A government shielded from the people
The United States was established to be “a government of the people” and, in Abraham Lincoln’s day, that was still largely true. However, today individual citizens have very little influence over legislation or government expenditures in the United States. Political power has shifted to the political parties and the government bureaucrats. This shift of power occurred gradually with the passage of laws, constitutional amendments, and legislative processes over the last 200 years.
These laws and processes eliminated checks and balances on power and enabled the largest political party contributors, through their elected representatives, to control legislation and the appointments of bureaucratic leadership. Individual citizens, local citizens groups, and unbiased independent policy analysts have very little influence over state and federal governance.
The 2015 legislative session in Minnesota can illustrate some of these problems. After the session, I published a synopsis in a “Spotlight Letter” in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Of 80 bills passed by the legislature, 54 were unanimously passed or passed with fewer than 5 “No” votes between the two houses after they emerged from committee. Of the 26 bills with dissension, 10 bills were omnibus bills that contained all the spending measures, good and bad, Democrat and Republican, with so many provisions that all legislators could justify their votes either way based on highlighting selected provisions. This left a total of 16 rather innocuous bills that citizens can evaluate the performance of legislators on, pretty much removing them from public scrutiny.
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A new report by the US Census Bureau shows that the middle class has shrunk since the recession and the income gap has widened under the current recovery efforts. Image source
Quotation marks are put around “middle class” because it is a concept variously defined by politicians who mean very different things. When a Democrat refers to “middle class,” it tends to refer to wage or income level. If you listen carefully to President Obama’s rhetoric about protecting the “middle class,” he is referring to raising minimum wages and increasing the jobs provided to people by government. If you listen to the rhetoric of Wall Street brokers, like Mitt Romney who ran for President on the Republican ticket, you hear that large corporations, with lots of capital are required to provide jobs for a vibrant middle class, and reducing taxes on Wall street will make that happen.
Neither of these approaches will create a genuine middle class, and both are leading to a modern form of serfdom. This is one reason the Tea Party opposes both Wall Street and big government. A genuine middle class refers to the people who can live on their own without the help of government or large businesses. It is this type of middle class, self-sufficient people, not people who earn between $25,000 and $100,000 per year, that are the backbone of a democracy. This is why you can find subsistence farmers in rural America, who might earn less than $25,000 per year, supporting the Tea Party movement to get back to founding principles, and why both establishment Democrats and Republicans are threatened by this movement.
It is a self-sufficient people, not people who earn between $25,000 and $100,000 per year, that is the backbone of a democracy.
The idea that a middle class is defined by earnings provided by someone else is a major sociological myth of our time for, if that “someone else,” be they government or corporate elite, are in charge of the lives of the people, they will eventually maximize their own wealth at the expense of those in their charge. This is the nature of both monopolies and governments (which have a monopoly on force).
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Neither Party Wants Immigration Reform that is Good for the Nation
Many people did not like President Obama’s executive order on immigration, but in his speech he stated that if Congress did not like his solution they could pass their own bill and present it to him. The failure of the U.S. Congress to pass an immigration bill reflects a larger problem in the U.S. political system, and that is our current two party system. Political parties, almost by definition, do not serve the nation. Rather, they serve the interests of their financial contributors, who do not contribute for the nation but contribute to get something from the government for themselves. With our current two-party system, no one is minding the store. The U.S. Government can be compared to a Wal-Mart store in which people pay bribes to a security guard get in, but they can walk out with what they want from the shelves without stopping at a cash register. Our elected representatives are those security guards.
The parties have become the factions that so worried the U.S. Founders, particularly James Madison:
By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.—James Madison, Federalist 10
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Many people take political parties for granted and assume they are an important part of the democratic process. However, political parties inherently subvert and hijack government and are anti-democratic at their core. Today we hear lots of people from both the left and right saying “Washington is broken,” but we hear them blaming the president, congress, or the courts. This blame is misplaced, not getting to the core of the problem, which is the fact that today these people largely represent political parties, not citizens. Gridlock is caused by partisan bickering that the Founders sought to avoid. But, over the last 200 years political parties have gradually hijacked the federal government.
Political Parties are Divisive Factions
This sample ballot shows party affiliation for federal and state candidates, but no party for county positions.
Political parties are factions, groups of people that combine themselves for some common purpose. By combining their power, they can have more influence over lawmakers than individual citizens. However, this influence focuses legislators on the wants of these interest groups rather than the general citizen or the needs of the nation as a whole. Founding Father James Madison saw factions as the primary means by the American government could be subverted and destroyed. In the opening lines of Federalist 10
Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice.
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Stage 1 Consciousness: Physical Violence
Physical violence is a biological impulse related to threats to survival. Killing others who are a threat to oneself and taking their food and property are often associated with animal behavior, or called primitive behavior. Physical violence is a method of satisfying personal needs and desires without regard or concern to the other.
Babies and young children naturally exhibit stage one behavior: screaming, waving their arms, and kicking, to get their needs met. Then, until nurturing takes hold, totally self-focused children push, hit, and bully to get what they want. With the guidance of loving parents and teachers children can be taught to respect each other and control their violent impulses, eventually learning methods of cooperation and respect, or stage 2 behavior.
Lacking the nurture that raises a child to Stage 2, and eventually Stage 3, consciousness, Stage 1 behavior will continue, even as an adult. Beating, rape, and theft are evidence that the perpetrator, even though a physical adult, who has reached 18 years of age, is only at a Stage 1 level of social consciousness, and thus an infant in terms of social development.
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