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Democracy and Majority Vote Not What You Think
“Under our Constitution it is We The People who are sovereign. The people have the final say. The legislators are their spokesmen. The people determine through their votes the destiny of the nation.”
—Justice William O. Douglas
Contrary to what Justice Douglas said, the people do not determine through their votes, the destiny of the nation, at least not through a democracy by so-called majority vote. “Democracy,” simply means majority rule — for good or bad. The heart of politics is the art of romancing the voters (pretending with intent to deceive).
No U.S. President or Congress has ever represented the majority of the people, and in fact, almost never more than a third of the Voter Eligible Population (VEP). Once elected, however, most politicians believe that a first kiss inexorably leads to a total surrender of virtue and thereafter think they can honeyfuggle the voters whenever — and on whatever issue — they choose.
Facts are stubborn things. Americans, in reality, are ruled by factions. If the media reported the facts about how few votes win elections, Presidents and for that matter, all elected officials would never have the chutzpah to do what they do. Politicians would have to return to being administrative watchdogs over the public purse, as originally intended.
Since Teddy Roosevelt (1904), no President has received more than 36% support from the voter-eligible-population (VEP). A country divided is not something new, or something old.
President Obama won just 31% of the VEP. The media characterizes this plurality of votes as a mandate to justify the President (any President for that matter) imposing his will, or vision upon us. Not one President in over 100 years, in fact, has received a legitimate mandate to impose his vision on America.
This also applies to nearly all elected officials who rarely receive more than 27%, some less than 10% of the VEP. As Casey Stengel used to say, “You can look it up!” Check with your Registrar of Voters.
“Newspapers don’t print the truth they print what people say.”
Rick Paddock, L.A. Times
It’s important to understand this reality. It explains a lot. Think about it. Reporters covering politics seek out a catchy quote — or they make up a controversial one — and ask for a response. Then they print what is said. Reporters vie for as many readers’ “attention” as possible. That is what headlines are about (and teaser TV spots). You have to get someone’s attention before they can become interested in what you write.
The rules of the game determine the outcome of any contest. For instance, most people agree no woman’s basketball team can beat the L.A. Lakers. But change just one rule and you’ll get a different outcome: make everyone play in high heels. The rules of politics (for those actually turning out to vote) are the ancient doctrine of “might makes right” whereby 50% plus one = 100% and 50% minus one = 0. This boils down to “We won — Elections have consequences — Get over it.”
Fortunately, we do not live in a Democracy. When Benjamin Franklin departed from the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he was asked, what kind of government did you give us? Franklin replied, “A ‘Republic’ if you can keep it.”
In fact, the founders loathed democracy. They knew democracies often descended into Mobocracies (today, think Libya and Egypt), and did everything they could to guard against “Majoritarianism.” They tried to developed a vaccine (a republic) against the contagion of “popular delusions and the madness of crowds” so politics would not be infected. They knew that Plato and Aristotle thought democracy ultimately led to tyranny.
They created a system whereby Senators are elected for six years, Presidents four years and Congressmen two years so the entire
elected body could never be swept up in the passions of a movement. One Senator represents about 19 million people in California but only 288,000 in Wyoming, which makes it hard to contend that voting is equal representation or majority vote.
The founders gave the several small states, regardless of population, equal representation in the Senate as an incentive to join the Union. To make doubly sure the populace could not be swept up by unforeseen events they created the Electoral College to trump the popular will. They believed it would not be possible to bribe all the electors of all the states at the same time.
For good measure, the founders established an unelected Supreme Court, whose members do not have to worry about running for office, which can overrule any majority vote.
The entire system they designed acts as a buffer against a popular, charming, captivating, charismatic orator (aka, A Cult of Personality).
PRAY FOR GRIDLOCK
Hard as they tried they never imagined a time where all of the problems attributed to an unaccountable federal government would be the result of compromises between factions (later called Democrats and Republicans) and a compliant press.
Compromises, however, are how we got a $16 trillion national debt. We should pray for gridlock. What we call “gridlock” the founders called “checks and balances.” They fully intended to pit ambition against ambition. Whenever there is gridlock it is a win, win for the taxpayers.
The media, bless their hearts, keeps reporting that the American public demands things for which it is unwilling to be taxed. It’s not the silent majority surprisingly, that is asking for endless handouts.
Most Congressional spending as reported in a 1991 study by James Payne confirmed that of 1,400 witnesses before Congress only seven could clearly be classified as opposed to spending.
More significant however, “Of 1060 Congressional witnesses in favor of spending, 47 percent were federal administrators, and another 10 percent were state and local officials. An additional 6 percent were congressmen themselves.” In other words, 63 percent of the pro-spending witnesses were from government.
There is little doubt a similar ratio of supplicants demanding other people’s money occurs before local city councils, supervisors, and state legislatures.
Very few responsible people “expect” something for nothing from government, although politicians are diligently trying to change this in exchange for votes.
Proposition 13 in California was one of those rare events which proved politicians can say “no, no, no” to the “gimme, gimme, gimme” crowd and still get elected. I know, I supported 13 and got elected.
“ALL POLITICAL POWER DERIVES FROM WHAT YOU CAN DO TO — OR — FOR SOMEONE”
Whenever you think the government is doing something stupid — follow the money. If you want to understand politics assume 100% of what a politician says and does is for votes and campaign contributions.
A cardinal rule of politics is “watch what they do, not what they say.” The actions of the few straight arrows are too rare to matter.
There is an old joke that 96% of the members of Congress give the other 4% a bad name.
People attracted to political office seem to have been born with two extra genes – the tax gene and the regulatory gene. They want to tax everything that moves or stands still and even tax the very air we breathe through a carbon footprint tax.
Can you think of any significant business they don’t want to tax or regulate?
The story goes that Senator Edward Kennedy was listening to a speaker who began, “Let me tax your memories for a moment” whereupon Kennedy immediately exclaimed, “Why didn’t I think of that.”
“DEMOCRACY IS THE THEORY THAT THE COMMON PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THEY WANT, AND DESERVE TO GET IT GOOD AND HARD.” – H.L. Mencken
Consider the brilliant, beguiling, billionaire Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg who wants to regulate not only 16-ounce sodas, but also salt, butter, trans fats, popcorn, milkshakes, guns, and prohibit tobacco products from being displayed in public.
Other politicians want to tell us how to flush our toilets, what light bulbs to use, regulate guns, and health care, prohibit us from spanking our children, decree no smoking in our own homes, regulate potato chips, car colors (California 2009), etc., etc., etc., all for our own good. Both political parties have succeeded in turning free market Capitalism into overbearing “Regulated Capitalism.”
Do not misunderstand; government is not a necessary evil, as often heard. It is absolutely necessary for a free society to work, but it should act as an umpire in enforcing the rules and should not be playing the game using its monopoly on force and violence. We cannot afford to have politicians continuously discrediting the government by their actions. Only when government is limited to its proper role can it earn and retain our respect.
The latest clever device used by government is to hide behind the cloak of complexity by passing laws with thousands of pages. “We have to pass it to know what’s in it,” was House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s response to the 2,700-page Obamacare Bill (with 20,000 pages of implementing rules).
James Madison in Federalist Paper 37 warned us against “the obscurity arising from complexity.”
Since many laws today, particularly in the tax code and health care are incomprehensible — who gets absolute power under their obscurity?
The answer is whoever has the power to interpret them. Without transparency, it is the politicians, planners and poseurs who interpret them on a daily basis.
We are told, “Ignorance of the law is no defense,” implying we are supposed to know all 200,000 pages of laws on the books that were identified in a 2006 review.
The founders were aware of politics in practice for 180 years from the founding of Jamestown in 1607 to 1787. They were not neophytes and had learned from the experience of others about governing.
They understood that majority vote might be appropriate for selecting politicians to administer laws, but wholly inappropriate for voting on which laws to implement. This is why they gave us a republic with representatives chosen to make informed decisions.
Even so, on various issues, both Republicans and Democrats have changed sides over the years as easily as changing a suit of clothes.
Before becoming President, then Senator Obama railed against President Bush’s budget deficits. Seems pretty funny now. Recently Democrat Congressman John Conyers said, “Deficits don’t matter.” Under President George W. Bush, it was Republican Dick Cheney saying, “Deficits don’t matter.”
Republican President, Dwight, Eisenhower, however, said, “…there must be balanced budgets.” Sometimes the party in power favors “Free Trade,” sometimes not, favors the Patriot Act, sometimes not, or favors closing Gitmo, sometimes not.
When you get to taxes, Liberals argue that raising taxes will increase needed revenues to the government while Conservatives argue that lowering taxes will increase needed revenues to the government. Beyond the core functions of government — we should ask: revenues needed for what?
Who knows best how to get the greatest benefits for the greatest number of people from “investing” money — the government — or those who know how to earn it — a Bill Gates or a Joe Biden?
After the Presidency, real power in Washington resides in the Congressional committee chairmen as evidenced by the amount of campaign money they raise. Why do you think there are over 12,000 lobbyists in Washington D.C. spending a “reported” $3.3 billion annually?
If all political power comes from what you can do to — or for someone — it becomes apparent this is a two-way street between politicians wanting something and others wanting something from politicians.
WASTE AND FRAUD
We have heard about “Waste and Fraud,” at least since Senator Proxmire’s Golden Fleece Awards in 1975. Government Waste and Fraud will always be with us because they constitute someone’s income.
Many politicians subscribe to the Keynesian notion that every dollar the government spends, wasted or not, results in $2.00 of economic activity. Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor, “Unemployment insurance, the economists tell us, return $2 for every $1 that is put out there for unemployment insurance, it injects demand into the economy, it creates jobs to help reduce the deficit,” Just imagine if everyone became unemployed, we’d all be twice as rich.
The federal government spent about $3.5 Trillion in 2012! Generally speaking, the more money spent the easier to get a handle on it. An analysis of campaign spending indicates that about 1/3 of campaign contributions by large corporations is divided between both parties as big business likes to hedge its bets.
Think solar panel company, Solyndra. It contributed $100,000 or more to President Obama’s campaign and “coincidentally” received $535 million in taxpayer loan guarantees. Other corporations have benefited similarly under other Presidents. Some call it “Crony Capitalism.” It would be more correct to call it “Crony Socialism.”
I once walked into a business meeting without an appointment between a top Democrat and a top Republican in San Diego
They were sharing inside information on likely city council decisions to the advantage of their partnership and could care less about the ideology of those they supported, Democrats or Republicans.
Most Washington law firms purportedly have both Democrat and Republican sections. Why do you suppose that is?
Contrary to popular belief, many businessmen, particularly those running large corporations, are not supporters of free enterprise or defenders of Capitalism. They prefer privatization of their profits, government underwriting their losses and ever-increasing regulation of their competitors.
If you want to get the hell scared out of you sit in an elected body’s “Executive Session” (legally secret). In one City of San Diego session, a councilman wanted to destroy a paramedic service for taking more than 5 minutes to respond to his mother’s emergency. Another said the Gas & Electric Company had no property rights regarding an eminent domain “takings.” He was elected and obligated to save the taxpayers money by paying no compensation, and a third wanted to double a cable TV company’s Franchise Fee for some unstated slight. All three were Republicans.
POLITICIANS ONLY HALF THE PROBLEM
Winston Churchill thought the best argument against democracy was to have a 5-minute conversation with the average voter. He felt a democracy was the worst form of government except for all others.
I was stunned a few years ago to meet a young African-American mother and her father visiting from Alabama (average voters), who did not know who Bull Connor was, the Birmingham Police Commissioner.
In 1963, Connor unleashed fire hoses and police attack dogs on peaceful children marching for civil rights. You can Google the horrific photos under “Bull Connor.” Is it possible that textbooks in the South have been purged of this unsavory historical fact?1 *
Younger generations who do not know their history, especially those who do not know Presidential candidate George Wallace and Bull Connor were Democrats and why Martin Luther King was a Republican, may very well be doomed to repeat it.
Condoleezza Rice explained that while growing up in the South it was the Democrats who refused to register her father to vote, something the Republicans did.
Democrats today will throw you off guard by telling you that President Richard Nixon got all the racists to leave the Democrat Party and join the Republicans as part of his “Southern Strategy.” (A few did, most did not). They also contend that the Republicans who for years worked for civil rights and against segregation joined the Democrat Party. A very sweet fairy-tale to assuage the consciences of today’s Democrats.
A lack of historical knowledge is not confined to American youths. Sixty percent of Austrians (average voters), in March 2013 said they want a “Strong Man” to lead their country and 40% think things were not all bad under Adolph Hitler.
I was flabbergasted years ago when a high school buddy married a girl from Germany and she told me one day, “Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, in this country (the U.S.) you only tell about the bad things he did — never about the schools and highways he built, or “the people’s car.” Wow!
Joseph Stalin was born in the Russian Empire when Georgia was a part of it, where 45% of the people (average voters) still hold a positive attitude toward the former Soviet Leader. However, 39%, (average voters) do not even know who Stalin was.
There is a popular saying variously attributed to Edmund Burke, George Santayana and Winston Churchill, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
All rights reserved. You may, however, use portions of this book with or without credit, except where quotes are given with the names of specific authors. In such cases, it is appropriate to name those authors when using their remarks. It is amazing how far ideas can travel when you don’t care who gets credit. The fountainhead for these ideas is credited in Acknowledgments.
You can also order the Online e-book Romancing the Voters for gifts from Smashwords ISBN: 9781301186259 : https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/302807