The Aim of Every Political Constitution: The American Founders and the Election of Trump

  • Zachary K. German
  • Robert J. Burton
  • Michael P. Zuckert


Trump’s election renewed discussion about the Electoral College, mostly centered on its disparity with the popular vote. Yet much commentary about the Electoral College neglects its original purpose grounded in the Founders’ concern to provide for indirect election to many important offices. The Founders’ project entailed determining the people’s aptitude to elect the types of individuals desirable for high office, in an attempt to harmonize their dual commitments to political right and political legitimacy. The Electoral College’s function was soon frustrated by the rise of political parties, yet parties came to serve at least part of that function, with party leaders standing as a moderating force between the people and the presidency. However, the 2016 elections suggest that parties no longer play this intermediary role effectively. Examining the steps that led to this result, we seek to provide a reminder of the enduring thesis that the dangers inherent in republicanism require creative republican remedies.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zachary K. German
    • 1
  • Robert J. Burton
    • 2
  • Michael P. Zuckert
    • 2
  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.University of Notre DameSouth BendUSA

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