Thom's Pseudo Democracy

100 posts / 0 new

Thom, like most political Liberals in the US, wears democracy on his sleeve as the Right does the Flag. Yet like most political Liberals in the US Thom does not dare define democracy because to do so forces the issue, which is a heresy in the US..., calling into question the moral legitimacy of the Constitution. Yet not to do so is to implicitly support a pseudo-democracy.

We see this in the way Liberals like Thom critique the 2000 election. They cannot blame the anti-democratic EC because to do so blames the Constitution and the Framers. In fact, a few months ago Thom said he found some value in the EC. So they blame Nader... or in Thom's case the Supreme Court.

Let's be clear, what the USSC did in 2000 was reprehensible. But in reality blocking the Florida recount just allowed that anti-democratic EC to do its dirty work. Yet Liberals instinctively avoid blaming the EC because to do so blames the Constitution… and who knows, maybe that antidemocratic formula might work for the Democrats next time. It did in 1992! I remember how many Dems hoped the EC might work in Kerry's favor even if he lost the popular vote in 04.

Looking at the summary of Thom's latest book at TruthOut, Thom again gives the Constitution a pass proposing a few democratic band-aids rather than real reforms. Thom seems to actually believe Progressives can work within the Democratic party and take it over as the radical Right seems to have done with the GOP. But without some real strategy for constitutional reform, what will happen is Progressives will forever be dragged back into the lesser of the evils trap… and 25-50-100 years from now… when demographic trends make the Constitution even more antidemocratic and more reform-proof… political Liberals like Thom will still be scratching their heads for a solution.

The solution Thom seems oblivious to is how we NOW begin to strategize to become modern multi-party democratic nation like most of the rest of the advanced industrial democracies!

As I suggested in a past post… without clarifying values there can be no vision and without a vision there can be no strategy. While I believe political Progressives get it, if policial Liberal ever hope to reform what is perhaps the most anti-democratic and reform-proof "democracy" on the planet… they need to revisit just what "government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed" means... and they need to start developing a 50 year plan to get there.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

Thom talks about amending the constitution all the time. He also talks about multi-party systems.

makuck's picture
makuck
Joined:
Mar. 31, 2010 10:13 pm

Quote makuck:Thom talks about amending the constitution all the time. He also talks about multi-party systems.

Thom seems stuck between admiring the multi-party systems in Europe and not wanting to critique the Constitution. And in the end, that latter impulse seems to win out. Thom seems to prefer battling with the Right to claim the vision of the Founders/Framers… as if there one ever one vision, rather than saying who cares what the Framer's intended. We can't forever be bound by the politics of 1787. It's our nation now.

As for amending the Constitution... the most I've heard Thom suggest is making it even more clear that no one ever intended corporations to be "people". And this ties into a brief discussion I had with Thom last May. Of all the things wrong with our anti-democratic and reform-proof system... a vote-weighting system that gives more power to the Right, Thom's only suggestion was reversing Citizens United. Which leave us to wonder what was Thom's "solution" to our anti-democratic and reform-proof system before Citizens United? Sadly it seems to be just more lame slogans about how democracy starts with us. But then Thom just reflects the sad state of political Liberals… and all their myriad groups… Democracy For America, Democracy Cell, etc etc. Do ANY of them propose any REAL democratic reforms? No… they propose band-aids while giving our antidemocratic system a pass.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote makuck:Thom talks about amending the constitution all the time. He also talks about multi-party systems.
I should add that if someone wanted to make the US a more democratic system they'd propose abolishing ALL aspects of state suffrage from the Constitution… in the Senate, and EC… plus the amendment, treaty, and judicial nomination processes. It's this concept that most undermines American democracy. If we didn't have such a bizarre body like the Senate where a mere 18% of the population now gets the majority of the seats… we would not need psychotic rules like the filibuster to make the body's decisions look democratically legitimate.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

All good points. I think Thom would be on board with everything you said though. Just because Thom focused on reversing citizens united for a handful of weeks doesn't mean that's all he thinks needs to be done. He's talked about most everything you mentioned, just not at the same intensity/detail. For example I know for a fact he mentioned distaste at how small states get equal representation in the senate even though they represent a smaller percentage of the population, and that it was basically a reluctant give away to bring them into the union. So it seems to me you're jumping to irrational conclusions about Thom.

makuck's picture
makuck
Joined:
Mar. 31, 2010 10:13 pm

Trax,you`re right and Thom is right,but you will have problems with "labels".Progressives cover a lot of territory.I agree all "progressives" should be united on central issues(short & long term) Controlling our money with a "Public Bank" should be issue #1.

tayl44's picture
tayl44
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote makuck:For example I know for a fact he mentioned distaste at how small states get equal representation in the senate even though they represent a smaller percentage of the population, and that it was basically a reluctant give away to bring them into the union. So it seems to me you're jumping to irrational conclusions about Thom.

I'm well aware of WHY we have all the anti-democratic features of the Constitution. I think most Americans can't get past the "whys" we learned in 4th grade to whether WE should feel bound by the politics of 1787. I think the Constitution has frozen the politics of 1787 in cement and has prevented the nation from moving on. Worst it actually undermines democracy. All we have to do is look at Bernie Sanders. He could NEVER propose reforming the Senate because his small state would never want to give up power it doesn't deserve in a democratic sense.

Yes, Thom has mentioned the Senate before, but that's where it seems to end. I've been listening to Thom for 4 years and may not have heard everything he said... but when you look at the main points in his latest book at TruthOut,
http://www.truth-out.org/thom-hartmann-rebooting-the-american-dream-07112010 you see what I mean. NO WHERE is there any mention of reforming the Constitution even though I'd argue that IT is the reason we don't have a modern multiparty nation.

Yet if we don't start thinking about the big picture, demographic trends are making those anti-democratic state-based formulas in the Constitution… the EC, the Senate, the judicial/treaty ratification process, and the amendment process even more and more antidemocratic and therefore more and more reform proof. Isn't it bad enough the Constitution in 2000 imposed on the Bush… a candidate REJECTED by the People and changed US and world history for the worst AGAINST the Will Of The People? The price of our intellectual cowardice in NOT critiquing the Constitution 100-150 years ago is now to be in a situation where states that could in theory block ANY amendment now contain as little as 4% of the population. Ever hear Thom mention ANY of this?

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote tayl44:Progressives cover a lot of territory.
In my mind the dividing line between US Liberals and Progressives is whether they want to tweak our economic and political systems or reform them. I believe people like Thom and Bernie Sanders are economic Progressives but political Liberals. Neither seems to see how our system itself is at the root of our problems. Which is why Thom's political critique and "solutions" to our problems are so intellectually timid.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote makuck:Thom talks about amending the constitution all the time. He also talks about multi-party systems.
So just what democracy? There's a huge dividing line between tossing the term "democracy" around… all one has to look at the myriad of Liberal groups with democracy in their name… and actually trying to DEFINE democracy.

So just what is it? I think Jefferson described it best as a system where government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed with elections being the tool to measure that consent.

If true we never got that system... the politics of 1787 would not permit it. Everyone invited to the Constitutional Convention wanted a check on the others... and the interests of those not invited were often left out. The result is a system of vote weighting where some citizens get a bigger vote based on their choice of state residence… and this is all mathematically verifiable. For instance because of the EC any citizen in Wyoming has about a 3.5x heavier vote for President than any citizen in California. The vote of any voter in Bush's Florida lead weighed about 1000x that of any voter in Gore's national lead.

This principle of civic inequality is ILLEGAL on every other level of government in the US. Yet the entire federal system is based on such un- and antidemocratic schemes. So while we were brought up to believe the checks and balances makes this fair… it ignores the simple fact that the minority can make policy and prevent ANY serious reforms.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The Constitution is designed to stall change. It took a Civil War to abolish slavery and the South to fire the first shot! It took another 100 years to address apartheid.

The battle between Jefferson and Hamilton continues to this day. Change vs. no change.

Jefferson suggested re-examining the Constitution every 20 years or so. Hamilton would have been appaled at the thought..Thom reminds us often of Jefferson's suggestion.

I've challenged Obama, challenged the social and economic structures, challenged the Constitution's relevancy to the present. On some boards, even liberal ones, I'd quickly be banned for doing that...especially for suggesting Obama might be a fraud during his race for the presidency. I stated very clearly I wouldn't vote for him. I supported change...the Green Party.

I'm still here...as a moderator. If Thom were adverse to change, I wouldn't be here, would I?

I note that Thom often refers to re-capturing the Dem Party. We're currently stuck with the two party system. That seems a realistic approach. I also note he doesn't suggest that as the only means for reform. It's just one more tool. Probably the biggest one is education...communication.

A carpenters shop uses every tool at their disposal...not just a screw driver. While Thom suggests using the screw driver, I haven't seen him promote keeping the rest of the tools locked away in the tool box.

Thom is the best thing going as a progressive voice on the media. That has its limitations if he wants to remain on the air... if progressives want a spokesman with a media voice. Keep that in mind.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote polycarp2:Thom is the best thing going as a progressive voice on the media.
I don't disagree. Don't take me wrong… I love Thom and listen to him every chance I get. But we should be aware of Thom's own political spectrum so we can better understand his proposals. Thom clearly is more of a economic progressive in wanting to tame capitalism than a political progressive who wants to create a truly democratic political system here in the US. Yet I'd argue that true economic reform entirely depends on true political reforms… and not the political band aids US liberals propose.

That has its limitations if he wants to remain on the air... if progressives want a spokesman with a media voice. Keep that in mind.
I have considered, wondering if Thom was self-censoring while on the air. That which is why I waited to see what Thom wrote in his last book before I posted on this topic.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote polycarp2:I note that Thom often refers to re-capturing the Dem Party. We're currently stuck with the two party system. That seems a realistic approach.
I'm not so sure. And what is there to "recapture"? It's not as if the Democrats ever valued democracy. If they did THEY would have been proposing true democratic reforms these past few centuries. Dems have bought into the system and would rather game it than reform it.

I think the system is so insidiously dysfunctional and so corrosive to the very concept of democracy that if Progressives merely try to take over the Democratic Party, in 10-20-50-100 years from now they will still be getting dragged into the lesser of the evils trap we are now. Progressives need a big picture strategy but that starts with vision. http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2010/10/whats-progressives-50-year-plan-america

As for that strategy I think Progressives need to start reforming state governments into multi-party systems based on proportional representation. Now THAT would be doing something to wake the electorate out of its 220 year coma... and provide the basis for finally reforming the federal system.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
The Constitution is designed to stall change.

In my opinion we should be thankful for that. If it wasn't here's what could happen.. you could have a corporation pour 600billion in, get every puppet locked in office, permanently, discontinue the right to vote, take all of our money by force and become a fascist dictatorship overnight. Everything passed in recent history would have been on steroids. Can you imagine citizens united, nafta, tafta etc juiced up? CEO's of the largest corporations would be the house.

makuck's picture
makuck
Joined:
Mar. 31, 2010 10:13 pm
Quote makuck:
The Constitution is designed to stall change.
In my opinion we should be thankful for that.
You seem to confuse slowing down government with the need for an antidemocratic means to do so. We could have a check & balances system WITH a multi-party system and WITHOUT resorting to antidemocratic concepts like state suffrage. We could have an amendment process that is slow and deliberate yet democratic.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote makuck:Can you imagine citizens united, nafta, tafta etc juiced up? CEO's of the largest corporations would be the house.
What if these problems were created by our CURRENT political system, one that has such a limited ideological range it's virtually braindead and one that gives the Right much more power than it deserves if we were a democratic system?

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

And how would it be if one senator couldn't hold the rest of the senate hostage and keep a bill from being voted on?. A process to slow change.

How would it be if the current twits on the Supreme Court hadn't been appointed for life...to slow change? We'll be stuck with their nonsense for a long, long time.

Note that Thom supports instant run-off voting. Just another tool, isn't it?

From my own experience in Colorado politics, I've observed that a half-dozen progressives per precinct could capture the Dem Party and field their own candidates. Very few people participate at this level.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote polycarp2:And how would it be if one senator couldn't hold the rest of the senate hostage and keep a bill from being voted on?. A process to slow change.
Not sure what your point is. I think the antidemocratic concept the Senate is based on, and most of its rules are irredeemable. If one believes in Jefferson's description of democracy then one should oppose ALL the aspects of the Constitution based on State Suffrage because ALL in some way can lead to government that does NOT have the consent of the governed. In which can that government be morally legitimate? I maintain we can't claim to value democracy and forever refuse to define the term.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Politically speaking: Thom is a progressive, not a liberal; he does not favor promotion of 3rd parties; he is single minded on advocating for democrats only; side steps any negative references regarding Israel; is equally timid about criticizing Obama and, like the US corporate propaganda machine, is unable to bring himself to have an open discussion on how meaningless elections have become due to black box voting. However, in spite of all that, he is the best progressive voice for left leaning Americans, albeit, Norman Goldman, who is about to run him over as a more courageous, liberal "voice for the people".

Constitutionally speaking: the Constitution is not an end all, comprehensive document intended to address all things - it was created to frame government, a schematic if you will, of how to organize the gov't of the new democratic republic. It could be accurately refered to as the rule of law limiting the power of government. Just because our centralized government ignores the Constitution does not mean it is irrelevant, outdated or even in need of revision. However, when a single perp in Congress can "take off the table" her sworn duty, the message is a harbinger. If ever there was a single moment in American history that could be defined as an historic event, that affected not only our own population, but that of the whole world, it was Pelosi's unilateral declaration to allow Bush's criminal conduct to rule the day.

Electoral impotence: somewhere in my lifetime the anecdotal corruption of US elections moved from isolated towns to a national, systemic collapse of legitimacy. Anymore, the only thing that legitimizes our elections are teevee talking heads. There is no longer any evidence to verify "the will of the people." IMO, it is this core issue that has permitted the most egregious rhetoric and conduct by "elected officials". Even under Reagan the disparagments, caustic missives and insulting characterizations of American citizens was mostly absent if not guarded. No more, politicians now demean the public in ways that would have had them soundly defeated at their next election. Today, they openly foment hostility among our society while treating us as trained monkeys.

A Trend: Having had some small first hand experience with military psychological operations (Psy-Ops) and rank propaganda, those who manipulate our information are not likely to overtly do anything that could influence widespread unity. We will continue to be slowly dumbed down through politically influenced education and driven into despair with economic policies they'll try to convince us is our own fault.

As a radical, that's a liberal in todays parlance, there is nothing more to see and suffer to know it can only get worse if by staying on this path.

BTW, what the hell is EC, ulTrax?

Dusty's picture
Dusty
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Oh man, today was such a wash. Let's get something together to say for next week. Something that Thom is talking about. Can we ever break through? Only through massive numbers. As Thom says. Activism, You're it. Support Nancy Pelosi, for one. Stop McConnell. Shout down opponents of ObamaCare. Rev up support for our President. Yes, say his name, which is President, and believe. He wants you to do that. Help him.

idiut's picture
idiut
Joined:
Jul. 30, 2010 10:52 am

Quote Dusty:Politically speaking: Thom is a progressive, not a liberal;
I have a hard time describing someone being a partial Progressive as truly Progressive which is why I divide people like Bernie Sanders and Thom into two separate realms... politics and economics. As I wrote Thom is clearly an economic progressive and is to the left of even the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

But Thom's politics are well within the realm of the Liberal wing of the Democratic party in that he does not give any serious critique of the Constitution nor propose any serious constitutional reforms.

BTW, what the hell is EC, ulTrax?
Sorry... the Electoral College.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
We could have a check & balances system WITH a multi-party system and WITHOUT resorting to antidemocratic concepts like state suffrage. We could have an amendment process that is slow and deliberate yet democratic.

Agreed, that's what I was trying to get at, I think you misunderstood me.

Personally I think society is close to the point where Senators/congressmen should be bringing bills forward and explaining them but the people should be voting on them. With the internet, a 3rd party, such as a truly non-partisan, non-profit, completely transparent, open source organization could host a web site where citizens could register and vote on individual issues.

The electoral college is an ancient leftover from times when voting was inaccurate and should be done away with. I'm not sure why it's even an issue.

makuck's picture
makuck
Joined:
Mar. 31, 2010 10:13 pm

If i had a penny for all the time spend on labels. IdiuT,here something for next week,with both capitalism and communism being failures,where can investors go? Maybe a public bank? Trax,you want Thom & Bernie to be less timid on ideas/solutions,give them something solid to throw out there.In their positions they cannot throw anything out there, without proof it will work.Plus they have to worry about "blow-back" on whatever they say.These guys track record show they`re not afraid of the "rulers".They need something "solid".

tayl44's picture
tayl44
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote makuck:The electoral college is an ancient leftover from times when voting was inaccurate and should be done away with. I'm not sure why it's even an issue.
What the Constitution did… or what all the constitutional apologists/defenders did since, is deprive us of a democratic vocabulary. We were all raised with the same official justifications used to sell the Constitution to a wary public back in 1787. And it's worked… even as the world has moved on the more modern systems, we can't even have an open debate about the EC let alone abolish it. To do so is to call the underlying antidemocratic nature of the Constitution into question… and in America, that's just impermissible thought. Even Thom can't seem to blame the EC for election 2000. He blames the USSC even though all they did in preventing a recount was allow the antidemocratic EC formula to proceed. This is an odd position for someone who claims to believe in democracy. Thom is even on record saying there were parts of the EC he liked.

Those are the psychological hurdles. What are the legal hurdles? First there's the absurd formula for the amendment process. It's both antidemocratic yet also too high of a bar. It's the worst of all worlds. This formula gives too much power to small states to block an amendment abolishing the EC and they are not about to give up powers they don't deserve even if it means having more legitimate elections of presidents. After all, as long as the political landscape is devoid of any popular support for true democratic values, where would the pressure come from?

In the mean time demographic trends are making the system more and more antidemocratic and more reform proof.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Some interesting and thought provoking comments ulTRAX. Much as has been discussed to death elsewhere. The crux is bringing such to fruition.

norske's picture
norske
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I don't know, I think you're being way too hard on Thom honestly. He talks about the hot issue of the day. He is a call in radio show. He needs ratings to get sponsors. He talks about what people want to talk about, and gives his always progressive take on it. He openly states all of his positions, and knows where he stands on all of them. He has shied away from the black box issue before because he wants voters to think their votes count if democracy is to have a shot. It's not about him wanting to ignore the issue. You say you want a multi-party system.. Thom has said that would be good. Just currently with what we have, often voting for the 3rd party takes away votes from the primary candidate. He votes for the 3rd party when the primary candidates aren't close so the 3rd party gets funding to continue. He believes in a multi-party system and he votes in favor of it. Saying he will vote only for a democrat just isn't true, because he has openly said he hasn't always and has given specific examples. So a lot of what you're saying just isn't completely informed about Thom. Thom is already damn progressive. Not sure how much further to the left you can push him.. he talks about socialistic multi-party democracies like Sweden with envy literally every day lol...

makuck's picture
makuck
Joined:
Mar. 31, 2010 10:13 pm

Quote tayl44:Trax, you want Thom & Bernie to be less timid on ideas/solutions, give them something solid to throw out there. In their positions they cannot throw anything out there, without proof it will work.
Since when is this MY responsibility? Thom and Bernie are full-timers, making their living off politics.

If Thom believed in true democratic reforms as he claims, and was merely self-censoring, we'd see more evidence... like in his latest book. Where is it?

The problem isn't that Thom doesn't have a spine... it's that he just doesn't seem to favor ANY major reforms to our federal system. I believe he's wearing ideological blinders or is suffering from severe cognitive dissonance. One can't fight with the Right for the legacy of the Founders/Framers without ending up buying into to the antidemocratic political system they created. We need to stop rehashing the politics of 1787, fighting for the blessings of the dead, and realize this is OUR nation now.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote makuck:Thom is already damn progressive. Not sure how much further to the left you can push him.. he talks about socialistic multi-party democracies like Sweden with envy literally every day lol...
I know you think I'm being too hard on Thom. Yet show me ANY evidence that Thom has some operational definition for the democracy he always wears on his sleeve. Show me ANY evidence he advocates reforming ANY of the core anti-democratic features of the Constitution?

I've been listening to Thom since mid-2006 and I've heard NOTHING along these lines. And you might think if Thom wanted to address these issues outside the radio show for fear of losing sponsors, he would have done so in his latest book Rebooting The American Dream. But, again, reforming the antidemocratic features of our Constitution are NOT on his Top 11 list. Of course not. He seems to think our system is fine… it's just been hijacked by the Right.

Yes, Thom MAY suggest multi-party democracy is a good idea. In which case he's a bright guy who should be able to put 2+2 together… see our system for what it is, and propose some strategy to get us to where he believes we should be. But there's just NO evidence Thom actually has any suggestions or strategy for this. ALL the evidence I've seen is that Thom is an economic progressive but when it comes to politics, he can't do more than propose band-aids to our dysfunctional and antidemocratic federal system.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I've never seen anyone propose a strategy to get away from the 2 party system. Those who believe in it feel hopeless against the power structure. That's how I feel. I personally don't see how it could realistically be done barring a complete societal collapse, which would cause those in power to leave, which would create a void, and "opportunity" for those voids to be filled. But at that point it could swing even further away from where we want to be. If Thom is not progressive enough for not being smart enough to come up with something, you should put something together and post it here since you are pushing it hard. There's no point in pushing it hard if you see no possible way to get there, that only creates dissonance among progressives/liberals. I agree with you, but when you resort to attacking one of our most progressive speakers without laying out a solution of your own it seems like a misguided attack to me.

makuck's picture
makuck
Joined:
Mar. 31, 2010 10:13 pm

"Not sure how much further to the left you can push him.. he talks about socialistic multi-party democracies like Sweden with envy literally every day lol..."

Sweden socialistic?

norske's picture
norske
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

They have a lot more public programs to benefit their society than the U.S. has to benefit theirs.. just web-search Sweden social programs.

makuck's picture
makuck
Joined:
Mar. 31, 2010 10:13 pm
Quote ulTRAX:

Those are the psychological hurdles. What are the legal hurdles? First there's the absurd formula for the amendment process. It's both antidemocratic yet also too high of a bar. It's the worst of all worlds. This formula gives too much power to small states to block an amendment abolishing the EC and they are not about to give up powers they don't deserve even if it means having more legitimate elections of presidents. After all, as long as the political landscape is devoid of any popular support for true democratic values, where would the pressure come from?

I think you make an interesting point here. Basically, what I hear is a call to change our government from a republic to a democracy. What we would end up with in the USA is a handful of cities would make the decisions, including the presidency, for the entire country. What argument would you make to the currently protected portion of the population, such as small states, that it would be in their best interest to give up those protections?

Paleo-con
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

A parliamentary system which enables a multi-party political process would require a complete overhaul of the Constitution. I don't see that happening.

The two parties controlling the process would have a lot to lose and nothing to gain.

The realistic way to address that is instant run-off voting. That's determined at local levels rather than at the federal level. It would give third parties access to the system.

Thom proposes that. It's more realistic ....has a chance of succeeding....rather .than re-writing the Constitution to institute a parliamentary democracy.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Yep folks, Poly nails it. Thom does talk practical politics, but he also does the big perspective analysis as when Hedges was on for an hour. His point about electoral reforms is that they would crack the duopoly monopoly. Working within the frame of the duopoly to widen the spectrum or even develop a counter force bigger than the corporate funding trap is a practical action even if you are a radical and want a parliament.

The educational actions can include demythologization of the Constitution as a piece of revealed holy writ so people can appreciate it as a work in progress. The real issue is DEMOCRACY, not arcane reading of obscure texts from another time. I will take what we call a "republic" as the way democracy is structured because direct participation in everything is limited to town meetings in small communities. "Democracy" is about having accountable representation instead of sending rulers to the power club. We can have a very lively discussion on how best to organize the interests of the people and to hold the power of money accountable to the common good.

I am afraid that were we to hold a new Constitutional Convention and rewrite our basic civic contract with each other, we would not come up with a very democratic answer. I am afraid we would get an officially blessed Bully State instead of a bully state operating in the name of something like democracy.

This is why I prefer a national discussion of the Pledge of Allegiance first.

DRC's picture
DRC
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

And about the EC, those who argue that it really gives the small and rural states a balance with the populated urban zones and big states is not watching the facts on the ground. Direct popular vote for President would mean that every vote, everywhere would be worth the pursuit. As it is, states with few electoral votes get little attention in the national campaigns. Those where red or blue tags can be applied go out of play and only where the winner can take all in a close race is the campaign waged.

The EC has nothing to do with the House of Representatives or with the fact that Delaware sends the same number of Senators to DC as CA or NY. That is where the small states do have inordinate power to stop democracy in its tracks.

The EC was not able to stand in the way of the Activist Supremes when they annointed Bush illegally. What is a non-precedent? And boy have we paid for it.

What Hedges points out is that the Empire has been established for some time and that the coup has been accomplished. The problem is not that the Constitution is out-dated, it is that Empires run as authoritarian, top-down power and the Constitution just gets in the way. So they just abuse it. Who stops them? Get it? It is also why they use the rhetoric of reverence instead of talking about making democracy or any governing work.

DRC's picture
DRC
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote makuck:I've never seen anyone propose a strategy to get away from the 2 party system.
So we finally agree that despite your strident defense of Thom... he has NOT proposed any solutions to this problem? Hell, I'm arguing he doesn't even really ADMIT to the problems.
I personally don't see how it could realistically be done barring a complete societal collapse, which would cause those in power to leave, which would create a void, and "opportunity" for those voids to be filled.
Our system is a true Gordian knot held together by misplaced Framer Worship, American Exceptionalism, an acceptance of anti-democratic outcomes, citizen apathy, dysfunctional electoral systems, a braindead political debate, a lack of a democratic vocabulary, an Orwellian Right trying to "restore" the Constitution etc. Then there legal hurdles of trying to get two parties that have no use for democracy to see the value of democratic reform, then do so in representative bodies that are not democratic, and where we have an absurd amendment process that gives small states a veto they are likely to use. Whew.

In this context truly reforming the US and making it into a modern multiparty democracy might never happen. But one of the FIRST steps is at least being honest about what we want, and the system we have... something I don't see Thom doing. What is a Progressive Wish List? Then developing a LONG TERM strategy to overcome each obstacle… reforming state legislatures to make them multiparty systems based on proportional representation, changing the amendment process so the bar is not that high. Openly questioning the moral legitimacy of state suffrage etc.

If Thom is not progressive enough for not being smart enough to come up with something, you should put something together and post it here since you are pushing it hard.
You seem desperate to turn an open discussion of merely trying to figure out Thom's true political beliefs into a discussion on me. I'm not the issue, am I? But the first step is for people who claim to value democracy to start being intellectual honest. Democratic reforms are NOT going to come from the Right. But I have posted on this before back in 04 at the DU and other places.. first to clarify values with an on-line think tanks and to begin to change the political debate by reforming state governments. I used to post at the official Kerry forum and people there loved the idea of the Think Tank and someone actually created a wiki site based on the idea. But that was by liberal who hijacked the idea not to use it to clarify ideas and develop a list of most desirable ideas, but "achievable" ideas... which defeated the entire purpose.

There's no point in pushing it hard if you see no possible way to get there, that only creates dissonance among progressives/liberals. I agree with you, but when you resort to attacking one of our most progressive speakers without laying out a solution of your own it seems like a misguided attack to me.
ROTF... if you agree with me and Thom apparently is NOT in favor of what you are saying you are for... then what makes Thom a political progressive?

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote Paleo-con:I think you make an interesting point here. Basically, what I hear is a call to change our government from a republic to a democracy.
Ah yes, the red herring that never dies. There is NOTHING inherent in the concept of a republic that REQUIRES it to be un- or antidemocratic.
What we would end up with in the USA is a handful of cities would make the decisions, including the presidency, for the entire country.
Either we believe in the concept of Civic Equality where all votes weigh the same or we don't. I do. Citizens should not be penalized or rewarded based on their choice of residence. I, too, believe in check and balances… but our system is based on the politics of 1787 and it seems to have set their politics in cement. Why are still stuck thinking THOSE economic and state interests the only ones that should be granted such power?

And if we believe that government derives its JUST powers from the CONSENT of the governed, then a system of checks and balances must be DEMOCRATIC not ANTIdemocratic like the Senate and EC because anytime you have a vote weighting scheme you risk MINORITY rule.

So if the intent is to give rural states the ability to protect themselves, then it makes NO sense form a democratic perspective to give them a bigger voice than they deserve to ratify international treaties or judicial nominations. Let rural states have key committee positions in shaping legislation on THOSE issues alone… and a regular vote on other issues based on their population.

What argument would you make to the currently protected portion of the population, such as small states, that it would be in their best interest to give up those protections?
Yup, this is the trap the Framers set. It's whopping poison pill that keeps our system both intellectually braindead and dysfunctional. Yet if we don't find a solution, then demographic trends are making the system more antidemocratic and more reform proof.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote polycarp2:Thom proposes that. It's more realistic ....has a chance of succeeding....rather than re-writing the Constitution to institute a parliamentary democracy.
Bandaids like IRV may useful but they doesn't solve our core problems. It still gives the two major parties the advantage on the "runoff". We have a system where ALL the bandaids in the world won't help. We can have 100% public financing of elections, 100% voting age participation, 100% vote count accuracy… and a candidate REJECTED by the People can still be imposed on the nation by the EC… and where about 18% of the population will still have a majority of seats in the Senate. A minority president and Senate can get us into destructive international treaties that become the supreme law of the land and pack the judiciary with right wing Neanderthals. We will STILL have an amendment process where about 4% of the population can block any reform. Explain again how IRV or any of Thom's band aids will help!

Implicit in Thom's approach is NOT to even intellectually challenge the above. Implicit in Thom's approach is system will remain antidemocratic and get more so. It's an odd position for someone who CLAIMS to believe in democracy... don't you think?

If we NEVER even discuss a Progressive vision for the US we'll never bother discussing the obstacles and how to overcome them. In 25-50-100 years Progressives will still be mired in the lesser of the evils trap just as WE are today because reforms were not made 100 years ago.

The radical Right hasn't shied away from taking a long-term strategic approach to THEIR goals. They know the current system works to THEIR benefit so they want to preserve. Yet the Left… or should say Liberals, wear blinders… denying that our core problems are byproducts of our braindead, dysfunctional political system. Liberals like Thom are living in fools' paradise.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote DRC:Yep folks, Poly nails it. Thom does talk practical politics,
Just what is practical about refusing to even critique an antidemocratic and reform proof system that has become braindead and dysfunctional and through that refusal help perpetuate it? Worst… to do so while claiming with every second breath to believe in democracy? Thom is not being intellectually honest and we should call him on it.

BTW if the Framers thought in practical terms, they never would have attempted to reform the Articles of Confederation which was equally reform proof. They developed a strategy to overcome those obstacles.

Progressives should too… even if it takes 50-100 years.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The only red herring I see is the one that continues to insist we are a democracy, or should be. Democracy does not work, it never has. Democracy is what happens when 4 wolves and a lamb get together and decide whats for dinner. In your world, the lamb should consent to the just powers of the majority and lay down on the plate. Our system is designed to respect the lamb's liberties. Poison pill or not, you still haven't explained how to convince the lamb, he or she should go to the dinner meeting without armor.

Paleo-con
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote Paleo-con:The only red herring I see is the one that continues to insist we are a democracy, or should be. Democracy does not work, it never has. Democracy is what happens when 4 wolves and a lamb get together and decide whats for dinner.
My you learned your right wing taking points well! Little Johnny gets a gold star! Seriously, you ARE just parroting red herrings. A Republic is based on democratic principles and there's NOTHING inherent in a the concept of a republic that REQUIRES it to be ANTI-democratic. I use the term democracy in this thread because I'm critiquing Thom's use of the word. But either way, I'm sure we BOTH believe in constitutionally protecting rights. And this is the OTHER way to protect minority rights WITHOUT resorting to giving SOME minorities more power in government as our system does. We didn't give people who own the presses or who went to church actual POWER in government. But we DID do so with other interest groups.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote Paleo-con:Our system is designed to respect the lamb's liberties. Poison pill or not, you still haven't explained how to convince the lamb, he or she should go to the dinner meeting without armor.
We first have to change the debate so we move from the politics of 1787 to back to 1776 when we first talked about morally legitimate government. Rights can be protected in numerous ways WITHOUT resorting to antidemocratic "solutions" as the Framers did. I now have provided two other methods... key positions in Congress and by the protection of LEGITIMATE rights constitutionally. But will this be enough to get our small populations states to give up the gravy train? Probably not. It might take a large state like California to force a constitutional crisis by threatening succession.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Nope, no talking point here, just plain logic. Any attempt to apply mirror labels is an expected tactic, but not effective; we can save the red herrings for the fish tank. Okay, I'll give it a last try... How does a minority protect its costitutional protections without an unequal vote? And still... How do you talk them into giving up those rights?

People with presses and church goers have the same power in government as the rest of us. I am not sure why there would be any suggestion otherwise.

Paleo-con
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The only real protection minorities have is in the pluralism of society. When we establish things like "freedom of religion," it is because we all have a "minority" stake in our freedom and therefor a majority interest in the freedom of others (all). The same applies to civil rights and issues of personal conscience where we can be for the rights of others even when we are not all that much for what some others are for. It is our rights that include the individual and all of us.

On issues about how we spend our collective treasury, we have established the principle of "one person, one vote." As a civil society, we have an equal voice on what our society should be and what we want to have as public policies. We levy taxes to raise the money to have the infrastructure for prosperity and security we want collectively, and if some of us feel that they are paying more than a fair amount, they get to tell us about it politically. If we are really stupid, we will thwart Commerce. But that would take being very different from who we are now. Our problem today is that we worship an economic religion that does not produce what it claims it will and blame the victims for the results.

The wealthy are misbehaving radically as they demonstrate their lack of merit as social leaders. They are sociopaths and need to be seen as such. This "wealth creator" narcissism is bs. If they had created real wealth we would have seen it. We would be fat and happy now. Stop pretending up is down and poverty is wealth. Progressives like David Korten are trying to save capitalism from its devotees.

DRC's picture
DRC
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote Paleo-con:How does a minority protect its costitutional protections without an unequal vote?
You're not at the top of your game, are you PC? Or are you just playing dumb? MOST guaranteed rights here in the US are NOT protected by granting a minority a heavier vote than others. Deal with it!"

Direct question to you: where would it stop? When Blacks and women earned equal rights... are you saying they could never be protected by amendment unless they, too, were given unequal votes? And if THEY can be protected constitutionally... why can't the legitimate interests of small population states be done in the same manor?

Of course I'm referring to LEGITIMATE interests. There should be NO right to vote weighting schemes because in a democracy/republic that depends on the CONSENT of the governed, they can lead to MINORITY RULE. At some point we have to draw the line on this. CITIZENS deserve representation... not interests.

As for your suggestion this can't work... such vote weighting has been ILLEGAL on the state level since the early 60s. Yet minorities in those states there seem to have worked it out.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote DRC:On issues about how we spend our collective treasury, we have established the principle of "one person, one vote." As a civil society, we have an equal voice on what our society should be and what we want to have as public policies.

Sorry DRC, under our system we can't have an equal voice if the votes of some citizens weigh more than others. It really renders the "one person, one vote" formula rather meaningless. Leaving aside all the other defects in our system, as long as there are vote weighting schemes, then there's the possibility of rule by the minority.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Thom is so progressive he even neglected to mention any third party candidate in the last election. Frankly, his partisan support for dems is counter-productive. He supports the party of the spineless who are giving away the ranch that "we the people" own.

Progressive - one who lacks the balls to call himself a liberal.

Liberal - supports inclusiveness instead of exclusiveness and on and on and on...

It isn't that Thom isn't a bright guy doing what he thinks is right it's the flaw in his logic - like taking over the dem party. Look, if he wants to push Obama he better start advocating support for a challenger.

Dusty's picture
Dusty
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote makuck:I've never seen anyone propose a strategy to get away from the 2 party system.

Instant runoff voting. We've discussed it many, many times here.

Choco's picture
Choco
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote Dusty:Progressive - one who lacks the balls to call himself a liberal.
I know many Liberals ran from the name after the Right so demonized it. But that doesn't change the fact that in the US, Liberals... or liberal Democrats, really don't want to make any major reforms to either our economic or political systems. So in your mind what do you call those who do? I call those who do Progressives. You seem to think the term is a refuge for spineless Liberals.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote Choco:
Quote makuck:I've never seen anyone propose a strategy to get away from the 2 party system.
Instant runoff voting. We've discussed it many, many times here.

IRV gets rid of the problem of a candidate winning with only a plurality of votes, as opposed to a majority. IRV is useful in a FEW instances... like voting for a mayor, governor, or president. IRV does NOT deal with the major defect in our system which how we hold elections by districts and states. IRV does NOT move us to a democratic system where all votes weigh the same or move us to proportional representation. And IRV still gives the two major parties the advantage and may in fact perpetuate them in place.

The notion that IRV is a solution to deeper problems of our antidemocratic and dysfunctional system is laughable.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I actually added a lot more to this and I agree that it is not a solution by itself. But when I went to post, it said access denied. I guess it was a glitch because here I am again. I'll write it again in word that way I won't lose it. Should have known better.

Choco's picture
Choco
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote ulTRAX:IRV is useful in a FEW instances... like voting for a mayor, governor, or president. IRV does NOT deal with the major defect in our system which how we hold elections by districts and states.
From wikipedia

IRV is most suited to elections in which there can be only one winner, such as a mayor or governor. Legislative bodies, city councils or boards also often elect winners by dividing voters into geographic districts, which produce a single winner per race. In this latter case, IRV often produces results that are less representative than even First Past the Post. While each "winner" may enjoy "majority" support in their district, representation of "minorities" frequently suffers when you consider the body as a whole.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Currently Chatting

Green World Rising

In two previous videos narrated by Leonard DiCaprio and available over at GreenWorldRising.org, we’ve seen the dangers that global warming and climate change present for our planet and the human race.

Powered by Pressflow, an open source content management system