Election Result 2016: The Government Stands

“The Government Has Fallen” is not a phrase associated with election results in the United States.  In fact it’s never happened here.  It won’t happen this time, either, and that’s no accident, but another unusual aspect of the American system of government:  it is legally impossible to destroy the United States or any of them.

From time to time, governments elsewhere are “brought down” or “fall” because they are constituted electorally, and results may not provide the necessary ingredients to form a government.  For instance, an election may fail to produce a majority coalition, causing the technical destruction of the government, at least until new elections take place.

You’ve heard it reported before, from other parts:

“The government of Prime Minister fill-in-the-blank has fallen.
A referendum has been set to schedule new elections…”

That is the sound of a “national society” at work, lacking a permanent constitution, lurching from one vote to the next, no high law, no high rights, mere majority rule —— a nation of men, with everything up for grabs.

The United States are a different matter:

“One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”  West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943).

The Constitution precludes a national electorate (the likes of which determines the privileges and obligations of its citizens, and may even alter or abolish the very government itself).  American elections are federal, not national.  As James Madison described in The Federalist No. 63, this means “the total exclusion of the people in their collective capacity” from any share in the system.  Ours is a permanent Constitution, laying out a government neither formed nor reorganized when we vote, a government that no election can derange.  Our government has never “fallen” because the people of the United States created “a nation of laws and not of men.”

“The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States.”  Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700, 725 (1868).

So who would build a “destructible” government?  Lots of people, apparently, unlikely as it may seem, as national societies exist the world over.  But they can be brought down, because national governments may fall…

…but not the United States.