Thursday, September 23, 2021

Cleaning out the Partisan Dustbin

Did you know that for the month of August this year, the approval rating for Congress was a mere 28%. As dismal as that sounds, it's actually an improvement. In December of 2020, it was just 15%, which is actually embarrassing.  The last time the approval rating rose to 50% was in June of 2003 (it came close in July that year with 49%) when George W. Bush was President.

Beginning in February of 2005, when the approval rating for Congress reached 45% for the last time, the numbers have been tracking downward. In November of 2015, the approval rating was a pathetic 9%. For the majority of the world, sustained numbers below 40% is usually a good indicator that a coup or revolution is right around the corner.

 Ratings that low are usually an early warning that the government needs to get its act together before it's push off the precipice and into history's "dustbin". But apparently not America's Congress. Nope! Congress just keeps on doing what it wants to, which is catering to their very rich corporate partners in crime. They couldn't care less what their approval rating are because they know there's no way the American People have the fortitude to remove them from office, or so it seems.

I guess the closest we've come was the January 6 rally in Washington where a few protestors entered "the People's House" and those legislators there allegedly fled for their miserable lives.  What would happen if "We the People" actually got serious about change? What if we finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired about a government which doesn't represent us and decided it was time to do something about it? What do you think the cockroaches in Congress would do? 

I suspect we'd see some manufactured "emergency", not all that different to what happened recently in Hong Kong and the sudden appearance of the COVID virus (bet you haven't heard anything about pro-democracy protests or its leaders since Covid in Hong Kong have you?). Given that we're already a surveillance state with the most efficient and all encompassing corporate-government partnership in history which would have made Himmler blush, I wouldn't put anything past them.

While we're on the topic of asking hypothetical questions, have you ever actually thought about our political system and how it works? First, the two parties get to redraw their districts to all but guarantee that their party (if not their candidate) will win every time out of the gate. This is thanks to partisan gerrymandering. 

To help you  understand, consider this. From the end of WWII in 1945 until roughly 1991, we were engaged in a "Cold War" with the Soviet Union and its satellite nations. We regularly condemned Communism's lack of openness and freedom. We would harp endlessly about the fact that while anyone could run for office, there was still just one official political party---the Communist Party.

Well, here in America, Independents are the largest political demographic with 40% of the registration, and yet, the two corporate owned parties---the Democrats and Republicans---(both political minorities) have made it almost impossible for them to get on the ballot. For that matter, it's nearly impossible for an Independent to get appointed to a board or commission. For the record, as of August 2021, Gallup reported that Independents accounted for 40% while Democrats were 29% and Republicans were 28%.

Following Ross Perot's first Presidential bid in 1992, the two parties came together to effectively eliminate Independents and third parties from presidential debates. They control access to campaign money, which keeps Independent and third party candidates essentially mute and all but invisible, except as a sideline joke by the media.

The partisan "party boys" also require them to obtain unrealistic numbers of signatures to get on the ballot (often in the hundreds or more) while they themselves may need only around three or five. Not much of a democracy is it when the majority of registered voters are stifled? 

The corporate owned media does its best to compare Independents to Democrats or Republicans by inserting the term "lean", as if they were secretly a member of either one of the parties, which couldn't be further from the truth. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say which of the two parties lean the most to the Independents and the opinions of American's majority! 

Regardless, thanks to gerrymandering, the U.S. Congress has less of a turnover in seats than the old Soviet Politburo (which was their equivalent to Congress). In other words, the Soviet Politburo elections demonstrated a greater degree of democracy than what we have here in America!

As an aside, since the end of WWII, the U.S. has taken upon itself the role of "global policeman" and "protector of democracy", which goes hand in hand with their self-anointed role of "nation building" (which usually follows a war in which our chief role was "nation destroying"). Of course, big businesses and international bankers of all stripe do extremely well financially when it comes to "nation rebuilding".

But, despite spending trillions of taxpayer money, how many of the dozens of countries we've provided aid to actually modeled their governments on our model? The answer is none. Zero. Nada. Not a single one. But, by the same token, none asked that we take our money back. Instead, they took our aid money and rebuilt their country and government, but on the British Parliamentarian model.

In fact, the British model is the single most copied form of government in the world, followed by the Soviet model, which was designed by Joseph Stalin (not Lenin as some people suppose). Under the British system, each political party is represented, based on proportional representation. Candidates run as a slate. When you go to the polls, you vote for the slate instead of individual candidates.

The winner thus is asked to form a government by the head of state, which is mostly a figurehead job like the Queen in England or the President in Germany. In cases where the winner didn't obtain a majority of the votes, they must seek out another party or parties which would give them a majority. This where a lot of wheeling and dealing takes place, but it usually works out. Partisan cooperation. Who knew? In the off chance no majority can be formed, a new election is held. Rinse and repeat.

In America, it's a "winner take all" scenario. The two corporate owned parties cooperate to eliminate any third parties or Independents, thus leaving the election to between themselves. The corporate media usually either ignores or belittles anyone who isn't either Democrat or Republican; treating them as a "spoiler" or joke, primarily to discredit them and discourage anyone else from running as an Independent or third party in the future.

So, what happens after the election in this "winner take all scenario"? Well, for the next two, four, or six year term (which depends on the office), the winner works with their party and its corporate sponsors to help ensure their agenda becomes law. Meanwhile, the losing party and its corporate sponsors, do what they can to defeat the opposing side's agenda while  occasionally, working out a behind the scenes compromise.  But, that's the two parties and their corporate backers. What about the voters?

Well, in our "winner take all" system, the voters of the losing candidate are unrepresented for the term of office. So, if that's a local office, it might be for two or four years. If it's a federal election, it's two years for a Representative and six for a Senator.

Now, I can almost see the confused look on your faces, so let me try and clarify. In our current system, if your candidate loses, then you don't have anyone in office to represent your views. But (and this is important), you still get the privilege of paying taxes while having a non-representing representative while having no say.. Does that make you feel any better? Bet not!

Thanks to partisan gerrymandering, it's also unlikely that your district will change parties too. So, if you're registered Republican in a district which has been gerrymandered Democrat, it's pretty slim that any of your choices will ever win. So what can you do? Basically, not much except to move to a district where your party is the majority and thus likely to remain gerrymandered that way.

Of course, you could also mount a campaign to encourage more Republicans or conservative leaning Democrats to move into your district, but I wouldn't be in any hurry if I were you. Under proportional representation, while you would still be a minority in your district, at least you'd have someone in office representing your views.

As an aside, although it's possible to end partisan gerrymandering, don't count on it happening since it benefits duopolic dictatorship; not you, and not any of your fellow voters unless we band together. Same when it comes to the money.

Thanks to Citizen United, the infamous misruling by the Supreme Court back in 2010, money was equated with "free speech". But how is this possible since only people can have "free speech"? Well, the same Supreme Court decided that corporations were, in effect, "people" almost like you and me.

I say "almost" because while we are capped as to how much we can donate to candidates, corporations aren't. That implies that corporations have more "free speech" than we do. So, that leaves us competing financially against the likes of Chase Mellon Bank, Exxon, Boeing, Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg LP, Microsoft, and pretty much Wall Street in general.

 Even unions (which are cash strapped) can't compete. For every dollar they donate, corporations donate five. As an aside, unions, which are suppose to represent blue collar workers, doesn't make politicians or parties compete for their money. As a result, we are effectively excluded from elections, and unless you're wealthy and willing to go along with the status quo, you might want to save your cash. 

The only other hope we have is term limits. We can't out spend them. We can't wean them away from the corporate tit. We can organized them out of the district. Perhaps we can outlast them. Well, think again. Only a handful of states have been progressive (and brave) enough to impose term limits or restrict partisan gerrymandering.

The point of term limits is to bring in fresh new ideas. It lessens the impact of corruption, thanks to relatively quick turnover. In those states where there are term limits, it's proven to be beneficial for most voters and gives them a sense of having some skin in the game. Non-partisan gerrymandering ensures a more balanced electorate.

Of course, the status quo absolutely hates term limits and gerrymandering. They act as if these seats are theirs for life, not to mention all them perks which go along with it, including a beach ball size ego and over inflated feeling of self-importance. Well, terms limits serve to remind these feudal lords that those seats are temporary and they belong to us, not them or their offspring.

These are just a tiny fraction of what's wrong with the government which is supposed to belong to us. I've been a community organizer and political activist for over 40 years. While I could write dozens of pages about the corruption which happens in our name, and by both parties, you know as well as I do that things just aren't right.    

Much of it is spun like a top or covered up by the corporate media like so much cat litter.  The question is what are going to do about it? It's stench affects all of us regardless of party, race, gender, or any other faux label you want to hang on yourself. Divided, there isn't much we can do and the status quo counts on keeping us that way. It's why we see so much manufactured hatred in the streets. United, there's nothing we can't do.


The Term Limit States


Term Limits: The Only Way to Clean Up Congress

Gallup Poll: Party Registration

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