Showing posts with label Supreme Court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supreme Court. Show all posts

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Post Midterm Thoughts

So broken: our political system and our way of life.   And still another mass shooting, this one in a CA bar.  We’ve become inured to them by lack of any action, the NRA’s tentacles wrapped around Congress.  There are solutions.  It only takes the will.

Anyone who caught Trump’s news conference yesterday, his firing of Sessions and replacing him with a Yes Man, should understand the fragility of our democratic system.   Demagogues play the Press to their propagandist advantage.  Demagogues demand obedience.

I had only one wish for the Midterms: gain the House, although like most moderate progressives, I was rooting for Beto, Gillum, et al.  Still, I sleepily emailed ebullient messages to a few friends at 3.00 AM declaring “victory” with the subject heading “bring on the subpoenas.”

But I am no Pollyanna, thinking that having control of the House will ameliorate the deep dark political divide in this country.  It might exacerbate it, but as with an operation, the aftermath therapy can be more painful than the procedure. 

We focus on Trump, which is the way he wants it but there are so many systemic issues. Our Constitution is the best political document ever drafted, but it was by 18th century thinkers. 

The 2nd Amendment needs updating.  Muskets are no longer the only “arms” that we have the right to bear.

The Electoral College needs fixing or abandonment, allowing the direct popular vote to determine the outcome of Presidential elections.  Slavery and concern that the average person might not be best suited to make those decisions led to the Electoral College.  We need to question its legitimacy in today’s world where information is readily available to everyone.

Similarly, another consequence of the great Constitutional compromise was the one giving each State the same number of Senators, irrespective of population.  I quote what Alexander Hamilton had to say about that in The Federalist below.  Who could have seen what now exists, with thinly populated states such as North Dakota, about the population size of an El Paso, Texas, having the same Senate representation as the entire State of Texas itself, giving the people of ND nearly 40 times the political clout to have their say over Supreme Court Justices, etc.?  Even a greater multiple when it comes to states like NY or CA.

Another bĂȘte noir of mine, and thankfully we now have a brief reprieve, is political advertising.  Super PACs representing special interests, as well as extremist political party advertising, are a form of government approved brainwashing, appealing primarily to emotional issues.  We’ve successfully removed cigarette advertising from our airwaves.  Time has come to remove political advertising and endless robo calls (spend the $$ on our decaying infrastructure, or healthcare, etc. instead!).  Make all political discourse over the airways subject to universally recognized debate rules.  If a candidate has something to say, write an opinion piece for local and/or national publication, maintain a Web site expressing plans and opinions.  Aren’t we sick of the political advertising which portrays the opposition as being sent from hell? 

Easier said than done, I know, but we have to do something to separate the democratic process from mass persuasion dollars.  The next couple of months before our new House representatives are sworn in are going to be critical. May we survive those days to get democracy back on track.

The Federalist No. 22 by Alexander Hamilton
Every idea of proportion and every rule of fair representation conspire to condemn a principle, which gives to Rhode Island an equal weight in the scale of power with Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or New York; and to Delaware an equal voice in the national deliberations with Pennsylvania, or Virginia, or North Carolina. Its operation contradicts the fundamental maxim of republican government, which requires that the sense of the majority should prevail. Sophistry may reply, that sovereigns are equal, and that a majority of the votes of the States will be a majority of confederated America. But this kind of logical legerdemain will never counteract the plain suggestions of justice and common-sense. It may happen that this majority of States is a small minority of the people of America; and two thirds of the people of America could not long be persuaded, upon the credit of artificial distinctions and syllogistic subtleties, to submit their interests to the management and disposal of one third.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Supreme Decisions

PAC ads are now running ceaselessly.  How many times have we heard that hushed voice, solemn in its accusatory tone, “In 2008, Barack Obama said, ‘We can’t mortgage our children’s future on a mountain of debt.’ Now he’s adding $4 billion in debt every day, borrowing from China for his spending. Every second, growing our debt faster than our economy, Tell Obama, stop the spending.” 

Last week the Supreme Court made two major decisions, the really BIG one -- perhaps in part to ensure the Court's integrity as an non-partisan institution --  was to uphold the Affordable Care Act, but in a less publicized one it also declined to reconsider the Citizens United decision that has led to viral PAC advertising by corporations and wealthy individuals.  Montana had challenged the decision by contending its century-old Corrupt Practices Act might be applied to PAC advertising in state and local elections. Not so, said the Supreme Court:  let the PAC advertising flow, with all its inherent sound bites and vapid fury!

And concerning the Supreme Court's courageous decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act , our local Palm Beach Post columnist/humorist, Frank Cerabino, wrote a wonderful satire   In this age of posturing over substance, he shows how it could be used as a political harangue from any viewpoint, merely by twisting a few words in each sentence.  I quote the beginning paragraphs, but the full text can be found at the link here.

"My Dear Fellow American:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s (historic / activist) decision to uphold (the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare) is but a temporary (victory / setback) in our long fight ( for access to health care / against government intrusion ) in (America / the marketplace.)

The law that the Supreme Court upheld on Thursday will mean that scores of (uninsured / reluctant ) Americans will be (covered / forced) in a system that provides the kind of (care / costs) that the rest of the (civilized / Socialistic) countries of the world already (enjoy / are saddled with).

(Unfortunately / Fortunately), the Supreme Court’s decision won’t be the last word on this (triumph / travesty) of justice. There are already (sinister forces / courageous voices) who are prepared to take this battle to Congress, which can (subvert / stop) the health care law through (vindictive / corrective) legislative action."