Beyond the Cusp

March 7, 2015

The United States Lost Republic to Democracy

 

While a complete democracy is neither desirable nor practical, yet the United States has irrevocably moved steadily closer and closer to outright democracy since the first days of her founding under the present Constitution. The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments which were debated and selected from an original thirteen and sliced down to a nice round number, ten, gave the first step in that direction by delineating the rights which were included in those guaranteed the people as they were gifts from the creator mentioned so specifically in the Declaration of Independence which many of the Founding Fathers believed was a part of the founding documents which defined the society and its governance just as much as the Constitution. As time progressed the Federal Government gathered unto itself more and more powers stealing them either from the States respectively, or from the people. This was from the government which supposedly was restricted by Amendment X which read, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Founding Fathers were divided into two groups, the Federalists and, of course, the anti-Federalists with one group desiring to balance the governance in favor of the most local governance as possible while the others believed that centralized powers were required in order for the governance to rule the entire nation. The first attempt to fashion a weak central governance over the newly liberated English colonies, the Federated States of America, was a dismal failure as without any powers to raise money and left at the mercies of the charity of the individual States the government very soon ran aground and became high, dry and out of funds. So, the United States of America’s Constitution was America 2.0 and made with powers given the central government unconscionable the first time around. Had the Federal Government continued to be restrained and restricted to its original powers then the United States would probably be in better shape and the European powers would still have militaries of sufficient size and capabilities that they would not be dependent upon the United States to be the sole determining force of NATO and the European Union would have died long before the Euro became the bane of Greece and the lucrative coinage for Germany. But the changes that put the final knife into the Constitution slashing it and tearing it and signaling the end of that Amendment X and the State’s rights it presumably protected came in along with the end of many individual rights for the individual American just before World War I began on July 28, 1914.

 

Earlier in that fateful year Amendment XVI established the income tax with the promise from the politicians that it would only tax the most wealthy one percent of the population and would never be permitted to become a burden on the average person and on that promise likely being the clinching argument allowed it to be ratified into law on February 3, 1913. As any American will attest, the income tax became far more than burdensome on the average person but also grew to such a point and the IRS which it founded gathered such information that the government through provisions and added regulations eventually could tell the average person their expenditures throughout the year and was rumored jokingly that the IRS could look up the color of the guest towels hanging in your bathroom. Now the Federal Government can tell you a whole lot more than the colors of items you have purchased, the extent and particulars of your every investment and virtually anything anyone might care to know about your life, your purchasing habits, your diet where you go on weekends for fun, where you vacationed the last ten years, the make and mileage on your vehicles and just about any other detail imaginable, and people worry about their privacy. Privacy in this world died a long time ago somewhere right before data mining and agreements between governments arranging for each to spy on the other’s citizens and then provide the information upon anybody that the other requested which eventually led to the decisions to forget the middle-man and simply for each nation to spy on their own citizens making everything so much easier and less complicated.

 

A short time later the Amendment XVII was ratified on April 8, 1913 establishing for the direct election of each State’s Senators instead of allowing each State to decide the methods their Senators were chosen. Previous to this Amendment to the Constitution most States chose their Senators in a various number of procedures with the two most used being the Governor choosing the Senator as each came up for election and possibly having to present them to the State’s legislature or higher branch of the legislative branches to have them approve the selection with some States requiring a larger vote for approval than a simple majority. The other method was for the Senator to be selected by the legislative branch of the State government and in most cases have them approved by the Governor under the same rules as legislation was passed or vetoed by the Governor. This Amendment took away the individual State’s ability to have their voices heard in the Federal Government making the Senate simply a less populous House of Representatives having both wings of the bicameral legislative governance chosen directly by the people. The reasoning presented was that the people were more knowledgeable as a group or mass intelligence than any combination of State Governors or legislatures in choosing the Senators. There was also the claim that State level politicians were too corrupt which was laughable as the majority of Federal legislative politicians were simply the most competent of the people in State governance. This was amidst the populace movement where the average citizen was presumed to have better sense when the whole was allowed to speak as through elections. What was completely ignored was that the Founding Fathers had planned for the Senate to be the legislative branch representing the States’ governance such that the Senate would guard over State’s rights and protect the powers of the State and limit the influence the Federal Government could have over them. This change brought on the slaughtering of the States individually and collectively such that they have long ago seen their powers slowly but inexorably misappropriated, stolen even, by the Federal Government which now faced no opposition from the individual States. This also allowed the Federal Government to control the individual States by demanding that the State acquiesce to the demands and whims of the Federal Government in order to receive funding such as requiring that the States meet caloric and vitamin requirements and curtail the choices offered the children otherwise not receive a large amount of Federal school funding which is earmarked for the lunch and other food programs. Further, the Federal Government has come up with this wonderful manner in which to place onerous demands on the States through unfunded mandates. These are programs that each and every State is required to carry out according to Federal regulations or even actual laws but for which the Federal Government no longer funds the program dumping the entire mess upon the States to finance. The numbers of these programs increases every year and this is partially due to the Federal government attempting to release itself from onerous financial obligations which were laid out in legislation for some program every State is required to carry out and funds were set aside for the first so many number of years and were presumed to be funded further by the Federal Government but somehow down the road the Federal funding ceased but the mandate continued and the States found themselves on the hook to finance program after program as the Federal Government cut off the flow but did not cut out the requirements.

 

Both of these Amendments to the United States Constitution were ratified but under suspicions of fraud. One was found to have received the final ratification a few weeks or a couple of months beyond the set time allotted for ratification to be permitted, Congress claimed that somehow this had been covered by some extension despite no such allowance stipulated as possible by the Constitution and the other was not ratified by sufficient States falling a couple short. Well, World War I struck on July 28, 1914 and the RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915 was sunk by a German U-boat and American lives were lost as a result. There has been debate ever since the sinking as to whether the RMS Lusitania carried weapons or explosives for use in the war which was vehemently denied by Britain and the United States as well as the other allied powers and the debate has persisted and apparently will continue forward. Meanwhile, President Wilson argued against joining the war while simultaneously demanding that the U-boat attacks not target indiscriminately and especially avoid any further attacks upon civilian craft like the RMS Lusitania. Wilson was already stoking the public to allow an American effort join the efforts while also campaigning on a platform that he kept the United States out of the war. United States President Woodrow Wilson finally demanded a Declaration of War and the Congress responded giving him his desired declaration of war on April 6, 1917. As the initial Declaration of War identified only Germany as the nation the United States had declared war upon, this proved to be untenable; so after President Wilson again requested a Declaration of War and Congress did comply as they declared war on Austria-Hungary on December 17, 1917. The United States never actually declared war against all of the forces fighting against the allies who also consisted of the Central Powers, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. World War I came to an end on November 11, 1918 and by this date the horrific pandemic known as the Spanish Flu had broken out and some of the troops brought the virus home with them which caused the pandemic to break out and spread across the United States. By this time the two Constitutional Amendments numbers sixteen and seventeen were faint memories pretty much lost in the fog of the decade which followed them with the war and the flu who had time to be concerned about the potential of inconvenience of two little Amendments. Unfortunately, as was learned many years later these two little Amendments proved to be anything but minor little legislative additions to the Constitution but rather major changes in the breadth of Government powers and the depth of their effect to be felt years later. These two Amendments may have been the most influential pair of legislative action ever passed and ratified since the Bill of Rights was passed. These Amendments laid the framework by which power became centralized in the Federal Government and provided the funding through direct taxation of the people and stripping the States of choosing their own representatives within the central government thus liberating the Federal Government from any limitations by the States nor could they protest directly the absorption of the powers which had previously been within the control of the individual States and subjugating the States beneath the Federal Government’s heel without recourse.

 

The change in how Senators were to be elected directly by the people simply made the Senators nothing more than super representatives with two permitted per state. Now the United States had entered the point of no return sliding almost completely into democracy and definitively no longer a republic. Benjamin Franklin was queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation, “Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” and Benjamin Franklin answered bluntly and directly to the heart of the query stating, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Never in the history of founding of nations has the situation been so accurately assessed nor has the problem been predicted as how the Governance will be altered eventually unraveling the delicate balance between the individual States and the Federal Government. It is said that one can assess any Governance by a simple measure; just determine which side is the more fearful of the other and should the Government be more fearful of the people than are they of the Government, then you have freedom but if the people are fearful of their government than the government is of them, then you have tyranny. With all the branches which are appointed to make the general rules and stipulations and requirements from the people now directly elected with the exception of the President, the United States is teetering on the edge and about to fall beyond the cusp and into the electing of the President directly ending any vestige of a republic. The direct election of Presidents has been proposed and one of the most dangerous legislative suggestions which recently was rejected for yet another time by the Oklahoma Legislature which would have demanded that the Electoral representatives for the State vote for the winner of the popular vote by the entire nation while ignoring the will and votes of the citizens in their own state. Should that legislative effort win in sufficient states which would provide an electoral victory then all any candidate would need do is campaign in the cities and areas with the greatest concentration of people to assure himself victory in the popular vote and completely ignore the less populated areas such as Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, Maine and all of the rural areas in every state. This idea is simply the latest manner to circumvent the Constitution and make the Electoral College an abstract and ancient methodology to be forgotten except by those few who major in ancient manners for electing leaders in city-states and nations; a major just slightly more useful than Indo-Chinese Love Sonnets of the Ming Dynasty.

 

So, as we can see the United States has slowly but inescapably moved towards a total democracy. There have been calls in the last couple of decades as computers have made this possible for the United States government, as a final act, provide everybody over the age of eighteen a voting tablet which is dedicated to one function and only one function, listing the legislative issues and bills currently up for voting and tallying every citizen’s vote. Each citizen of voting age would be permitted to cast their vote on anything plus they could present legislation they desired to see placed before the people and seek a qualifying number within a reasonable time to continue to be eligible to remain on the list of proposed legislation. This number would slowly rise over at most two months and at that predetermined time, if the proposed legislation has attained the highest level of approvals it would qualify as a piece of general interest and the suggestion would be listed as a Bill and then have two weeks for everyone to vote. Should a Bill be passed it wound be passed on to the President much as things work today. Do not expect such to occur soon as it would require career politicians to vote such into law and thus make their chosen profession obsolete.

 

Still, the United States today is much closer to being a democracy than it is to the republic envisioned by the Founding Fathers and once those populists on the extreme left or the Federalists on the extreme right get their way, then even the President will be selected by straight majority voting. All it would probably take is for a popular candidate which one side felt was undeniably the best choice to win the popular vote but lose the election. Then another ridiculous exhibition of populist insanity would boil over and press through some version of directly electing the President and the United States will have completely been transformed into a democracy. Nothing happens in a bubble and everything has its originating source. The movement to a democracy rather than a republic is that with a democracy it is possible and made more likely for government to become a case for mob rule in which the mob would be the more populous states which is those with the most cities, the most megalopolises. When the cities are given the rule, then what happens to the needs of rural America? We are seeing the effect of cities ruling as the most dominant force in government in California where the water allotments were made over the years to favor the cities over the farmers. Now there are stretches of farmlands which are just acre upon acre of brown dusty soil with dead crops which simply were not provided with the necessary irrigation water at the most critical growing part of the season and these crops and lands are now almost worthless. The family farms will cease to exist due to not being able to pay for their last seeds which never had a chance to grow and will be forced fiscally to sell their lands to the mega-farm industry. This all because the people in the city pressed their allotment of water over that of the less populous farmers were able to and the farmers simply lost their last crop and now are finished. This was a sad example of how straight democracies can destroy an entire segment of the population simply by pressing the mob’s desire for green lawns, full swimming pools, green parks and water amusement parks and a myriad of other needs for water in the big city. The farmers had a similar need but lacked the muscle to lobby the government either at the State or Federal levels and thus lost their crops and many will lose their farms. Once the industrial farm corporations gain ownership of enough of the farmlands, then they will have the lobbyists and they will have the clout to get the irrigations water turned back on and limit the lawn watering city dweller to only be permitted to water their precious lawns on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. They may scream bloody murder but at least the farms will return to producing food and not just dusty soil. This entire water battle has and will play out across the United States over time and perhaps teach some of us the values of indirect governance over straight mob rule democracy.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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October 4, 2012

Will the Presidential Election Really Prove so Critical?

Both of the Presidential campaigns claim to have the only path to take the United States into the future and remain a great country. Both campaigns claim that should the other side win the election that the United States would suffer grievously and great opportunities will become impossible to obtain as a result. The questions we need to ask are, will the consequences of this election be that much more critical than usual and are the ramifications as dire and impossible to turn around should we find we are heading in a wrong direction. Where both sides will claim the answer is that the consequences are that dire and any recovery from taking the other path will be next to impossible. Such critical and consequential decisions are very rare throughout all of history and are usually not known until decades, possibly centuries or millennium, later when history judges those events. In the history of the United States there have been two recognized decisions deserving of such a description. The first was the decision to break with the Crown and England rather than attempting to continue to find a way through compromise. The second was the Civil War and the end of slavery along with greatly increasing the central power of the federal government at the expense of the individual States. Almost everything else in the history of the United States can be attributed to these two pivotal events.

Some will argue that there have been numerous other such events. One that has often been touted was the Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Where his Presidency was noteworthy as he held the office longer than any of his predecessors and was the impetus behind a Constitutional Amendment to limit the number of terms a President is allowed to serve to two, which is really not sufficient to be qualified as a critically crucial event. Much of the rest of the often mentioned items begun under Roosevelt’s Administration such as his big government work programs, the Social Security Act, and the plethora of programs designed to resolve the depression; all of these were made possible largely due to the result of the Federalization of Power in the central government during the Civil War. Some have claimed that the United States stepping up as a world power and acting as the World’s police force was another such event. What makes this less of a turning point is that this position has been passed from the leading powers of every age to the next great powers. Egypt was succeeded by Persia who passed off to Greece then Rome, Islam, Spain, England, Russia, China in the East, and the United States. But at what point did the United States actually become the preeminent power? Was it after World War II or after World War I or did the United States assume this role as early as when addressing the Barbary Pirates almost at the founding of the nation? The truth is that the United States has stepped up and then receded from the role of protector of freedom throughout its history and will likely continue to pass through times of outward diplomacy and force projection and passivity towards the rest of the world while turning inward to address internal challenges. Due to this changing from the role as leader of the free world or whatever slogan describes the outward looking United States and the introspective, inward looking, laissez-faire United States, one would need to be constantly determining critical periods as the United States directed her attentions in the two almost mutually exclusive directions. It has only been the last half of the Twentieth Century where the United States attempted to do both simultaneously and thus far that has proven to be a very difficult task. We are more likely to see the United States return more to being introspective and self-concerned turning to address the world as the situation demands. And to be honest, this is a lot of what this election hinges upon, do we want to remain a force in the wider world or do we want to be more reserved and take care of the home front and let the world take care of itself. The introspective, leave the world be is personified by President Obama’s policies of leading from behind where it is more likely that a Romney Presidency would stay more involved in world affairs and shaping the future outside of the United States while President Obama requires the world to take the lead and request the assistance from the United States before acting, and even then the answer may still be no thanks and good luck.

Yes, that is but one of the big ticket items and there are numerous others that need to be considered. The other main areas to be decided in this Presidential Election are the amount of a role the Federal Government should have concerning the economy and whether or not the Federal Government should have a large and direct influence and control of the lives of the citizenry of the United States, something that would be made necessary if the Federal Government were to take on the responsibility for the health care of each and every person. There are many aspects of these two choices which overlap. Both issues are a direct question on the range and scope of the powers to be delegated to the Federal Government. This is the other main aspect where we are choosing between two diametrically opposed views. President Obama has defined his view very succinctly when he claimed that he viewed the Constitution of the United States as a document of negative liberties when he believed it needed to be changed to become a document of positive liberties and that the Constitution should not tell government, the Federal Government, those things it must not do but should tell the government those things it must do. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has said he supports the position of the Founding Fathers who were largely in favor of a small central government which was of lesser power than the individual States and of the people. This is basically the definition of the Amendment X which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This decision is likely the most vital when it comes to the people and the future of the United States. This is why this election has also been framed as the decision between going forward to a new and completely different America or whether to retain and preserve those things which made America a unique entity among nations.

So, what exactly are the choices this puts to the voting public of the United States? Contrary to what is being peddled, this is not a choice of the future versus the past; this is a choice between diametrically opposite paths for the future. What is being presented is a radically different future against the retention of what has served the United States thus far for over two-hundred years. President Obama has told us that the United States has been on the wrong path since the founding and the writing of the Constitution. It is President Obama’s conviction that the United States should be more aligned with the European model of governance. It is his vision that it is not too late for the United States to join the European model of cradle to grave government care for virtually every need or requirement in life. President Obama wants the Federal Government to make sure that every person has a set of minimum basics in life as determined by those in Government who know more than any individual as to what makes their life worth living. It is President Obama’s opinion that the Federal Government needs to make all things more equal by redistributing resources such that everybody is guaranteed a certain minimal existence as determined by the Federal Government. The Federal government will also make sure that nobody is allowed to get too much as that would not leave enough for everybody else. He wants to bring the top down and the bottom up so that there is less of a gap between the two extremes. It is the opinion of President Obama that those who are at the bottom in the United States are living a horrid and deprived existence which denies them the basics in life. The fact that the poorest among us in the United States would qualify as middle class or wealthy almost anywhere else in the world does not seem to register with him, or does it? You see, President Obama does not only want to apply his vision of a more equitable society just to the United States; if he could find a way to do so, President Obama would apply his idea of equality in all things by force of government for the entire world. It is as he said in the 2008 campaign, “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times, and then just expect that other countries are going to say okay. That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen” So, this might be something worth remembering when you vote for equality for all under President Obama, because if it is applied internationally we will all be living a far more Spartan existence while we send the bulk of our country’s wealth overseas.

Candidate Mitt Romney claims that he wants to preserve much of what has made the United States experiment work as well as it has. Unfortunately, Romney’s idea of preserving the United States as it has been is actually more towards keeping the United States where it has arrived and not going any further. The current state of the United States might be equated with a patient in the emergency room suffering from a severe loss of blood and the doctor saying he wants to keep the patient in his current state. Such a state is too weak to carry on with vigor but at least the patient has not died. The same can be said for the United States and its experiment in self-rule for mankind. The United States borrowed a concept from the Old Testament of the Bible in the Five Books of Moses where the government was to only posses the powers relegated to it by its citizenry. The government was supposed to protect each individual from outside invasion and to adjudicate between individuals in cases of disagreements or conflict. In all other things the people were supposed to act honorably with each other mostly by entering into contracts and agreements where exchange of goods, services, and other things of value ruled the day to day lives of the citizens. This is the ideal that the United States has slipped further and further from its realization. Where Mitt Romney claims he will, at the least, hold the line, many desire something a little more radical, a return to the principles of the founders, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. Over the past two plus centuries the United States has slowly but unswervingly moved further and further from the ideals upon which the nation was founded. This is not any one generation’s fault as it began from the very first day and has continued and accelerated ever since. What we are offered in this election is Mitt Romney’s I will put the brakes on and slow the rushing train to avoid the wreck to President Obama’s we can avoid the wreck by speeding up, never mind that there is a cliff and no bridge, we will worry about that when we get there. The problem is we really need to stop, turn this train around and avoid the wreck all together.

So, the choice facing us will hopefully be made clear during the debates which the first was held last night. It really is worth taking a close look and inspecting exactly what each side is offering. For those who see the coming train wreck quickly approaching there is no decent choice and once again you will be choosing the least damaging choice. The actual choices are a radical shift which President Obama has made great strides in accomplishing a start at fundamentally transforming the United States against Mitt Romney who claims he will repeal and replace Obama Care which is also pretty much his view on much else of the current state of affairs. If what you desire is repeal without the replace, well, better luck next election as that choice is not available from the two main parties. So, watch debates, read, slowly go crazy and you vote and takes your chances.

Beyond the Cusp

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