Beyond the Cusp

March 6, 2013

Calls for Revolution Will Lead to Undesirable Results

Revolutions are part of the natural cycles of governance and are often required to bring forth change. Change is the one result of revolution that is guaranteed. Desirable change is not guaranteed and is the least likely of all the possible results from a revolution. The one consequence of revolution is unpredictability and such uncertainty is a wicked mistress. The closest analogy of revolution in nature is fire. The great plains and forests of the world left to nature will suffer cleansing fires as that is nature’s way of effecting change. The renewals resultant from these flames is necessary in the cycles of renewal by Mother Nature. The other similarity between nature’s renewal by fire and political renewal by revolution is that each is an extremely dangerous process to all living things within the effects of the sweeping flames of change. The forests and plains then reset to an original starting point from which nature rebuilds eventually reaching the point where the conditions will eventually again reach the point where the conditions are ripe for the next renewal by fire. Governance of man is similar in that the governance that results from any revolution is not guaranteed and, more often than not, the forces in control at the end of the revolution are rarely the same forces that began the revolution. The recent revolutions in the Middle East are perfect examples of this consequence.

 

The originators of the Egyptian uprising, for example, were students and young adults who using the new high tech media began a revolution that presented the opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists to step in and reap the rewards from the wind swept flames of change. Similar results followed from what began actually in 2009 Iran where the students and many from the society protested the stealing of the election by Ahmadinejad and were violently oppressed. Their attempt at change failed largely due to the timidity by the rest of the world to support their calls for relief from despotic rule. The next country was Tunisia where a vegetable street vendor reached beyond his limits and revolted by self-immolation. This was the spark that lighted the flames of revolution in Tunisia which then ignited across Northern Africa and beyond. The original protests were demands for freedom, democratic representation, liberty, and an end to economic repressions. The results have thus far been the replacement of nationalistic dictators with the election of Islamic religious leaderships which may result in the imposition of a new dictatorial type of theocratic tyrannies. The freedom expressing youth who wished for modernized democratic governance began these revolutions and the theocratic fundamentalists had the organizational presence to take advantage of an unstable leadership vacuum which they used all their influence and power to fill while displacing the idealistic youth. The history of revolutions will verify the posit that those who initiate revolution are more often than not cast aside by other forces who have the necessary organization in the ready seemingly waiting for just such an opportunity to divert the situation for their own gain.

 

There are those who believe that a revolution may be required in order to reinstitute the original Constitutional limits and reinstate idealistic governance that they believe existed at the birth of the United States and honestly believe that they would be able to control the transformation once the existing governance had been toppled making room for their visions to be realized. Other than the disillusioned truth that even at the time that George Washington was taking the oath of office the constitution was on the verge of being compromised as soon as Congress was seated. The Constitutional standard set forth in the actual document was an idealistic governance for which we were to strive and described a perfection which was to be minded in order to limit the evils to which men fall victim simply due to the fact that all are imperfect and corruptible when compared to a perfection of the vision such as presented in the Constitution. The ideal is near impossible yet is what must be the used definition of governance if society is to have any possibility of resisting the temptations that lead to corrupt ruling leadership that result from partaking of a taste of power. The problem with any revolution, even one with the stated goal of reinstating the original Constitution in its entirety, the temptations of power will work their tantalizations on those who find themselves as leaders. Since revolutions will tend to appoint or have some assume power, they leave the aims of the revolution to become victim of the desires of those trusted with leadership. History has proven that those trusted with leadership often break every vow and trust that was instituted when they first assumed leadership and power. As the old phrase states, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

 

When looking at the current state of political power in the United States and comparing it to the allocations of power according to the Constitution, one finds the structure which was meant to protect the individual States from an overreaching central government have been completely turned on their head. This is very much a stipulation for change that is made by those who believe the time has come to take whatever steps may be required to reset the governance of the United States back to the originating Constitutional arrangements. The problem is there is far too much risk in attempting to force such a change as those in power will not likely surrender that which they now hold. Forcing the issue would necessitate revolution and the flames of change are usually not kind. The only guaranteed manner of reasserting the limits and doctrines of the Constitution is to go through a period of disciplined change in order to undo over two hundred years of compromise. Such an endeavor would take near inhuman dedication over generations all the while resisting the exact same temptations which caused this problem in the first place. The problem is that each compromise committed to the purity of the Constitution was seen and accepted as an improvement or necessity and was generally approved by the majority at their inception. The perfect example would be the Seventeenth Amendment which called for a change in the manner for the selection of United States Senators. In accordance with the humanistic philosophies of the period where it was theorized that the people as a whole entity were of superior intelligence and pure nature than were the State Governments which were seen as even more corrupt than the Federal Government. This caused the belief that the citizenry would be preferred to be given the power to elect their Senators instead of allowing the State Legislators or Governor to appoint them. This was seen as advantageous and the Constitutional Amendment was presumably ratified as such. The theory that the Senate was to be the house that represented the individual States was set aside and transformed to mean the Senators were to represent the will of the peoples of each State. This was definitely to the advantage of the powers in Washington as it completely removed any vestige of power over the Federal Government actions and laws from the State legislators or other governmental power. This one Amendment may have had the most far reaching affect in subsuming power from the States into the centralized Federal Government. To undo the evisceration of the United States Constitution by two centuries of compromises and cheating performed by the representatives of the people, often despite vocal protests from a minority of strict constitutionalists, the people must be convinced it is in their vital interest to partake of an effort to reassert the original limitations, definitions, identifications, and structures of the Constitution of the Federal Government and all other forms of governance throughout the United States. Even if this should become evident, it would then take transmitting this eminent desire to the ensuing generations very likely for far longer than it took allowing for the constitution to be abridged. That will be one difficult and possibly climbable mountain to conquer, but likely a worthy goal. It is that very difficulty that makes the idea of revolution and quick restoration so tempting, but that allure would likely not produce the desired end. The fires of change tend to burn out of the control of those who lighted the initial flames.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 10, 2012

It’s All About Defending the Ideas from the Enlightenment

The Age of Reason that was achieved in Europe originated during the Period of Enlightenment is and was not unique to the Western culture, such had occurred before and hopefully will continue to appear anyplace where it has either never existed or been lost due to decline of a civilization. The form of reason to which I refer is that which holds personhood as one of the central and most vital of all resources and as such worthy of protection and empowerment. This is the sort of reasoning upon which freedoms and liberties are based and without which civilization reverts to some form of barbarism, be it based upon tribes, clans, religion, idolatry, or other identity through which all who are considered as outside or the other are considered unworthy of protection for their lives, freedoms, liberties or even kindness. Such enlightenment is currently most prevalent in the advanced industrial nations of the West, a number of eastern cultures and is coming into its own in a select number of developing nations who are embracing the ideals of equality under the law, equality of opportunity, acceptance of differences and other central pillars of an enlightened society.

Many who preach about enlightened societies like to put forward the canard that such societies are relatively new to the civilized world. The truth of the matter is that enlightened societies have existed numerous times throughout human history; they just usually fell before the rampaging conquest by more brutal and barbarous tribe, hordes or other equally infamous descriptors. Some examples of such enlightened societies would be the Hebrews when they actually followed their biblical laws and performed mitzvah and kept their religion and its limitations as their guide in life, the Greeks (actually Macedonians) under Alexander, Rome to some extent before they went off the rails and anointed Caesars and gave them god-like stature, some of the many dynasties in both China and Japan and those societies which were guided by Buddhism in its most benevolent forms and likely others. In each of these societies the freedoms and liberties that are usually present in an enlightened society were often reserved for citizens and only rarely and most often to a lesser extent actually extended to all who resided within the boundaries of the State or Empire. The one major problem which cursed these earliest of enlightened societies was the distance between the central governance and most of the rest of the society. This allowed for some of the provinces and cities more distant to not necessarily live up to the higher standards set at the heart of the kingdom. This is one of the reasons that it is claimed that truly enlightened societies were impossible before faster means of travel and electronic communications allowed for universal application of centralized governance to enforce the laws uniformly. Where this is somewhat true, communication has been capable of sufficient speed for some time. All that was necessary was the organization and desire to set up routes of communications.

There has been a lot written and said about the need for Islam to go through a reformation such as Europe experienced with the reformation of the Catholic Church, the founding of Protestant forms of Christianity which called for a more enlightened and accepting Church, and the spread and final acceptance of the scientific revolution as a result of the Renaissance with its injection into the society of critical thinking. I like to claim that the pinnacle of achievement of the entirety of the Enlightenment, Renaissance and political evolution was the Declaration of Independence which led to the formation of the United States. The Magna Carta was a giant step forward in this evolution of societies which actually was very likely a necessary step in the processes which led to the Declaration of Independence as was British Common Law. Do not take this as claiming that the United States itself is or has been the pinnacle of human endeavor and accomplishment for that is not my intention. The United States has had a remarkable history both due to and despite its actions. The United States were not the first of governments to abolish slavery which negates their record being spotless. The mere fact that slavery was permitted leaves the United States as having been imperfect and to this day the United States can work and improve upon its current state of affairs. What makes the United States special is its unique ethics and the fact that it has accepted that it is an experiment in the self-rule by men of men and that it must necessarily continue to experiment and seek new ways to extend and broaden the freedoms and liberties for which it was intended at its formation. This was the apparent wishes of those who were the men. The political philosophers, social philosophers, pragmatists, dreamers, master of poetry and prose, and people from as varied a set of backgrounds and professions as ever collected in one endeavor, who together forged the trifecta of documents; the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights; which began what has thus far been the grandest of accomplishments in self-governance by man known as the United States. These people of great visions wrote in their diaries and the letters exchanged between them of their hopes and dreams and of what could be in the future if only those who followed them kept true to their inspired causes and dreams. They knew what they had produced was imperfect but, as stated by Winston Churchill, “Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Since the earliest of societies which contained elements of what today is recognized as an enlightened society, it was not until the latter half of the Twentieth Century that global conditions had reached a point where one ideology could conceivably rule all of planet Earth. This also means that only in the most recent period of history has the potential to eradicate all vestiges of enlightened society been a possibility, perhaps not viewed as likely, but still a possibility. Such would be the case if the central societies which are the wellspring from which such ideal and ideas flow were to be eradicated by conquest or simply through malicious destruction simply to deny these societies of having any direct influence of the future. The most obvious attempts in the recent past which had as their central pillar the replacing enlightened societies, which valued freedoms and liberties for the individual with self-determination an option for each as the driving force in their lives, with centralized power dictating every facet and decision in each person’s life were Nazism and Communism. In both of these instances it took a total commitment by the powers and protectors of enlightened rule to defeat these threats. In each case there was a great expense made in lives and treasure in order to initially slow and eventually stop the spread of these dehumanizing governances and then the eventual defeat, though some vestiges of both remain to the present day. It may be noted that communism still holds in its grip a fair percentage of the human race while, fortunately, Nazism has been eradicated from being the governing force over any country, for now. But is there a new force, or the resurgence of an old force, that is threatening the continuation of an enlightened society’s presence in the World? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

Islam is the current threat and challenge to the ideal of an enlightened society where the individual is empowered and holds the largest influence over their own actions, desires, opportunities and everything else which defines them, their place in the society and their opportunities and path they follow. What makes this even more sad is that for close to half a millennium Islam served as the keeper of the enlightened view of governance and society. It was under Islam that the individual was empowered to think freely and where new concepts were not immediately dismissed out of hand as blasphemous. Now Islam is the enemy of such thoughts, freedoms, liberties and individualism. Modern day Islam has a rigid system where the society assigns the individual’s place in the order of things and dictates virtually every action from waking to sleeping. Independent thinking and personal liberties are not permitted under Sharia, Islamic Law. Islam has even gone so far as to define themselves as the antithesis of all that the West holds dear. The leaders of Islamic society have stated unequivocally that their biggest desire is to unseat the Western society’s grip on the world and replace what is today considered enlightened laws with their Sharia Law and the accompanying stringent restriction on personal actions and freedoms to do as one believes is best for themselves and instead force all into a mold of what the Quran defines as the perfect man or woman. No leeway, no wiggle room, a set in stone parched existence serving Islam and being a good Muslim exactly as written in the Quran. And the possibility that they will succeed is far higher than I am comfortable with facing.

The reason that Islam stands a better than average chance to overtake the enlightened societies of the Western industrialized nations is very simple, the industrialized Western societies are currently experiencing an identity crisis. Much of the West, especially Europe and the United States, are unsure of what they stand for and where it is they intend to proceed going into the future. And the leadership of the Islamic World has noted the confusion and weakened will of the West and knows that their best opportunity to take over not only the West, but the entire globe is very likely better right at this moment than it will ever likely be again. In Europe there is a monetary crisis that has many of the nations at each other’s throats over who can finance who and can they expect payment of these loans in the future or will they simply disappear as new debt is rolled up by the countries with the weakest economies. The United States has a President who believes that the biggest problem in the world today is that the United States was trying to police everybody else and spread their culture even where it was not acceptable to the elite or leadership of other nations. In response to the United States having been such a dominant power, President Obama has withdrawn the United States from the lead and taken the position of leading from behind. The main problem with this approach is that the rest of the enlightened and industrialized world does not have a true and real leading country other than the United States and such is not about to change in the near future. Should President Obama be reelected to a second term the West may not survive a free world without any leadership. The United States was the combination of the rudder and the keel and without these two essential parts; the free world’s ship has no direction and is threat of being capsized by a sufficiently large shock, a large wave. There was likely never a worse time for the presumable enlightened Western World to have a full blown identity crisis, yet that is apparently their state at this time. The socialists are attempting to undermine individuality and replace the individual with the collective and individual desires and pursuits with the collective good. This tug-of-war between the collectivists and the individualists, especially those rugged, go-it-alone, individualists, is simply tearing the fabric of Western enlightened society to shreds. Many on the extremist elements in the far left have gone so far as to ally with the Islamist interests as they see in them a kindred group who also seek to pull down the individualists and traditionalists of the enlightened society and replace it. Many of them are not oblivious to the fact that the Islamists are diametrically opposed to most of the leftist collective moral relativism and acceptance of alternate lifestyles, but they are betting that when the time comes they will be able to reason and compromise with those who wish to implement Sharia and thus be enabled of implementing a collective society which reflects their multicultural, morally relativist, universal acceptance, free love society and the Islamic influences will be accepting because they will have worked together. If they think that they are facing resistance from those who oppose them in the current Western society then they are going to be acquainted with something that in comparison makes their current situation appear to be all flowers and incense. The one saving grace may be that the enlightened West has been in disarray before and then faced a threat to their core beliefs and entire existence and responded in an appropriate manner with the zeal and confidence necessary to survive and defeat the efforts of those who would have completely erased their society from the face of the Earth. What they had better wake up and realize is that the current threat is actually the greatest one the enlightened Western society has ever faced. This time the forces against enlightenment actually realize and know their side is the side of death and darkness, and this time they celebrate these facts. That makes this time very different though the manner of defense may be very similar to past times. Whatever may come, if the enlightened society has a future, it has to solidify and realize that none of its internal squabbles have a nickel’s worth of meaning in the fight to come which will be for all the marbles. I know, never mix and compare nickels and marbles, it confuses people and we need to clear away any confusing fog and take a close and unobstructed scrutiny of what the immediate future is threatening.

Beyond the Cusp

June 10, 2012

We Need a None of the Above Election Ballot

There are two peculiarities about elections in the United States that have become evident over the years. The first is that less than half of the registered voters often actually vote and approximately half of those eligible to vote actually register. This means that a candidate who receives one fourth of the votes of people eligible to register can win an election. The other is when asked why people did not register, or when registered did not vote; the number one reason is neither, or none, of the candidates were appealing enough to be worth the effort to vote for them. When you figure in the number of people who vote and admit their vote was more of a vote against the other candidate than a vote for the candidate they supported then you see the real problem with politics in the United States. That is the second main problem, the real or perceived dearth of candidates who are worthy or can cause sufficient excitement as to be worth people’s time and efforts to support. For this reason, we would like to suggest a few changes which can be made by each state and with sufficient number of states adopting the None of the Above Over Fifty Percent Law, we could possible make this the method for all elections for any office in the land. Here is how this would work.

The first thing necessary is to make all elections for office require a candidate to receive over fifty percent of the votes cast. Secondly, the ballot would have one extra choice beyond the candidates listed for office which would be “None of the Above” and votes cast for such would count towards the total when figuring the required fifty percent. And, if we could add one last item it would be to simplify ballot access to be a candidate thus making it far easier to qualify for ballot access as the current laws are prohibitive both financially and set the bar almost beyond any possibility to reach. I can attest to this having actually qualified for an election and ended up spending more funds simply to qualify for the ballot than I had to use for the actual campaign. Granted, such a system for elections might also require holding the first ballot earlier in the year, probably the Tuesday after Labor Day in September. Should a ballot have more than two candidates running for office, then the top three vote recipients would then run in another election held one month later at the first Tuesday in October. If none of the three are able to surpass the fifty percent marker, then the top two get to run in another election two weeks later. Once the ballot reaches two candidates and should neither make the fifty percent mark then their parties would select two new candidates and another vote would be held one month later and from then on it would be, as it is sometimes quoted, rinse repeat as necessary. Hopefully we would eventually find a candidate that would receive sufficient support, otherwise that seat would go unfilled until a candidate was found that the people would support.

To make this workable, we would also need to make one adjustment for voting on legislation in any of our legislative bodies where in order for a piece of legislation to win passage it would require over fifty percent of the possible number of representatives possible if all seats were filled. Let’s take the United States House of Representatives as an example. The full House of Representatives has four hundred and thirty five seats. If after an election cycle only two hundred and fifty eight seats were filled while the rest were still going through additional votes in order to have a candidate be elected by a true majority, this situation would not affect the necessary votes required to pass a piece of legislation. Simply put, in order to pass legislation, the bill would require two hundred and eighteen votes in favor no matter the number of Representatives present at any session. Thus, if as in our example there were only two hundred and fifty eight Representatives elected at the start of a Congressional session, then any piece of legislation would still require the two hundred and eighteen votes in favor to pass thus allowing no more than forty votes against or not cast to pass. If thirty seven voted against and four Representatives were absent or abstained, then there would be no possibility for that legislation to pass despite having overwhelming support of those members of the House of Representatives who were currently seated. Such a change would protect those districts who had not found a candidate worthy of over fifty percent voter support. And anyways, would hamstringing government such that it became near impossible for them to pass even more legislation requiring even more regulations and other restrictions on our freedoms really be that bad of a situation?

I would even go as far as favoring a constitutional Amendment that except in cases of extreme emergency where the President had called the congress back for the necessity of the security and function of the country, the Congress would meet from January until the Ides of March (March 15th) every election year. This would restrict them to meeting for two whole months every other year. Under such restrictions, we could even make the positions honorary and only pay our Senators and Representatives a minimal wage set and paid by each state as they see deserved. With such a change we would open the position up to those who truly desire serving the people and not career politicians whose only real desire is to accrue great wealth at the people’s expense. These restrictions would very likely produce Senators and Representatives actually worthy of receiving that true majority vote and make the “None of the Above” vote on the ballot that much less appealing. Currently, I might be voting “None of the Above” on most of my ballots and I sure would like to be voting for a worthy and true public servant instead of these self-serving vermin who seek office currently.

Beyond the Cusp

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