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JISHOU, HUNAN — Some citizens of the USA seem to forgotten their basic civics, if in fact they ever learned civics in the first place. So here is a primer. Feel free to share this among your anti-Obama associates.

The United States of America is a constitutional republic, in which legislators (Congressional representatives and Senators) are elected by popular vote, and the president and vice president are elected in a two-stage electoral process – a popular vote and an Electoral College vote.

Whoever gains the most votes (a plurality) in an election is the winner of the election. In the USA, which has two dominant political parties, practically speaking this means whoever gains a simple majority of the votes is the winner.

For example, in the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama and Joe Biden received 52.9% of the popular vote, and John McCain and Sarah Palin, 45.7%. The remaining votes went to nominees of several smaller parties. In the Electoral College, Obama/Biden netted 365 votes and McCain/Palin, 173. Thus, Obama/Biden won the election by a clear majority.

In a republic, an elected official serves everyone, regardless of who voted for him or her. This precept has been the basis of British and American government for centuries, and has a history reaching back to ancient Greece and Rome. The winner represents all of his or her constituents, whether those constituents like it or not.

The Constitution does not establish offices like a “sub-president,” who represents the supporters of the loser of an election. Nor does it permit non-supporters of an election’s winner to ignore (legally) any laws or regulations promulgated during the administration of that winner. Participants in a republic, such as the USA, cede their rights of self-government to their duly elected officials, whether they voted for them or not.

This fact is part of the unwritten contract between elected officials and the voters. It was so widely understood in the 18th century that the Constitution does not even bother to address it. People just knew.

Some Americans seem to have forgotten the unwritten contract, and the Rule of Law codified in the Constitution. That is, they act like they can opt out of the 2008 election, just because their guys didn’t win. For them, the minority should rule.

To put another way, Barack Obama is in fact the president of the entire USA, not just of the 69,456,897 people who happened to vote for him. If you weren’t one of them, you cannot cover your ears, yell “la-la-la,” and pretend he lost. Like it or not, he IS the president, YOUR president. You don’t have to like him, or agree with him. You just have to acknowledge he won the election.

That said, there is ample precedent for a sitting president to intrude into our schools and homes using electronic media. No one (reasonable) seemed to object when Franklin D. Roosevelt took over radio broadcasts for his Fireside Chats. Nor when Ronald Reagan broadcast a speech from a public school. Nor when George H.W. Bush, or his son, George W. Bush, did the same. Sure, there were critics, but they didn’t go around screaming they would pull their kids out of school, so they couldn’t hear the president talk to them. No one (reasonable) accused Roosevelt, Reagan, or the Bushes of being fascists, socialists, commies, or members of any other unfavored group.

Because. Each. One. Was. The. President. They each had their critics, but no one seriously rejected the man’s Constitutional right to serve as president and address his public, or “impressionable schoolchildren,” as one blogger called them.

So, Obama-haters, what makes Obama different from the other presidents? Have the definitions of “republic,” “representative government” and “majority rule” changed recently? Is there a new Constitution the rest of us have somehow missed and only you know about?

Or have you decided to opt out of being an American?