Here it is: This direct vote just put Barack Obama into office. Congratulations on that direct vote. The last direct vote put George W. Bush in office, and the one before that put Bill Clinton in office.” (Has Glenn never heard of the Electoral College? Was he asleep or drunk in 2000)?
Beck started to make a good point later, but he went off the rails, “That’s not what this is. We take our elections as seriously as we take American Idol, and that’s a slam, I know, on how seriously we take American Idol. I think we take American Idol perhaps a little more seriously as a people, but once we said in our own lives, “You know what? It really doesn’t matter.” I mean, you can be a good guy at work and a bad guy at home, or a good guy at home and a bad guy at work. Well, as soon as we accepted that in our own lives, we started to accept that from our leaders and that’s when we became unhinged. We have the directly elected representative government that we deserve.”
I agree with Beck that there is something wrong in this country when we take more seriously than a presidential election, but did he forget about 2008? That election was taken very seriously. People were paying attention and they went to the polls and voted. The problem is that it took something as dire as the Bush years and an economic collapse to get their attention.
Let’s break out a little Civics 101 here. The United States is not a direct democracy, some states have a version of direct democracy when voters can directly vote up or down on ballot measures, but presidents and not directly elected. It is an indirect election where voters are voting for a slate of Electoral College electors, and state laws determine how the electors are allocated.
This is basic stuff that kids learn and elementary school, and Beck is completely clueless. How any person can take a man seriously who doesn’t know how his own country elects a president is beyond me. Beck is always evoking the Founding Fathers, but I think he needs to go back and closely read their work, because he obviously doesn’t get it.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association