Demonstrations the way they used to be – 60,000 gather in Union Square, New York to protest for unemployment insurance – lead by the communists – May Day 1934. You don’t believe your government just gave it to you, do you?
How “free” are we as a people to affect change in government policy or indeed any change in government? Are we more free than the British or French? The Germans or Norwegians? Or the Greeks?
A good many of us are more than frustrated by what has been termed the ossification of government; the inability to get anything meaningful accomplished, locally or in Washington. We are “free” to go about our lives, change jobs (if we can find one), make money, move to another location, watch America’s Got Talent., be a Scientologist, buy shit, argue Coke vs. Pepsi, etc. And of course, we can vote.
So what is currently wrong with our system of government which makes affecting change so difficult if not impossible?
Well first of all, IMHO the goal of the super rich is the end of a functioning democracy.
The one percent does not want “the people” to have any real say in how the nation is governed. Commencing in the 1970s the super rich began a furious effort to roll back the democratization of the 1960s.
The growth of lobbyists began to bend the legislative branches to it’s will pressuring for lower taxes, deregulation, dismantling of social programs.
The increasing cost of election campaigning brought both parties to their doors with hands out and empty pockets. Big business pushed for trade agreements which put workers all over the world in competition with each other. Jobs were exported and the wage class made to feel much greater uncertainty about the future.
The corporate executive class however was never put in competition with the Chinese, Japanese or Korean executive class. No. They were well protected.
The assault on unionism began in earnest under Reagan and has continued ever since. The greatest danger as perceived by the billionaire and business class is the solidarity of workers. Workers must stand alone against corporate power uncertain of their future. Workers must believe it is every man for himself.
Unionism is somehow “socialist” which the billionaire class has turned into a derogatory term – somehow “un-American.”
What is “un-American?” Appears to me that it is any idea or any individual opposed to corporate power and the mega-rich. If you had been criticizing Berlusconi in Italy for his corporatism, no one would have called you “un-Italian!” Anyone doing so would be greeted with howls of laughter and derision from Milan to Palermo.
“Un-American” is a totalitarian term used in a society which is not free. In the former Soviet Union the greatest crime was to be called “Anti-Soviet.” No one is un-French or un-British.
The billionaire class wants an uneducated class of worker / voters diverted by bread and circuses and thoroughly indoctrinated. The defunding of public education from Kindergarten through public universities is the perfect way to keep the populace dumb and cut taxes. The high cost of college produces kids in debt before the have their first job. They are trapped into wage slavery. They can forget their dreams while children of the wealthy live theirs. Kids with no hope flock to the military available as fodder for endless war and corporate profit.
Corporate advertising is designed to convince that there are things you must have, shit you must buy and that your “success” is measured by your “stuff.” Shopping will make you happy. Spend more than you make – easy credit is available. Keeps you in debt and working harder at that uncertain crappy job. ; keeps you doing more for less.
The inequality of income and wealth continues to grow as the billionaire class buys the government and funds BOTH major political parties. It continues to marginalize the rest of the nation. The vast majority of Americans have absolutely NO VOICE in the formulation of legislative programs and policy. The lobbyists write the bills and the House and Senate approve them without even reading them most of the time. The bills are designed to make the rich even richer and to shift the cost of government onto the backs of the working class. The assault on social security, Medicare and Obamacare go on unrelenting.
This is the direct result of minority government.
For example a huge majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade yet it will be in serious jeopardy if either of Trump’s likely nominees is confirmed to the Court. The favorite is a devout Catholic, educated a Notre Dame with a history of anti-choice decisions.
The vast majority of Americans support the Affordable Care Act yet it is under unrelenting assault by the GOP. You know – “socialism.”
Equal pay for equal work, same sex marriage, background checks for gun owners are all under serious threat with the blatant politization of the Court. Once eminent jurists were chosen on a bi-partisan manner. Justice Scalia received 100 Senate votes eople don’tboth sides of the aisle. RBG received 97. You can no longer imagine that can you.
Minority government had been enabled by the Electoral College. People don’t choose the President. Electors do.
Five times in our history, and twice in the last 20 years, we have had Presidents “elected” having lost the popular vote.
In 1824 John Adams came in second to Andrew Jackson with Henry Clay in third. The House of Representatives decided the Presidency (no candidate had achieved a majority of electoral college votes) awarding the election to John Adams. Henry Clary was Speaker of the House and ran the session awarding the Presidency to Adams. His supporters switched their votes to the second place candidate. Adams immediately appointed Clay as Secretary of State.
Rutherford B. Hayes who lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden but won the Presidency by promising Southern electors he would remove Union troops from the South. The deal brought on Jim Crow.
Grover Cleveland beat Benjamin Harrison by almost 91,000 votes but lost in the Electoral College 233 – 168.
We all remember Bush the Lesser. Al Gore won the popular vote by about 450,000 in the closest election in American history but Bush became President by carrying Florida by 537 votes thus winning in the Electoral College. Florida was being recounted when the Supreme Court, lead by Antonim Scalia stopped the recount. Trump has stacked the Court and the GOP is already getting its lawyers ready for the coming election.
Remember we now we have Donald Trump who lost the popular vote by almost 3,000,000 to Hillary Clinton but won the Presidency. How so?
Well the Electoral College is a winner take all system by state (save for Maine and Nebraska which award their college votes by pr0portion of the vote in their state). Win a state by one vote and get 100% of its electoral college vote.
Hillary piled up a plurality of millions of votes in New York, Massachusetts, California but still could not get any more votes in the electoral college than if she had won by one vote. Any votes over the majority are effectively disenfranchised.
Think of it this way – suppose Hillary got every vote in the states she won and Donald Trump carried the states he won by a single vote. Hillary’s popular vote margin would approach 8 or 10 million votes – but she still would have “lost” the election.
After the election, Trump falsely claimed that “millions of people” voted illegally and robbed him of a majority of the popular vote. That of course has since been exposed as total bull shit. Yet he continues to undermine the election doing everything he can to hold the vote down.
Still feel like you live in a democratic country?
Because the electoral college negates “one man, one vote” candidates tend to campaign only in “battle ground” states. According to data compiled by the non-profit corporation, National Popular Vote, 94% of political events in 2016 took place in just 12 states, 11 of which were deemed “battleground” states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin), plus Arizona.
Abolishing the college completely would require a Constitutional Amendment which ain’t gonna happen. Most Americans prefer the popular vote, as well. A recent poll found that 65% of Americans said presidential elections should be decided by the national popular vote, while 32% said the Electoral College should decide.
Of course Republicans are opposed to tinkering with the college. “The desire to abolish the Electoral College is driven by the idea Democrats want rural America to go away politically,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Twitter.
Some Republicans say that smaller states and more rural states will have less influence in elections that rely only on the popular vote. But these states already have little power under the current system, which relies heavily on winning over a small number of deciding states.
Other defenders have argued that doing away with the Electoral College would put white Americans at a disadvantage, a far-right talking point.
All of it relies on the illusion that states of the union are really “states.” They aren’t of course and haven’t been since the Civil War. They are today mere political sub-divisions of the nation; provinces if you will. No one is a “citizen” of the State of New York or Florida except for tax purposes and local law. In a national election, everyone’s vote should count equally.
Under our current system it is estimated that Joe Biden could win the popular vote by as many as 8 million and still lose in the Electoral College, piling up millions of plurality votes in New York, California and other “blue” areas all of which would count for naught.
Cant have the people making decisions on running the country can we?