Patterico's Pontifications

8/16/2010

What Can Be Done About the Increasing Worthlessness of Your Vote?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:02 am

The core ideas for the following essay were conceived by a loyal reader. Like many of you, he feels that he is at a crossroads, and has an agonizing dilemma. If you read this post, I think you will understand.

Please understand: I do not, by writing this essay, advocate violating any law, or engaging in any violent acts. When I say I am not advocating violence, I mean it. I don’t even want you to swat a fly. If you do swat a fly after reading this essay, you have misread the piece.

Over time, a dollar is worth less with every passing decade. The candy bar that cost your grandfather 1 or 2 cents in 1930 costs you 95 cents now. What you may not realize is that your vote is also worth less with each passing decade.

There are at least three factors that have caused this devaluation in your vote.

Protection — The well-documented tools used by incumbents to protect their seats have made it increasingly difficult to vote them out. Gerrymandering creates safe districts where incumbents need not spend as much money as their opponents to protect their interests — and their seats. They use the money and privileges that come with their office to convince dullards to vote for them. In California in particular, the safety of incumbents’ seats has become a joke, that renders efforts to oust them quixotic at best — because of the protection that incumbents have from being voted out of office. In addition, in a presidential election the makeup of blue states and red states means that most votes simply don’t matter. A small handful of undecideds in a small group of swing states decides everything for the rest of us.

Dilution — Over time, as our population increases, your vote becomes worth less and less. This problem is exacerbated by factors such as voter fraud. Oh, I know: the liberals all assure us that there is no such thing. But let’s just take one likely rich vein of illegal votes: votes cast by illegal immigrants. What’s that, you say? Votes cast by illegal immigrants? Yes. Estimates say that there are anywhere from 10 million to 18 million illegal immigrants in the country. This means millions are of voting age. What’s more, many of them are experts at obtaining false documents, allowing them to work, drive, and participate in all other aspects of civic life. Do we really think that none of them vote? None? Let’s go with a conservative estimate of 10,000,000 illegal immigrants. If only one percent of them vote — just one percent! — that’s 100,000 illegal votes. That is voter fraud on a massive scale — certainly enough to tip a close election. This sort of thing dilutes your vote.

Negation — Let’s say that by some miracle, your vote negotiates the minefield of the first two obstacles discussed above. Like a lone sperm cell at the end of its improbable journey, your vote surmounts the obstacles in its way, and ends up having meaning. Let’s say, for example, that you end up successfully passing a law that says your state is finally going to do something about illegal immigration — or that your state is going to preserve the traditional view of marriage. Guess what happens now? That’s right: you may end up finding the results of your vote challenged in court. For example, on gay marriage, the vote of 7 million Americans was overturned by the overreaching of a single federal judge, who misstated the strength of the arguments advanced by the law’s defenders, and who arguably has a stake in the outcome, after hearing a trial where the nominal defendants (the Governor and Attorney General) refused to fulfill their obligation to defend the law. In Arizona, portions of an immigration law were stayed after the Mexican government filed an amicus brief — as if Mexico has more say in how Arizona should handle immigration issues than Arizona.

The increasing devaluation of your vote, due to the above three factors, is a fundamental problem that threatens the very stability of our democracy.

The importance of the purity and sanctity of the vote in American could be analogized to the importance of the liver in the body. Yes, there are impurities in the system, but when you have a meaningful vote (or a working liver), in theory it cleans everything out. When your vote means something, anything can happen in an election.

The compact that holds us all together is the idea that we all have an equal shot to change the system when it fails us. And make no mistake: the system is failing us — and worse, it is failing our children, whose votes will be devalued not only by the above factors, but by the disastrous financial policies that we seem powerless to stop, which will circumscribe our children’s choices and render their votes an ever-increasing nullity.

When we look back at our forebears — those people so enraged by taxation without representation that they threw tea into Boston harbor — how do you think they would feel now? Would they passively accept the increased impotence of our citizenry? Or would they be angrier today than they were back then?

Is it silly to consider this question? After all, their pictures adorn the wall on every second-grade classroom in the country. Yet we seem to proceed on the assumption that the outrages that motivated them to revolution constituted a unique set of circumstances that is unlikely to recur. But is that really true?

Thanks to the above trends, we have less democracy now than we have ever had in this country.

What is to be done about this? It seems that we have two choices. One is to simply continue to take it. And the other is to do something. And if we are to do something, what would that be??

To say the solution lies at the ballot box, given the above trends, and the argument of this essay, seems foolish. Voting for the lesser of two evils is, of course, better than voting for the greater. But is it actually satisfactory?

At what point, in a country founded on the principle that there can be no taxation without representation, do we say enough is enough? At what point do we conclude that we essentially have no representation — that voting is simply a Soviet-bloc style formality, such as we had in Iraq under Saddam, in Cuba under Fidel, or the USSR under Brezhnev?

At what point do we conclude that this exercise in democracy is merely a ceremony without meaning?

And when we get to that point, what do we do?

The one thing I know is: we can’t do anything illegal or violent. Even swatting a fly.

Which leaves us what other option?

Discuss.

137 Responses to “What Can Be Done About the Increasing Worthlessness of Your Vote?”

  1. “When in the course of human events….”

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  2. and why can’t we do anything violent?

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  3. “Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”
    — Robert A. Heinlein
    (1907-1988) American writer

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  4. I agree with comment number one. And I’ll repeat it for clarity’s sake. “When in the course of human events…”

    Understand I am a Christian. I believe the end-times prophecy. That makes me a millinnealist. I am also pre-trib (hesitantly and exceedingly hopefully). Understanding the Tribulation is 100 percent concrete real has a real effect on my perception of current events.

    And why not take the view of the Founders and Framers?

    John Hitchcock (9e8ad9)

  5. We need a biometric rfd national ident card

    Term limits

    the end of entitlements

    with the card I mentioned above – everyone should be able to vote anywhere online and secure

    EricPWJohnson (4380b4)

  6. 99 dependents on your W4.

    Ken Royall (67885e)

  7. Good questions. In other words, how will we know when the great American experiment is about to definitively fail, and in that event what should we do?

    Such things usually happen gradually and by small increments, so it will be hard to tell for sure until it’s too late. One thing I know for sure is that individuals, even in small groups, often possess much more power than they themselves realize. If they really try hard to understand what they can accomplish, and what tools are at their disposal, and if they then put together a detailed and effective plan before plunging ahead, then almost nothing is impossible.

    Andrew (3d8715)

  8. Like I wrote to Cornyn: curtail unions, pensions and entitlement pay. Fix crony politics. Definitely needed are term limits and congressional benefits reform.

    One CEO has tangible experience in exposing corruption and cleaning up the books, both in big oil and in state government. Very few seem up for the task, so I’m going tobet on the reformer.

    This was a great piece stitched together. (And remember: Benishak was leading with just 1 vote… then it was 15.)

    Vermont Neighbor (d51263)

  9. EricPWJohnson, Democrats are indeed proposing a biometric card. However, they say it would be “unlawful for any person, corporation; organization local, state, or federal law enforcement officer; local or state government; or any other entity to require or even ask an individual cardholder to produce their social security card for any purpose other than electronic verification of employment eligibility and verification of identity for Social Security Administration purposes.”

    It would be much better to use RFID technology so that it would be asy to verify citizenship without even asking a person to show anything. But Democras seem to he light years away from that. People like Schumer apparently believe it’s racist to enforce immigration laws. That’s insane, but there you go. Probably some right-wingers would think it’s Orwellian “big government” to do this, and so we have stalemate yet again. It really is nuts, isn’t it?

    Andrew (e9bab2)

  10. term limits
    restrict the judicial branch to prevent judicial negation.
    removal all protections enjoyed by federal house and senate. They must be subject to the laws they write.
    did I mention term limits?

    pitchforkntorches (888cb1)

  11. A constitutional convention. It’s pretty much the last step before revolution, and I expect Congress would either refuse to respond to the call, or try to dictate itself who the delegates would be.

    But it is the last step before giving up on the political process.

    Brett Bellmore (48aeab)

  12. The answer lies in the Declaration of Independence …

    tarpon (541ea9)

  13. Funny nobody mentioned Ayn Rand, who addressed this issue in AS.

    Steve (fccffc)

  14. Become conservative “missionaries” to the south side of Chicago, academia, etc. Change minds en masse. Expose the mechanics of corruption.

    Jim (e1b7fc)

  15. and why can’t we do anything violent?
    Comment by redc1c4 — 8/16/2010

    Because then Pat would be in trouble and you would be David Koresh’d. Still, I had no idea that Judicial Review and the granting of a bunch of people the right to marry would cause y’all to reach for the shotgun….

    The Founders revolted because they couldn’t vote in national elections and elect MP’s. The picked up arms for freedom. What’s redc pickin’ up arms for? Keeping gay dudes from state recognition! Jefferson would be proud

    timb (449046)

  16. Actually the situation was not unlike today, they petitioned the government for redress of greavances
    but King George would not listen, they considered
    themselves British subjects, until they decided
    ‘in the course of human events’

    ian cormac (2e065c)

  17. Here, from the state of MA, the descendants of the original revolutionaries, are filing a waiver to deny our military the right to vote in an election.

    How far we have fallen.

    J (2946f2)

  18. …tools used by incumbents to protect their seats have made it increasingly difficult to vote them out

    It’s no harder to unseat an incumbent than in the past.. if a majority of voters in the district agree with you, the incumbent is out… and if, for whatever their reason, a majority of voters prefers to keep the incumbent, the incumbent stays, just as he should. What’s wrong with that?

    steve (369bc6)

  19. The wrong here is that congress has severely gerrymandered those areas without those same voter’s approval. Does that make sense?

    Dmac (d61c0d)

  20. It’s no harder to unseat an incumbent than in the past.. if a majority of voters in the district agree with you, the incumbent is out… and if, for whatever their reason, a majority of voters prefers to keep the incumbent, the incumbent stays, just as he should. What’s wrong with that?

    Indeed! The fact that I drew the lines so that 85% of people in my district are from my party? Irrelevant, really.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  21. The Founders revolted because they couldn’t vote in national elections and elect MP’s. The picked up arms for freedom. What’s redc pickin’ up arms for? Keeping gay dudes from state recognition! Jefferson would be proud

    You seem to have missed the entire point of the post. Not surprising.

    Gerald A (2b94cf)

  22. All gerrymandering means is that the district is comprised primarily of people who think alike in many ways. Is it great to be one of the minority? No, but if you don’t like living in an area where you’re surrounded by people who like the incumbent (party), move to where you like among those of a like mind.

    As far as drawing the lines, the 85% who are of a particular party like it that way, as that gives them a much higher likelihood of being represented by someone of the same party than if the split was 50-50. Again, not so great for the 15%, but when you’re not in the majority you don’t always get what you want… nor should you.

    steve (369bc6)

  23. Because then Pat would be in trouble and you would be David Koresh’d. Still, I had no idea that Judicial Review and the granting of a bunch of people the right to marry would cause y’all to reach for the shotgun….

    “Y’all”? Who’s that? I don’t think anyone should reach for a shotgun. Heck, I don’t think anyone should swat a fly.

    Maybe I should have included a caveat that makes that clear? (Rolls eyes.)

    Then again, including such caveats doesn’t prevent people from twisting your words, when twisting your words is their goal.

    The Founders revolted because they couldn’t vote in national elections and elect MP’s. The picked up arms for freedom. What’s redc pickin’ up arms for? Keeping gay dudes from state recognition! Jefferson would be proud

    Read the post again. As slowly as you need to, to see it is about more than . . . whatever it was you just said.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  24. All gerrymandering means is that the district is comprised primarily of people who think alike in many ways. Is it great to be one of the minority? No, but if you don’t like living in an area where you’re surrounded by people who like the incumbent (party), move to where you like among those of a like mind.

    I guess you’ve never heard of politicians drawing districts in such a way that your district’s makeup bears little relation to the issue of whom “you’re surrounded by.”

    You might want to read up on that a little more, and then come back.

    Or, if you would now like to claim familiarity with that concept, you might want to grapple with it, rather than treating it as though you had never heard of it.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  25. The United States isn’t a democracy, it is a federal constitutional republic. You know — balance of power, the majority can’t vote away the rights of the minority and all that good stuff.

    Dwatney (16c57c)

  26. The United States isn’t a democracy, it is a federal constitutional republic.

    I thought we were a representative democracy.

    You sure that’s not a false choice?

    Patterico (c218bd)

  27. You also have a ‘Vote’ in how your contribute to the economy.

    That very well may end up as our plan ‘B’.

    Call it ‘Going John Galt’, call it ‘Starving the beast’, what have you.

    But there very well may become a time when this will be our duty.

    At this point in time it is incumbent on everyone to prepare for this eventuality.

    You need to answer the question, how will I survive if I have to drop out of the economy?

    If you own a business, you need to begin saving some of your working capital away for not just a raining day, but a monsoon.

    JG (e2a6a2)

  28. You forgot one. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Wisconsin, Colorado, Washington, Hawaii, Alaska, and the District of Columbia have all requested waivers to the MOVE Act which would
    effectively disenfranchise the men and women serving in our military.

    quasimodo (4af144)

  29. Patterico

    Not a fisking, because a fisking is, well, hostile, but sort of a section by section response.

    And let me start by saying right off the bat that I don’t think we are as far gone as Patterico seems to think. So this is more theoretical to me.

    > If you do swat a fly after reading this essay, you have misread the piece.

    So if one of our readers is found covered in flies, its your fault, right? 😉 that line struck me as kind of ludicrously defensive, that is all.

    On protectionism, it is is bi-partisan, btw. This is because protecting the seniority of a representative is in the best interests of a state, given that then they can bring the bacon back home. Which ironically means that in some respects it is the House that better the interests of the state legislatures than the Senate, these days.

    And I am surprised to see no mention of Citizen’s United there.

    > Like a lone sperm cell

    I find it ironic that this metaphor is found under the heading of “Negation” rather than “Protection.”

    Now to be more serious.

    Also, I am surprised you didn’t mention the other problem which is the bureaucratic state. Much of our government is run by people whom the president is specifically forbidden from firing over politics. Now I know it is rough for people to lose their jobs when the other party gets in power, if you are just a low level worker at the DMV, but on the other end, have you ever dealt with the low level workers at the DMV? I have dealt with four different DMVs in my life and the most charitable description is a malignant lack of concern. But, gee, if your vote might actually put their asses on the street, maybe they would take a more customer friendly attitude. And if you like the local DMV official, wait until government healthcare comes online!

    Also I am surprised that you don’t mention how the endless election challenges, most often coming from the left, also having an impact. Bush v. Gore might be a hot button issue, but when the intent of voters is being determined by panels of three, consisting entirely of democrats, there was at least the appearance of impropriety. And Gore’s claim to want us to just “count the votes” was belied by his fighting to keep military ballots from being counted.

    Personally I favor a bright line rule. if you don’t follow the instructions, tough on you.

    > When we look back at our forebears — those people so enraged by taxation without representation that they threw tea into Boston harbor — how do you think they would feel now? Would they passively accept the increased impotence of our citizenry? Or would they be angrier today than they were back then?

    Let’s be a little more nuanced than that. This trend would infuriate them. But on the other hand they would be appalled by instances where the court DID NOT invalidate the will of the people. Bluntly, Wickard was wrongly decided. There, I said it. And they would be appalled that it took so long for the right to bear arms to be vindicated. and indeed they would be appalled by things the Federal Government does that is specifically authorized in the Constitution by subsequent amendment. Like the 16th.

    And indeed Patterico, you forget that but for a bit of what I call judicial activism your own vote would probably have been diluted even more. I refer to the “one man, one vote” cases. Its exceedingly clear that the 14th Amendment has nothing to do with voting rights. And the 15th, 19th and other voting-related amendments have nothing to do with apportionment. In short I see absolutely no constitutional justification for stating that the districts must be drawn to grant citizens a roughly equal vote. But without those rulings, a person living in a rural farm would often have 8 times the political power of a city dweller. That would be you, Patterico, unless you commute really, really far. So things would be worse on this front, but for what I consider to be activism.

    So citing judicial review is a bit of a double edged sword, there. You can eliminate a lot of that problem by saying that judicial review should be limited to what is actually in the constitution. But that doesn’t solve the Wickard issue or even one man, one vote. And for that matter, large numbers of American people fully supported racial discrimination, but they didn’t get it, after Brown v. Board of Education. In the song “Sweet Home Alabama” they tell us that “in Birmingham they love the governor.” That would be Governer Wallace who demanded “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” But those Alabamians who voted for that, didn’t get it.

    (yes there is a very questionable subtext to that Skynard song, especially if you realize that more than a little of the song is answering Neil Young’s song “Southern Man.” But damn if it doesn’t rock. Wiki has a descent discussion on what the song is about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Home_Alabama#Controversy)

    John Ely wrote a book that might bear on this topic, Patterico, called “Democracy and Distrust.” http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Distrust-Judicial-Harvard-Paperbacks/dp/0674196376

    Now he argues that most of judicial review can be explained by the preservation of democracy. I think he fails in that regard. However, as policy I think he makes a lot of sense. The most important things to protect ARE almost always democracy related. Citizens United stands as a prime example. Freedom of speech is a necessary condition for democracy. You cannot choose your candidates freely if you cannot do so with knowledge. You cannot gain that knowledge without freedom of expression, allowing other people to speak to you. Or to put it more simply, you cannot choose intelligently between two candidates if the incumbent may speak freely, but the opponent may not. So mccain-feingold represents an attempt to suppress speech in an election, which under Ely’s analysis should set off more alarm bells than, say your average obscenity prosecution (with the obvious exception involving Al Greene’s charges in South Carolina—there you might be rationally concerned that this is an effort to remove him from the ticket). And citizens united can be justified on those grounds.

    I myself have long said that the first two amendments are what I refer to as the “rights of rebellion.” No government can legalize rebellion. That’s just unworkable. So the founders did the next best thing. The first amendment gives you the right to air grievances, petition, and to assemble. The 2nd amendment says that this group of peaceably assembled people can be armed. Which, gosh, sure sounds like an army, doesn’t it? Even freedom of religion might have revolutionary origins. There is some evidence that the founders felt that religion was often used as a pretext for attacking political enemies. Like if a guy spoke out against a powerful man, “suddenly” they would discover he was catholic, or protestant, depending on which is officially approved of at the moment, and use that to throw him in jail.

    Which is not me advocating rebellion or violence, but let me say this. I have also long said that the ballot box is meant to be revolution by proxy. Every two years we decide whether to overthrown, peacefully, the House. Every four years we decide whether to overthrow our “king” (president). Within six years we can completely clean out the Congress and the white house. Only our robed masters on the supreme court can resist popular will longer.

    But that proxy will only work if we feel that it actually reflects the values we could establish if we went from ballots to bullets.

    Now, I am not ready to say my vote doesn’t matter. I mean democrats these days seem blissfully unconcerned with voter anger, at least in terms of it stopping them from disastrous policies. But I do believe November actually will make a really big difference. But look, here are your options for affecting change:

    1) Vote with ballots
    2) Vote with your feet. Leave the country, or just leave a less free state for a more free state.
    3) Civil disobedience. So like Dr. King and the Montgomery bus boycott, or like Thoreau, not paying taxes. The thing that marks civil disobedience is that it is the intentional and open violation of the law, peacefully done. of course very often it is done not so openly. At a Tea Party rally, I heard people shout “don’t forget to underpay your taxes this year.” I doubt anyone cheering that notion planned to admit to doing that openly.
    4) Rebellion.

    I don’t think there is a fifth option, but I would love to hear it.

    Now under number 1, by the way, is one option we might consider, which is available under Article V: a new constitutional convention. And yes, properly rewriting the constitution might actually address much of this.

    By the way suppose you get to the law breaking stage. So how do you choose? 3 or 4? Well, I think actually Dr. King has a pretty sensible approach: “if your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi. But if you enemy has no conscience, like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer.” Deitrich Bonhoeffer is a WWII pastor who tried to murder Hitler. I would say that if your opponent is persuadable (a slightly broader term than “has a conscience”) then follow Ghadi, etc. but I think Dr. King was basically getting at the right idea.

    Which as I said is right now a theoretical discussion with me. I am not as pessimistic as Patterico is about the value of the vote. But on the other end, I absolutely will not deny my or anyone else’s god given right of rebellion, for a sufficient cause. And that is the complicated rub. Like some might say, “how can you support the founders and not the Confederates?” Um, because the Founders fought for freedom and the Confederates fought to preserve slavery. I know, I know, some people claim it was about states rights, but the Confederates themselves didn’t believe in states rights; they supported every state right and federal power that supported slavery, even based on idiotic readings of the constitution.

    So I am not advocating rebellion or even civil disobedience because we just aren’t there yet. But bluntly, if we should ever get there, I won’t deny the correctness of invoking that right.

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (e7d72e)

  30. No, but if you don’t like living in an area where you’re surrounded by people who like the incumbent (party), move to where you like among those of a like mind.

    Ah – so if I understand your point correctly, if you don’t like your neighbor’s political viewpoints, you should immediately uproot your life and move your children to different schools (no matter if they’re worse than the ones they currently attend), make the choice to have a much longer commute to your job, sacrifice what limited time you have currently to spend with your family, etc.

    You sir, are an unmitigated idiot. Please don’t vote in the future, we don’t allow plankton to express their limited thoughts in the public marketplace.

    Dmac (d61c0d)

  31. “When we look back at our forebears — those people so enraged by taxation without representation that they threw tea into Boston harbor — how do you think they would feel now? ”

    Our Founders, if around today, were forward-thinking enough to realize the power of social pressure. Our Founders would likely state that we aren’t using all the tools in the toolshed.

    And on the case of Gay Marriage and the overthrow of Prop 8, we still have tools available to us. Especially in an economy like this one.

    Brad S (9f6740)

  32. When people would rather believe a convenient lie than know the truth you have a problem. When people would rather rule by lies and manipulation you have a problem. When you have both you have a problem squared. When the major forms of public information propogate and defend such lies…

    We need a few people ruthless for the truth no matter what the personal consequences and who can withstand character assassination to stand up and say so, especially in such areas as how voter fraud has been accomplished, and convincing revelations of how self-centered many are who are invested in the maintenance of the underclass.

    Certainly every effort should be made without violence, although at times peaceful civil disobedience may be necessary (is that “legal” and “OK” to encourage?, which I am not).

    I don’t know how to best overcome the media problem. I’ve thought that perhaps if great material was on the web that could be printed out by individuals by the tens and 100’s and passed out to others it would be a way to multiply attention- essentially the newsboy of past shouting, “Extra! Extra, read all about it”! Such information would have to be scrupulously true, fair, and honest, not reaching but stay to the clearly demonstrable so confidence would be 100%.

    People in such positions largely will not be able to get there by their own intent, as much as life will have put people in such positions to have an opportunity. Colin Powell was in such a position, and we know what he did with it. Petraeus is in such a position now, and will be unless Afghanistan becomes unpopular or defeat occurs, and either way it is pinned on him successfully.

    Palin was (is?) the kind of person, but the media assault has taken its toll (whether or not there were issues that made their job easier). Brewer is that kind of person if she can withstand the flack if she pushes the issue. IMHO. Congressman Ryan from Wis. could do great things if he can get an audience and avoid character assassination.

    Historically, some see Divine intervention as required, whether there is a “successful” response or not. (Jonah vs. Jeremiah) Much more recently is the question as to what role the “Great Awakening” had on the colonies in making the move for independence possible in 1776. I would agree with this.

    MD in Philly (ff9465)

  33. drawing districts in such a way that your district’s makeup bears little relation to the issue of whom “you’re surrounded by

    Yeah, I know there are some districts that have a shape not taught in geometry class. The question is: do voters have more in common with people of the same party who live thirty miles away or with their immediate neighbors with whom they share nothing but a zip code? If the former, good for gerrymandering.

    I for one like being in a majority-GOP district, although it may not matter in the big picture, I like not really having to worry about my neighbors decide we should be represented by a Chris Van Hollen (which is why we live in VA and not across the river in much more liberal Montgomery County).

    Look at the numbers: take two districts, each with a half a million voters, both gerrymandered so that one is 85-15 GOP, the other 85-15 Democrat, and compared to two districts split 50-50. In the former, 850,000 voters will have someone of their party representing them and only 150,000 are subject to being ruled by the opposition. In the latter, depending on voter turnout and a handful of crossover votes, as many as 499,900 people can get stuck with the ‘wrong’ representative. That’s something we should strive for?

    steve (369bc6)

  34. The one thing I know is: we can’t do anything illegal or violent.

    It’s not necessary to do anything illegal or violent. The Soviet Union collapsed from within when its own people stopped believing in it. The same is true for any country.

    If enough Americans come to view the US government as an illegitimate institution, it will not survive. It depends on widespread voluntary cooperation. It depends on the fiction that it has widespread popular support and consent for its actions.

    Subotai (ffb62d)

  35. All gerrymandering means is that the district is comprised primarily of people who think alike in many ways.

    That is incorrect. The party that got to draw the districts draws one set of districts where their party will typically win by something like that 55-45 percent. The OTHER party’s majority districts will be something like 75-25 or even more unbalanced if possible. You fail to grasp the whole point of gerrymandering.

    Gerald A (2b94cf)

  36. Dr. King has a pretty sensible approach: “if your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi. But if you enemy has no conscience, like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer.”

    Never heard that succinct expression of the issue. It’s in quotes, is that a documented quote from King?

    Skynard / Neil Young – I was surprised and didn’t know quite what to think when they toured together, at least once back in the 70’s.

    MD in Philly (ff9465)

  37. Look at the numbers: take two districts, each with a half a million voters, both gerrymandered so that one is 85-15 GOP, the other 85-15 Democrat

    Again that’s not how it works. See #35.

    Gerald A (2b94cf)

  38. Patterico – That is just par for the course. If it did not have the voices in its head, and its caricatures of conservatives to unleash its hatey hateful vitriol on, it would have nothing.

    JD (c33623)

  39. We need to start taking away voting rights. Only people paying net federal income taxes should be allowed to vote. Women should not be allowed to vote. They are far too emotional/irrational and tend to vote for candidates that provide them with “security” (read: democrats).

    Chris (08fab1)

  40. Chris – That seems … silly.

    JD (c33623)

  41. MD

    Sourcing on the King quote. Here ya go: http://www.beliefnet.com/News/2003/01/What-Would-King-Have-Said-About-Saddam.aspx

    As for sknyard/young, I guess it goes to show you that it was more of a friendly disagreement than like a flame war.

    Timb

    > The Founders revolted because they couldn’t vote in national elections and elect MP’s. The picked up arms for freedom. What’s redc pickin’ up arms for? Keeping gay dudes from state recognition! Jefferson would be proud

    That would be timb missing concept of principles. The tea tax wasn’t very high, and the founders didn’t object to being taxed per se. what was the slogan? It wasn’t “no taxation.” It was “no taxation without representation.” Even if the spark is gay marriage, the slogan isn’t “no gay marriage.” Its “no gay marriage without representation”—that is, if gay marriage is to become the law of the land it must be by consent and not judicial fiat.

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (e7d72e)

  42. The problem with term limits is that government is now run by staff members and not by the elected members. Term limits just adds to the power of the staff. A more effective measure might be to limit Congressional staffs (and state legislatures, as well) to the staff numbers they had in 1980, for example.

    A big problem that I encountered in local politics when I got involved was apathy. There is about a 10%, at most, fraction of the population that is really interested in how they are governed. At the local level, this usually concerns matters such as trash pickup and street maintenance. In some districts, crime may be a significant issue. My sister lives in Beverly, one of the few nice neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago anymore. She has a hollow tree in the parkway (City property) in front of her house that is in danger of falling and damaging her house or car. Her neighbor a few doors down has one, as well. They have tried for two years to interest the city. Their streets have pot holes, which if not filled, rapidly deteriorate the streets.

    She and her neighbor are convinced that, if their skin tone was brown, they would get some response from the local alderwoman who has been in office 20 years. Moving is not a very practical option but it is becoming a concern.

    In areas where the odds are not so stacked against them, getting involved in politics is an increasing phenomenon, as is seen in the tea partiers. That is really what they are about, not anger and demonstrating. Chicago will slowly turn into Detroit but cities with some chance of honest governance will start to see active involvement by citizens.

    The only way to avoid corruption, even at the local level, is to get involved. Not everybody has the time or money to run for office but there are plenty of local committees that require very little money although they do take time. You have to learn how the system works.

    Why is running for office so expensive ? Well, there are printing costs and polls and organizational expenses like phone banks to get out the vote. The principle cost, though, is TV. In big states like California, the cost is prohibitive; millions. How do you deal with that ? TV stations and radio stations are obliged to make some time available at no cost for worthy causes. These are called “public service announcements.” Why cannot these be devoted to election campaigns ? I am all for private property but the TV stations make a fortune on political advertising.

    Cable stations, of course, are not subject to these rules (Something unknown to some left wing law professors) and the internet has changed things as some political ads got “viral.” Still, the mechanics of running political campaigns are something that more people should make an effort to learn.

    Mike K (d6b02c)

  43. I think we need to take over the institutions of culture. The blogosphere and radio are the drivers IMHO of the nascent rebellion against Big Government. We have to bring that to fiction, movies, TV, too.

    Patricia (358f54)

  44. Which leaves us what other option?

    Departure. I’m looking at retirement in peaceful, largely-English-language-friendly areas.

    But I disagree, at least in theory, that secession or even fighting back are NEVER options. As your first commenter noted. Stopping tyranny is the principal purpose of the Second Amendment, as much as I hate to say it (Sharon Angle).

    Mitch (e40959)

  45. Patterico, there is a fourth axis: obsolescence.

    As more and more power and decisions devolve onto boards and commission populated by nominee appointments and ex-officio members (AQMD, MTA, Coastal Commission, etc) the vote becomes obsolete.

    Europe has gone much further, of course, with all real power moving to a interlocking clique of mutual appointments, but if Obama has his way this will extend here. Consider the Obamacare commission whose decisions are immune to overrule.

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  46. timmah and Dwatney stepped on the same rake!

    Icy Texan (b2a478)

  47. There’s another applicable phrase from ‘The Declaration’ – “… deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

    The revolution began when those founders withdrew their consent. I don’t think we’ve reached that point – yet – but the triumverate of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are pushing more and more people towards it. (Reread the Declaration – notice the itemized complaints – anything there ring a contemporary bell? Consider especially nbrs. 1-3, 7, 10, 13, & 28)

    Folks, remember where the term ‘gerrymander’ originated. It’s not something new to American politics.

    Robert N. (41e487)

  48. Chris raised one interesting point about net federal raxes being tied to voting rights

    To recognise heavy taxpayers (six figures and up) I think that we should raise the limit for personal donations to 50,000.00

    I think also that individuals must be held to this limit in their runs for office – no more mega millionaires loaning their campaigns cash.

    I also really want the chip and bio id card for passport, for voting for citzenship verification. THis card must be shown for all transactions including cash.

    I’m also for a phase out of entitlements replaced with a limited pool generated by a no more than 5% vat tax constitutionally mandated and set

    That the Health care and social security be replaced ad those taxes eliminated.

    We should also limit the federal income taxes to 20% and 5% of the federal collections should be to retire the debt

    Also take away the power unless there is a 3/4ths vote of congress and the state houses to issue debt of any kind (for war)

    Also 10 year terms for Federal Judges with congressional approval which can be reappointed by the president without congressional input for one extention of 5 years.

    The Supreme Court should have minimum standards of previous service as a Federal Judge or State Supreme Court Judge be no older than 60 and limited to 12 year terms no extension

    EricPWJohnson (8a4ca7)

  49. I would recommend as a start that we not elect Jew-hating Harvard trash.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  50. I’m not surprised EPWJ agrees with me, since we are both shills for the left, implausibly masquerading as reasonable concerned folks.

    Speaking for Chris Hooten (b54cdc)

  51. You’ll have to forgive Chris, JD. It’s that time of the . . .

    Icy Texan (b2a478)

  52. Not you chris, another chris in comment 39, sorry for the confusion

    EricPWJohnson (8a4ca7)

  53. Between their two good friends, Jim Crow and Tammany Hall, the Democrats rigged every national election in this country for a long, long time.

    In northern cities Democrats won elections the same way they do now, namely by giving people taxpayer money in exchange for votes.

    In the south things worked a little bit differently, of course.

    In the 1936 presidential election Roosevelt won an amazing 99% of the vote (kinda like Saddam Hussein used to do) in South Carolina and only 116,000 people were even allowed to vote out of a total population of almost 2,000,000. All that’s because elections in that neck of the woods were totally fixed.

    And, in the 19th Century, when the Democrats were establishing their system, it was even worse. Wiki sums up the “voting system” in America at that time…

    ‘The Klan attacked black members of the Loyal Leagues and intimidated southern Republicans and Freedmen’s Bureau workers. When they killed black political leaders, they also took heads of families, along with the leaders of churches and community groups, because people had many roles. Agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau reported weekly assaults and murders of blacks.’

    “Armed guerilla warfare killed thousands of Negroes; political riots were staged; their causes or occasions were always obscure, their results always certain: ten to one hundred times as many Negroes were killed as whites.”

    ‘Masked men shot into houses and burned them, sometimes with the occupants still inside. They drove successful black farmers off their land. “Generally, it can be reported that in North and South Carolina, in 18 months ending in June 1867, there were 197 murders and 548 cases of aggravated assault.”[31]’

    ‘Klan violence worked to suppress black voting. More than 2,000 persons were killed, wounded and otherwise injured in Louisiana within a few weeks prior to the Presidential election of November 1868. Although St. Landry Parish had a registered Republican majority of 1,071, after the murders, no Republicans voted in the fall elections. White Democrats cast the full vote of the parish for Grant’s opponent. The KKK killed and wounded more than 200 black Republicans, hunting and chasing them through the woods. Thirteen captives were taken from jail and shot; a half-buried pile of 25 bodies was found in the woods. The KKK made people vote Democratic and gave them certificates of the fact.[32]’

    ‘In the April 1868 Georgia gubernatorial election, Columbia County cast 1,222 votes for Republican Rufus Bullock. By the November presidential election, however, Klan intimidation led to suppression of the Republican vote and only one person voted for Ulysses S. Grant.[33]’

    ‘Klansmen killed more than 150 African Americans in a county in Florida, and hundreds more in other counties. Freedmen’s Bureau records provided a detailed recounting of beatings and murders of freedmen and their white allies by Klansmen.[34]’

    People might have forgotten about it…but a goodly part of this country lived under governments that were flat-out fascist, for a long, long time, and voting was essentially meaningless.

    I don’t think I’m buying into the idea that my vote counts for less than it used to. At least nowadays you can vote Republican without fear of being killed by mobs of Democrats, and if a Republican wins a presidential election the Democrats don’t turn traitor en masse and revolt against the government. As for simple corruption, the Democrats are no more corrupt now than they were in the days of Boss Tweed.

    Dave Surls (d3e3f1)

  54. The Supreme Court should have minimum standards of previous service
    — Really? What other elected or appointed federal positions should have a ‘minimum standard of previous experience’, EPWJ? Yes, many of us chided Kagan over her lack of experience, but to suggest amending the Constitution to put in specific requirements for the position?

    Icy Texan (b2a478)

  55. That isn’t Another Chris. He posts as “Another Chris”. That was “Chris”.

    Icy Texan (b2a478)

  56. ICy,

    Well there is one for President and for the Senate and for the house – you have to be a certain age – but the Supreme Court is – for a better term – a technical position as is implied in the title

    EricPWJohnson (8a4ca7)

  57. Okay it wasnt Chris Hooten, or another chris, it was just chris…. no wait – it was just plain chris…. no I mean it was chris, not another chris, not Hooten’s Chris or just chris

    EricPWJohnson (8a4ca7)

  58. There is yet another aspect to the question of making one’s vote worthless. The actual act of voting is sort of at risk.

    We in Washington State have gone to an all mail-in ballot. It felt so much better when we could go to our polling places. At least then we could be semi-sure that our votes were counted.

    And that is really the only official power of the people–the power to vote in our representatives. I hate to see it deleted or corrupted, as was the case in our gubernatorial election a while ago. Rossi won and a recount was demanded. Rossi won again by a few hundred votes I think, and another recount was demanded. Then Gregoire won (because of newly-discovered ballots that had been in somebody’s trunk or something–I forget what it was) by about 100 votes. And she said something like–the people have spoken. She’s now our governor.

    But anyway, I don’t trust the all mail-in ballots system.

    Washingtonian (7834c5)

  59. My thoughts on how to “solve” the problem in each area:

    Protection — One of the chief contributors to protection is actually your second listed problem — dilution — as voters become more removed from the candidates they vote for, the less likely they are to vote. The larger the constituent population, the less personal the representation and the easier it is for a candidate to claim they did things that they didn’t or to mobilize only key populations in order to win an election.

    The primary solution to this to decrease the size of constituencies by increasing the number of politicians in office — say in the House of Representatives. Some think that term limits are the solution, but all they do is shift power from the “protected” politician to the even more protected permanent bureaucracy. This makes the problem even worse than ever. If you want an example of what term limits do, look at California. Our term limits encouraged devout party loyalty that structured super-gerrymandered districts that benefited party long after the career of a politician was over. That politician then moved over to a lobbying or bureaucratic position.

    Small bodies of politicians need larger bureaucracies to support their “research and oversight” obligations. A larger body can assume duties currently dedicated to permanent bureaucrats. Increase the size of the House and decrease the size of support staff. Additionally, smaller districts will moderate the “bring home the bacon” voter incentive that candidates use to secure their seats. If the districts have a small enough population, then politicians cannot brag about bringing “millions/billions” home with them and the projects desired in Congressional districts will be small. If congressional districts are smaller in population than local governments, then people will look to the “larger” institution for “gimmes” and this would localize those issues. This mitigation is particularly true if it is House districts that are small as the House controls the purse strings of government. With districts containing 1 million constituents (700k for the technically minded), a politician can “justify” big expenditures. For a district with 50k, it would be more difficult.

    Expand the House and shrink the bureaucracy. You make the position more intimate, and you force greater competition for limited resources. Larger bodies also act more slowly. All of these things are good.

    Dilution — Smaller districts by its very nature decreases dilution of the power of the voter voting for a candidate. Dilution of power in the House, from the smaller districts, is a good thing. Concentration of power of political office, maintained through diluted votes is bad. Dilution of political power while increasing the power of the individual vote for the representative is a good thing.

    What matters is where the dilution takes place. Do you want to dilute the power of the politician or of the voter? You want to dilute the power of the politician by increasing competition for resources, this is done by increasing the body politic.

    Negation — Impeachment. People overly think of impeachment as a “legal” issue or tool. It isn’t. It is a political tool. The legal standard that impeachments must meet is that legislators must vote for the person’s removal from office. The underlying reason could be anything.

    If you want, you could try to expand impeachment from the body politic to the people through referendum and allow those in a Judicial District to remove a judge from office — with say a 2/3 supermajority — but that would be messy.

    The worst possible reforms under consideration in America today are — not necessarily in order:

    Term Limits — so wrong minded as to be beyond the pale. The damage this does to political efficacy is nigh irreversible. So long as we have a permanent bureaucracy, this is the worst idea ever. Marx would love it. Woodrow Wilson would love it. Hegel would love it. It takes power from the political and puts it into the “expert.”

    Same Day Voter Registration — Voter fraud anyone?

    “Majority” Presidential Elections — Unless you want the flyover states to be screwed even more than they currently are, this is a big no. It dilutes the individual votes of all people and destroys the sovereignty of smaller states.

    Anything advocated by SEIU — which includes Term Limits. http://www.seiu221.org/It_s_Time_for_Term_Limits__.aspx

    Christian (0c55b5)

  60. One thing that would have a direct impact on the dilution problem: Amend the constitution so that congressional districts are apportioned on the basis of the number of citizens within the district, rather than the number of people. There is a large disparity in the number of congressional seats per citizen in the average Democrat district compared to Republican. Of course this could never get passed for that very reason. There would also be the practical problem of how to determine the number of citizens.

    Gerald A (2b94cf)

  61. I’m not the “loyal reader” who raised this topic but it’s on my mind because my frustration level with where America is headed is very high.

    I notice some responses (from older commenters in particular) who indicate they will move to other areas, retire, or find other ways to leave. I suspect younger people would be more willing to adapt as society changes but, if not, I wonder if we will hear more talk about secession? I don’t hear people talking about it in my state, Texas, but I have a feeling some would consider it.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  62. I think that ‘harassment’ is part of the answer.

    ‘Harassment’ is a legal term, so let me specify that no laws will be broken and that all such methods must remain legal. Call it ‘tactics of annoyance’ if you like.

    First, get a group together. Clean up your lives. Assume that you will be arrested and your house searched by the police in order to look for something to pin on you; and that all paperwork on you will be illegally scrutinized (see Joe the Plumber).

    When that’s done, pick your target. Follow them like a private detective. Take pictures and digital video at all times. Start a website on them. Publish in a convenient location the address of their home(s) and their phone numbers as you discover them. Track their movements; find out who their friends are and where they go stay. Publish it.

    Check the laws on picketing someone’s house in that area. Can you do it at night? Do you have to be on the street or on the sidewalk? Check the noise and nuisance ordinances. Get a PA system and tune it underneath the legal noise level and aim it at their house when you know they are there. Have big friendly signs with your complaint. Request their resignation. Have a rotating crew.

    If and when you are arrested, sue early and often (being sure that you are legally in the right). Make it cost the police department, and thus the state, to protect the malfeasor.

    In its way, it is the Rules for Radicals program. But a more cell-based structure is needed.

    luagha (5cbe06)

  63. tangential to the topic, but three perspectives that say one way or the other, there needs to be standing to appeal.

    http://volokh.com/2010/08/16/more-on-standing-to-defend-prop-8/

    http://www.dorfonlaw.org/2010/08/ballot-initiative-sponsor-standing.html

    http://www.slate.com/id/2263943/

    http://writ.news.findlaw.com/amar/20100813.html

    i think dorf and the VC get the issue better than most.

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (e7d72e)

  64. Washingtonian, meet ChrisHootenian.

    You seem to be laboring under the same misread of the subject matter:
    This post is about your vote not counting for much when it comes to the will of the people;
    it’s NOT about your vote not being counted in the first place. Your tin-foil hat will be fitted for you momentarily.

    Icy Texan (b2a478)

  65. ==42.The problem with term limits is that government is now run by staff members and not by the elected members. Term limits just adds to the power of the staff.==

    I would also posit that congressional staff members need a minimum age and experience level. (Like maybe having had a 30th birthday and a bit of non-academic exposure to life before they are allowed to start making national policy.) And, of course, in the interest of meaningful elections I don’t think juice box journalists should be pontificating to us from the pages of the WAPO either.

    elissa (2a48e5)

  66. John Galt. General strike by the productive types.

    Frank Drebbin (8096f2)

  67. Frank

    when i suggested going john galt, someone said to me, “Surely you can’t be serious.”

    I replied, “I am serious. and don’t call me Shirley.”

    (sorry, its your nick. i couldn’t resist.)

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (e7d72e)

  68. Our votes are increasingly worthless because the general public values them less.

    If people cared something would be done. Most people do not care. Where is the outrage?

    Some people decided that voting is not a good way of making decisions because the vote could go against them. So they dilute the vote by various means. Then other people see that their vote is not counted properly, so they lose confidence in the electoral system. The momentum is all the wrong way.

    The issue is not determined about the technicalities you cite. It is determined by the general public no longer believing in the electoral system.

    Amphipolis (e01538)

  69. First, States’ Rights, then Constitutional Convention, then I’m going to go with “When in the course of human events….” If the states are prevented from taking the powers granted them back from the Federal government, if the Constitutional Convention cannot be properly, legally enacted for change, then the Federal government has surpassed the bounds of the Constitution and become what we declared our independence from. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

    Kat (637090)

  70. Patterico

    Teacher’s unions are mad and want to boycott… the LA Times.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2010/08/16/teachers-union-calls-for-boycott-of-la-times-for-publishing-test-score-analysis/

    That is right, its the teacher’s unions v. the LA Times. remember that kissinger quote about the iran/iraq war? something to the effect that “i wish somehow both could lose.”

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (e7d72e)

  71. Comment by Dave Surls

    Thanks for that perspective. Sometimes it is amazing to think the nation has survived some of the insults it has. Not to say there is no reason to fear for the current time, but it does bring some perspective.

    I agree with making impeachment more of a possibility. Along that line, I’ve written before that I think all fed officials have a built-in “probationary period” and need to pass a vote of confidence, say 1/4th into their term (perhaps of only a portion of the electorate). That would work against people campaigning one thing, doing something else once in office, and then spending the last 6-12 months covering their tracks.

    I agree that term limits have a good goal, but I’m not sure they would have a positive effect for reasons given above.

    In some ways I think it would be good to make it harder to vote, but it would never go anywhere and I don’t know how you would make the qualifications.

    Maybe some people, such as military, should get more than one vote. Those who are most personally invested do deserve a bigger say.

    MD in Philly (ff9465)

  72. If you think it is bad now, a Constitutional Convention would be many many many many many many many many times worse.

    JD (3dc31c)

  73. Didn’t Franklin, Deist as he was, ask they take a break and pray when things got heated and stuck? Wouldn’t be allowed today, I imagine, but then again, that wouldn’t necessarily stop someone from doing it.

    MD in Philly (ff9465)

  74. One large difference between the fight for Independence and now; the Information war for the hearts and minds of the colonists was more even.

    Until recently (and look at how as it’s power has grown and it’s threat becomes larger the powers that be have focused more and more on limiting the Internet) the Information flow was more tightly controlled by the Elites/those in power.

    Now with the coming of the Age of the Internet and instant communication and electronic communities and interactions, the Information War has started to become more even. Thus as more and more people become more clearly and truthfully informed about what our Government’s priorities are and how they go about deceiving us about how it is misusing the finances of the People, the People are becoming more and more angry. People are taking the fight to the ruling class via the
    Tea Parties and are taking to the e-streets of the Information Highway via the Internet to counteract the theft of our freedom and liberty because they have now been shown the depth of degradation and the degree of lies that the Congress and the President will stoop to to perpetrate a fraud on and a theft from the American People.

    I will not give up hope unless the 2010 elections fail to bring about a change in the Congress. If that succeeds, the next test will be to force the Republicans to do what is necessary to rein in our runaway Government. If that fails then we still have 2012 which, in my opinion, if all else fails and 2012 STILL does not bring about fundamental change in D.C. then and only then will I abandon hope and prepare for WAR. For surely by then if we have failed the Government will have recognized who and what are it’s threats and IT will go to WAR against US.

    jakee308 (e1996a)

  75. jake – Simply a change of parties will not accomplish much. Unless Team R changes as well, we are heading to the same place, only slower.

    JD (3dc31c)

  76. “Thanks for that perspective.”

    You’re welcome.

    We have problems with our election system today…but, it was worse in the old days.

    A lot worse.

    Dave Surls (a42ec5)

  77. JD

    I think two years of obama have shown beyond any reasonable doubt that it really does matter which party is in power.

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (e7d72e)

  78. A.W. – I know, but if Team R is just Dem-lite, or Dem-cheaper, ie. they do not make a fundamental change the likes of which that Ryan and Daniels have outlined, then we will arrive at the same destination, it will just take longer to get there.

    JD (3dc31c)

  79. @Icy Texan — I am not Chris Hooten. Patterico knows who I am. I’ll let him decide if my comments regarding expanding the size of the Legislature — which increases responsiveness of individual legislators to constituents — is on point or not. I believe it is.

    If you want the will of the people to matter more, you need to increase responsiveness.

    Term Limits do not do that. They decrease responsiveness by passing power onto permanent institutions in the bureaucracy.

    Patterico seems to be looking for an answer that is something more than “go out and vote this November” because things like Prop 8 demonstrate that even if you win you might have your victory taken from you by those who “know better.”

    I was providing some thoughts on things that I thought might help. I think a lot of problems could be solved through increasing the size of the House and decreasing the permanent bureaucracy. Smaller constituencies do allow for greater constituent services to be done directly from the legislator’s office instead of by some bureaucratic office filled with “experts.”

    I am sorry that there are so many Chris-es here that you can’t keep track of us, but try to pay attention some time. You’ll notice that I post from time to time — and that I am a big fan of the American founders (in particular Hamilton) and of Clarence Thomas.

    So stop looking for Trolls everywhere. They tend to live under bridges, or in bridges in newer Tinkerbell animated movies, or are pretty blatant in their behavior.

    Christian (0c55b5)

  80. I think that Team R and Team D are just two faces of Team WeWonULost. :(

    We need to get rid of Teams, but that’s a different rant.

    Those of you who think that biometric ID — or any form of perfect ID — will solve a social problem badly need to read John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider, a science fiction novel from 1975 about a society wherein such perfect ID exists … and the problems it causes, for both individuals and their governments.

    htom (412a17)

  81. Those of you who think that biometric ID — or any form of perfect ID — will solve a social problem badly need to read John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider, a science fiction novel from 1975

    Yes, when I want an intelligent evaluation of the pros and cons of biometric ID, the first thing I think is, “What did the 1970’s sci-fi writers have to say about this?”.

    Not for the first time, I’m amazed at the extent to which libertarians get their views of the world from reading crappy novels.

    Subotai (ffb62d)

  82. If your proposed solution does not successfully deal with the problems posed in a crappy 1970s sci-fi novel, it has already failed. Implementing it will just make it fail worse.

    We already have too many ‘solutions’ that fail and get answered with ‘but you didn’t do it right, try harder.’

    luagha (5cbe06)

  83. okay more questionable sources from A-dog tonight. 9th circuit might have granted an appeal. according to a commenter at Volokh.

    http://volokh.com/2010/08/16/more-thoughts-on-the-prop-8-stay-motion-before-the-ninth-circuit-and-if-necessary-the-supreme-court/#comment-911626

    if he is full of it, he is putting alot of effort into it.

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (f97997)

  84. sorry, granted a STAY pending appeal. my bad.

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (f97997)

  85. score! we have verification!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100816/ap_on_re_us/us_gay_marriage_trial

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (f97997)

  86. My first thought when I read the article above was another article by Jonah Goldberg last October – We Need A Bigger House. The argument made sense, though I’m not quite sure how to cram more desks into that space.

    I’m rather more for it than against it.

    Vivian Louise (c7cad6)

  87. I agree that a nationwide, general strike of everyone fed up with the downward spiral would be invigorating to the participants and a shot across the bow of the embedded elites in government.

    I am sure that the magnitude of the strike would surprise and embolden those anxious for real change in our national trends. For far too long we have let a distinct minority drive the nation in a ratcheting fashion toward a socialist society. We outnumber them. It is time to regain the initiative.

    Heck, if the illegals could drum up hundreds of thousands to march on our streets a few years ago demanding “rights”, we should be able to draw millions to participate in a national strike.

    in_awe (44fed5)

  88. One problem with civil disobedience is that it is to a large extent a last ditch move. With so much being criminalized you end up with a record and lose your right to vote, to hold many government and private jobs, and to own guns. You then are left to struggle to survive with no way to follow another option such as elections or revolution. The founders did not take arms because of any of the grievances mentioned, but because the British moved to disarm them. They recognized that this would leave them only submission or martyrdom as options.

    A problem with striking is that the people who would strike must earn a living while the people they would strike against live off of them. The strikers and their families would suffer first and the parasites in government and the freeloaders they buy to win office would still demand the same blood from the strikers and take it by force. Few today will give up all the security and comforts of society to fight for freedom. The takeover of the education system has made the concept of dying or fighting for freedom or any non hedonistic value seem deviant or insane. I think the larger battle is lost and only a delaying action is possible. The ruling class is too compromised and too entrenched and not enough people care enough to even look, much less act.

    A new Constitution would be written by the vary people raping our current one. We would end up with a living Constitution and a dead Republic. The one we have is one of the great wonders of the world. We need to return to it’s principles and stop letting people rewrite it. I think it too late for this.

    Machinist (497786)

  89. All gerrymandering means is that the district is comprised primarily of people who think alike in many ways.

    That is not really what is going on. The perpetrators of a gerrymander want “their” districts to be about 60-40, so that they will always win AND so that as many opposition votes as possible are wasted in a futile competition.

    They also want “the other side’s” districts to be as close to 100% as possible, so that (again) the opponent’s votes are wasted, this time in redundancy.

    This isn’t always possible. For example, South Central LA contains a number of districts that are almost entirely Democrat-dominated minority districts. As much as possible, adjacent non-minority communities (South Bay, Culver City, etc) are tacked onto 100% Democrat districts to drop it down to, say 70% or so. But some districts remain at 100% or nearly that. But it doesn’t take all that much of this to turn an election that has a 55-45 raw vote into a 65-35 representation swing.

    Which is the whole point.

    Kevin Murphy (73dcc9)

  90. ooops. Didn’t actually know you could do that.

    Kevin Murphy (73dcc9)

  91. Kevin: I voted for Prop. 11 and will vote against its repeal in the fall.

    But one of the things the proponents of Prop. 11 got wrong is their argument that fairly drawn districts will also be balanced districts.

    That just isn’t so: any fairly drawn district including San Francisco will be unbalanced, as will any fairly drawn district including south-central LA.

    “balanced districts” and “fairly drawn” (meaning, conforming to communities of interest and/or geographic boundaries) are goals that are in opposition to one another given the current political distribution of the population.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  92. For people who claim to want the Constitution. you folks sure want to change a hell of a lot of it.

    JEA (618e4f)

  93. Mob Rule!!!!!
    Yay!!!!!
    If our Constitutional, democratic, small-r republican form of government doesn’t work you, get your little heads together and find a way to destroy it. For your common good, of course.
    I mean, you should have gotten your way, right?

    I can’t want to come back here later and see how you react when the extreme-right dominated Supreme Court can’t find an honest way to join you in indulging the ewwwwwww factor over gays doing that nasty thing they do, up the, uh, you know, the back door. Ewwwww.
    They should be shot. Oh, some of them have.
    BTW, isn’t it gay when you do yourself?

    Larry Reilly (a376cc)

  94. “For people who claim to want the Constitution. you folks sure want to change a hell of a lot of it.”

    Not in this case.

    All I want is for judges to stop violating the Tenth Amendmnet. They have no enmurated power to decide whether a law is constitutional or not. Only the states or the people have that power. So, I want that enforced.

    Dave Surls (a42ec5)

  95. I think I meant to say “enumerated”.

    Although, I kind of like the word “enmurated”.

    Don’t know what it means…but, it sounds cool.

    Dave Surls (a42ec5)

  96. Dave – if Congress passes a law prohibiting Jewish worship in the United States, and AG Holder enforces it, does the Supreme Court have the power to say that law is unconstitutional?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  97. I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that yet another point went sailing right past JEA’s head.

    JD (3dc31c)

  98. #97

    Did we delegate the power to decide whether laws are constitutional or not to the federal government?

    Not as far as I can remember.

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Dave Surls (a42ec5)

  99. Amen, Machinist. A constitutional convention would be the death knell of this great little experiment.

    JD (3dc31c)

  100. A constitutional convention would be the death knell of this great little experiment.

    If true, that doesn’t speak well for this great little experiment, does it?

    Subotai (ffb62d)

  101. “A constitutional convention would be the death knell of this great little experiment.”

    I disagree. I think we ought to have a big powwow every generation or so, all the states should select delegates, go over the whole thing, and spend a few months talking about it; see if there’s anything we need to change, add or get rid of.

    That should be something Congress looks at from time to time (seeing as how that’s part of their job per Article V), but, obviously, all their time is taken up by finding new ways to steal from the taxpayers, so the convention method is more practical.

    Dave Surls (a42ec5)

  102. A constitutional convention will not end well.

    JD (3dc31c)

  103. JD: Do you think things will end well if we continue on our present course? We have become an administrative state where almost all of the onerous regulations we enconter that strangle us in everyday life were created by non-elected, non-accountable bureaucrats. The Congressthieves are too busy stealing our money to be bothered with creating actual comprehensible legislation and can’t even point to a section in the Constitution that authorizes any legislation the lobbyists have put before them. Not sure a Constitutional Convention can make it much worse, but that presupposes that citizens are involved in the process.

    If your vote really counted, they wouldn’t let you vote!

    Hrothgar (55d26d)

  104. Several commenters have suggested constitutional amendments/constitutional convention. First of all, a constitutional convention would be very dangerous because it would reopen all kinds of issues, and could not be confined to a single discrete set of issues. Therefore, the best use of a constitutional convention would be as a THREAT, i.e. using it as leverage to get something else you want.

    As for seeking constitutional amendments without a convention (and without the threat of a convention), that is STUPID, STUPID, STUPID. Did I mention STUPID. Channeling your energies into the most difficult political task that our political system offers is STUPID if other options exist.

    Such as this one, Patterico:

    http://www.redstate.com/andrewhyman/2010/08/12/ninth-circuit-judge-william-fletcher-conservatives-who-propose-constitutional-amendments-to-deal-with-gay-marriage-and-abortion-are-ignoring-a-much-easier-solution/

    Andrew (f25cc4)

  105. “#101
    If true, that doesn’t speak well for this great little experiment, does it?
    Comment by Subotai — 8/16/2010 @ 7:25 pm”

    I agree, but I still think it’s true. That is part of why I think it’s too late to stop the slide.

    Machinist (497786)

  106. Our problem is not with what the Constitution says but with the violation of it’s letter and spirit by all three branches working together to establish their ruling political class and secure it’s position of power and immunity.

    Why would the political class allow their enemies to have input into a new Constitution? They know better what we need and really want. Who is there today who will improve on Washington and Madison to write a better Constitution? Rangle? Schumer?

    How can people with only the vaguest idea of what the Constitution says and what sets it apart from all those that have sought to copy it, improve on it or judge a new version of it that they are told is better? I include both voters and politicians in this group. The takeover of our schools was a death blow. Too many generations of ignorant, indoctrinated, sheep will vote as they are told by anyone who dangles bauble in front of them. Those who care are outvoted by freeloaders and fraud. Can you imagine Jefferson’s reaction to the idea of a third or half of the population getting money from the government?

    Machinist (497786)

  107. I suppose “No Representation Without Taxation” is a rally cry past its shelf life.

    But it occurs to me there is merit here.

    Pay no local income or property tax: no vote for you in local elections involving income or property tax, issues raising bonded indebtedness, or for officers having power to raise same.

    Pay no state income tax or property tax: no vote for you in state elections involving income or property tax, issues raising bonded indebtedness, or for officers having power to raise same.

    Pay no federal income tax: no vote for you in federal elections.

    Something about this seems right. But I am sure someone will come along to tell me that I am an idiot.

    Cheers to all and thank you Pat for opening the discussion.

    cave16 (4fbede)

  108. Actually, increasing the size of the House and increasing the use of impeachment doesn’t require any changes to the Constitution.

    Thanks for playing Troll.

    Christian (f10530)

  109. Impeachment requires 2/3 of the Senate. That’s easier than a constitutional amendment, but it’s still a very high bar. There are easier options.

    Andrew (b31556)

  110. _____________________________________________

    There are at least three factors that have caused this devaluation in your vote.

    Some of what you describe extends beyond political/ideological boundaries and party affiliation. But a lot of it also can be traced to what I characterize as decades of a certain kind of European-ized, fat-and-happy, faux-do-gooder sophistication spreading throughout America, culminating in the nation’s blue states and their ultra-blue cities. That’s where liberalism is perceived as oh-so-hip, oh-so-big-hearted, oh-so-fun-and-permissive.

    I know of even some conservatives, meaning those who are generally not squishy (or too squishy), who got seduced by the rhetoric of the feel-good, I-feel-your-pain leftism of 2008, or various versions of that in the Clinton era, or an early variation of that going all the way back to FDR. And they’re a part of what this quote refers to:


    Freerepublic.com:

    “The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.”

    “The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.

    The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.”

    Mark (411533)

  111. One solution for gerrymandering might be to place restrictions on the form of districts.

    * No more than 10 sides.
    * No corridors between adjacent sections of a district smaller than 1/3 the maximum size of any portion in the district.
    * No more than two interior angles larger than 180 degrees. (That means pointy intrusions into a district must be limited to two or fewer.)
    * District populations must be within 1% of that of all other districts.

    I suspect that there are other worthwhile restrictions. It’d certainly result in Barney Franks’ district being redrawn, for one example.

    For multiple voting and illegal voting showing ID should be required as should “purple thumbs”. As a nation we should admit we’re not immune to voter fraud and act to mitigate the problem.

    As for negation, if a law is unconstitutional then no level of mere “majority” should override the Constitution. The Constitution itself should then be appropriately changed via the approved formal process. Otherwise we have a Democracy rather than a Republic which includes protections for the rights of minorities. We change that at our own peril as a nation.

    {^_^}

    JD (9ac83d)

  112. Andrew: wouldn’t that simply shift the problem.

    I mean: imagine that federal question jurisdiction regarding whether the equal protection clause prohibits allowing straight marriage while disallowing gay marriage had been stripped from the federal courts and sent instead to the state courts.

    Does anyone seriously think that the California Supreme Court wouldn’t have invalidated Prop. 8 for violating the federal constitution under those circumstances?

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  113. > We need a biometric rfd national ident card

    > Probably some right-wingers would think it’s Orwellian “big government” to do this, and so we have stalemate yet again.

    Oh, by all means, yes, let’s do this. Everyone can be assigned an eighteen-digit number divided into three equal groupings… Then we can make it illegal to buy anything, sell anything, or own anything not associated with your RFID number. Nor can you vote or work at a job without one. That will solve just about ALL these problems.

    Naw, there’s NOTHING even VAGUELY “Orwellian” about that. Not in the least.

    :-S

    As an unintended side-effect, THAT plan ought to do a lot to increase church membership, too…

    :oP

    Geez. Y’know, there’s a REASON that the secret police types and so forth for Nazis and various dictator-types in movies have always been associated with the phrase “Your identity papers, please?” — audiences were supposed to hiss when hearing those words.

    Nowadays, you get abysmal idiots sorry, “geniuses” — who will *vote* for the idea.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (9eeb86)

  114. > All gerrymandering means is that the district is comprised primarily of people who think alike in many ways.

    You want to understand how ludicrous the process is?

    Here:

    The Gerrymandering Game

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (9eeb86)

  115. Aphrael, the people of California are free to amend the state constitution to change the way judges are selected. If the state supreme court insists on disenfranchising the electorate and making public policy decisions that are not remotely dictated by the 14th Amendment, then the California electorate should be free to insist that state judges run for reelection. And even if the people of California shy away from doing that, I’m sure that people in other states would appreciate the opportunity to enhance their own self-government.

    Andrew (d3d4a6)

  116. JD #113 – the corection for gerrymandering is to have each voting district be as compact as possible while containing the appropriat number of voters as close to the desired/average number as practicable …

    The boundaries would probably have to be prevented from crossing a State line … they should probably be prevented from crossing a county line …

    Municipal lines within a voting district (at least for Federal Districts) should be irrelevant …

    And it should probably be drawn up by a computer program, not by some politicised commission …

    Alasdair (205079)

  117. “Then we can make it illegal to buy anything, sell anything, or own anything not associated with your RFID number. Nor can you vote or work at a job without one. That will solve just about ALL these problems.”

    That I would not support. All I meant is the following. When people are out in public, we each disclose LOTS of information: height, weight, hair color, eye color, et cetera. Each of us does that every single day, and we don’t get all paranoid and defensive about it. All I meant to suggest is that one additional bit of information be added to that list: whether or not each of us is in the country legally. That’s all.

    Andrew (5f245b)

  118. btw, ray bradbury is quoted here as calling for revolution. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/herocomplex/2010/08/ray-bradbury-is-sick-of-big-government-our-country-is-in-need-of-a-revolution-.html

    i especially laughed at his clinton comments.

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (e7d72e)

  119. That is part of why I think it’s too late to stop the slide.

    I understand your pessimism, but our nation’s seen worse days – in fact, much worse. Think about the Depression – era years, in which faith in our country was being severely shaken to it’s core, and membership in the Communist Party wasn’t all that unusual. There are many folks who are not about to let that happen again, despite our current leadership’s fondest wishes.

    Dmac (d61c0d)

  120. #121 Dmac,
    But how many people then were dependent on a government check? How many had been brought up to believe they were entitled to a high standard of living that someone else would have to work to support?

    I think the Constitution was still a protection of individual rights then. Now it is considered a tool to deny citizens their rights when they try to reign in over reaching government. How many times in the last twenty years have we seen judges use the Constitution to thwart the will of the people, always leaving us less free and government more powerful and in control. This is not what the Constitution was intended for.

    Machinist (497786)

  121. Our economy is not what is threatening our freedom.

    Machinist (497786)

  122. I am sick and tired of working hard, only to have the majority of my income confiscated by my government so that it can be given to people who on their best days are less worthy than I am on my worst.

    I am sick and tired of casting votes that are meaningless, for all the reasons so eloquently cited in the comments above.

    I believe we are suffering under a government that is more burdensome and arbitrary than the one our founding fathers cast off in bloody revolution.

    I believe I will owe my children an accounting.

    Kevin Stafford (abdb87)

  123. Some thoughts.

    First, “protection.”

    Gerrymandering is as old as the Republic. It’s been employed by parties in power for so long and is such a political fixture that it’s difficult to see how it explains the “increasing worthlessness” of individual votes.

    It is also a practice under pressure and, in some states, in retreat. Witness the success of Proposition 11 in California just two years ago. We still seem to have a political process robust enough to accommodate reform.

    While incumbency continues to provide certain advantages, reforms such as term limits and limitations on gerrymandering have reduced these advantages, at least in California — a change, once again, that was achieved through the political process, not through extra-constitutional means.

    Finally, Patterico notes how small numbers of undecided voters in swing states often prove decisive. We’ve seen this happen a number of times in postwar American history. Sometimes the close calls have favored one party, sometimes the other. Patterico may simply be describing how majorities form — in which case, it’s hard to see what the problem is, since majority rule is the essence of democracy. Of course, it could be that he was making a point about the Electoral College, but that doesn’t seem likely.

    Second, “dilution.” Patterico attributes this to fraud. What struck me about his discussion was that it speculated about potential sources of fraud, but made no reference to actual evidence that significant fraud had in fact occurred in any particular election.

    Be that as it may, we can take measures against fraud, measures compatible with the Constitution. If fraud has caused “increasing worthlessness” of individual votes, then the answer would seem to be to combat fraud. Again, this seems to be something our political process can accommodate.

    Third, “negation.” Patterico does not come right out and say that legal challenges to what voters decide in a referendum should be outlawed, nor does he come right out and say that no judicial review should be permitted in these cases. If that’s what he believes, I wish he would simply say it.

    It would perhaps be a difficult position for someone to take who has made the law his profession and whose working life is bound up in the judicial system. I’m not sure I see what alternatives there are to adjudicating disputes relating to differences between state and federal constitutions or protecting citizens from the tyranny of the majority.

    However, if conservatives want to assure the finality of voter decisions at the state level, amending the federal Constitution is perhaps one avenue for achieving that.

    Similarly, if one truly believes that President Obama has violated his oath of office, there is always impeachment.

    There clearly are important political avenues open to those who believe the nation must change course. The citizenry is hardly impotent. Assembling electoral and legislative majorities is challenging, certainly, but that’s what democracy requires.

    Finally, this: “Thanks to the above trends, we have less democracy now than we have ever had in this country.”

    Really? Less than when property qualifications determined who could vote? Less than before the demise of slavery? Less than before women won the right to vote? Less than before the passage of the Civil Rights Act? Less than before the voting age was lowered to 18?

    The electorate is divided on whether the policies described by Patterico as “disastrous” really are so. Persuading voters one way or the other is what the coming election is all about.

    In America, the vote still counts, this voter believes.

    I’m glad Patterico decries violence. I hope he means it.

    angeleno (7195fb)

  124. What do you mean, you “hope he means it”?

    Icy Texan (f3f4df)

  125. #126

    It may be that he is speaking ironically, although I hope that’s not the case.

    angeleno (7195fb)

  126. Gerrymandering is as old as the Republic. It’s been employed by parties in power for so long and is such a political fixture that it’s difficult to see how it explains the “increasing worthlessness” of individual votes.

    Difficult for you. Easy for me.

    I’m not sure I see what alternatives there are to adjudicating disputes relating to differences between state and federal constitutions or protecting citizens from the tyranny of the majority.

    How about adjudicating those disputes fairly and correctly?

    Really? Less than when property qualifications determined who could vote? Less than before the demise of slavery? Less than before women won the right to vote? Less than before the passage of the Civil Rights Act? Less than before the voting age was lowered to 18?

    More voters, less democracy.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  127. “Didn’t Franklin, Deist as he was, ask they take a break and pray when things got heated and stuck? Wouldn’t be allowed today, I imagine, but then again, that wouldn’t necessarily stop someone from doing it.”

    – MD in Philly

    Yeah, but everybody else at the Convention pretty much ignored him – acknowledged everything he’d done in the past, sure, but didn’t take his statement at face value. It’s in Madison’s Notes on the Convention. I had a prof who had us read the first 300 pages fairly thoroughly, over the course of a couple weeks – which was beastly at the time, but awesome in hindsight.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  128. I agree partially with Christian’s statements regarding increasing the size of the House and decreasing the size of districts – that is, I believe in the principle, but would go about it another way.

    I believe Christian is arguing that increasing the size of the House and decreasing the size of electoral districts would force representatives into closer relationships with their constituents – a representative can be responsible for a smaller group, possibly with more homogeneous views, etc. I agree with this – but I think the solution lies in proportional representation.

    An electoral scholar named Arend Lijphart wrote a book called Electoral Systems and Party Systems: A Study of Twenty-Seven Democracies. In that book, he spent a considerable amount of time discussing “district magnitude” – defined as the number of representatives elected by a given district.

    District magnitude is positively correlated with the proportionality of election outcomes – that is, the more representatives elected from a given district, the better minority voices are represented in that district. Thus, a district which elects one representative will have very low proportionality – the majority (even if it be a bare majority, or even a plurality) will be well represented, and the rest will not be. On the other hand, a district which elects ten representatives will have much higher proportionality – the majority will still be well represented, but minority voices will be able to have a voice at the table as well (there are various methods for apportioning the ten available seats).

    Taken to its logical conclusion, the maximization of proportionality calls for the maximization of district magnitude – the treatment of the US as a single district which elects its 435 House members proportionally. Such a solution allows representatives to form a closer bond with a more homogeneous constituency; a homogeneous constituency provides strict accountability for representatives. And such a system does away with the evils of gerrymandering completely, preventing the disenfranchisement of that unlucky 20% – 40% minority in the gerrymandered district. After all, you can’t gerrymander a district if there are no more districts.

    This isn’t a particularly well put-together comment, I’m afraid. There are so many issues swirling around that I couldn’t hope to adequately address all of them in a single comment. So… sorry about that.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  129. Yeah, but everybody else at the Convention pretty much ignored him

    Never heard that part. I trust you to say what you know as tue, and if it was as good as a reference as you state, I’m left wondering how to reconcile what I’ve heard with the new info. Thanks.

    MD in Philly (a17aa8)

  130. Yeah, it’s pages 209-211 in my edition – when everybody was freaking out over the Great Compromise, and it was looking like the Convention might fly apart at the seams.

    It was an eloquent appeal, for what it’s worth – it’s interesting that such a reputed libertine had such a seemingly deep faith.

    The exact language in my text is (re: Franklin’s motion) “After several unsuccessful attempts for silently postponing the matter by adjourning, the adjournment was at length carried, without any vote on the motion.”

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  131. Here is my wishlist for changing the political New World Order. I’m sure there’s more, and if I had the time I could probably write a whole treatise on this issue, but as I’m writing this quickly on my lunch break I’ll be brief:

    1) Gerrymandering is what it is, and while I don’t like it I can — in a way — understand its value. It allows a group of like-minded individuals to elect representatives who share their values and who will (or should) represent those views in legislature.

    Rather than abolishing gerrymandering, I think the more pressing issue is term limits. The chances of an elected official giving him or herself a set-in-stone end-date for employment are slim to none, and slim just left town. So how can we force the issue? Could it be a matter for STATE legislatures to take up? Could a State’s constitution be amended to proclaim that officials elected to the US Congress can only serve up to, and cannot exceed, X-number of years total? While it would still be a hard sell to get even State legislators to agree with the need for term limits (especially in power-mad State legislatures like Massachusetts), it still seems like a simpler juggernaut to tackle than the behemoth of the federal government. State legislators are, by design, much closer to their constituents and therefore more beholden to their goodwill.

    The problem, of course, would be getting EVERY state to follow the process. No one wants to do that. You see, term limits mean that no single Representative or Senator will be able to achieve ultimate seniority. Seniority brings respectability (supposedly) and power, and quashing seniority would dilute the power of each congressman or woman to “bring home the bacon” for their state. All it would take is one state refusing to set term limits on their congressional delegates and the whole thing would fall apart like a house of cards.

    That’s why elections like the ones this year are SO crucial. We NEED to get the dinosaurs out of office and replaced with politicians who still have quality ideals. Once you’ve got those politicians installed, and once you’ve sent the message that NOBODY’S congressional seat is safe from a ballot box referendum, then you can start to wield a bit more power in getting contentious issues (like term limits or gerrymandering) handled through proper legal channels and signed into law. It can’t be done if the old guard is still running the show. There NEEDS to be fresh blood in the veins of the federal legislature for anything to be accomplished.

    2) A re-examination of the Supreme Court. It doesn’t take a genius to see that SCOTUS has gotten out of control in recent years, moving away from the constructionist interpretation of the Constitution as the basis for our laws and into a more interpretive view of our founding document that turns it from a cornerstone building block of our democracy into a Play-Doh document that can be shaped to fit a particular ideological point of view. This cannot be allowed to stand. What can be done to curtail the power of the unelected Justices in SCOTUS? We have no power to remove them from their mighty seats in Washington, and the Executive and Legislative branch are woefully inadequate or patently unwilling to fulfill their role as checks and balances, preferring to use the power of SCOTUS to fulfill their own ideological goals. I don’t have the answer to how SCOTUS can be overhauled, but SOMETHING has to be done.

    At least one suggestion I’ll make is requiring all law colleges and universities that receive public funding to make US Constitutional law a requisite course or series of courses. It’s unconscionable that anyone could graduate from an American law school without having a solid background in and understanding of our preeminent legal document. It’s even MORE unconscionable that any one of those graduates may someday find themselves on the Supreme Court.

    3) This is my own quirky little wish, but I think that representatives elected to national office should be required to spend at least 25-50% of their time in office IN THEIR HOME DISTRICTS. The problem with elected officials congregating in Washington is that, once they get inside the Beltway, they get caught up in the glamour of parties and galas and hobnobbing with the social, cultural and political elites. They’re removed from any face-to-face accountability to their constituents. Look at all the Democratic legislators this year that chose to avoid local Town Halls in favor of telephone conference calls and $1,000/plate party-friendly dinners.

    That’s why I think requiring our Reps and Senators to spend a portion of their elected time in their home state and home district – not on vacation, but actually WORKING – would be a benefit. It didn’t make sense, in the time of the Founders, to have representatives travelling from Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, etc, anytime something needed to be voted on. In the modern day and age, with every Tom, Dick and Harry equipped with a Blackberry and an iPad, those barriers to communication are moot. Anyone with a hi-speed internet connection and a webcam can webchat with someone thousands of miles away. Businesses use web-conferencing; why can’t we expect the same of our elected officials? Take the Reps and Sens out of the political atmosphere of D.C. and drop them on their home turf where they have to see their constituents face to face in the grocery store, at the gas station, and at the county fair.

    I always say politicians are the people who were too ugly to make it in Hollywood, so they went into government instead: you still get all the fame and power, and you don’t have to go on the Atkins Diet every election cycle. It’s time to remind our politicians that they aren’t the “beautiful people” they’ve styled themselves to be; they’re representatives of you, me, and the guy down the street. It’s time they start ACTING like it.

    4) It’s time to render the MSM completely obsolete. This is already in the works, but we need to speed up the pace. We need to STOP watching ABC, NBC, CBS, etc, etc. We need to cripple their power and render their bloated leftist opinions immaterial. They’re a joke, and as younger generations grow up with digital communications at their fingertips from the time they can walk, dinosaurs like the nightly news and daily newspapers are going to die. In a way it’s a shame, because media has always been a valuable tool for information gathering and dissemination. But it’s a sick tool now; a rusty hammer that keeps banging away at the same old nails (racism, gender equality, separation of church and state, etc) without ever building anything wholesome to replace the structures they wantonly tear down.

    5) Break the stranglehold of unions. Unions, when organized and executed properly, can be a vital and necessary safeguard for employee rights. The problem with most modern unions is that they don’t give a flying fig about the workers they purport to represent; all they care about is power, and getting invited to the same swanky parties that the politicos enjoy so much. There should be an abolition of forced union membership in public sector unions like the SEIU (indeed, in any union), and the abominable push for “card check” should be squashed and left to rot under a rock. Any union that DOES require membership should also allow its members to opt out of using their dues to support the union’s political motives.

    6) Get the power for education and childcare out of the hands of the public schools and give it back to the parents. The quickest road to a powerless voter pool is to populate that pool with ignorant simpletons who have no sense of history, no ability for critical analysis, and no penchant for problem solving. An uneducated population is a population ripe for the plucking to any progressive worth his or her salt. Tell enough people that water is wet, the sun is hot, and it’s possible to provide healthcare to millions of uninsured Americans with pre-existing medical conditions WITHOUT having to raise taxes because “we’ve sprinkled the pages of the legislation with fairy dust!” and the gullible and ignorant will believe every word you say. America’s youth are daily fed a steady diet of multicultural, environmentalist garbage wrapped in soft, gauzy swaths of self-esteem stroking and marble-mouthed post-modern deconstructionism, and we wonder why most of them are too stupid to find the United States on a world map. If your school isn’t teaching your children history, or math, or English, or science, or civics, in a way that suits your tastes, then you need to make sure YOU teach those things to your child and don’t let the school get in your way.

    Teachers should be held accountable for the quality of their tutelage. Standardized tests are a difficult way to gauge a teacher’s teaching ability, since every teacher will have at least one class that just won’t learn; it happens, and we all know it. But a pattern of poor results over a period of time should be an indicator that something is wrong. Student evaluations are notoriously awful for trying to gauge a teacher’s abilities. Evaluations by other teachers may be valuable, but such evaluations would need to be done by more than one teacher across more than one class period and would need to reach a consensus opinion on a teacher’s teaching abilities. This is time-consuming and uses a lot of manpower, but it may be the best way to ensure a fair, thorough assessment of a teacher’s skills.

    In addition to teachers being held to standards for teaching, STUDENTS should be held accountable for the quality of their learning. We have to return to the days when students EARNED a grade and weren’t simply passed up through the grade levels to preserve their self-esteem despite a complete lack of comprehension of even basic material. An informed electorate is a powerful electorate. An stupid electorate is nothing at all.

    MWR (32e6a8)

  132. Could a State’s constitution be amended to proclaim that officials elected to the US Congress can only serve up to, and cannot exceed, X-number of years total?

    No.

    See US Term Limits v. Thornton.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  133. “I trust you to say what you know as tue, and if it was as good as a reference as you state, I’m left wondering how to reconcile what I’ve heard with the new info. Thanks.”

    – MD in Philly

    Just out of curiosity: what have you heard? That is, what made you bring up that up in the first place, and what difference does it make that the Framers sort of quashed Ben Franklin’s request for a prayer at the convention? Not meant to be pointed or anything, just wondering where you were going with that. I was out of town for the past five days or so, and I missed this thread – which sucks, because I really would’ve liked to have participated in it. It seems like everybody did a really good job of staying on the topic, which is nice to see.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  134. See US Term Limits v. Thornton.

    And read Justice Thomas’s dissent — in my opinion the finest thing he has ever written, and one of the best opinions by any Justice.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  135. US Term Limits v. Thornton was the most poorly reasoned decisions in my lifetime. The majority held that the people of all the other states should be allowed to decide whether the terms of congressmen from State A should be limited.

    It was an utterly stupefying reading of the 10th Amendment.

    Some chump (e84e27)


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