The Watcher’s Council
Every week on Monday morning, the Council and invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day. This week’s question: Do You Consider America’s Political Climate Dysfunctional? What Changes Would You Make?
The Noisy Room: The problem we have before us has been eloquently articulated by Claire Wolfe, who said, “America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.”
There really isn’t any safeguard built into the Constitution that defends against a gradual “incrementalist” approach to infiltrating and taking over the country through the insidious device of coupling the “psych sciences” with government control of education, resulting in an indoctrination conduit directly from the socialist infiltrators into the minds of succeeding generations of American youth.
The right answer — the short answer — would be to “shoot the bastards.”
Unfortunately, since we pride ourselves on “due process” (see:corrupted government), and fairness in all things (see: bribery of corrupt officials), and strict compliance with Constitutional constraints (see: extra-constitutional agencies), we have effectively disarmed ourselves in this fight. There’s no law against sneaking your guys into positions of power and authority from which they can then “interpret” the law– and the Constitution — according to their anti-American biases and their desire to impose a new-and-improved system of government where the Republic used to be.
And so a simple solution, like vetting the candidates, is rendered completely ineffective by a “verticalized” Press, functioning no longer as the Fourth Estate, but as a Fifth Column.
Instituting government-run safeguards against government corruption, to be implemented and enforced by an already corrupt government is pretty much doomed to failure.
However… If we could at least get the vote counting out of the hands of a cadre of politically loyal henchmen who are all of a political stripe, that would be a start.
And if we could restore integrity to the voting process, and impose unconfrontable penalties on anyone caught trying to compromise that integrity, we might have a prayer.
And, finally, if we could wrest the education system away from centralized Federal control — where it should never have been in the first place — we might have a shot at raising new generations of Americans who can actually think with real data, and who can grasp what we are supposed to be about, and we might, in the end, salvage the nation.
The Independent Sentinel: Yes, it’s dysfunctional, get rid of Obama. He’s in charge. The buck stops with him.We need to hope for change.
GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Not really. It works after all, votes are voted, ballots balloted and political opponents don”t have each other killed. Consider the violence in Weimar Republic”s pre 3rd Reich era for example. Dysfunctional? Au contraire mon frer -the discourse and discussion may range from subtle to over the top at the speed of light, yet a free uncensored press along with unbridled access to information ensures the American system is highly functional.
Joshuapundit: It’s not the politics that have become dysfunctional so much as the process. And the modern enshrinement of dissent for dissent’s sake, something which may relate to the popularity of the Dr Spock theories of allowing tantrums and misbehavior as ‘self expression’ by which many Boomers (and of course now, their children) were raised.
Political campaigns have always contained a fair amount of partisan rancor. What’s different today is that the war continues after the elections are over, because the process ensures that they’re never over. A turning point in this process was the 2000 election of George W. Bush. It was the first time, certainly in the modern era, that a newly elected president was not allowed a ‘honeymoon’ period by the political opposition once the dust had cleared. It is no coincidence that it was the first election where the internet was in widespread use and the 24-hour news cycle became common.
Change the process, and you significantly change the politics. Here are a few suggestions:
1) Severely limit the presidential and midterm campaign season, and allow no campaigning or advertising prior to a set legal deadline. For example in the case of a presidential race, starting the legal campaign season in February and ending it in early November would eliminate voter fatigue and allow office seekers who hold office and are supposedly engaged in the people’s business to spend more time doing what they’re supposedly getting paid for.
2) Take the money out of politics not by trying to control input but by limiting its usefulness. Establish a strict statutory maximum that can be spent in a campaign for president, a senate or a house seat. Obviously, the state offices will differ since it costs more to run in say, New York than in Idaho.
There would be no sense in a politician amassing a war chest of hundreds of millions of dollars if a maximum of only $250,000 could be spent on a given campaign legally. Any Super PACS or outside organizations spending money on behalf of a given candidate would be required to report their spending totals and would have the money they spend count towards the statutory total a given candidate is allowed to spend.
Another possible reform would be to disallow all political contributions to individual candidates and only allow contributions to a political party, except in the case of write in candidates, who would be allowed to raise up to the statutory amount.
Again, not only would this allow office holders to spend their time governing rather than fundraising for the next rung up the ladder, but it would likely open up politics to a much wider group of people now outside the political ruling class.
3) Severe limits on television and internet advertising. A statutory limit on campaign spending would assist in this. Frankly, when you combine words, pictures, music and the modern 15 second soundbite, it does a great deal to promulgate the political culture we have today. A 10 day moratorium on all campaign ads in the week prior to the election would also be helpful.
4) A Constitutional amendment that would make voting laws throughout America uniform. It would require a photo ID, eliminate innovations like ‘same day’ registration, allow registration only by licensed registrars affiliated with no party, provide more stringent controls of absentee ballots, call for a mandatory purging of the voter rolls to eliminate deceased voters and felons whose voting rights have been revoked, significantly change certain parts of the outdated Voting Rights Act, and provide harsh statutory penalties for anyone violating the law and committing, aiding or abetting voter fraud.
5) An entirely new format for presidential debates leaning more towards Lincoln-Douglas style, with a timekeeper but no moderator.
These changes would greatly change the process, and thus the politics.
David Gerstman, AKA Soccer Dad: I remember a joke I once heard. “If con is the opposite of pro, does that mean that Congress is the opposite of Progress?”
There’s some truth in that. The founding fathers of the United States set up a system of checks and balances. These checks weren’t just on the three branches of the federal government but between the federal government and those of the states. The tensions from these competing institutions was supposed to curtail the the growth of government. So yes, Congress was meant to oppose progress. Dysfunction is a sign that our system is working correctly.
The founding fathers were extremely insightful of human nature. They knew that a ruler with no restraints would aggrandize power and prosperity for himself. (The same would apply not just for individuals but for institutions too.) The system they put in place has been robust keeping the idea of democracy alive for nearly 250 years.
Gradually, our government has lost sight of this. The federal and state governments have grown. Good policy ideas have been institutionalized into rights so that they cannot easily be modified to adjust to changing circumstances. Inertia has set in.
The emergence of the Tea Party demonstrates that there are a growing number of citizens who are aware that the dysfunction built into the system no longer serves as a brake on unlimited government.
One of the reasons that our country has lost its way, is that the free and independent press that was supposed to keep the citizenry informed, instead became an adjunct of government, conditioning the electorate to believe that government rather than individuals was the strength of this nation.
The current election will be a referendum on the proposition as to whether we need more dysfunction – the government understanding the importance of its limited nature – and progress, the continued unsustainable and unchecked growth of government.
Ask Marion: America’s present political climate is absolutely dysfunctional. I don’t think there can be any question when tea party darling and the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, is talking 3rd party! And it has become this dysfunctional because for far too long the majority and many considered ‘the right’ were not paying attention and definitely were not engaged in the political process. All the while the Progressive left consistently worked to install their programs and politicians along with their ideals in a quiet unnoticed manner by the average American. And politicians from both sides of the aisle pretty much had carte blanche for the same reason.
Meanwhile, the population of the United States developed into two opposing factions that have grown further and further apart and even more so because of the lack of communication and debate between them; there are few moderates left on either side. Then came the financial crash of 2008 causing many to vote for any kind of change as well as the emergence of the tea party as part of an overall awakening by middle America, causing both a new awareness as well as an even bigger divide between the two factions. As the awareness of the problems in government and within both parties has surfaced many people have become mistrusting of everyone and have lost trust even in their own judgment to choose the right candidate as well as losing their ability to wholeheartedly trust that things can or will change.
America, a center-right country, elected the most radical President in US history in large percentage on political correctness and guilt, who has surrounded himself and filled the government with like-minded radicals that have pushed through laws, appointments, and policies, many through Executive Orders that scare most people who are paying attention while the economic climate continues to deteriorate. But when they turn on the television they hear commercials filled with distortions, smears and down-right lies produced by Super-Pacs rather than the campaigns themselves, allowing the candidates to disavow themselves from the messages, and they see a President spending their money, as well as campaign money, on an endless campaign tour instead of governing. The 2012 campaign has also been the dirtiest campaign in my recollection. It is time people held those responsible, the chronic offenders like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, by voting them out and by refusing to watch the media outlets who promote it, as well as the candidates themselves.
It is time for the American people to clean house in Washington. Get rid of the dead wood and career politicians not affecting positive change. Get rid of the radicals who haven’t worked out. And get rid of the disastrous ‘so-called’ campaign reform McCain-Feingold Act. Flashback: Candidate Barack H. Obama said, “If I can’t fix the economy in 3-years, I should not be reelected”. He was right then and the American people need to hold him to it! We have a clear choice in November and those who can see that Obama needs to go, as stated in last week’s Newsweek cover article, need to get behind Romney-Ryan, make sure they have a Republican House and Senate and then hold their feet to the fire once they are elected. We must get involved in the process and demand fair elections and recounts, as many as it takes, until they get it right and the results are honest and true. We also need to re-educate ourselves as to what is actually written in the Constitution and about our history and then clean house and demand change in the education process of our children so that we never end up where we find ourselves today again. We as Americans cannot go back to sleep! Dysfunction comes from inaction!
After watching the Sean Hannity Special on the new movie, “The Hope and the Change” by the group Citizens United, a group of Independent and Democrat voters who voted for President Obama in 2008 that are now disillusioned and speaking out and will not be voting for the Obama-Biden ticket in 2012, and seeing the results of the Scott Walker recall attempt, I feel there is hope. This movie will be shown at the Republican National Convention, released in selected theaters in battle ground states in September and will then be aired on television and should have an effect on everyone who sees it before voting on November 6, 2012.
The Right Planet: Describing the current political climate as dysfunctional is implying at some time prior it was functioning normally. Politics is all about gaining power. Naturally, it brings out the worst in some people. The sins of the people are manifest in the body politic. If we have a dysfunctional society, naturally we will have a dysfunctional political climate. This is nothing new, of course. If one reads accounts of past political campaigns from a hundred years ago, one will see they were just as vicious, if not more so, than the sort of vitriol we see today in American politics. One current dysfunctional feature of our political climate, in my opinion, is the collusion of the liberal mains-stream media with the Democrats. Hardly what I would call a free press–more like a propaganda arm of the White House.
Bookworm Room: I’ve struggled with answering this one because I don’t know how to. Sard is correct the dysfunctional is a relative term. Right now, despite the way in which the media is skewing the political debate, there are still two sides, they are talking to the public, and there will be an election. If one side sweeps the board, as happened in 2008, that side gets to play with American politics, and the American people can see if they like the results. If they don’t, they can bring about a stalemate, as they did in 2010 and, perhaps, hand the board entirely to another team, which is what we hope for 2012. The system is only dysfunctional if corruption completely brings it to its knees. We already had a taste of it in 2008, when it’s entirely possible that felon votes gave Al Franken a Congressional seat — and the necessary number of votes for ObamaCare. If this happens on a large scale, we’re not only dysfunctional, we’re badly broken.
Well, there you have it.
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