Saturday, April 30, 2016

What Is Broken Government & What Do We Really Want?

Donald Trump & Bernie Sanders have both done a good thing in publicizing what we already knew -- "The system is rigged." It's good that the criticism has come from both sides of the political aisle. President Obama should do more to explain the rigged system to the American public in his remaining days while he is not encumbered and tainted by the need to be reelected. The Trump solution is just elect him and everything will be okay. Bernie's solution is to elect him and there will be a massive public revolution that will implement all of his ideas. Unfortunately, both are dubious, shallow and naive at best.

The point is, it doesn't matter who is elected because the system is rigged. The President elected in 2016, will not be able to achieve their vision for the country or the vision of their many followers. The result will be a lot of frustration and disappointment and more cries of broken government. Carried to the extreme, over time, the electorate will simply become so disenchanted and discouraged with the system that they will feel it is meaningless to vote and participate.

As I pointed out in my very first post – every U.S. Representative & Senator, as well as state and local government officials, lobbyist and political insiders know the reason that there is gridlock in Washington, DC and elsewhere -- they also know how to fix it -- but they won't.

So, we all agree, the systems is broken and rigged

We have to ask the question -- What's really "broken"? You might say it's the crooked politicians. Too much money in politics. Big business and big banks always get their way. Too many lobbyist and special interest, voting rights, etc. Then, you can get down to the more structural problems like I discuss all the time -- gerrymandering, campaign financing, misuse of the filibuster, Senatorial "holds", the “Hastert rule”, unrelated "riders", etc.

But, underlying it all is a simple, basic concept -- majority rule. And all of the items mentioned above are basically designed to prevent or frustrate the concept of majority rule.

So, what's the goal? What's the end game to fixing a broken, rigged government? It's to make the politicians listen and do what the majority wants -- Right? Well, before we go too far we should have a little discussion about -- "Being careful what you wish for."

We have to do a little self examination here. You see, we already have a system that is "rigged" -- where majority doesn't rule. So, what we're seeking is a "majority rule" system. Okay, so what if the majority doesn't agree with you personally? Are you ready to suck it up and live with the "majority rule"?

You see, that's the hard part. . . at any given point in time. . . sometimes, the majority opinion won't necessarily agree with yours. So what are you going to do? Now what's wrong with the system? You want a system that always delivers the result you want? Sorry, that's not the way it works.

So, here's the caveat -- over time, the majority system corrects itself. At least it corrects itself to the majority at that time. Sometimes the majority gets fooled or needs to experience a certain policy or ideology. Then, if the vision does not turn into reality, the majority corrects itself by changing direction. You have to trust the majority system. And, if you can't live with majority rule then you should probably seek another alternative, somewhere else.

Okay, now we know what we want -- a majority rule system; but, wait a minute. A majority of what? A majority of the whole population? -- families? registered voters? persons over 18? All the people, or just those that care? It's worth thinking about, but for discussion sake, I'm going to assume that we are talking about a majority of people over 18 that are concerned or care enough to participate.

It all sounds a little overwhelming. So what's the next step in solving the problem -- getting to a majority rule system. We need a plan. We need some tools. We need solutions.

In a future post I'll make some suggestions on how we get from here to there.

P.S. The concept of majority rule has been discussed and debated forever. A few quotes from Thomas Jefferson are instructive:

"Where the law of the majority ceases to be acknowledged, there government ends, the law of the strongest takes its place, and life and property are his who can take them." --Thomas Jefferson to Annapolis Citizens, 1809. ME 16:337

"Every man, and every body of men on earth, possesses the right of self-government. They receive it with their being from the hand of nature. Individuals exercise it by their single will; collections of men by that of their majority; for the law of the majority is the natural law of every society of men." --Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on Residence Bill, 1790. ME 3:60

"I subscribe to the principle, that the will of the majority honestly expressed should give law." --Thomas Jefferson: The Anas, 1793. ME 1:332

"All... being equally free, no one has a right to say what shall be law for the others. Our way is to put these questions to the vote, and to consider that as law for which the majority votes." --Thomas Jefferson: Address to the Cherokee Nation, 1809. ME 16:456

"We are sensible of the duty and expediency of submitting our opinions to the will of the majority, and can wait with patience till they get right if they happen to be at any time wrong." --Thomas Jefferson to John Breckenridge, 1800.

(click here for additional TJ quotes on majority rule)

And as Alexander Hamilton pointed out in the Federalist Paper #22:

“To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser. [i.e. “minority rule’]

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