Beyond the Cusp

October 21, 2014

Upcoming Midterm United States Elections, a Slightly Different Look

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Who is ahead in the different races depends on the state and even on the political leanings of the news or talk shows one follows. If you go to polling it gets even more confusing. Not only are the polls often slanted depending on who ordered the polling but it also depends on what the subject the poll is covering. Here are a few examples from some polls. A CBS poll recently showed that fifty percent of those responding said the Democrats are the party that “cares more about the needs and problems of people” while only 34 percent chose the Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans have a nine point lead concerning the economy, an eleven point lead on foreign policy and a twenty-one point lead on addressing terrorism in an October CBS poll. So, who wins; the party of the people or the party which appears to be more competent? These numbers are nothing new as often the Democrats have polled well on sympathy and feeling the people’s pains while the Republicans historically win on foreign policy and confronting threats from the outside world. The fact the Republicans are polling slightly ahead of Democrats on the economy is not nationally definitive enough to be applied to every race. The probability is that in the traditionally Democrat leaning states the Democrats will probably poll even or ahead of the Republicans while in traditionally Republican states the Republicans will poll ahead. The place where that mere nine point lead for the Republicans becomes evident will be in what is often referred to as the ‘purple’ states where the parties have split the wins between them would thus likely give the Republicans a slight lead on the economy. Unfortunately that may not transfer to votes as there is also the personality of the candidates as well as the effectiveness of their campaigns and whether there are third party or independent candidates on the ballot and from which side they will draw away votes. Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates tend to take more votes from Republicans while Green and sometimes Libertarian Party take more votes from the Democrats. But other than their campaign, their affability or their campaign commercials and use of media and social networks, the most important determining item will simply be which party gets the voters to the polls, period.

With this year not being a Presidential election year, the national party machines are operating but there are far fewer volunteers and fewer funds for them to make a large determining difference. This means that it will be up to the State and even more local party machines and the candidate supporting campaign staff which will make up a significant part of the get out the vote efforts. States with Gubernatorial elections this election will have more party influence than those without. What makes these midterms so difficult to make predictions is because there is no real enthusiasm evident in the electorate and it is very possible that both of the major parties will suffer from miserable voter turnout and thus calling the elections near impossible. There will be some states where polling data is so skewed to one candidate that there is almost no challenge to picking the likely winner short of an unseen stumble where the leading candidate is caught in a criminal act or other compromising situation. They do not even need to actually be guilty as that will depend on a court of law, but such accusations can sway the court of public opinion and that is exactly what elections are, the court of public opinion choosing those they feel are less guilty of potentially bad leadership. That has been the truth in all too many elections in the United States in recent times where people are literally trying to choose which evil is less harmful. Some have gotten to the point that they have finally refused to vote for the lesser from two evils and they refuse to ever again vote for evil no matter how slight. These voters are demanding the parties to put forth candidates who are capable of leading and representing the people with integrity and virtue. This might even lead to making a third party or independent candidate to have a real possibility to take elections and possibly change the American political landscape once again. Perhaps it is time for a new political movement as the last great movement was the Abolition Movement which birthed the Republican Party and the Whig Party was laid to rest. The more likely bet is that the two major parties have so slanted and poisoned the election laws throughout the United States that it has become next to impossible for any third party or independent candidate to make the ballot, let alone have any funds remaining should they manage to make ballot, and trust I know from where I speak. This is really a sad problem as this may prevent a new direction to be proposed and placed before the American electorate and instead continue forcing them to choose between two toxins, progressive Democrats who want to double the size of government every decade, or the progressive Republican who wishes to slow government growth so that it doubles only four or five times each century. Since both the major parties are in favor of growing government and the sole difference is exactly the rate of growth the American people can rest assured that over time the Republicans will seem like the Democrats of a few decades back while the Democrats will be breaking new ground which the Republican will fall in love with a few decades hence. Should this trend not be reversed soon the United States will continue in decline and only accelerate with time.

Beyond the Cusp

October 9, 2014

Why the United States Cannot Return to Greatness

You will hear how the United States will make a comeback and return to sane governance just as it did after President Jimmy Carter brought the nation to the brink of economic meltdown and had much of the public pessimistic to the point that the ‘Misery Index’ which had been used as a guide for politicians became a household word and was updated on many daily newscasts. Part of the reason that the United States recovered after President Carter was because they elected Ronald Reagan rather than trust President Carter a second term. President Obama was given a second term but there were some mitigating circumstances such as weak opposition by the Republican Party, the media almost taking a supportive position in backing the campaign of President Obama and foreign policy lapses had yet to prove disastrous and devolving to the threatening level it had with President Carter who faced a hostage crisis where Iran had held Fifty-two Embassy diplomats and citizens for 444 days, until President Reagan’s Inauguration Day. Had the foreign policy missteps by President Obama and his administration been made more evident before the election for his reelection, then he might have had a far more difficult time. Some may remember that the one area which Candidate Romney performed well was on foreign policy where President Obama made his best retort claiming when Romney answered that Russia was the United States number one adversary that, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for twenty years.” The clincher came not from President Obama but from the moderator Candy Crowley countered when Romney claimed that President Obama had not called the assault on the Consulate in Benghazi a terror attack and when Romney repeated his claim after President Obama challenged him to read the transcript and Crowley exclaimed with great authority and emphasis, “He did in fact call it an ‘act of terror.” That ended any challenge Romney might further make over Benghazi as he had been deflated and his argument flattened giving President Obama the impetus he needed to win that debate and escape any further claims on Benghazi, the subject had been poisoned.

Still, if anyone thinks that President Obama would not have received a far better bid for reelection than had Jimmy Carter no matter how the debates went or who he was running against obviously has no idea how almost completely President Reagan won that election, it was a virtually unanimous electoral vote except for the District of Columbia and Georgia, Minnesota, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii and West Virginia. The electorate of the United States has witnessed a sea of change in the past ten years as certain critical demographics have changed with much of that change coming during President Obama’s time in office. Do not get this wrong, President George W. Bush made some huge influences which gave the changes an initial impetus which would have forced much of the change even without any additional shoves which they have received since. We need to remember that the prescription drug assistance granted to those who received government aided medical insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid very soon became the largest single government giveaway program. Sometime during the years when President Bush was in office the percentage of American citizens who were dependent on government at some level surpassed the fifty-percent fulcrum point where it had been theorized that their votes for increased government contributions to their pockets. This was predicted longer ago than many people are probably aware as it was said by Alexis de Tocqueville explaining the breaking point which would inevitable come and destroy the nation he saw as the most exemplary governance in existence when he stated, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

There was one Founding Father who foresaw and gave the resolution that would treat this eventuality when Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter upon receiving his copy of the Constitution in which Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” And earlier in the letter he commented on the frequency such watering the tree of liberty would require, he mentioned his view of the purity of purpose of the American Revolution and the necessity of the purifying fire of refreshment where he wrote, “And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of its motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.” Yes, that is what Thomas Jefferson predicted, that the government of men would so far run adrift from the founding principles that every twenty years the nation would require the reset of another revolution and the reinstatement of the Constitution anew. Well, perhaps Thomas Jefferson was wrong though a serious inspection of the governance of the United States over the years there have been the historians who have made a convincing argument that the twenty year measure may not have been as ridiculous as we might think. Even if the measure of twenty years may appear too drastic, would one offer the same argument should one suggest that perhaps a two century timeframe were the measure in place of twenty years?

Whatever the measure one might place, it matters not. The fulcrum point has been surpassed and the preponderance of weight of votes are now likely to be cast in favor of retaining the programs and expanding the payments and the loosening the requirements as the first grants greater funds into their pockets and the latter brings more people into the program thus guaranteeing its continuation and potentials for increased funding. Once we see evidence that the balance has gone to the side of those who receive more from the government than they pay in taxes of all varieties plus those who are dependent on government, state, federal, county, or other elected body for their salaries compared to those whose tax payments are greater than payments received from government programs, then as long as the former vote at an equal or greater percentage than the latter the government will continue to grant greater payments while increasing taxes as those paying the taxes will have been silenced at the ballot box. The predictions that this point was surpassed during the Presidency of George W. Bush may have been correct but when the line was crossed is not as important as whether it was crossed. The numbers of Americans who were collecting the majority of their funds from government; be they welfare, disability, salary or other forms of receipt of government payments; passed the tipping point by a sufficient margin that there may be no turning back. The demographics of the next Presidential election in the United States may prove just as important as who actually wins the election. Once the demographics are studied and become known we may be seeing numerous articles signaling the death of the America which so impressed Alexis de Tocqueville causing him to state as well as to give an ominous warning in the same quote with, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” What would Mr. Tocqueville conclude visiting America’s churches and listening to the preaching within today? Would he surmise that the greatness persists or would he fear the empty pews and the generally milquetoast sermons and preaching just as empty as the pews signify the demise of American greatness?

Beyond the Cusp

December 8, 2013

Congress Should be Congratulated and Lauded for Inactivity

There have been a plethora of articles of late criticizing and belaboring the fact that the present Congressional session had passed the least pieces of legislation and considered far less bills than any in recent history. What is confusing me is why exactly that is a bad thing. It strikes me that the less Congress passes in legislation making new laws which spawn hundreds if not tens-of-thousands of new regulations for each piece of legislation passed the more freedom and liberty will remain with the American people, and that is a really beneficial and decent thing to laud. If you have any doubts about such, just take a look at the results from one piece of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. That one piece of legislation was over a thousand pages of legalese and delegating responsibilities to different positions and staffs to fill out the needed and necessary regulations to fulfill every vaguely defined goal and any implied desirable results which could be divined from the endless text of the legislation. This led to over twenty-thousand pages of regulations at last count if some watchdog sources are to be believed. What makes things even more dire are the results we have already witnessed that have befallen many Americans who thought they were within the dictates of the law believing President Obama’s promises that they could keep their insurance if they liked it and they could keep their doctor if they liked him or her; but now we know those were lies and the worst kind of lies, intentional and misleading lies made to an unsuspecting and trusting people, after all it was the President who made the promises. So, when it was announced a few weeks back that this Congress had passed and considered the least amount of legislation and took less actions, votes, and other sundry decisions I was overjoyed and pray that this is simply the beginning of a favorable trend.

 

Imagine if this becomes a continuing trend where each successive Congress considers less legislation, passes less new laws, approve less new regulations and perchance spending less funds, what a boon that would be for the American people. If such a trend went on long enough the point might even be passed where the Congress would need to rescind legislation undoing some of the damage previously accrued through Congressional actions. Imagine less regulations and fewer laws and a government actually shrinking as it released itself from some of the most unnecessary or redundant workload which currently is the cause of wasted millions of dollars if not billions. Imagine if the Congress actually rediscovered one of the better and more innovative ideas from the Founding Fathers which was to leave all of the day-to-day regulating and laws to the individual states to address and the Congress and Federal Government simply attended to matters between the United States and other nations and was available to settle disagreements between states which were expected to be concerning fairness in trade more than anything else. That would give the American people the advantage of fifty separate states each attempting to address the day-to-day laws and regulations in as efficient and orderly a manner as they could imagine. Some states would excel at one thing while others would excel at their specialty and even if some states simply never got a great idea of their own you know what? The states could learn from each other’s actions and adopt the systems that functioned closest and were the best at attaining the goals of each state. Over time some states which adopted the methods of another state as they proved more efficient but they found something they could tweak to make it function even better in their case, well that improvement might be adopted by the originating state to test if it worked better there as well. There would be more minds with greater variety at addressing the needs of the people, the citizenry, that things would improve and better ways of getting items taken care of would be found more readily making everyone’s lives better off. Now if the United States Congress would just agree, but a slowdown is a step in the right direction.

 

As long as we are on the subject of improving governance and the government that is responsible for such perhaps a few pipe-dream suggestions could be offered. The first would be that when Congress passes any legislation they then must approve every single regulation which is written to flesh out the bill and make it functioning. The Congress need not necessarily write every single regulation, though that would be preferable as that at least is performed under the scrutiny of concerned citizens, they should have to vote every one of them up or down such that the regulations are at least reviewed by the people elected by the citizenry to represent their interests. The laws passed by the Congress should necessarily be applied to the members of Congress and their staffs with absolutely no exceptions. The use of Congressional exception that allows the Congress not to be subjected to the very laws they impose on the people is the height of governmental hypocrisy. This should include all laws pertaining to illegal insider trading and other illicit financial dealings as the members of Congress should not be allowed to invest their monies into companies they know they are about to grant multi-billion dollar contracts and thus become wealthy beyond measure as a result. The members of Congress and their staff should be required to place their investment monies in a blind trust where a manager controls their investments and it should be illegal and punishable by impeachment and imprisonment for any member of Congress to dictate or even contact the person handling their investments by direct or indirect means. All laws and regulations should be given a sunset clause of no more than a decade such that if the law or regulation is not reviewed and voted to remain active at least once every ten years, then that law or regulation should be made null and void. Then there is the final pipe-dream; make the entire Federal Government, every department, sub-department, agency, cabinet position, committee and any other functioning part of government justify their continued existence by stating before a review board appointed by the states what exactly under the Constitution allows their continued existence and if they are unsuccessful in doing so, then they would be disbanded and cease to exist. A similar procedure with laws and regulations might not be a bad idea as well. My bet is that virtually every unfunded mandate which places the financial responsibility for a Federal Government imposed requirement or program be placed on the individual states would disappear in a rapid manner. The unfunded mandate is an edict from the Federal Government which denies the states their right to have a vote in determining what they will be required to finance. That is just one more reason to return the selection process for Senators to the individual states by repealing the Amendment XVII. States could decide to continue to allow for the direct election of their Senators by their voters, but they should be granted their choice as having the states choose the manner or even the person who will become their Senator was another of the major checks and balances built into the Constitution and the balance has been destroyed and is very much responsible for the Federal Government expanding its powers unchecked and running roughshod over the states in the process. It is time to give the individual states back their voice in the Federal government, way past time.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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