My understanding of a democracy is just that, an understanding that is based in fact and is shared by everyone who understands human nature.
I'll tell you what, you help me get the 17th Amendment repealed and I help you set up your *unconstitutional democracy in any state you choose and if it works, then I advocate for your cause without hesitation. But seeing as how Democracy can only last as a form of government until the people discover that they can vote themselves largess from the Public Coffers, I doubt that I will be doing much advocating.
*States are guaranteed a Republican form of Government by the Constitution.
>From Dan Jeffs - April 28, 2002
First, before we discuss democracy any further, please describe exactly how repealing the 17th Amendment (returning to state legislatures choosing U.S. Senators rather than being elected by the people of each state) would restore state's rights.
Not being rigidly against it like you are against democracy, I can see several advantages: Senatorial candidates would not have to campaign for election, at least not much beyond convincing their state legislatures. They would be less influenced by special interests and moneyed interests from outside the state. Hopefully, they would less ambitious for personal power. And they would probably be more responsive to the state legislatures who select them, and who choose whether or not to keep them in office. But even then, you still have the obstacle of the state and national two-party system to deal with, along with the pork needed by Senators to pass out to just enough state legislators' districts to maintain their Senate seats.
Secondly, you want government to be strictly controlled by the Constitution (which is a good thing and I agree with that because the three branches of government have gone way beyond the powers granted to each by the Constitution), but how do you propose to make it happen and enforce it? How to you propose to control each branch of government? Remember, the Constitution allows both houses to make their own rules, which have grown into the monsters of committees, sub-committees, seniority, party factions and inner power structures of every description.
********** >From Carl Black - May 2, 2002
I'm not totally opposed to democracy. It has its place, in a strictly non political social setting. (The same could be said for women ~ just kidding!)
Anyway; (and this is off the top of my head)
The repeal of the 17th Amendment presents the potential of alleviating a plethora of problems we are currently experiencing with our omnipotent, Centralized National Government and the Two Party Oligarchy that controls it, and us.
Campaign Finance Reform.
Senate campaigns currently draw in about 70% of the Party's funds. With the elimination of these "Senate Campaigners" the Parties loose 70% of their funding. Senators will no longer have the ability to hide any bribes that come their way in the guise of campaign contributions. Any Senator caught taking money or any other "incentive" from anyone for any reason would be immediately charged with taking a bribe simply because they would have no other excuse for accepting those funds or incentives. (And no, these funds will not simply transfer to the House Member elections. You'll see why shortly.)
Decentralized Agendas. With Senate Campaigns, came the attendant Press who establish the National Agenda. House campaigners naturally jump upon the coattails of their party's Senate nominee, adopting the press established, Senate approved, agenda as their own.
No more Senate campaigns, no more attendant Press and no more National Agendas. House members will have to rely upon their on wit and the desires of their constituents to get elected and to stay in office. With no Senators campaigning, the people would devote more time and attention to their House Members and to their State's legislator elections. People's attention would naturally migrate to those elections they can effect, namely State and Local elections and away from the Federal Government where their ability to effect policy would be greatly diminished.
Also, the Mass Media can tout any agenda they wish, if it doesn't resonate within state's legislative or the individual districts, it's dead. So for instance, instead of us getting the Media's touted National Health Care System, the people in those states that want, and are willing to pay for, a State Healthcare System can have it, without burdening the rest of us who are responsible enough to take care of ourselves.
Deconstructing the Two Party Oligarchy.
You would think that Party politics is Party politics and under normal circumstances that would hold true, but with the repeal of the 17th, the ability of Party goals carrying across from the House to the Senate would be greatly curtailed due to the fact that the Senate's goals would no longer be the House's or the People's goals. With the Senate under the thumbs of their respective state's legislators, Senate members would no longer be permitted to indulge in unified Party Politics and with all economic incentives (campaign contributions) removed, why would they want to. Legislation that would normally fly through along party lines would dissipate as it should.
Here's another effect; when PAC's, Corporations and other lobbyist realize that their "Contributions" aren't netting them the results they've paid for, they will stop contributing. House members will have to scramble for local campaign financing and start iterating those goals that their constituents demand. With this financial drought will come the collapse of the National Party Structures and a return to local party politics. (I told you that the House campaigners wouldn't get this money.)
Over time, the States will regain their assertiveness via the Senate and start removing from effect those National programs and laws that trample state's authority. All of the reforms that we can only dream of now will become a distinct possibility with State Legislators back in control of the Senate.
As people start to refocus their attentions towards their state's governments and away from the Federal government, the Federal will loose even more power, authority, programs and bureaucracies.
With the breakup of Federal Congressional Powers, those states that want to be socialist, can be socialist (or democracies, same thing) and those people that love socialism can move to those states, leaving the rest of us to our Freedom. States will, once again, become Individual and independent within their own identity.
But most of all, with the repeal of the 17th we will get to see the expression on Hillary's face when the New York State Legislators kick her fat, communist ass out of the Senate.
Well anyway, you get the gist of it.
>From Dan Jeffs - May 5, 2002
Your justification for repealing the 17th Amendment has merit, especially in terms of breaking the grip of centralized government and the two-party system. I also agree with your arguments for campaign finance reform and decentralized agendas. However, I'm not yet convinced that the House would be prevented from carrying a strong national agenda, particularly when all appropriations must begin there. And you would still have to deal with centralized state governments who have drastically usurped the power of local governments.
I think that, in addition to repealing the 17th Amendment, we would need to at least add or replace it with an amendment that would make all state and federal elections nonpartisan to ensure the weakening of national party structures/factions. And, going along with the idea that campaign contributions are bribes, it should make all campaign contributions illegal. Otherwise, the courts would still protect campaign contributions as free speech and state legislators could be influenced to choose the bribable as senators. Plus, you would have the problem of party control of legislatures choosing their party loyalists as senators.
What do you think about having a unicameral Congress? Of course, that could weaken the smaller states, but there has always been a problem with senators from smaller states wielding too much power (like Daschle and others with ADM-ethanol, ranking members, and Byrd's costly public works pork).
What do you think about redefining and reapportioning the states to something like: divided equally among 280 million people (say 10 million each for 28 states), and confirmed or redefined after each census. And, say with one House member per million, that would give us 280 house members and no need for senators at all. Or with two houses, there would be 56 senators.
Regardless, a lot more has to be done to get power back to the states and the people in order to decentralize and get the federal government back under the constraints of the Constitution.
That leaves my remaining question from the last e-mail: How would decentralization be accomplished and enforced when the Constitution specifies that each house (the congressional power clubs) can make their own rules? Article I Section 5? And how do you strictly limit and control the legislative, executive and judicial branches in terms of being constitutional?
Also, what information do you have about intent behind the 17th Amendment, and/or the 16th Amendment?
>From Carl Black - May 6, 2002
Appropriations proposals can originate in either side of Congress but must pass through the House first for legislative approval. As for the House carrying a National Agenda; from time to time I would hope that they could, but it would have to be an agenda that is so compelling as to surmount all of the disadvantages that a divided Congress would pose. Along with coordinating their efforts between 50 states and 435(?) separate districts, gaining the approval of their majority constituents, and their Two Year Term Limits, a National Agenda would be extremely hard to pull off.
Without the well funded Senate Campaigns to carry a unified national agenda and Presidential campaigns that are so disjointed from one state to the next that it can only effect a generalized message, the House members tucked away within their own little isolated districts could never muster the funding or the unity to carry an agenda nation wide.
And those little holes through the wall that separated the House from the Senate, (comities) well, just as soon as the States start demanding legislation in their favor and the House starts loosing legislation to the States, you'll be surprised at just how fast those little holes will plug up (the comities will shut down).
You have to Add an Amendment in order to Repeal an Amendment. The only thing I would add to the Repeal Amendment would be, the Senator must be selected from those people who have held an elected state office. This way we avoid the Senatorial "Buy Ins" which created the majority of the problems to begin with.
The State will always think in terms of self preservation, as do the people.
The objective towards achieving a balance between these two opposing
forces, is to give each of them just enough political power to cancel each
other out. The resulting legislation that does manage to strike an accord
between these two forces will carry a weight and purpose of meaning that
would be of benefit to all.
Carl Black May 6, 2002. (just in case you want to quote me)
Under the 17th Amendment, every day that Congress is in full session, is a National Party Convention Day. Issues that are fomented along ideological (party) lines are legislated into laws that effect the Nation as a whole. With the Repeal of the 17th, we will be reinitializing the, most brilliant, solution to that ages old problem of the people v. the state, the answer to the exact problem we have today.
In essence, with the repeal, we will be diverting politics off of the disastrous dead end tracks of Ideological (Party) Warfare onto the more manageable tracks of the people v. the states. Attentions and allegiances will naturally realign to those that present the best probable outcome for all involved. Ideological (Party) based politics will take a back seat for the new protagonist, the People, unified against their ages old antagonist, the State, as they should. Party Politics, over a short time, will revert to a means of selecting candidates based upon what they can achieve rather than what they believe.
With the Senate back in the hands of the states, the Senators will be carrying the nomenclatures of Democrat and Republican but without the financial incentives associated with Campaigning Party Politics, and the State's ability to yank their ass if they choose to go that route, the Senate will, in short time, loose their ideological (party) stance and identities. (Daschle and Hillary are toast because they could never get past their communist/socialist ideologies.) The House, failing to muster support via their party affiliation through the Senate, will revert to representing their constituents and would care less about ideologies and more about political self preservation.
The people, no longer distracted by Senatorial campaigns and in fear of loosing more power to the states, will refocus their full attentions upon their local and state's governments, creating a backlash effect against the omnipotence that these authorities will now represent. I can only imagine the positive effects that will occur on a local and state level as the people, once again, perceive their local and state's governments as a new threat.
Ideologies in American politics will become virtually extinct as the people will, once again, be forced to address government instead of an opposing party, and ideologies will have little to do with that. In the end, Party nomenclatures will hold little meaning beyond the campaign trail.
As for your proposal; "What do you think about redefining and reapportioning the states to something like: divided equally among 280 million people (say 10 million each for 28 states), and confirmed or redefined after each census. And, say with one House member per million, that would give us 280 house members and no need for senators at all. Or with two houses, there would be 56 senators."
I just went through all of that "deconstructing the centralized government" and here you are proposing it yet again?
You're damned determined to get your democracy aren't you! ;^D
>From Dan Jeffs - May 7, 2002 Mr. Black,
You're improving your case for the repeal of the 17th Amendment with each communication. What concerns me though, is that in exchange for assuming that the Senate would be prevented from carrying on a national (party) agenda, the chamber would likely turn into an open, deal-making "pork market" for the states. And it will take more to convince me that House members would be "tucked away within their own little isolated districts," unable to "muster the funding or the unity to carry on an agenda nation wide." To the contrary, I'm afraid that party and special-interest funding would increase to accomplish just that. Remember, House seats are very incumbent-friendly and dirt cheap compared to Senate races, so the two-year term doesn't mean much.
It's simply hard to imagine the decentralization you hope to achieve when the stakes are so high against it; namely, the trillions of tax dollars Congress has to play with. Neither Senators nor House members will be tucked away in their home states. They will still be sitting high and mighty in Washington with all that cash power.
Again, you make a good case for repealing the 17th Amendment, and it might be a good start, but the 16th Amendment income tax and the national saturation of the entitlement syndrome loom large as obstacles.
By the way, redefining the states is not my idea. It came from a Web site visitor. I just threw it out for a response.
I have nearly finished reading J.L. Talmon's, "The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy." It's a very informative study, but focusing on the French Revolution does not reveal much about understanding the history of democracy, especially when it's thought of in such a contradiction of terms. As I said before, totalitarian is the antithesis of democracy, as is messianic. Even Talmon finds it difficult to reconcile empirical liberal democracy and messianic totalitarian democracy. That seems to be explained by studying the French and his lack of understanding the ancient (first) democracy of Athens. Indeed, he barely touched on Athenian democracy, and the French have never been able to overcome their arrogance long enough to come to terms with themselves about anything -- to the present day.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but did you get some of your impressions about democracy from Chapter Four: Democracy and Dictatorship (a) The Definition of ( Babouvist) Democracy? Human nature notwithstanding, I found it to be little shallow and condescending. Considering the French never knew what it really meant before or after the Revolution, even with Thomas Paine's help and De Tocqueville's study, I'm not surprised.
And yes, I'm determined to work for more democracy. I don't want to leave my family with anything less than the effort... USE BROWSER [ BACK BUTTON ] TO RETURN TO OPINION PAGE....