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Enlighted Democracy Paperback – September 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Colonial Press L.P. (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977072207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977072200
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,143,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Tara Ross has done an outstanding job of combining historical analysis with clear-thinking logic." -- Edwin Meese III, former U.S. Attorney General

"Tara Ross writes with cogency, analytical force, and practical insight." -- Kenneth W. Starr, former Independent Counsel and
Dean of Pepperdine Law School


"[R]eader friendly" "Better still,... Ross’s defense is no curmudgeonly conservative plea for respecting tradition. It is a full throated roar." -- Bradley A. Smith, FEC Commissioner

From the Publisher

Following the contested election of 2000, opponents of the Electoral College were swift to dismiss the institution as outdated and elitist, an anachronism that should be replaced by a direct popular vote. Many of the nation’s most prominent liberal politicians â€" from Senator Hillary Clinton to House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt â€" called for the institution to be abolished in order to "respect the will of the people."

The critics are wrong, and this book shows why. Written in straightforward language, Enlightened Democracy traces the history of the Electoral College from the Constitutional Convention to the present, and along the way it explains why the Framers took such pride in their now-controversial creation. After reading this book the case is clear: The Electoral College doesn’t ignore the will of the people, but it does protect our republic and promote our liberty.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
All in all, a very well written historical, yet topical book.
Kevin P. Hickey
The Electoral College was a thoroughly researched system of checks and balances worked into the fabric of the U.S. voting system.
Rachael Branum
This should be a must read for high school and college students of politics.
shawn wallace

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Rachael Branum on October 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Like many of my peers, I have never really understood why the Electoral College was used in the U.S. (as opposed to direct voting). The breadth of my knowledge in this area came from my schooling, and now I realize that this part of my education was left sadly unattended. Thankfully, books like this exist to fill in what the education system left out.

The Electoral College was a thoroughly researched system of checks and balances worked into the fabric of the U.S. voting system. In her study of the electoral system, Ms. Ross does an excellent job of explaining the thought processes that went behind this invention of our founding fathers. She also delves into the anomalies of such contentious elections as the 1888 and 2000 campaigns, giving thought provoking reasons as to why these elections demonstrate the success of the electoral college, rather than the demise of an anachronistic electoral machine.

"Enlighened Democracy" is a great choice for anyone who left the 2000 election worrying that our voting system is antiquated or problem - riddled. Ms. Ross deliberately explains the founding fathers' plan and shows how that plan has succeeded in its intentions time and again.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By David Stat on March 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
For years now history teachers and professors have been spreading the myth that the Electoral College was created as a buffer against democratic control, a way of taking the choice of our chief executive out of the hands of the common man and giving it to an enlightened few. Tara Ross's book debunks that myth and shows that the Electoral College was instead viewed by the Founders as a compromise between large and small states that would strengthen democratic rule while protecting minorities.

In addition to tracing the Electoral College's history and making the case that it is a valuable institution for modern America, Ross also does a good job of showing how the system has served over time. She makes the point that it forces candidates to run national (as opposed to regional) campaigns and that it has helped many a candidate with a small popular vote majority gain enough legitimacy to govern effectively (as it did for Bill Clinton in 1992).

All in all this is a fascinating book on an often misunderstood topic. From the introduction by George Will to the discussion of the Constitutional Convention, Enlightened Democracy is readable, enjoyable, and long overdue.
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Format: Paperback
We live in a large country; both geographically and in population. There is always the temptation to either extrapolate from where we live that we are the same as everyone else and also a temptation to think that everyone out there is like us. Neither is sound.

We are all Americans, it is true. But some live in cities, some have agrarian lives. There are big states and small states (again, large in size and population). Some are industrial; others are centers of banking and others of politics. Some rely on a strong presence by the military for economic survival. There are many other configurations. For too many, the few TV shows we watch become the common reality and we assume that if it makes sense to a talking head on the tube it must make sense in the real world. It does not! The perfect example is the famed movie critic Pauline Kael's reaction when McGovern was destroyed by Nixon in the 1972 Presidential election. She asked a friend, "How can this be? No one I know voted for Nixon." All of us live in a truncated subset of the real world.

The founders understood this and believed that the proper role for government was to have the work done as close to the people as possible and the various States then had much more power than they do today. Maybe there is a good reason for this change of power from the states to Washington D.C., maybe not. However, the Federal government is still a creature representing a vast array of lives. One of the strengths of our system is its ability to require compromise and to thwart rashness. Almost no one gets what he or she wants or believes is best.

One of the wonderful inventions of the founders was the use of the Electoral College in choosing our Chief Executive.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Duncan Murray on April 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
In this heavily researched and well footnoted book author Ross begins by laying out the rationale for and history of the Electoral College. But she goes well beyond an historical narrative as she gives the arguments for and against changing or abolishing alltogether the College.

You come away from this book with a clear understanding of the importance of the Electoral College and the ways in which it protects our political systems.

A close reading of this book leaves the reader with insights into the Founders' goals and reasoning and immense appreciation of their genius in creating a form of government that has survived and met the needs of its citizens for over 200 years.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J.D. Haller on December 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College is a solid primer for those who are either simply unfamiliar with the Electoral College and Election Process as a whole, or for those who would like to know more about our nation's great, democratic structure. Ross tackles the widely debated issue of the Electoral College by first providing a detailed background on our Founding Fathers and their decision to form such a process and then moving on to not only explain the Electoral College thoroughly but also to list its numerous advantages and past successes in helping our nation select a Commander-in-Chief.
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More About the Author

Tara Ross is the author of "Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College" (2004) and a co-author of "Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State" (2008) (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.). As a lawyer and writer, Tara focuses on the intersection among law, public policy, and constitutional history. She often appears as a guest on a variety of talk shows nationwide to discuss these matters and regularly addresses civic, university, and legal audiences. Her work has been published in several law reviews and newspapers, including the National Law Journal, USA Today, the American Enterprise Online, National Review Online, WeeklyStandard.com, FoxNews.com, HumanEvents.com, The Washington Times, and the Texas Review of Law & Politics.


Tara is a retired lawyer and a former Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Review of Law & Politics. She obtained her B.A. from Rice University and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. Tara and her husband Adam reside in Dallas with their children Emma and Grant.

Follow Tara on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TaraRoss.1787 or visit her website at www.taraross.com.

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