Third Party & Independents Archives

Why Has Congress Failed Americans?

The Founders of our nation and the Framers of our Constitution surely did not foresee the day when the public would have the least confidence in Congress - even less than for the presidency.

In fact, the public has a little less confidence in Congress than it has in HMOs. At 14 percent, the fraction of Americans with a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress is the lowest in Gallup's history of this measure -- and the lowest of any of the 16 institutions tested in this year's Confidence in Institutions survey. The Supreme Court received 34 percent confidence and the awful presidency of George W. Bush received 25 percent – nothing to be proud of.

The 2006 congressional elections show that switching power between the two major political parties is an act of utter futility. We have a bipartisan failure of Congress to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities and serve the public. In the end, Democrats may have a different style, but like Republicans are also corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent. Things have gotten so bad institutionally and culturally that we cannot vote our way out of a dysfunctional and destructive Congress as long as the two-party duopoly maintains its grip on our political system.

We no longer have a significant number of members of Congress that rise above partisan political priorities to put the good of the nation and the integrity of our Constitution first.

For our constitutional republic to really work Congress must have the courage and integrity to use its constitutional powers to safeguard Americans’ freedom, security, health, safety and welfare. Even the most distracted and cynical Americans now see Congress has done next to nothing to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.

Worst of all, Congress has allowed the Bush presidency to accumulate far more power than our Constitution permits. Even after years of arrogant disrespect by Bush and Cheney for our Constitution and Congress itself, Congress is too cowardly to do what they are supposed to do to maintain the structure of our federal government. It has not used the constitutional remedy of impeachment – not to punish Bush – but to preserve the constitutional limits on the presidency.

Add to this: the failure to protect the rule of law; the failure to control spending and reduce our debt; the failure to control our borders and protect our national sovereignty; the failure to stop the insane Iraq war; the failure to stop the many forms of corruption of Congress itself; the failure to restore public confidence in our elections; the failure to stop the excesses of globalization that is destroying our middle class; the failure to address rising economic inequality; the failure to fix our broken health care system; and so much more.

All this has resulted from repugnant runaway politics. Getting elected, grabbing power and enjoying the benefits of office trump governing. Hundreds of members of Congress – in the House and Senate – are mental midgets, embarrassing blowhards, chronic liars, outright crooks, corporate lackeys, and elderly buffoons. They are plutocracy protectors more than democracy defenders. And too many that think they should be president.

So what can the 86 percent of Americans without confidence in Congress do?

Put aside partisan views and stop re-electing members of Congress. Only a handful of incumbents deserve to be re-elected. A very few that never supported the Iraq war, do not use pork spending to reward their supporters, and have worked to impeach Bush, for example.

Now is the time to elect independents and third party candidates to Congress. When one objectively sees the utterly low quality of both Democratic and Republican members of Congress it becomes clear that even a random selection of ordinary Americans would probably do better. But we have thousands of independents and third party members with considerable civic and elective office experience that deserve the opportunity to restore our representative democracy. How could we do any worse? Let’s throw the bums out and give real change a chance.

We also need much greater public awareness that Congress for a very long time has failed to obey the part of Article V of our Constitution that gives us the right to a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. Such an Article V Convention was created by the Framers as an alternative to Congress proposing amendments. They created this convention option – a temporary fourth branch of government giving us some direct democracy – in case Americans some day lost confidence in the federal government. That day has arrived!

Even Congressman Ron Paul, self-proclaimed champion of the Constitution, has not supported an Article V Convention.

There are many constitutional amendments that deserve public discussion, especially ones to make our government work they way our Constitution intended it to work. We need to strengthen our Constitution to prevent power-hungry presidents, useless Congresses, and Supreme Courts that create new public policy.

Moreover, the one and only requirement to have an Article V Convention specified has already been satisfied, because way more than two-thirds of state legislatures have requested such a convention. Learn more about this congressional disobedience of the Constitution at, the website of the new national, nonpartisan group Friends of the Article V Convention.

Why has Congress failed Americans? Because Americans have allowed it to fail them. Now is the time for Americans to assert their sovereign constitutional power and take back their country. That means YOU!

Posted by Joel S. Hirschhorn at August 24, 2007 9:19 AM
Comment #230525

The Congress is just a symptom of the disease. The disease is We The People. The majority of voters don’t have a clue what our Congresspersons voting record in Congress is. What we do know about our Congressperson is that she is a really good guy and most often deserves to be reelected. It is all of the other Congresspersons that are bums that need to be kicked out of office.

If we wish to know why are Congress is not representing us and why they are selling us out to the corporations and wealth, I suggest we look in our mirror.

Posted by: jlw at August 24, 2007 10:36 AM
Comment #230527

Good article Joel.
David R. Remer, and a VERY few others have come to this same conclusion.

Congress’ dismal 18% approval rating is well deserved. But, will it translate into voters that will stop rewarding and re-electing incumbent politicians, of which most (if not all) are irresponsible, corrupt, FOR-SALE, and unaccountable? The problem is that partisan-warfare is so EXTREMELY powerful and effective, too many voters continue to blindly pull the party-lever, and reward and re-elect do-nothing, bought-and-paid-for, irresponsible, incumbent politicians, over and over and without understanding (or admitting) that government can never become responsible and accountable until enough voters do too.

The problem isn’t just politicians.
It’s the voters that empower them, and reward them with 90% to 95% re-election rates (since 1996). Too many voters are so thoroughly programmed to pull the party-lever. Voters are more afraid of losing seats for THEIR party, that they have failed to realize that the politicians in THEIR party are no better than those in the OTHER party. Hence, the two main parites (the duopoly) are allowed to contintue take turns being corrupt and irresponsible. And when the IN-PARTY becomes too corrupt, the voters let the OTHER party have its turn at it. What voters fail to do is hold Congress (as a whole) responsible and accountable.

Why does this happen?
Because it is easier to blame the OTHER party, rather than admit that one’s OWN party is no better. Because that would then require work to improve it. Work is effort and pain. Thus, laziness trumps.

When will it end?
Only when the consequences of so much fiscal and moral irresponsibility finally becomes too painful. And those painful consequences are already in the pipeline, as the do-nothing Congress (a stumbling and fumbling group of 535 and their few hundred thousand employees) and the severely bloated executive branch (a gang of two million, many of which are neither seen nor heard as they that throttle our freedoms and prosperity) continue to ignore the nation’s pression problems that have been growing in number and severity for several decades.

So, there is a built-in self-correcting mechanism.
Pain and misery.
We can only hope we learn sooner than later, because the longer we continue down the current path, the more painful it will be later.

In my opinion, the voters have not yet felt enough pain to snap out of their habit of blindly pulling the party-lever. The next election will most likely result in a continued 90% to 95% re-election rate, and most voters (that is, of the 60% that even bother to vote at all) will continue to reward and re-elect the very same irresponsible, do-nothing, corrupt, FOR-SALE incumbent politicians that use and abuse the voters, and then appear dumbfounded as to why the nation’s problems continue to grow in number and severity. They’ll continue to blame the politicians, and refuse to admit that they (the voters) are culpable too.

Of course, this will offend the main party loyalists. I used to be one of them, and I would have been offended by that too (back then). The loyalists will insist that they do not blindly pull the party-lever, nor are they brainwashed/programmed to pull the party-lever. But the facts prove otherwise. To admit it would require introspection. That would mean taking off the blinders and doing one’s own thinking for themself. That is work and effort. It is easier to blame the OTHER party and continue to pull the party-lever, and blame the politicians when nothing improves. At least until that becomes too painful.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 24, 2007 10:56 AM
Comment #230528
The 2006 congressional elections show that switching power between the two major political parties is an act of utter futility.

I guess Republicans confuse that 1-vote “majority” with “mandate”…a 1-vote majority in the Senate isn’t the 60 votes needed to pass legislation…where are the 9 or 10 Republicans who pledged “bipartisanship” with their lips but pledge “more of the same” with their votes??

Posted by: Rachel at August 24, 2007 10:59 AM
Comment #230529
jlw: If we wish to know why are Congress is not representing us and why they are selling us out to the corporations and wealth, I suggest we look in our mirror.
Precisely. But looking in the mirror may still be too painful, or too much work. That’s not likely to happen until the consequences of failing to do so becomes more painful, and those consequences may not be far away. It appears to be the human way. 2.000 steps forward, and 1.999 steps backward. We are slow learners, and repeat the same mistakes many times, before ever learning from them (if ever). Our declining eduation systems exacerbates the problem, and increases the likelihood of having to learn the hard way (again).
  • Posted by: d.a.n at August 24, 2007 11:06 AM
    Comment #230530

    Joel, where is the LINK to your poll data?

    Posted by: David R. Remer at August 24, 2007 11:17 AM
    Comment #230533

    Impeach Bush! What a great idea. What are the charges, Joel?

    And welcome back, d.a.n. Still on the same soapbox, I see. :)

    Posted by: American Pundit at August 24, 2007 11:29 AM
    Comment #230535

    Don’t you think the real problem is that Joel and jlw are trying to make is that BOTH parties, and the majority of voters that reward and re-elect them for it, as evidenced by their 90% to 95% re-election rates since 1996?

    After all, the Democrats have the majority in BOTH houses now. And prior to 1996, the Democrats had the vast majority (see graph above) for 40 years (from 1956 to 1996).

    As long as we can vote, the government is a reflection of the voters. Voters are not yet very interested, as evidenced by:

    • the 40% to 50% of voters that don’t even bother to vote

    • too many voters blindly pull the party-lever.

    • most voters do not even know who their state and federal senators and representatives are.

    • much less their voting records (as jlw pointed out above).

    • most voters do not even know what Article V ( of the Constitution is, much less that it is being violated.

    • most voters (of those that vote), 90% of the time, vote for the candidate that spends the most money.

    • Congress has enjoyed a 90% to 95% re-election rate since 1996.

    • most voters prefer to blame the OTHER party, or blame the politicians, but refuse to recognize that the voters put them there.

    • many voters say our choices stink, but fail to understand that repeatedly rewarding and re-electing incumbents only makes incumbent politicians more corrupt, irresposible, arrogant, and unaccountable.

    • most voters emphasize the minor differences of the two parties, while failing to emphasize unity and solving problems that the vast majority of Americans already agree upon the problem and the solution; the partisan warfare distracts adn divides the voters, so that a majority of voters can never exist to realize the clever fueling of the partisan warfare is distracting them from the the irresponsibility and malfeasance of the incumbent politicians the voters repeated reward and re-elect for it.

    BTW, here’s one link to the 18% approval rating (a Gallup poll) from 21-Aug-2007.

    AP wrote: And welcome back, d.a.n.
    Still on the same soapbox, I see. :)
    Aren’t we all? Are you still a Democrat? Despite being an extreme minority, I think Joel S. Hirschhorn, David R. Remer, and jlw (above), and a handful of other regulars have it right. Government is a reflection of the voters. So why does Congress have an 18% approval rating? Will it translate into anti-incumbent voting? A little perhaps, but not nearly enough. At least, not until voters are much unhappier. Perhaps when they are jobless, homeless, and hungry ? After all, some of the highest anti-incumbnet voting was during the Great Depression. Unfortunately, it still took decades to recover. With a population that is now 2.5 more than 1929, how easy will it be to recover from future recessions (or another Great Depression)? Posted by: d.a.n at August 24, 2007 11:48 AM
    Comment #230538

    There is no reason a third party would not prove to be just as corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent as the current two.

    The low approval rating reflects the lack of bipartisanship as well as the lack of involvment of the Executive Branch. Effective presidents either have a supermajority (which rarely happens) or use their political skills to create one. Without some degree of cooperation- you know, negotiating, creating compromises, meeting in the middle, which is anathema to head-in-the-clouds idealists- without “politics,” Congress becomes ineffective.

    Democrats blame Republicans, and give Congress a low approval rating. Republicans blame Democrats, with the same result. And so, the overall approval rating of Congress is dismal, even lower than an utterly incompetent president.

    Adding a strong third party to the mix would arguably make the situation worse, not better. Ponder, for a moment, the multi-party legislature of Italy.

    There are great reasons to support a third party. I happen to be partial to the Greens. But in my opinion the thrust of this article misses its mark.

    Posted by: phx8 at August 24, 2007 12:07 PM
    Comment #230539

    The key is public financing of elections.

    Posted by: phx8 at August 24, 2007 12:09 PM
    Comment #230542

    More poll numbers of Congress’ approval ratings from many sources from Sep-2005 to 21-Aug-2007.

    phx8, Campaign finance is just another of many other manifestations of unchecked greed. It’s just a symptom of a bigger problem. And chipping away at the edges of these symptoms distracts from the root cause of so many problems that are being allowed to grow and threaten the future and security of the nation.

    Congress will not allow campaign finance reforms, nor ANY large number of other badly-needed, common-sense reforms, nor an Article V Convention, or ANYTHING that might even remotely:

    • reduce their power;

    • reduce the incumbent politicians’ opportunties for self-gain and peddling influence; giving rise to corpocrisy, corporatism, and an arrogant and elistist, FOR-SALE government that is controlled by a few that abuse vast wealth and power to control and influence government;

    • reduce the the incumbent politicians’ unfair incumbent advantages;

    • or reduce the incumbent politicians’ security of their cu$hy, coveted incumbencies.

    Most (if not all) incumbent politicians in Congress will not voluntarily address campaign finance (not seriously), nor a growing number of serious issues that Congress and the severely bloated Executive branch continue to ignore for decades.

    A third party might temporarily help make the other two parties a bit more honest, but another party is not the solution. The problem is not solely parties, since parties all consist of Americans. Thus, the real problem is US. We’re all culpable.

    The voters can change it when they want.
    That will be either:

    • (1) the smart, peaceful, responsible way,

    • (2) or the hard, painful way (again).

    My bet is that it will be the hard way again.
    So, perhaps we should all start asking ourselves what life will be like in the next Great Depression.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 24, 2007 12:50 PM
    Comment #230544

    We can find those more interested in governing well than those who can campaign well by taking away that which makes the job(s) attractive. We should pay them equal to the average of their working-age constituency, and give them no retirement package at all. In other words, they should get by on chump change and be lookin’ for a job when we fire them.

    Posted by: EdB at August 24, 2007 12:55 PM
    Comment #230547


    Here’s your link for the polling data…here.


    Yeah, let’s impeach Bush! What a GREAT idea!

    Let me practice…”President Cheney, President Cheney, President Cheney…”

    Posted by: Jim T. at August 24, 2007 1:01 PM
    Comment #230550

    Jim T.
    No kiddin’ !
    Need to impeach both of ‘em !
    Where’s the WMD ?
    Bush said “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.” (29-May-2003).
    And who gathered that intelligence (gathered by Vice President Cheney’s and Secretary Rumsfeld’s “Office of Special Plans.”)?

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 24, 2007 1:24 PM
    Comment #230554

    Arrrgh, polls are dizzying to say the least. I’ve found that many polling questions regarding Congress are so “generic” that it’s impossible to figure out what the cause of dissatisfaction is.

    I found this site breaks down a wide cross-section of polls including questions:

    A few poll results that I find interesting:


    “CBS News/New York Times Poll. July 20-22, 2007

    “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Democrats in Congress are handling the situation with Iraq?”

    Approve Disapprove Unsure % % % ALL adults 30 59 11 Republicans 15 76 9
    Democrats 50 43 7
    Independents 23 62 15

    “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Republicans in Congress are handling the situation with Iraq?”

    Approve Disapprove Unsure % % %
    ALL adults 22 65 13 Republicans 46 39 15
    Democrats 11 81 8
    Independents 18 67 15


    Remarkably little difference, but the next question and responses to the same poll lead me back to the “uninformed electorate” conundrum:


    “As far as you know, do you think most of the people causing violence in Iraq today are under the command of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, or not?”

    Are Are Not Some Unsure
    % % % %
    7/20-22/07 36 46 3 15


    I can only imagine that the 36% who believe OBL is responsible for most of Iraq’s violence are the same 40% who still believe Saddam was OBL’s co-conspirator re: 9-11. Oh well.

    I think this next Q&A is possibly indicative of the fact that Iraq is the #1 reason for Congress’ low poll ratings. From ABC News/Washington Post Poll. July 18-21, 2007:


    “Do you think the Democrats in Congress have done too much, too little, or about the right amount to get Bush to change his Iraq war policy?”

    Too Much/Too Little/About Right/Unsure
    % % % %
    7/18-21/07 17 49 31 4


    49% think Dem’s have done too little re: Iraq!

    Posted by: KansasDem at August 24, 2007 1:43 PM
    Comment #230556

    Well, that was a mess.

    Just check the polling results RE: Iraq:

    Posted by: KansasDem at August 24, 2007 1:46 PM
    Comment #230558


    Yes, that’s an ancient idea — make leadership a responsibility and not a reward. Ideally, you don’t want people who want to be leaders, you want people who take on the responsibility though they’d rather be doing something else.

    However, in our system, one must be terribly ambitious to achieve national office. It seems that’s one of the prices we must pay for our system of government.

    I have no answers, just observations.

    Posted by: Gerrold at August 24, 2007 1:54 PM
    Comment #230559

    The standard hobby horses are duopolies, voter lethargy and the Article V convention.

    These are my thoughts:

    The Duopoly is pretty much the consequence of the fact that no third party can establish itself on one political side without crippling it’s ability to form a majority. Therefore, people, out of political self-interest, tend to line up on one side or another. Republicans saw what happened when many members went for a strong third party vote: Clinton. Unfortunately, They got Bush when they got around to things.

    The Democrats have a much better deal at the moment. Their people are actually at least trying to push their policy. Trouble is, they don’t have the numbers in the Senate to push things past the cloture votes. I’m afraid those who predicted gridlock were right. It is not the Democrat’s fault, though. Their actions in regards to Bush’s war and his eavesdropping amendment, though, have been pretty stupid, though.

    They’re understandable, though, if you recall that most of these folks have spent most of their political lives under a system dominated by the conservative movement. Understandable as it is, I do think it would be a good idea for them to realize that there’s been a tectonic shift, as far as voter sentiments go. The independents now break in favor of the liberals, and my generation favors Democrats and liberalism by a wide margin.

    Some of the voter lethargy has gone out of the system. It’ll take a while for this to happen, and I’d appeal to my fellow Democrats and Watchbloggers not to give up on this. You can’t change the trends of the last two generations on a dime. It’ll be complex, and it’ll be difficult, but it can happen.

    If third parties are to arise, my opinion is, there probably needs to be more than one doing so at a time. Referencing my comment above as to why the two party system is so stable, we have to consider that only by both main parties losing a substantial share of territory and votes, can the third parties counteract the negative reinforcement that keeps people from defecting out of the parties. People vote to gain power, and if their vote loses them power, they’ll regret it. Regretted votes are not repeated votes.

    I have advised again and again: build up a base from below. It’s like a peaceful version of guerilla warfare: without the support of the communities, you can’t win. Support from the communities will require folks to do one of three things:

    1)Moderate the party agenda for wider appeal.
    2)Effectively market the party agenda, broadening its appeal without diluting it as much,

    and most importantly

    3)Demonstrate effective leadership and results for the communities. If people are happier, things work smoother, your party could be based on space aliens, and folks would just shrug, and say, they’re doing good.

    In essence the third can be seen as the first two, applied in the best way. Practice can sell ideology. It can also sink it. As the real world puts the politics to the test, the degree to which the ideology is helpful to people or hurtful can be demonstrated. In any responsible government, the supremacy of party interests must give way to the supremacy of the interests of the public. Anything else just presents the same problems in a different form.

    As for Article V Conventions? If you know your constitutional history, you’ll know that from the writing of the constitution to it’s ratification, just about nine months went by. A similar period of time elapsed during the time in which the original convention was called. Even in times where the speed of the horse was the speed of the fastest message, they didn’t waste their time.

    The call for a convention must not be based on the long term accumulation of such calls, as folks on this site are suggesting. The actual history of the call and the ratification of the original convention indicates that what was intended by the Framers of the document was a similarly quick process.

    And why not? The whole purpose of an Article V convention, hell the whole reason many among the third parties want one, is that they bring the potential for radical constitutional change with them. That being said, there’s a reason why such supermajorities were called for by the constitution: the belief that no such radical changes could be engineered without the vast majority of the public consenting and giving support to it.

    I know that some might chafe at such a restriction, but the fact is, no revision to the constitution is worth much, unless its legitimacy is confirmed by broad political support. In our hyperpartisan, hyperindividualistic times, we’ve lost sight of the need to base government on consensus, rather than personal whim. With that kind of attitude, is it any wonder we have a President like Bush?

    Americans will have to live with the results of any convention. Unless a such a convention could be called within a reasonable time frame, the likelihood of that will go down, and that will defeat the purpose of the convention.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 24, 2007 1:56 PM
    Comment #230570

    Stephen, there is only one third party I would join and commit myself to. The Common Sense Party. You know, the party that proposes logical, rational, and effective solutions to the problems the duopoly parties won’t touch or can’t build a consensus on. Such a Party, I Would join with fervor.

    Example: Common Sense Party policy proposal: Social Security. Social Security keeps our non-affluent aged in the economy as consumers. If the non-affluent aged did not have Social Security two things would happen. Retirees without families cutting back their consumerism to provide subsistence level living for their parents would die homeless, of starvation, or, lack of medical care which, would also result in myriad cases of grotesque suffering and inhumane neglect.

    Assuming that America, one of the wealthiest per capita nations in the world, would not want the reputation, or self image, of being inhumane toward their aged, treating animals better than their retired parents, public assistance for these non-affluent aged is both ethically, morally, and politically justified.

    The issues then are 1) how to minimize the impact of Soc. Sec. on deficit spending - and 2) how to alter the system so that we are better prepared to accommodate demographic bumps in the future.

    1) Minimizing the impact - shape Soc. Sec. so that it truly is an insurance program. Eliminate Soc. Sec. payments to persons with a net retired wealth in excess of 4 times the poverty rate per annum for each year of their average expected remaining life span. E.G., if a person retires at 67, and the average expected remaining lifespan for their sex and age, is 18 years, to qualify for Soc. Sec. payments their net wealth in savings, pensions, and other assets must be less than 4 times the poverty rate times 18 years. The Wal-Mart and Bill Gates families or lesser known upper middle class would not qualify for Soc. Sec. payments.

    But, if Soc. Sec. becomes a true insurance plan, then, if Bill Gates at 80 should lose all his wealth in a stock market crash, he would then become eligible for Soc. Sec. payments.

    Raise the eligible retirement age to 70. It is not a real popular option, but, given the much longer average life expectancy for men and women beyond that age, this becomes a necessary step to make the system solvent again. However, this would also require legislation that would facilitate and motivate the players in the economy to create and make productive use of our older workers through age 70, as well as incent the growth of programs aimed at retraining workers for different jobs as their age compromises their ability to remain productive in their former career or job.

    These steps would minimize the deficit impact in the future for maintaining Soc. Sec. through the boomer demographic hump.

    The next issue is how to make the program capable of handling future demographic bumps. There is one common sense solution that is readily available. Government must in partnership with business, motivate personal savings. Assuming medical science is going to continue to elongate life spans (a fairly safe bet), it only makes sense to reward personal retirement savings and educate new workers coming into the work force to the advantages of personal savings for modest present sacrifices of consumption.

    This can be accomplished in a number of ways. One obvious one is for the federal government to tie federal education dollars to local schools to the schools implementation of a required personal financial management class for all high school juniors. All employers of workers lacking a previous employment history would be required to provide these workers with a 2 hour summary review of the principles of the high school mandated course with full text materials for the course made available for self-study by the employee upon request. A tax incentive can attached to businesses which make this service available to these new work force employees, through a local community college or cooperative arrangement with another employer who offers the service.

    For every 3 consecutive years in which a worker saves as addition to previous retirement savings, 3% of their gross income, that worker shall receive 1 year access to 2% emergency or major asset loans in their lifetime on those savings, not to exceed certain caps on loan amounts. This would provide a new worker with the opportunity in their work career to access loans on their own savings at 2% for such things as down payment on their home, emergency medical care out of pocket costs for themselves or their dependents, or loans to establish their own business at some time in their work lives.

    These are just some ideas for what I would respect and expect from a Common Sense Party, which takes the best of the philosophies of the right and left and marries them into common sense policy solutions which avoid the pitfalls and rigidities found in left and right wing ideologies.

    Similar approaches can be developed for everything from infrastructure maintenance to Medicare and Health care inflation to international security and foreign policy that achieves security and reduces costs of achieving that security.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at August 24, 2007 3:43 PM
    Comment #230573


    You said,

    “Need to impeach both of ‘em !”

    OK…how many times to I have to repeat my screed before I just write it up in Word and copy and paste.

    Here’s the scenario…

    Bush is impeached. Cheney is prez. Cheney nominates Rudi. Rudi is VP. Rudi now has the bully pulpit. Cheney is impeached. Rudi is Prez. Rudi nominates John McCain (or whoever). Now new administration has the bully pulpit and a little bit of “honeymoon” time with the American people. Propose some populist legislation (it doesn’t have to be passed…just proposed to contrast them with a perceived “do nothing” Congress) to hike the poll numbers and *prest-o change-o* you have another Republican administration.

    Do the “smart” Democrats want Bush and Cheney impeached? Not the “smart” ones. You impeach Bush and Cheney and you don’t have anyone to sling mud at (the kind that actually sticks). You don’t have anyone to demonize.

    Impeach Bush and Cheney? Hillary isn’t going to let that happen. Her campaign needs Republican “whipping boys” and Bush and Cheney are the glue that holds her run for office together. Without Bush and Cheney, all she has to bash is Obama. Bash Obama too much and she will be perceived as “mean spirited”. She has to have Bush and Cheney to keep her base energized. Without them, you can start practicing the phrase “President Rudi”, or “President Thompson”.

    You can’t impeach them both at the same time, anyway, which is obviously what you want.

    You can completely forget the phrase “President Pelosi”. It ain’t gonna happen.

    Posted by: Jim T at August 24, 2007 4:38 PM
    Comment #230585

    David R. Remer-
    Now the common sense party, I don’t mind! I hope everybody joins.

    Jim T.-
    I think you underestimate just how unpopular the Republicans have become. I think most people aren’t that interested in impeaching Bush, for the sole reason that it would take too long to get going for it to shorten the Bush years by much.

    You never know, though, Bush might do something that essentially leaves everybody feeling like they got a bucket of snot dumped on their heads, in which case just the symbolic removal of the president would suffice.

    I doubt any Republican administration would have a true honeymoon. They’ve essentially shackled themselves to Bush in an effort to please the small minority who still love him. Result? As Bush goes, so do they. Republicans are faced with the difficult task of repudiating the president’s policies and not seeming simply like the Lite Beer Version of the average Democrat. Your front runners mostly come from North of the Mason-Dixon Line amidst a party that’s essentially become a regional party. That’s never a good sign.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 24, 2007 5:31 PM
    Comment #230597


    I’m no Republican, but…

    How can you say the Republican party is a regional party? What a ludicrous and elitist statement! Actually… looking at the map… you might be right… looking at the last two presidential elections, that “region” of which you speak stretches from Virginia, down to Florida, across the gulf to Texas, further west to Nevada, up to Idaho to North Dakota, then down through the entire rural mid-west, and all the way over to Ohio, which touches West Virginia, and brings you back to Virginia… yeah… quite the little region, eh?

    As an objective, independent, observer of you Dems and Reps taking these shots at each other, I have to tell you, it is elitist statements like these that will keep that little region from ever voting for you and your Democrats.

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at August 24, 2007 6:59 PM
    Comment #230600

    The reason Congress has failed and is failing America is because the voters keep reelecting corrupt incompetent politicians to it. And we’re getting the fruits of our laxness.
    We allow them to set double standards. As set for us and a set for them.
    We let them continually spend more than is taken in.
    We turn our backs on their selling this country to the highest bidder.
    We defend their arrogance (specially when their from our party).
    We look the other way while they play political games with the lives and futures of our children for their political and financial gain.
    We have the Congress we deserve because we haven’t been vigilant and kicked those that don’t deserve to hold office (100% of them) out and replace them with folks that will put the interest of the country first.

    Posted by: Ron Brown at August 24, 2007 7:40 PM
    Comment #230601

    Ron Brown, very concise and apropos’ argument. Seriously, if you want to write in this manner for VOID, just email me. VOID could definitely use a fresh voice.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at August 24, 2007 7:45 PM
    Comment #230603

    All it takes is a one vote majority to pass legislation.
    And where are all the Democrats that promised bipartisanship?
    I don’t see either party trying to work in a bipartisan way. Instead it’s just business as usual up there in LA LA Land.
    If all y’all (both parties) would take the partisan blinders off and take a real good close look at not only the other party but your party as well, y’all would be leading the charge to get rid of the currant bunch of clowns in both parites that we have up there in DC.

    Posted by: Ron Brown at August 24, 2007 7:53 PM
    Comment #230608


    “I guess Republicans confuse that 1-vote “majority” with “mandate”…a 1-vote majority in the Senate isn’t the 60 votes needed to pass legislation…where are the 9 or 10 Republicans who pledged “bipartisanship” with their lips but pledge “more of the same” with their votes??”

    i hate to break this to you, but bi partisanship doesn’t mean the republicans doing what the democrats want them to do. it means both parties working together to find compromise. BTW the republicans never had a sixty seat majority either, so why the whinning.

    Posted by: dbs at August 24, 2007 8:30 PM
    Comment #230619

    dbs: The Republicans enjoyed quite a bit of bipartisanship. They also had a Republican President. Big difference.

    Posted by: jlw at August 24, 2007 11:16 PM
    Comment #230622

    The number of independent voters is growing, and will continue to grow as government continues to grow more corrupt and bloated, and continues to ignore existing laws, continues to violate the constitution, and continues to let serious problems grow dangerously in number and severity.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 24, 2007 11:44 PM
    Comment #230632

    If blind partisan loyalist can’t see what is happening, they are in denial. Pain and misery will eventually trump the duopoly stranglehold.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 25, 2007 1:17 AM
    Comment #230652

    It’s to bad that it’s gonna have to come to that d.a.n. But it looks like that’s just what it’s gonna take to get folks to take their blinders off and see what the duopoly is doing to this country.
    I have a daughter and son-in-law that are staunch Republicans. They either can’t or refuse to see that the Republicans are as much a part of the problem as the Democrats are. I keep hoping that someday they’ll see the light and stop blindly voting for Republican candidates.

    Posted by: Ron Brown at August 25, 2007 12:55 PM
    Comment #230671
    Ron Brown wrote: It’s to bad that it’s gonna have to come to that d.a.n. But it looks like that’s just what it’s gonna take to get folks to take their blinders off and see what the duopoly is doing to this country.
    Yep, I know what you mean. You, and others like you are an extreme minority, but a growing minority.

    Despite the blame game amd partisan-warfare, it is obvious to far too few that the problem is all of us; the:

    • politicians in BOTH main parties,

    • and the majority of voters that repeatedly reward and re-elect them.

    Unfortunately, the blinded partisan loyalists will blame you too for not joining their party, and the majority of us will all suffer the consequences together.

    It’s hard to see how we’re going to avoid the pain of the consequences of:

    • a population that is now 2.5 times larger than 1929 (the first Great Depression),

    • more debt now than ever before (adjusted for inflation),

    • 77 million baby boomers that will soon start demanding (13,175 per day) their Social Security and Medicare benefits from already bankrupt systems

    • jobs leaving the country in droves

    • declining quality and quantity of education

    • decling healthcare quality and skyrocketing cost

    • a dishonest, inflationist, funny-money system

    • and a Do-Nothing Congress that ignores all of it because they are too busy fillin’ their own pockets.

    When the Republicans had the majority, they had rose colored glasses.

    Now that the Democrats have the majority, they have rose colored glasses, or blame it on the Republicans.

    If the politicians in BOTH parties are always to blame, then what good is either?

    Even now, many Democrat loyalists refuse to admit that their party (in part) deserves the pathetic 18% approval rating. They prefer to continue to play the blame game and blame it all on Republicans. Never mind that most Democrat politicians are addicted to pork-barrel and waste (Mutha is the king of pork-barrel), most Democrat politicians ignore existing laws and refuse to enforce immigration laws, etc., etc., etc.

    The point is, politicians in BOTH parties are so pathetically corrupt, arrogant, and irresponsible, what does it matter who is more corrupt?

    Sure, there are a few differences in what they say, but very little difference in their accomplishments.

    Consider the minium wage increase (phased in over several years). How big and generous of them, seeing how Congress has given itself 9 raises in the last 10 years (while our troops go without armor, adequate medical care, and promised benfits). Their hypocrisy knows no bounds, yet they prefer to fuel and wallow in powerfully distracting and destructive partisan warfare.

    The end result is that government continues to grow ever more bloated, incompetent, wasteful, arrogant, and harmful to society. It is approaching the point where it is of no net benefit to society. When they finally reach that point, the painful consequences will finally provide the voters with the motivation to finally stop rewarding and re-electing the cheaters. Unfortunately, it will be too late to avoid the long-term effects of decades of fiscal and moral bankruptcy. Getting back on the right path takes roughly as long as it took to get off of it. This is why history and education are so important. Those that don’t learn from it are doomed to repeat it.

    I suspect most people that become independents do so later in life, after concluding that the two-party duopoly are just taking turns being corrupt, irresponsible, and unaccountable … and that they have very successfully brainwashed most voters into rewarding and re-electing them for it. People aren’t logical. Unfortunately, too many are far too easy to fool. I admit to my own ignorance and being fooled in the past.

    People complain about big-money in politics; how it makes it rotten, but most of the same voters, 90% of the time, elect the politicians that spends the most money (usually the incumbent).

    People complain that Congress is corrupt and give it a dismal 18% approval rating (the lowest since 1992), but those same voters repeatedly reward and re-elect the same politicians, because they happen to be on their straight-ticket.

    Many of the things that led to the economic meltdown of the Great Depression are occuring again. Massive debt, corruption, violations of the constitution and existing laws, abuse of the money system, and other manifestations of unchecked greed.

    In my opinion, Joel Hirschhorn and David R. Remer (and the small minority of those in agreement) have figured it out. Unfortunately, they may not be able to change the final outcome.

    It would be nice if someone in the blue and red columns could write about this obvious problem, instead of continually fueling the partisan-warfare that makes it impossible to solve anything.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 25, 2007 4:52 PM
    Comment #230676


    It would be nice if someone in the blue and red columns could write about this obvious problem, instead of continually fueling the partisan-warfare that makes it impossible to solve anything.

    If they started doing that then they’d realize the corruption and irresponsibility that their party has engaged in and leave it and start writing in this column.

    Posted by: Ron Brown at August 25, 2007 5:42 PM
    Comment #230677

    d.a.n said: “People complain about big-money in politics; how it makes it rotten, but most of the same voters, 90% of the time, elect the politicians that spends the most money (usually the incumbent).”

    This is truly the major conundrum of our current political system. There simply is no solution for it other than legislation that limits contributions to individuals only and imposes a cap. My recommendation for a cap to a candidate, including any organization which contributes to candidates, is twice the amount the average middle class contributor of the last election contributed.

    This cap accomplishes a couple of things. First, if the people believe there is insufficient money available for campaigns, they are directly in control of setting the caps, by how many of them and how much they contribute. Conversely, if the people don’t believe the contributions got them the representation they sought, politicians bear the consequence in having less money to campaign on in the next election cycle.

    This combines the best free market principles with the best emphasis on the word ‘democratic’ in the phrase: ‘democratic republic’.

    Lastly, it removes lobbyist interests entirely from the campaign financing system, and stops the practice of political parties subsidizing candidates on wealthy special interest money which can and does result in policy and legislation favoring the biggest contributors.

    In a very real sense, this system forces all political parties including third parties, to seek funding from the general public exclusively, or, find a candidate who can subsidize their own campaign form their own money, and let the people decide if such a candidate will best represent them and the nation.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at August 25, 2007 6:15 PM
    Comment #230681

    Actually, no, I do believe it deserves it at this point. Much as I like our side being in charge, I think our approval rating’s going to remain low as long as we let the party of Bush, oh he of approval ratings in the twenties, intimidate us.

    The disapproval, you should note, though, is for not living up to Democratic party principles. Sooner or later, the people in charge will be pushed towards that; they’ve got an entire generation, an entire netroots organization pushing them in that direction. We just have to not give up.

    Your rhetoric seems to be that of somebody who’s given up on government. Unfortunately, if you really look out there, you’ll see that this giving up hasn’t improved things for anybody. If we just kick out the incumbents and then leave them alone, it’s not going to do any good. The nature of power in any government large enough for a country this size will invite corruption and bloating, unless we become more active in things, more community minded.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 25, 2007 7:56 PM
    Comment #230686

    I believe the corporate media deserves to take a good part of the blame for. It’s often said Rove is not the one responsible for Bush’s getting elected, the press is. While the people are ultimately responsible for the work of their government, the truth is it doesn’t work when we aren’t getting the facts. How often is it a typical media agency, (not just Fox news but CNN, NBC, even the New York Times) spends any good time investigating what’s really going on in the government. Most people have never heard of the Down street memo, the Project for the New American Century (not that this is a secret, but I wish more conservative Bush voters who support a “small government” would know about it), or the questionable Diebold voting machines. Numerous studies have been done by various people, such as a computer science department at MIT, saying these unaccountable electronic voting machines, supplied by Republican-owned companies,could be very easily hacked. Now I would think this is something worthy of being on the front page, voting machines that don’t work right. However like the worst scandals perpetrated by Bush and his associates, this has hardly been reported on by the mainstream media.

    And if anyone (who’s not an expert on the issue) tries to form their opinion on any of the most serious issues facing our country like global warming or the national debt based on the news, they may not know it but will be very misinformed. There are all these “black-listed” issues the press doesn’t touch like Bush’s national guard record. Instead of even covering what Congress is doing, most corporate media outlets spend more time on Paris Hilton, Britney’s latest scandal, or how much politicians spend on haircuts.

    Again, we the people are the ones who keep buying it. However simply telling voters they’re too dumb isn’t a good way to implement change, and I’d argue a liar or con artist is more at fault than the one who’s gullible.

    Posted by: mark at August 25, 2007 8:37 PM
    Comment #230711
    Your rhetoric seems to be that of somebody who’s given up on government.
    Not true. I am working for change and reform here, here, here,,,, and a number of other places … and of course … along with NOT blindly pulling the party-lever and repeatedly rewarding and re-electing irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians.

    Just because a person doesn’t vote Democrat and blindly pull the party-lever does not equate to “given up”. However, if government conitinues to grow corrupt and voters allow it, it won’t matter. Crap in your own nest long enough and the branch it rests upon will finally collapse.

    Unfortunately, if you really look out there, you’ll see that this giving up hasn’t improved things for anybody.
    I haven’t given up. Again, just because I don’t want to vote like a robot and repeatedly pull the party-lever and repeatedly reward and re-elect corrupt, irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians does not equate to “given up”. I think giving up describes the 40% to 50% that don’t vote, and the majority of the rest that blindly and lazily pull the party-lever and reward Congress with a 90% to 95% re-election rate since 1996. Many that pull the party-lever don’t even know whose on the ballot. All they care about is that they are in THEIR party, and are totally oblivious to the fact that party doesn’t mean squat when politicians in BOTH are equally corrupt, FOR-SALE, and irresponsible.
    If we just kick out the incumbents and then leave them alone, it’s not going to do any good.
    Interesting. No conflict of interest there, eh? (by he who writes “I like our side being in charge”). ; )
    The nature of power in any government large enough for a country this size will invite corruption and bloating, unless we become more active in things, more community minded.
    I agree. People must get involved. Unfortunately, 40% to 50% don’t vote, 90% of elections are won by the candidate that spends the most money, too many voters blindly pull the party-lever, and most voters don’t even know who their state and federal senators and representatives are. In fact, you are considered odd these days if you do know who your Congress person is. Sooner is better than later. Later may be too late to avoid the painful consequences (some of which are already on the way).

    Besides, voting out irresponsible, corrupt politicians is exactly what voters are supposed to do. Too many voters have forgotten that no-brainer option, because they are so brainwashed to pull the party-lever. Simply stop repeatedly rewarding and re-electing corrupt incumbent politicians that refuse to enforce existing laws, ignore the constitution (a felony by the way), despicably pit American citizens and illegal aliens against each other, sell out Americans while funneling pork-barrel can corporate welfare to their big-money donors, spying on Americans without civil oversight, abusing the money system, starting unnecessary wars based on lies, voting themselves cu$hy perks and raises (9 times in last 10 years) while our troops go without body armor, medical care, and promised benefits. Then the newcomers will get the idea, or have very short careers too.

    Also, reforms are needed. But those aren’t likely as long as Congress ignores Article V of the Constitution. And those that joined in the law suits to ignore Article V have essentially commited a felony by violating the constitution.
    David R. Remer,
    Yes, the money in politics is a serious conflict of interest. And 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more) come from only a tiny 0.15% of all 200 million eligible voters. The remaining 99.85% of voters don’t stand a chance against those that abuse vast wealth and power to control and influence. government.

    What I’d like to see is much lower limits (like 1% of the median income per year).

    Reform the Election Process:
    The ideological basis of our democratic republic is to provide for an orderly change of government allowing the people to choose those that will best represent them. That’s the theory, but it is far different in reality. Some simple changes are needed to level the playing field for all candidates, and end unfair and dangerous influences by only a few people that abuse their vast wealth and power:

  • Government should NOT be FOR-SALE !

  • Limit political contributions from any entity (e.g. person, corporation, organization, etc.), per year, to 1% of the average American annual income. Regulation of political contributions is allowed by the Constitution. Unfortunately, the courts have decided that political contributions can not be banned entirely, but can be regulated. Therefore, contribution limits should not be so large that the wealthy and corporations carry more influence than the individual voter (as it is now, and is obviously unfair to the average voter).
  • Only allow contributions by American citizens. Prohibit contributions from corporations, PACs, Unions, and other organizations.

  • No candidate may spend their own money in excess of the average American annual income; otherwise, a very wealthy person could conceivably buy an election, and control the media, news, propaganda, etc.

  • All donations must be deposited into a single fund managed by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that:

    • (a) disperses donations to the intended recipients.

    • (b) enforces donation laws and restrictions (e.g. enforce annual donation limits, enforce restrictions of donations only originating from American citizens or 100% owned corporations, and enforce other laws governing elections, etc.)

    • (c) disperses donations above the permitted limits (if any), equally, between all registered candidates; there is no need to disclose the identity or source of donations, since only American citizens and 100% American owned corporations or organizations can make political donations, and everyone is limited to the same annual maximum of 1% of the average American annual income;

    • NOTE: The FEC must disclose to all contributors that all amounts above the established 1% limit of the average American annual income is dispersed equally to all registered candidates.
  • Make it illegal for candidates to public office or government employees to solicit or accept money, gifts, favors, or future promises of any kind (above and beyond the allowed limit)

  • Also, make it illegal for any family member, group or organization to solicit or accept money or gifts, or spend funds on the behalf of a candidate for office or government employee.

  • Government should not be for sale. When money enters the election process, it is rotten. Peddling influence represents a flagrant conflict of interest, and must be eliminated. Conviction for violation of this law would also forfeit the employee’s government pension (if any).

  • Make it illegal for government office holders or employees to accept outside employment during their employment by the government.

  • Prohibit all government employees or office holders, for two years after leaving government employment, from accepting employment with any government contractor or sub-contractor, government consultant, lobbyist position, etc.

  • All candidates for office will be provided some free and equal media time during the election campaign (including print, radio, television, etc.). Remove the big money that allows only some to control the newspapers, radio stations and TV stations. Election statistics show that in over 90% of elections, the candidate that spends the most money wins !

  • Hold elections on a week-end and/or declare important election days a national holiday.

  • End voter-registration. Instead, all eligible voters should use a secure form of identification, such as biometrics.

  • When each voter submits their vote(s), they will receive a computer-printed slip of paper with a randomly generated number that can be used to find a record of their vote in a publicly listed record of all votes (e.g. on the internet, telephone, news paper, etc.). This will preserve anonymity, reduce election fraud, and provide a public record of each election.

  • Make it illegal to start campaigning before a certain date prior to an election, so that all candidates have equal campaign time, so that campaigns will be less time consuming, and less costly to the tax payers.

  • Remove the straight-ticket voting lever (or button) in all voting machines. Voting machines should not be promoting party-only voting.

  • Remove and prohibit the party affiliation via names and symbols (e.g. Democrat, Independent, Republican, etc.) next to the names of all candidates.

  • ______________________________
    I believe the corporate media deserves to take a good part of the blame

    Mark, Yes, that’s very true.
    The Main Stream Media (MSM) is pathetic.
    The MSM wastes its forum with endless crap about Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and the like.
    The MSM gives air time only to some political candidates, and ignores others.
    The MSM also simply won’t cover certain things.
    The MSM is bought-and-paid-for too.
    That’s why people are going to the internet to get their news.
    There’s a lot of crap on the internet too, but at least the truth is out there too … something that’s hard to find in the MSM.
    If they started doing that then they’d realize the corruption and irresponsibility that their party has engaged in and leave it and start writing in this column.

    Maybe. Maybe not. You first have to get through years of brainwashing. It is very powerful. But the cure is on the way … in the form of painful consequences.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 26, 2007 3:30 AM
    Comment #230712

    d.a.n, all good recommendations save one. The First Amendment cannot and should not be compromised by barring persons from using their own money as a candidate.

    Candidacy after all, is essentially communication between one person with the other people and asking for their endorsement at the polls. That quintessential form of political expression lies at the core of what the First Amendment attempts to protect.

    There is no problem with laws like the FEC requirement of candidates reporting where their funds come from and making that information public. This insures the people can, if they are interested, know when a Michael Bloomberg is hitting the trail and funding his own campaign.

    But attempting to bar Bloomberg from using any amount of his own funds he so chooses, does strike at the heart of the very protections the First Amendment was designed to protect.

    What is needed is for Congress and the FCC to mandate free allocation of publicly licensed resources in the media to grant sufficient time to candidates to meet the information needs of most of the voting public. That would be for all candidates NOT funding their own campaigns and meeting other criteria insuring the candidate is both serious, qualified (by Constitutional standards), and having support from a minimum significant percentage of the electorate from the district or state represented by the office to which the candidate is running. This support can be ascertained by percentage of contributors to the electorate of the district, or signed and verified registered voter signatures of support, or a combination of both.

    To accomplish this however, the Congress would need to establish laws of uniformity over federal office elections which the states must comply with. This may even require a Constitutional Amendment as the Constitution is fairly specific about leaving each state to its own devices regarding the election of federal officers. I am not a legal scholar so, I don’t know which of these would be appropriate.

    But there is no question that America needs a national election standard for federal elections and criminal law with real teeth for the violation of these standards. Without this, gaming the FCC free media time runs the concept amok with gross inequalities and unfairness between candidates of differing states and districts.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at August 26, 2007 5:47 AM
    Comment #230715
    The First Amendment cannot and should not be compromised by barring persons from using their own money as a candidate.
    Not bar. Limit (to the amount equal to the average American annual income per year). Otherwise, the wealthiest will buy all the offices, and government is still FOR-SALE and controlled by a very few.

    Of course, campaign finance wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for voters that elect (90% of the time) the candidates that spend the most money (regardless of where it comes from). Money buys visibility. Visibility (even the bad sort) gets votes.

    Obviously, money has a lot to do with it, and the amount of money this nation spends in elections is a shameful, ridiculous waste, and demonstrates that our government is essentially FOR-SALE (click on name). It is like few (if any) other nation.

    As for constitutional issues, perhaps we need an amendment: Government is not FOR-SALE

    How would that violate the 1st Amendment?

    The 1st Amendment states:

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    It seems a stretch to me that buying elections is protected by the 1st Amendment.

    Now, if we had an amendment that government is not FOR-SALE (which should be a no-brainer), wouldn’t that trump the lame argument that the 1st Amendment protects the right to buy elections?

    Obviously, the Constitution is not perfect, but a big part of the problem is the suspicious interpretation of it. The Constitution needs clarifications and amendments. However, Congress won’t allow it and continues to violate Article V of the Constitution, despite 567 requests for amendments by ALL 50 states.

    Do-Nothing Congress has a clear conflict of interest and will never allow any common-sense, no-brainer reforms and/or amendments that may even remotely reduce the incumbent politicians’ power, or reduce their opportunities for self gain, the ability to give themselves cu$hy perks and raises (9 times in the last 10 years), or reduce the security of their cu$hy, coveted incumbencies. They know money buys elections, and therefore carry the water for the very few that abuse vast wealth and power to control and influence government. If enough voters don’t figure this out soon, the majority of voters will continue to see the middle class shrink and the 1% of the wealthiest grow richer (already, all wealth owned by the 1% of the wealthiest in the U.S. has grown from 20% in 1980 to 40%).

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 26, 2007 11:54 AM
    Comment #230728

    I think that we have to face the fact that the idea ( Government Of the People, By the People, For the People) is not a whole lot more than a cruel joke that has very little bearing on reality. Government Of the Aristocracy, By the Aristocracy, For the Aristocracy is the true nature of man.

    The American Revolution was the means by which the Middle Class used the lower class to overthrow the old aristocracy and replace it with a new one composed of bankers, merchants, manufactures and gentleman farmers. Among these new aristocrats, there were enough who believed in the ideal that they were able to incorporate the Bill of Rights and provisions for ammending the Constitution as a deterent against the excess of Aristocracy and as a conduit to furthur the cause of a Peoples Government.

    We have now reached the point in the experiment where the dream of Government By The People is threatened with extinction. The responsibility for this possible extinction lies squarely of the shoulders of the People. We can not blame our aristocracy for doing what Aristocracies do. They saw the threat that unionization and creeping socialism posed for them and they reacted. They developed an economy based on hedonism, a very efficient propaganda delivery system and they bought the government (it was cheap).

    It seems the people have a notion that all they have to do is pronounce that we have Government By The People and that is all it takes to make it so. The people don’t seem to understand or care that the responsibility for a government by the people is there’s. They run from the responsibility, hide from it, do everything they can to avoid it. Watching any silly citcom is better than paying attention to the details of governance. There is only one conclusion that can be drawn, the people have the government they deserve.

    Science has shown that if you place animals in a containment and give them all the resources they can consume, the animals will consume those resources as over indulgently as they can until they spoil their nest to the point where thay can no longer survive in it. Then they die.

    Posted by: jlw at August 26, 2007 3:23 PM
    Comment #230731
    There is only one conclusion that can be drawn, the people have the government they deserve.
    That’s a harsh (perhaps depressing) conclusion, but one that I completely agree with. Not only do voters deserve it, but repeatedly reward and re-elect it (e.g. Congress has had a 90% to 95% re-election rate since 1996).
    Science has shown that if you place animals in a containment and give them all the resources they can consume, the animals will consume those resources as over indulgently as they can until they spoil their nest to the point where thay can no longer survive in it. Then they die.
    Yes. It is a human failing too.

    Also, naturally, people desire prosperity and security with the least effort and pain. This often breeds laziness, apathy, complacency, and laziness. Something that is not sufficiently understood, but must be so that we learn to carefully design our governments, societies, and organizations to take that very basic human trait into account. Transparency is needed to deter corruption. This is why education and history are so important. Only education and understanding of our history can provide the logic and reason to motivate people to avoid problems before it is too late. Sometimes logic can overcome the lack of conscience and virtue. And when it does, there is finally progress (instead of repeatedly repeating history). We can learn the smart way or the hard way. History shows that it is more often the hard way.

    The bottom line is that government won’t become responsible until the voters do too. And that’s not likely to happen until the consequences provide the motivation. Voters won’t be so apathetic, complacent, and lazy when they are jobless, homeless, and hungry. But that is learning the hard way. Some day we can hopefully learn to take more interest in our own government, rather than ignoring it. Ignoring government invites corruption. And that is what we have now. The danger signs are there. But they are being ignored (again), and probably will continue to be ignored until the consequences are already upon us.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 26, 2007 6:14 PM
    Comment #230761

    D.a.n. said: “Not bar. Limit (to the amount equal to the average American annual income per year).”

    Sorry, that limits the means of free speech by a single person to the public. It violates the principle of the First Amendment to protect the individual who stands on a street corner or rents an auditorium for oratory to the general public that wishes to hear what that person has to say.

    D,a,n. said: “Otherwise, the wealthiest will buy all the offices, and government is still FOR-SALE and controlled by a very few.”

    I disagree. The wealthiest can flood the public with their message, but, whether the public is interested or buys the message is for the people to decide.

    One can’t have it both ways. Either one believes in the power and ability of the electorate and thus retains belief in democratic principles, or, one doesn’t believe in the people’s ability to make up their own minds about a self-funding candidate, in which case, one does not believe in the democratic process at all.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at August 27, 2007 12:01 AM
    Comment #230786

    90% of elections are won by the candidate that spends the most money (usually an incumbent).

    QUESTION # 1: Based on the so called “freedom of speech” argument, why does the law place limits on any political contributions?
    QUESTION # 2: Isn’t that also a violation of “free speech”? Aren’t contribution limits inconsistent with the logic that “free speech” allows no limits on one’s own campaign? QUESTION # 3: What is the difference? And who is to say where the money really comes from? (i.e. their own money or someone gave it to them). Gifts are legal if you income pay taxes. What’s to prevent the money being funneled to candidates that way? We already see all the creative ways that money is funneled to candidates (e.g. PACs, gifts, party contributions, even from U.S. tax payers taxes).

    It is truly unfortunate that “freedom of speech” has been interpreted from the 1st Amendment as the “freedom to buy elections”.
    Money buys visibility.
    Visibility buys elections.
    Government should not be FOR-SALE.
    But it is.
    And allowing some with vast wealth and power to buy elections is a reality as evidenced by the fact that:

    • 90% of elections are won by the candidate that simply spends the most money.

    • and 83% of all federal campaign donations come from only a tiny 0.15% of all 200 million eligible voters, making it difficult for the remaining 99.85% of all 200 million eligible voters to have an equal voice, when that volume of that voice is decided by the amount of money.

    Yes, voters are culpable too.

    Voters shouldn’t be that easily manipulated.

    But that ignores reality and human nature, and still allows some with vast wealth and power to control others and control and influence government.
    The bought-and-paid-for MSM (Main Stream Media), in league with the wealthiest politicians (and their wealthy donor puppeteers), leaves little (or no) chance for challenging candidates who already face numerous unfair incumbent advantages (paid for by voters, no less).

    The wealthiest can buy massive advertising in the MSM that a potentially more qualified candidate can not. And the MSM is complicit and will even refrain from giving less wealthy candidates visibility.

    The wealthiest can flood the public with their message, but, whether the public is interested or buys the message is for the people to decide.
    True. But the reality is that 90% of the time, voters elect the candidate that spends the most money (usually the incumbent). Thus, the reality is that elections are decide by money.

    Yes, the problem would not exist if voters were not so brainwashed and foolish to repeatedly reward and elect politicians that spend the most money (usually incumbents).

    Still, it does not quite make sense that “freedom of speech” EQUATES to “freedom to buy elections”, nor does it explain the inconsistences in which there are contribution limits on some, but not others.

    That logic is flawed, and appears to be the real example of having it both ways.

    While voters shouldn’t be so foolish and shallow to simply vote for the candidate that spends the most money (which happens 90% of the time), the question is:

    • Should government be FOR-SALE ?
    • Should the wealthiest candidate be allowed to buy elections, advertising, etc… . or should all candidates receive equal visibilty (e.g. all contributions are split equally between all candidates)?
    • Money in politics makes it rotten because that money is not evenly distributed. As a result, winning elections is all about money. That reality is corroborated by 90% of elections won by the candidate that spends the most money, and most (83%) of the money comes from a tiny 0.15% of all 200 million elible voters.
    • Can we ignore the role of money in elections? Why is it illegal to bribe people to vote a certain way? Despite the voters ability to choose more wisely, the reality is that voters are essentially being bribed to vote a certain way. There are inconsistencies in the laws, since they limit contributions in some cases and not others.
    Posted by: d.a.n at August 27, 2007 10:39 AM
    Comment #230831

    d.a.n asked: “Based on the so called ‘freedom of speech’ argument, why does the law place limits on any political contributions?”

    The pertinent point is that the law, and the Supreme Court ruled that the law, CANNOT limit a person’s personal funds used to make a speech on their own behalf, based on 1st Amendment protection.

    The thing to remember here is that if the law can restrict the amount of personal money one can spend to speak on their own behalf, that law would also HAVE to extend to a person’s use of personal funds in their own defense in a court of law - or the amount of my personal money I can spend on VOID - equal application of the law is a fundamental principle of our Constitutional system.

    Isn’t that also a violation of ‘free speech’? Aren’t contribution limits inconsistent with the logic that ‘free speech’ allows no limits on one’s own campaign?

    Certainly many have argued it is a violation of free speech. But, the Court ruled carefully here, making the case that very large campaign contributions affordable only to a few in society can have the effect and appearance of bribery of politicians in office for specific legislation and policy formation. Whereas, a person using their own funds to promote their own candidacy does not even lend the appearance of bribing government officials. It was a crucial and all important distinction which, when viewed this way, actually makes democratic, legal, and constitutional sense.

    Where an individual spends their own money for their own campaign, the public is free to make their own assessment of that candidate and democratic principles are preserved.

    Whereas, when bribery of government officials occurs, the public has no freedom to object or prosecute (quid pro quo is nearly impossible to prove), and moreover, the public is denied representation in legislation and policy usurped by wealthy special interests controlling the election funding of government officials, which undermines democratic principles, public interest, and general welfare.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at August 27, 2007 6:03 PM
    Comment #230875

    Hmmmm … well I don’t really see why it affects what a person can spend on their own legal defense. After all, no amount of lawyers can change the evidence. Sure, there are always exceptions (like O.J.), but money didn’t keep Martha Stewart, Randy Cunnigham, or other rich people out of jail.

    And VOID doesn’t support any political candidates. VOID’s mission to educate and crack the brainwashing may be impossible with any amount of money.

    However, in elections, it is largely about money.
    Money buys visibility.
    It also buys hired guns to destroy the opponent.
    And 90% of elections are won by the candidate that spends the most (an unfortunate reality).
    No limits on personal funds allows a person of great wealth to buy an election. Perot tried it and almost pulled it off, and might have if he hadn’t been such an unstable kook. Even with billions, it is still hard to overcome such kooky behavior.

    Oh well, I won’t belabour the issue too much (even if I disagree with it), because the most common method does not require that candidates use their own money anyway (at least, not with regard to the U.S. Congress).

    A very small percentage of all voters, that abuse vast wealth and power, give the candidates (usually incumbents) plenty of money. And where limits exist, they get around it through PACs, unions, etc. Only 300,000 people make 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more; averaging $6667 per person). The remaining 99.85% of the 200 million eligible voters only average $2 per person (yes, that’s only two dollars per person).

    So, government is FOR-SALE, and it’s all legal.

    There’s a difference between buying control over other people, and buying your legal defense, or running a non-partisan organization.

    Also, the wealthy don’t want to be politicians.
    They can finance, bribe, and buy someone else to do that. And that is exactly what we have today, and no solution in sight to change it anytime soon … which will lead to more corruption and other manifestations of unchecked greed.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 28, 2007 3:35 AM
    Comment #230901

    Of course, there is a simple thing voters could do to.
    Simply stop re-electing and rewarding the Congress.
    Giving Congress a dismal 18% approval rating, but rewarding them too with a 90% to 95% re-election rate indicates a fundamental flaw in the system.
    The system relies on a responsible electorate also to balance power and limit corruption.
    When the electorate fails its duty, we see corruption grow, and quickly.
    There is a time-lag before the electorate responds.
    That time-lag is the time required for the consequences to become painful enough to finally motivate the electorate to become more interested.

    The issue (above) of campaign finance would largely become a moot issue if sufficient Transparency, Accountability, Educations, and Conscience existed. But corruption undermines and destroys all of those to pave the way for self-gain by increasingly immoral methods. The longer corruption is allowed to grow, the more difficult it is to reverse, even when the majority of the electorate want it.

    Those that abuse power are reluctant to relinquish that power, and the electorate realizes (if ever) too late that their disinterest in their own government has allowed it to become perverted and corrupt. Laws are perverted to do the very things they were supposed to prevent (e.g. legal plunder, eminent domain abuse, government FOR-SALE, government controlled by a few that abuse vast wealth to control and influence government, corpocrisy, corporatism, exploitation, broken borders, and general fiscal and moral bankruptcy).

  • “It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.” - Sandra Day O’Connor - 2006
  • “But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man — in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain.” - Frederic Bastiat (1850)
  • Property and Plunder
    Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.
    But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.
    Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.
    When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor. - Frederic Bastiat (1850)
  • And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty;… - Frederic Bastiat (1850)
  • It’s sad that what was so well understood over 157 years ago has been forgotten.

    And now, populations are exploding (world population is growing by 249,000 per day). Those that abuse vast wealth and power to control government for their own nefarious purposes may prove to be very risky. Citizens may not be so apathetic, complacent, disinterested, and docile when they are jobless, homeless, and hungry. It won’t matter that voters have the corrupt government that they deserve.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 28, 2007 1:16 PM
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