Third Party & Independents Archives

Are Americans Unready to Boil?

The frog-in-boiling water model helps us understand political upheavals: how citizens wake up early enough (or too late) to respond to social and economic oppression. Sometimes the greed and arrogance of Ruling Classes makes them careless and social waters heat too quickly. Sensing doom, alert citizen-frogs escape or revolt. Or they stay complacent and boil.

The Bush Administration has turned the heat up on us, explaining why nearly 75 percent of Americans believe their country is on the wrong track and 70 percent think the economy is worsening.

Mexico is the richest Latin American country but has extreme economic inequality, which measures social temperature. Mexicans are jumping out of oppressive waters en masse, right into the U.S., exacerbating our rising inequality. The Chinese have learned to offset oppressive communist forces with materialistic capitalism – like our affordable materialism keeps Americans distracted and docile (with help from Chinese imports). In colonial America the greedy British motivated our Revolutionary War, but with oppression now coming from within, will Americans wait too long?

Some Americans keep warning us – people like Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, Aaron Russo, Dennis Kucinich, Lou Dobbs, Ralph Nader, Ron Paul, Bill Moyers, Jon Stewart, and Keith Olbermann. They entertain complacent “frogs” and preach to the choir of alert “frogs” that also know the temperature is rising dangerously. Many of the former keep hoping that putting better Democrats or Republicans in office will get us back on the right track. Many of the latter are ready to jump to what our Constitution offers us: an Article V convention.

And once you know that plutocratic elites from both major parties have for decades opposed the Article V convention to propose constitutional amendments, YOU should favor what THEY oppose.

We frequently see a knee-jerk fear reaction to an Article V convention. Such fear is misplaced and baseless. Only the rich and powerful elites running and ruining our nation should fear a convention.

It is fatalistic to fear that a convention could make things worse by removing valued parts of the Constitution or adding terrible things. Naturally, no one knows with certainty what a convention might propose. But we do know with certainty that whatever a convention proposes must satisfy the Constitution’s rigorous ratification requirement. That two step process is part of the genius of the Constitution. Recall that a convention is the alternative to Congress proposing amendments. And what do Americans think of Congress?

A measly 23 percent view Congress positively. Expecting Congress to enact really good laws, spend our taxes wisely, and keep the president and executive branch agencies from abusing us is like a joke on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It is laugh-at-loud funny to put trust and faith in Congress. It matters not whether Democrats or Republicans control Congress. Nearly all members are under the thrall of moneyed interests. Congress is a national embarrassment. Our misrepresentatives are partners in corruption, dishonesty and oppression. Over decades they have allowed the presidency to accumulate imperial powers. Do you really believe they are worth $165,200 a year, with generous health and pension benefits?

Still, we live in a great nation. But great nations rise and fall.

America is no longer close to what it should be – or once was. It no longer fairly serves and protects all Americans. Too many Americans are working poor, hungry, homeless, poorly educated, imprisoned, debt-ridden, crime victims, facing economic insecurity, nonvoters, and lacking health care.

What we have is a plutocracy run by and for the Upper Class that sucks up a huge fraction of the nation’s wealth. Lobbyists ensure that public policy increases economic inequality and rewards corporate interests, even if it requires preemptive wars like the Iraq fiasco, sanctions massive illegal immigration, and sends good jobs overseas. That so many people escaping other nations (with hot or boiling water) want to come to the USA should not blind us to the creeping decline of our democracy and the heating of our social waters.

How much worse does American democracy have to get before public outrage demands what the Constitution’s Framers gave us in case citizens lost confidence in the federal government? Haven’t Americans lost enough trust to use what elites have fought and feared? Can’t we trust ourselves to have a peaceful populist rebellion through an Article V convention before we boil?

If America’s distracted citizen-frogs stay glued to their large plasma TVs, SUVs, electronic devices, and obese-friendly foods they may find themselves boiled. Our constitutionally protected freedoms will be gone. George W. Bush has shown how easily that is done. Our middle class will be gone. Our national sovereignty will be gone – sold out through globalization chicanery. For all but the rich, our quality of life and standard of living will be gone. The Upper Class will be richer and happier in their opulent gated McMansions and private entertainment and vacation spots, protected and pampered by their private police and servants.

If Congress finally obeys the Constitution some fear that convention delegates will be corrupted through special interest money just like current politicians. That is highly unlikely.

First, many Americans will actively watch and influence how state legislatures select one-time delegates. Second, the incredible novelty of the nation’s first Article V convention will ensure intense coverage by domestic, foreign and Internet media. Third, that novelty will also engage enormous numbers of Americans – especially school and college students – now rightfully turned off by our political system, ensuring citizen oversight of delegates and the convention. Fourth, the only group working for the first convention – Friends of the Article V Convention – has committed itself to creating and ensuring strong oversight of the convention process.

Imagine our first Article V convention under intense scrutiny in today’s techno-media world. It will be the ultimate reality show, enticing Americans to use their brains over shopping and mindless entertainment. Conversations about possible amendments will flourish. Surveys and polls will constantly determine what Americans support and oppose. The convention will remind Americans that citizenship requires civic engagement. Convention delegates will know that they are being scrutinized. They will know that their proposals must be ratified by three-fourths of the states. They will be listening to US. In sum, we have more than enough safety nets to prevent the convention harming our Constitution.

Why not dream about a restorative convention with hundreds of smart, patriotic Americans as delegates? We have enormous numbers of brilliant, wise and honest Americans – just not in politics anymore. If we can trust the lives of people to juries, we can trust carefully selected convention delegates to find intelligent ways to improve our government and political system through amendments. In the last part of the process, we can tell our state legislators whether we want them to ratify specific proposed amendments.

Will the first convention be mesmerizing and entertaining? Will it help educate and inform Americans about our Constitution and government? Will it put Ruling Class elites on notice that we the people are seriously pursuing governance we can trust? Yes, yes and yes.

Should we wait until 95 percent of Americans think the nation is on the wrong track? Until just 5 percent approve of Congress? Until we belatedly find ourselves boiled? No, no and no.

Support the effort to get the nation’s first Article V convention, especially if you sense our societal waters becoming hotter – sometimes faster, as under Bush. Sign up at www.foavc.org. Don’t let self-delusion and false hope in Republicans or Democrats blind you. Let freedom ring. Make Thomas Jefferson proud.

Posted by Joel S. Hirschhorn at June 21, 2007 1:50 PM
Comments
Comment #223676

If there is hope [wrote Winston] it lies in the proles.

George Orwell “1984”

But how to rally those “swarming disregarded masses.”

Posted by: bigkenzombie at June 21, 2007 6:30 PM
Comment #223681

The frog-pond of discontent which you speak of may be a mile wide, but it’s only an inch deep.

The problem is that while we’re being so mercilessly and horribly oppressed, we’re also living life-styles that would have been the envy of Roman Emperors.

With all of your frog metaphors, don’t forget the true nature of frogs. If you ask them whether or not they’re content, even the most well-fed frogs sitting on the most pristine lily-pads will make a very ugly croaking noise. But that does not mean that when push comes to shove they actually want you to drain the swamp.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 21, 2007 7:13 PM
Comment #223785

Joel, you appear to be putting the cart before the horse. Congress must call for the convention. Since, they are plutocrats, and their special interest supporters don’t want a convention, your call for one is a dog hunting its own tail in circles.

The first order of business must be breaking the links between the wealthy special interest campaign donors and our Congress persons. Since that can’t be done through a convention, one must turn to the voters. Only through a vote out incumbents campaign joined at the hip with a voter call for challengers who will reform campaign finance reform, can you open the door to an Article V convention. We must elect challengers and retain incumbents who campaign on either public financing of elections or, limiting donations to individuals and limiting the size of donations to that which can be accommodated by all full-time working Americans.

Only in this way can voters break the umbilical cord between wealthy special interests donors and their control of the legislative process. And in so doing, restore the people’s voice to the legislative process. One person, one lobbying voice, without bribery and blackmail making the voices of a few drown out the voices of the many.

Lobbying should be about making an argument or case to a legislator, and NEVER should have been about providing or, threatening to withhold, money for a legislators reelection campaign.

The wealthy special interests will not permit an Article V convention. And our legislators, are being bribed and blackmailed by those interests.

So, the path to follow is one which removes incumbents beholding to those wealthy special interests, and electing challenger replacements who campaign on reforming that corrupt system. Folks must unite their voice on this matter through the political action committee Vote Out Incumbents Democracy and other organizations like Common Cause who champion campaign finance reform as the one central issue to improving American government performance. It is the only path that can get American politics and governance where the people want them to go, responsible, effective, and cost efficient solutions to America’s many problems.

Until this occurs, we will continue to see Congress compromise good governance with the needs and short sighted gains of the wealthy special interest lobbyists who could care less about the nation or people’s future. The special interest’s number one priority is next quarter’s profits, not the next quarter century of well being for the people and nation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 22, 2007 3:15 PM
Comment #223786

Loyal Opp said: “The problem is that while we’re being so mercilessly and horribly oppressed, we’re also living life-styles that would have been the envy of Roman Emperors.”

Whose WE? You talking about Bill Gates? Bill Gates ain’t We. The Katrina victims aren’t living that lifestyle. The Mississippi Delta small town people aren’t living that lifestyle. In fact, by recent polls, 70% of Americans are not living this Roman Emperor lifestyle and fear their children’s quality of life will be worse, not better than their parents.

It is so easy to debunk this Conservative B.S. these days, that we are all living like kings, so why rock the boat. The polls demonstrate conservatives like Loyal Opp don’t speak for the majority of Americans.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 22, 2007 3:20 PM
Comment #223793

David, if a pollster asked me if I was happy with the government or the direction America is heading, I’d say no too.

And you’re right—anybody who has undergone flooding and dislocation as a result of a hurricane is probably even more discontent, and has every reason to be.

I stand by what I said ealier, though. Our poor have problems and challenges, I don’t deny it, but the life-style that is well within the reach of poor Americans is nothing to deny either.

The Emperor Tiberius in his ocean-front villa simply did not have air-conditioning, electricity and indoor plumbing. He didn’t sit around eating Doritos and drinking beer while he played X-Box on a big-screen television either, and if you think that such a thing is unheard of or out of the reach of America’s “poor,” then you’re kidding yourself.

Listening to some of the dire rhetoric around here, you’d think that our poor are starving in tin huts and cardboard boxes instead of getting fat and watching too much televison.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 22, 2007 5:38 PM
Comment #223803

Loyal Opp, read the linked article, and if you still think that “life-style that is well within the reach of poor Americans”, I find nothing to be gained by debating this with you.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 22, 2007 7:28 PM
Comment #223821

David, there are no linked articles in either the original post or the comments, so that’s going to be an impossible task.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 22, 2007 9:54 PM
Comment #223862

Loyal Opposition, my sincere apology. The link in my previous comment was malformed. I have had it corrected. Again, my apology. The link is active now.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 23, 2007 2:59 AM
Comment #223987

Joel-
You’ve fallen in love with a means of political change. You should step back and just be friends with it, see other solutions and routes of action while you’re at it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 24, 2007 5:26 PM
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