Day 26 – Vexed #2 – The English have the Best Words

I will not presume to criticize the Constitution of the U. S., but I would encourage some study by my American cousins of how British parliamentary democracy developed.

I’m not sure Canadian school children still learn about Magna Carta and all that – in my childhood it was more anglophilic. However, it is worthwhile looking at pocket and rotten boroughs. These were the plague of English democracy around 1800. Due to various circumstances, they were parliamentary ridings that had few or no residents but still were entitled to send one or two members to the House of Commons. They were eliminated by the reform act or 1832, but not without a fight. According to Wikipedia, 152 of the 406 seats in Parliament were elected by 100 or fewer voters before the reform.

Of course, conservative members of the House of Lords argued that such ridings kept radicals from gaining power. Keeping Parliament the way it was also, according to these Peers, promoted wealth and prosperity. Wealth and Prosperity for the 1%?

The ideal of democracy is that one person’s vote should be the same as any other person. I also recognize that the Constitution is structured so that big states don’t trample small states. However, at what point does this become the kind of tyranny that sparked the Revolution in the first place?

If you want some interesting reading, have a look at the “Electoral College” article in Wikipedia – especially the section on “contingent elections.” Even great documents like the Constitution can have some bizarre sections.


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