Category Archives: political coup

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.