Culling the Herd – Limited Government

 
 
So now we have seen it – we have seen some of the
flaws in our Constitution and they are not ideological, they are structural.
Our forefathers had a healthy dose of paranoia, but their paranoia was used to
build protections into the Constitution to prevent a President from declaring
himself King or herself Queen (an eventually they never imagined, of course).
They did give a lot of thought to balance amongst the branches of our
government, the executive, the legislative and the judicial by creating that
system of checks and balances we all know so well. I don’t think they really
imagined that some Americans would want to wrest control from within one branch
of government, because they felt they had built in sufficient protections. They
did not foresee 2013.

Apparently there are flaws in our system – flaws that
nullify the checks and the balances. We’ve seen obstruction before, but not to
this degree. We’ve seen incivility before, but again it is a matter of degree.
There is apparently no part of the Constitution that protects the American
people from losing control of our government to a small band of radicals, in
this case radical but duly elected reactionaries. It is astonishing to me that
these people have been pursuing strategies that seemed relatively harmless
because they affected such small areas of the country and that they have been
patching together a system that allows these very radicals to be elected over
and over again without challenge. We have no safeguards against these tactics.
They are subverting the election process. Once they are in Congress they do not
need to do anything at all to keep their seats. If they don’t face the
possibility of losing their seat based on how they vote in Congress they have
found a way to bypass the Constitution and we, America, are in trouble.

I have always been proud that our forefathers
thought through and wrote down a way to govern that was basically fair, (even
more astonishing as they were elitist slave owners),  that was based on ideals that seemed
enlightened and laudable, and that was structured to last and to still be
usable hundreds of years later. What these radical Republicans are doing is
threatening to end the usefulness of this document we have made the center of
our governance. They are pointing out the flaws in our beloved Constitution. We
have no way to rid ourselves of these people who are ruining our government in
the name of Federalism. They have been very consistent in their beliefs. They
want small government. They want deregulation. They want America to become the
loose federation of states that they feel it was intended to be. They want all
of the social safety net gone. They do not feel that the federal government should
be in the business of lifting up the least fortunate Americans, even though all
modern societies do this and even though it keeps misery at bay, both for a
society and its people. They do not like any rules or regulations on energy use
and against pulling fossil fuels out of the earth so they want the EPA gone. They
want the Department of Commerce gone and they think the federal government
should close the Department of Education. They see this as their moment in time
to achieve their objectives to limit the size and scope of government. They
hate the Affordable Care Act because it goes in the opposite direction from
limited government. It makes government even bigger.

Most of us accept what Republicans are saying about
the need to make government somewhat smaller, but I don’t think most of us want
a federal government as small as these radical tea partiers do, or as small as
the libertarians do. We will not be living up in the rarified air at the top of
the affluence pyramid. We will be living down here with the sewage running in
the streets and the begging children and the rampant disease. We will be drinking the polluted water. There are 7
billion people on this little planet. If you are trying to kill off a big
percentage of the current population, hoping to do what nature does when an
animal population gets too big, then you are pursuing the perfect strategy for
it. Because to argue for smaller government when population numbers are ballooning
will turn our cities into even bigger killing fields than they already are and,
of course, you will not be affected up there at the top of the triangle.

If we make it through this assault on the government
of our nation, the assault that is coming from within that very government,
then we need to pass some laws which will allow us an escape route if some
minority group decides to stage a coup again. I don’t think the issues here are
as small as the media paints them. I think the issues are huge. I think these
folks, mostly from the southern hinterlands of America are deadly serious. They
own guns. They are hunters. I’m not saying that they are planning to turn their
guns on us, although if it comes down to it they might some day in the future.
I am saying that they think like hunters and they are planning to cull the
herd, to get rid of those Americans who can’t or won’t provide for themselves.
Every society has poor people. Every society has disabled people. Every
society, in 2013, does not want to force unfortunate souls into pits to fight
for their lives. We definitely need a way to ditch elected officials if they
try to stop government. If the majority can prevail over this small, but
determined, minority, we will need to amend our Constitution. Which America
will we be when this is all over?

This is the view from the cheap seats.

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com
 

American Government: Now a Spectator Sport

 
 

Here we are,
back at that place we keep getting to that we don’t like, which is the one
where the Republicans use the purse strings to control the political agenda (or
at least they try). They have made sure that Americans have heard almost
nothing good about the Affordable Health Care Act and that has been easy for
them since it does not even start to show its true colors until January of
2014.

Controlling
Kings and Queens by pulling the strings on the purse was always common,
whenever the power of the purse and the actual power did not reside in the same
person. But America is not ruled by a King or a Queen; it is supposed to be
ruled by the people. In the case of America, the President has the power to
execute the laws passed by the people as represented by the Congress. But
Congress has power over the purse strings. This power is usually wielded
lightly, but theoretically can be used to force less spending or more spending
as the people or circumstances direct. But traditionally, it has not been used
the way Republicans have been using it since Obama was elected.
 

The continuing
resolution
is not generally used as a bargaining chip because if Congress
does not continue to fund the government then the government shuts down and this
is not at all desirable. After that Congress is required to look at our debt ceiling and decide whether or not
it needs to be raised, which it generally does. Waiting until the actual
deadline for raising the debt ceiling arrives before insisting on budget
rewrites is not considered good politics as really good budget cutting does not
usually happen in times of stress. Budget cutting needs to be done in a considered
fashion and there are committees designed to do just that. We expect our
government to use brain power and negotiation, not threats and insults.

In 2013 we
are facing the unthinkable; we are facing a forced showdown which is shockingly
un-American because it flaunts the Constitutional process in order to try to
erase a law that is an actual law of our nation, a law which was supported by
the Supreme Court (without enthusiasm, but still supported). I do not believe
that the America people want to go back to the health care system we had before
the ACA, which did not cover legions of Americans and left Americans at the
mercy of private, for-profit insurance companies. The argument is being twisted
by Republicans to say that Democrats are to blame if the government shuts down
because they won’t give up Obamacare (as they call the ACA). This is obviously semantics
and does not change who is actually trying to defund the ACA and willing to
shut down the government to do it.

What I am not
sure about is whether the media should be spending so much time discussing this
disgraceful behavior and making it somewhat legitimate and very exciting. Of
course, the media is not about steering political policy; it is about ratings.
This kind of suspense is intoxicating. Will the government shut down? Who will
blink (how old are we)? Will Obama abandon the ACA? (please don’t Obama) What
will happen if America shuts down?

This is not a
spectator sport. We are not in the Roman Coliseum watching the slaves or the
Christians fight tigers for their freedom, although this is about as close as
we get to that outside sports arenas. This is our nation. Are the Tea Partiers
the only people who have strong feelings about what America wants? If this is
true then we will deserve what we get, but I don’t think we will like it much.
Maybe the media should find some way to stop turning the Republican “nutburgers”
into the tigers who will vanquish the slave (oops, that would make them racists)
make that the “weak” President who seems to be all on his own without the will
of the people behind him, even though he was elected by a majority of the
popular vote. Does the President have to get re-elected every day? That’s
ridiculous and no way to run a country.

 Perhaps the media could find a new way to
present the upcoming battles over the purse strings, to at least present these
rogue legislators in an even more negative light than we have so far heard.
Perhaps the people, who don’t agree with Obama in every way, but who do not like
the way Republicans are subverting their power over the purse strings could
find some way to let their displeasure be heard. Maybe I am wrong and the
public does not want the ACA and does not mind if America destroys its credit
so that the minority party can have its way. I, however, am disgusted by the
behavior of these people who are trying to pull off what amounts to a political
coup. Let’s go back to structured government that abides by tried and tested
rules and which does not lead America to the brink of disaster over and over
again.