My Beef with This Book

The argument of “How Democracies Die” is found, among many other places (repetition is the soul of didacticism), at page 102:

“Unwritten rules are everywhere in American politics, [including] the operations of the Senate and the Electoral College…But two norms stand out…mutual toleration and institutional forbearance.”

I am scratching my head, but I think there are no important unwritten rules relating to the Electoral College.

Certainly, the two norms have no bearing on the presidential selection system. Third party spoilers, like Perot or Nader, have never tolerated the system or forborne to frustrate the will of the majority or plurality of the American people. Faithless electors have willy-nilly cast protest votes of no consequence, except insofar as they shown how broken the system is that the southern/small state alliance required as a price for ratifying the Constitution.

My simplest beef with this book is that it assumes the existence of a democracy that is, then, said to be at risk of dying. The problem with American politics is almost exactly the opposite. There is an absence of democracy in key institutions, and if our Republic dies the reason lies in our collective failure to create democracy in form and function, rather than our inability to adhere to unwritten rules or norms.