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    What are the changes everyone is wanting to see??

  • #2
    Understanding and Facing the Autocratic Threat to Our Government

    Every government is perpetually affected by two competing forces. One is driven by our better angels and one is driven by greed and lust for power. One leads us to a government that maximizes government’s ability to satisfy the needs and wants of its constituents; the other force seeks autocratic government where the will of the people is often denied. Democracy is at one end of the scale and autocracy is at the other end.

    The Democracy Index compares the level of democracy in countries around the world. The four ranked categories are full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian. The United States is ranked as a flawed democracy. Of the G-7 nations Canada and Germany are ranked substantially higher than the US while Japan and the UK are somewhat higher. These four are ranked as full democracies. As flawed democracies, France is ranked slightly higher than the US and Italy is ranked slightly lower. Over the past few years our ranking has declined slightly.

    We call our government a democracy (more accurately called a representative democracy or a democratic republic). A democracy continuously tries to improve itself. Our democracy, after over two centuries became the ‘shining city on a hill’. But as Ben Franklin intended with his comment ‘a (democratic) republic if you can keep it’, democracy is fragile.

    Our better angels have sustained our democracy through logic, knowledge, science, deliberate reasoning, and balance of power in our government. The forces against democracy rely on the passion of the voters and put party and special interests over the interests of the country.

    Our Founders created a path to the ‘shining city on the hill’ by tapping into the knowledge and experience of enlightened minds of their time. They considered a long list of failures and successes in other countries. Four documents were critical in this effort; the Declaration of Independence, Federalist #10, Federalist #51, and Washington’s Farewell Address.

    The Declaration of Independence establishes that we are all created equal and that the power of our government is derived from the consent of the governed. If we are all equal then the document strongly implies that gerrymandering, which gives one set of people more power than the other is wrong. And it strongly implies that the government must have consent of the majority people in order to make laws regarding background checks for gun purchases, laws regarding abortion, and laws regarding campaign financing.

    Federalist Albums details the reasons that mob rule, driven by passion instead of deliberate reasoning, will lead to government failure and autocracy. Emphasis on cultural differences (culture wars) is associated with passion.

    Federalist #51 details the need for balance of power in government. Branches of government need to be equal and separate. When one party in the United States Senate controls the ideology of our Supreme Court, the balance is disrupted. When Congress fails to use appropriate jurisprudence when conducting an impeachment trial, unintended power is given to the office holder who broke the rules.
    In Washington’s Farewell Address he reminds the people that it is the right of the people to alter government but it should only be done through constitutional amendments. He also argues that violent takeovers of the government should be avoided at all costs. He also argues that political parties must be restrained because they tend to distract government from its duties, raise false alarms among the people, promote riots and insurrection, and gradually incline the minds of men to seek autocracy. Its seems that our government has been distracted from its duties when we see that the United States has the highest incarceration rate, the highest gun death rate, an overly expensive health care system, rampant racism, and refuses to responsibly deal with the dangers of climate change. And the ‘big lie’ (as determined by facts and deliberate reasoning) false alarm directly caused the January 6th insurrection. Washington wanted the electorate to be informed but the cancelling of Presidential debates will lessen the public’s opportunity to vet the candidates.

    If we wish to reverse the trend we must successfully counter the forces that move us in the autocratic direction.

    Two flaws in our ‘flawed democracy’ stand out. Our election system is flawed. We have had several ‘minority’ Presidents. Gerrymandering has packed the House with up to 25 additional seats from one party. Thanks to Citizens United, seats in the Senate are sometimes purchased by the party with the highest cash infusion. This allows the winning party to bully the opposition and decreases trust in our government. That lack of trust enflames voter passion.

    The Supreme Court has become dependent on the will of one party. Judges have been vetted on their willingness to do the bidding of that party rather than upon their overall jurisprudence. This party dominance of the court has reduced trust in our government and has disrupted the balance of power that the Founders envisioned. Our Declaration of Independence railed against King George for this very reason; he had made judges dependent upon his (authoritarian) will.

    From the time that the constitution was written to the present day, many have argued over if, when, and how often this document should be amended. History has shown that our country has been successful and history has shown that, on the average, new amendments have been adopted every 17 years (after the Bill of Rights was adopted). It has been 51 years since the last amendment was initiated and adopted. Amending the Constitution at this time is worthy of discussion.

    Two new amendments are worthy of consideration.

    Our Founders did not anticipate the quirks of population distribution that cause a relatively high propensity for electing a minority President. And they could not anticipate the effects computer generated gerrymandering. They could also not envision a time where one political party would dominate the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court for over 50 years. We should consider correcting these flaws in order to increase confidence in our government.

    The election reform amendment codifies the right of the federal government to make election laws regarding the election of the President and denies the right of the states to interfere with the election process. Specifically, states cannot refuse to or delay certification of the electoral votes.

    This amendment will reform campaign financing, change national elections to Saturday, eliminate gerrymandering, mandate that the states stay within a range of options for drop-boxes, early voting, absentee ballots, voting hours, and availability of polling stations, and reform the Electoral College.

    Gerrymandering will be eliminated and involve a detailed, computer-driven set of parameters that maximizes fairness to each political party, considers geo-political and geographic boundaries, and minimizes the exterior perimeter of each district.

    Each state will have two electoral votes cast for the candidate that received the most votes in that state plus one vote for each congressional district won. This will eliminate swing states causing candidates to visit more states during the campaign. Mathematically, having a ‘minority President’ will be far less likely. States’ electoral votes will be cast virtually there will be no physical electors. Only court challenges to the electoral vote count will be allowed. Congress shall not decertify the vote without a court-based reason.

    Saturday elections will make it easier for more people to get to the polls.

    This amendment denies corporate personhood and overturns Citizens United leaving election laws as they would have been if the minority position had prevailed in that court decision.

    Any form of intimidation or influence at the polls will be outlawed. (Such as election observers carrying weapons)

    In the rare occurrence where the electoral result in a tie (at 269 today), the next President would be the one with the highest popular vote count. Throwing the election into the House gives the small states and advantage. This was never intended by our Founders.

    If no candidate receives a majority (270 today), then the top two recipients of electoral votes (ties settled by those with the most popular votes) would face off in a runoff election in those districts that did not submit all of their votes for one or the other of the two top electoral vote getting candidates. Those districts may have submitted elector votes for a third party candidate or may have failed (for any reason) to certify their electoral votes. This process takes away the bias of nefarious players.

    Giving and advantage to one political party is the first step toward losing the right to vote.It results in anger and distrust of government and may lead to bullying tactics by the party with the advantage. It’s kind of a like a poker game where the one with the most chips can use those extra chip to continue to dominate the opponents. Autocratic governments have more chips than their constituents and bullying is a normal part of those governments. And it can certainly be argued that Citizens United gives the bullies a bigger chip stack.

    The term limits amendment mandates that one Supreme Court justice be appointed every other year and all Supreme Court justices have an 18 year term limit,. Some content deleted to make the article shorter.




    Summary

    Those who complain about government but do not offer solutions are just venting. When we seek long term solutions we necessarily gravitate toward new constitutional amendments. That’s what George Washington deemed necessary. And we should look for amendments that have the most long term impact. In that spirit, the two amendments above are proposed.

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    Who wrote Federalist Paper 85?

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