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A Tea-Bone to Pick with the Constitution’s Framers Over Elections

ATeaBoneToPick

America is the perfect imperfect, and the U.S. Constitution reflects the achilles heel of Framer thinking that is killing our democracy: Elections. The Framers weren’t big on the details. They should have been, at least when it comes to the process of picking the people elected to uphold the document and the democracy upon which it is based. A fatal flaw in the system is destroying the foundations of our democracy and our society.

The Founding Fathers did not establish a two party system, but one evolved quickly as a result of the voting methods used.  The Electoral College, and our Winner Take All or “First Past the Post” (FPTP) system are fatally-flawed.

Historically, on both the Left and Right we’ve seen our electoral system compromised and misused, but it took the Tea Party and their 1% backers from the Dead Billionaires Club (DBC), who’ve spent billions of dollars and more than fifty years patiently building the infrastructure to exploit the system’s fatal flaws, to use elections to grind the gears of government into dust.

What are our political system’s fatal flaws?

The Tea Party Win-Win.

The Framers never envisioned that a highly well funded minority within one of the political parties could, through use of that money and power, put a strangle-hold on both the electoral system and the government and ignore the will of the 99%.

Here’s how it works:

Win One: Candidate Intimidation

Modern elections are no longer a two party, two contestant affair.  There is always a third person in every American race: A DBC-backed “Republican” who is really an anti-government Libertarian.  As we have seen they are usually not politicians, highly dogmatic, and often exceptionally ignorant of all but a narrow agenda for which their funders have trained them.

A fiscal conservative or a moderate social conservative who has to win a general election has to run so hard to the far Right to survive the primary process. The Republican primary voter is a much smaller sub-set of  Libertarian die-hards, extreme social conservatives, and extreme special issue voters, from race to guns to anti-government zeal, that they most moderates in the GOP cannot win.

The campaign money for moderates in primary contests comes from the slightly less extreme Neoconservative movement of Karl Rove & Co.  They were the last two decades’ radicals, engaged in a very un-Civil War with the Libertarians who quietly shanghaied their extremist base and pushed it even further rightward.  They still pedal an agenda that many moderates can’t swallow either, leaving a fiscal conservative with neither NeoCon or Libertarian leanings without funding.

Even for those who think that they can beat both extremist groups, the fear that they can’t, and the inability to fund a campaign intimidate them into one of the far-Right camps.

In less conservative states, and in national elections, this has led to the “Romney Effect” where a candidate’s primary positions caught on video make it impossible to run to the center enough to capture a general election.  Even though the GOP has shrunk to near non-party levels, they have managed to exploit traditional conservative voting patterns in broad parts of the South and the less populous midwest and radicalize them by providing no spectral conservative alternative than the most extreme of candidates.

WIN TWO: Mid-Term Weakness

The proscribed process for holding elections was designed upon an 18th century model that  has become totally dysfunctional. Middle elections are low-turnout affairs that the far-Right uses to stack state-houses and, as of 2010, the United States Congress. The Democrats are now realizing the importance of putting more money into the 2014 contest, but mid-terms still greatly favor highly motivated, highly partisan voters.  Democrats, by-and-large, have become a far more spectral party and lack that extremist zeal. So a party running on ideas that are spurned by the majority of the American public in polls can ignore the will of the people and run and win anyway because Americans don’t vote mid-term.

WIN THREE: Gridlock

Gridlock is not a two-party problem any longer, but the extreme end of the one party on the Right, the GOP.  Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have pandered to the extreme Right of their party because they live with the institutional level of Tea Party blackmail that exists with candidate intimidation. There are Tea Party candidates who can be run to the right of them and outspend them.  Lead Tea Party pack dogs Rep. Cantor and Rep. Ryan are chafing at the bit to assume the mantle of power in the majority.

The goal of the funders who have been plotting the dismantling of New Deal government since it sent their great families into the shadows during the Great Depression pay for elected officials who are nothing more or less than monkey wrenches dropped into the cogs of goverment.

During the debacle that was the “debt ceiling debate” Boehner was bringing in experts who were just shy of putting on a puppet show to try to explain to the Teahadi hordes in the GOP caucus why gridlock on that issue was going to complicate and expand the federal debt, not reduce it.

The current Congress has fared no better. The House runs witch hunts on everything from reproductive rights to Benghazi to try and whip up scandal that will cover the stark bald reality that they have done effectively nothing on any major fiscal or social issues before their legislative bodies.

In the Senate, the Teahadis have used the rules of the body to stop most, if not all legislation. With the mere threat of a filibuster, which has been used more times in the few years of the Tea Party Era than ever in the Senate’s history, the minority of the minority can effectively stall the workings of government.

So the Dead Billionaires win when they hold the electoral process hostage; They win by exploiting the electoral weaknesses of the system both with nimrod candidates and the threat of their entry into races; They win, even with a minority of members of an elected body, by enforcing governmental gridlock that dries up the lubricant of public policy: Compromise.

The minority wins. The majority loses.  That is the reality of politics in modern America.

Since the Founding Fathers could have no understanding of a world with instant media increasingly owned by the same people who want to “strangle the government” as Teahadi chieftain  Grover Norquist puts it, there were no provisions made to adjust the system to bring power back to the vote, not the dollar buying politicians.

How Do We Fix this Mess?  

The Founding Fathers have no words of wisdom for it. In our backward-looking system, there is no miracle cure for the erosion of the bedrock of American politics and our democratic system.

Independents and moderates in the GOP need to form a reform party. They and the Democrats need to come to the table and put the rules of the House and Senate into working order. They need to find better systems than Winner Take All to represent the will of the people, and keep the special interest money less concentrated on putting the fix into the system.

The American political system is broken.  The shrinking white majority is being exploited by the extreme white minority, and the nation is slipping into a polarity from which, if moderates of all stripes do not act, it can only fracture into un-civil extremes.

My shiny two.

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About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian and short filmmaker who blogs for Truth2Power, the Huffington Post, and the Daily KOS, among others.

10 comments on “A Tea-Bone to Pick with the Constitution’s Framers Over Elections

  1. thedrpete
    June 11, 2013

    When one seemingly has no concept of natural law, no concept of individual sovereignty, no sense of subsidiarity, no understanding of the origin and source of human rights,, no understanding of the Declaration of Independence as predicate of the herein-discussed U.S. Constitution, no understanding of what that Constitution DOES say, and, thus, what it does NOT and WHY, he writes a screed like this one.

    His one correct statement is, “The American political system is broken.” His mental disorder — progressivism/liberalism — will keep him clueless as to why in perpetuity.

    • Brian Ross
      June 12, 2013

      Ah Dr. Pete! Glad you took a holiday and crawled out from under that rock. My understanding of natural law includes the unchanging moral principal that by binding ourselves into a society, we are morally responsible for the least amongst us, and, unlike feudal society, throwing our least able into the waiting arms of religious zealots of various stripes in a secular state as a means of social security and preserving the general welfare is not only unconscionable, but unconstitutional as it is that political document that protects the fundamental human rights that natural law grants is secular and that the rights of man emanate from their being, not divine right.

      Therefore, the government is not a demon, but it is an extension of us, our public will. As such it does the people’s business, including the business that a small, self-centered, selfish minority would not have done. Those who seek to undermine the government for the financial and regulatory benefit of a few, or whose small, selfish, racially-tinged or just plain unhinged world-views, that last of which I suspect you qualify as, is not just un-patriotic. Putting people into the government for the sole purpose of dismantling it from within is a treason far worse than leveling any building, or putting a bomb into a hot dog cart. The desecration of the institutions that are vital to commerce, public safety, healthy, and national security is inexcusable.

      And, dear sir, if you think that progressivism is a mental disorder, then perhaps you should seek British citizenship, as Jefferson, Jay, Hamilton, Madison, Franklin, Washington, and scores of the best political minds who founded and framed this country suffer similarly. I gladly put myself in their company rather than yours.

      • thedrpete
        June 12, 2013

        “Natural law’ is the rational and logical analysis from what can be observed of what and cannot be. Your understanding, then, cannot be so.

        First, each human being comes sovereign, that is to say, subject to no other without explicit permission. The one and only exception is temporary, and has to do with children, who are subject to parents until capable of leaving that status. One cannot argue otherwise, say, that some people come sovereign while others not, or that there is no such thing as sovereignty, or that one race comes sovereign, others not, one sex comes sovereign while the other not. Rationally and logically, any such argument or assertion falls apart of its own weight.

        Given that, then, it follows that each human being (as opposed to, say, pig or head of lettuce) comes endowed “by the Creator or Nature’s God” with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty (the right to do whatever the heck you want . . . just as long as not infringing on another’s like rights in the process), and to property (from whence comes the pursuit of happiness). Given that, then, each human being also has a right to self-defense of the above. It follows rationally and logically. To argue otherwise would be to nullify all unalienable rights.

        Did you take note that unalienable rights do NOT include stuff, commodities, anything produced by someone else. You have no right to groceries, housing, a car, medical care, pharmaceuticals, entry into my home, entry into my restaurant. To argue otherwise is to argue in favor or some people being sovereign while others are not, to some having a right to property and others not, indeed to argue in favor of slavery.

        The U.S. Government is NOT “an extension of us, our public will.” The U.S Government was empowered by We the People with only what we could legitimately empower it. We granted it authority to collectively protect and defend our unalienable rights, no more and no less. And We the People could do that because We the People each had that right already.

      • Brian Ross
        June 12, 2013

        Dr. Pete: Hey! We agree on something! You write:

        “The U.S Government was empowered by We the People with only what we could legitimately empower it”

        That “empowerment” = “an extension of us, our public will.” Congrats for being on the same page there. When you say we grant power to the government, you are 100% correct. We do.

        You say: “We granted it authority to collectively protect and defend our unalienable rights, no more and no less”

        Right on Dr. Pete! We agree again!

        “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

        The government protects life, liberty and allows us all to pursue our happiness to the degree that this happiness does not oppress others with differing ethnicities, faiths, or creeds. The government also protects our equality. So when white uptight right-wingers feel that their liberty, freedom and pursuit of happiness trumps all those less convenient brown, black, yellow female, LBGT and religiously different people, the government finds ways to remind y’all that CREATED EQUAL means CREATED EQUAL.

        We also, as a society take the equality of that happiness to mean that, in the richest country in the world, we make sure that those with less should not fall below a certain state of being, that is to say that they should have some “stuff” that keeps a roof over their head and a bit of food in their belly, and that we don’t let them die because, honestly, that is a SERIOUS happiness buzz-kill.

        Order is a key to the liberties that our Constitution provides. A government of the people, by the people and for the people CARES FOR THE PEOPLE because it is OF THE PEOPLE.

        When everyone does their own thing, we call that anarchy. So apparently, Dr. Pete, you’re an anarchist. That puts you definitely afoul of that Constitution that you misread so poorly.

  2. thedrpete
    June 13, 2013

    “You say: “We granted it authority to collectively protect and defend our unalienable rights, no more and no less”

    “Right on Dr. Pete! We agree again!”
    _________________________________________

    Okay, Brian, so we agree. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    ___________________________________________

    Now you exit the rails, ignoring everything you said to that point, and just make it up on the fly. “Liberty” means the right to do whatever the heck you want . . . just as long as not infringing on another’s right to life, liberty, and PURSUIT of happiness in the process. “Equal” means of the unique species human. Each human comes sovereign, and endowed with the same right as all others.

    No human being on Planet Earth has a right to happiness, just to pursue it. No human being on Planet Earth has a right to commodities, that which is produced by others. No groceries, no housing, no transportation, no employment, no so-called “living wage”, no medical or pharmaceutical care.

    You achieve your point on anarchy, Brian, by substituting the concept of freedom for the concept of liberty. Having each human being selfish and greedy (with the terms properly used) does NOT lead to anarchy unless ignoring the second half of the above definition of “liberty”.

  3. 3 Dollar Bill
    June 13, 2013

    “The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression. I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.
    The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy!” H. L. MENCHEN
    “In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.”Fran Lebowitz
    “Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense.” Mark Twain, again!

    • thedrpete
      June 13, 2013

      If all people were angels, 3 Dollar Bill, there would be no need for government. If all people in government were angels, there would be no need to constrain government. Not all people are angels, alas, and not all, indeed near none, in government are.

      • 3 Dollar Bill
        June 13, 2013

        As Huck Finn told Tom Sawyer, “The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.”

      • Brian Ross
        June 14, 2013

        Dr. Pete, what a sanctimonious load of crap. You see a lot of “devils” running out to the tornado victims in Kansas and digging them out of the rubble? Those EMS responders and firemen and cops and national guard are bad guys? They’re the government, Dr. Doofus. Any other oil rigs blow up recently? The only reason that BP improved the third-rate job that they did on the Horizon, and others in the industry followed, is because the Justice Department held them accountable. Some tireless, unheard of guy with engineering degrees who, thanks to your pals in the slash and burn Teahadi Congress has to inspect several hundred wells by himself where there should be three or four people doing that work, keep your shrimp and seafood hauled out of the gulf from dying off or being inedible. Oh, yeah, then there is the FDA inspector who tests the shrimp to make sure that you and your neighbors don’t get friggin poisoned by the food you eat or that someone tells the CDC that there might be some harmful bacteria in the food that might kill thousands of people and needs to be examined. Bad guys too, I guess. Then, of course, you’d probably do away with the Centers for Disease Control which not only deal with every danger from Anthrax attacks to viruses untreatable, but also with their day-to-day of providing the for-profit world with all kinds of health data that the private sector has neither the financing to investigate nor the commercially viable interest.

        Yeah, that demon government is all bad.

  4. thedrpete
    June 14, 2013

    Everything could be done better by other-than-government. Defense and adjudication via courts MUST, nonetheless, be done by government.

    I’ll take the free market versus the EPA, FDA SEC, HHS, HUD, etc. etc. I’ll take medicine and pharma via a free market — sans Medicare, sans Medicaid, sans SCHIP, etc. — versus ANY government involvement and intrusion. I’ll take Consumer Reports, the Good Housekeeping Seal, and Angie’s List, etc. etc. versus government oversight any day.

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