To be clear, I am not a Constitutional Scholar. Not a Constitutional Lawyer. Never had a class having to anything to do with the Constitution, other than what is covered in 8th grade, and in high school history.
A couple of summers ago, I downloaded all of the Federalist Papers, printed them out. Then, I spent the summer reading through the Federalist Papers. And the Constitution. And the Bill of Rights.
Still, I am no expert.
Reading these documents is one thing. Interpretation of these documents is altogether another thing. Reading them is easy; understanding them is not easy. Simply because they are written in a native language does mean we can translate them into the modern era.
Many of the Federalist Papers were written anonymously by men whose names we recognize, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and perhaps a less known fellow, George Clinton, who was instrumental in the critique of the Papers.
Federalist Paper #10, however, is a pretty straight-forward read, and everyone should read this Federalist Paper. One poignant phrase stands out, from the opening paragraph, that highlights worries that even today express themselves.
Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.
The men that laid the framework for the United States did so knowing that one of the potential and pervasive problems would be the rise of factional and divisive groups, i.e. Special Interest Groups (SIGS), lobbyists, political action committees (PACs), and non-government organizations, etc.
We also have to include political parties within this definition. Currently, no more divisive groups exist than political parties.
We are all too familiar with politicians and PACs that have their own agenda, seek to fund themselves, and work towards corporate good rather than the good of the individual citizen.
Even now, our own Supreme Court has extended Rights of the Individual to corporations. These Rights of the Individual, such as campaign donations, have been extended well beyond their original intent (IMHO), and represent a direct threat to our Republican government.
And by “Republican,” I mean, “a republic in the sense of a representative-style democracy,” not a “direct democracy,” nor a government run exclusively by the Republican Party.
I abhor the labels of “republican,” or “democrat,” “conservative,” or “liberal.” My impression of humanity, if we could really poll people, maintains that most people run the gamut of political leanings. For example, some people might support liberal guns laws while supporting conservative Pro-Life laws. Labeling people as belonging to some 2-D part of the political spectrum is a gross over-simplification of people.
And insulting. And dangerously stupid.
The present political systems does nothing other than divide or polarize people – precisely what the founders of this country specifically did not want to happen.
Our founders, if I interpret their documents correctly, wanted people to come together to make government decisions to protect the minorities, yet make pragmatic and well-reasoned decisions.
We cannot have a “homogenous” society, i.e. getting everyone to think alike. Homogenization of the United States is impossible. We are incredibly diverse. Some might say, too diverse. Homogenization is dangerous. Fascism is a type of homogenized group-think. Small groups get run over, shoved aside, and essentially lack protection – the same issues and concerns that led small groups to relocate to the New World.
Why create the same set of problems, why re-create the same attitudes, prejudices, biases in our new land?
And, now we see the same set of circumstances arising again, large group politics damaging the lives of individual people, simply because of a difference in Political Party.
Dumb. Ignorant. Dangerous.
And, to complicate matters even more is the way campaigns are being financed. President Obama, whom I voted for (in full-disclosure, and I also voted for Bush twice, Clinton, and Bush), has pretty much lost my vote when media outlets announced that the Obama Election Campaign would spend between $750 million to $1 billion dollars on his re-election. The Republican Party can crow about the spending all they want; they are as guilty, if not more so.
Our Founding Fathers would be shocked and appalled at the depravity of our political system.
Is there a solution? Eh, probably, but no one would go for it.
What I would might recommend is something like the following:
- Abolish all political parties.
- Public funding for all campaigns.
- Each candidate gets a set and equal amount of campaign money
- Each candidate publicly publishes his/her platform, the set of issues or concerns that matter to them, in no particular order. These concerns can be established by a committee of citizens. Such a list might include issues such as Welfare Reform, Tax Reform, Education Policy, Abortion, Gun Rights, etc.
- Common print or digital media outlets would publicize the platforms of candidates in advance of the election.
- People would read each platform, and select the best x of those listed.
- Ties would resolved by run-off election.
- Committees would then be formed from randomly assigning committee membership.
- Problems would be solved pragmatically, without regards to race, religion, creed, or sexual orientation, with as a general rule the protection of the minority position.
- Outside monies or influence upon committees is forbidden. Committees should form fact-finding committees from the community to help educate themselves, address, and resolve the concern.
OK, that is my Top Ten tenets of Political Reform for the United States.
See why my plan will never work?