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Well, now it’s been 15 YEARS since democracy failed in America, updating my post below of Dec. 13, 2010. And, as we of into another Presidential debate tonight, we’re heading toward another such electoral failure next fall. Thanks to the Electoral College, my vote in Chicago is worth one sixth of a Presidential vote in Alaska. Want to learn more about this ongoing travesty of democracy? Google National Popular Vote. Want to learn even more? Send me a message and I will email you my essay written for the Chicago Literary Club on the obsolete and dangerous Electoral College. Whatever party you support, or none at all, the Electoral College is distorting the popular vote in America, together with gerrymandered Congressional districts and national election funding that should be government funded only.

December 13, 2010 in Electoral College, government, History, Politics | Tags: Electoral College, National Popular Vote, Presidency | 1 comment (Edit)
It’s been exactly a decade since the outmoded Electoral College system of electing our Presidents, with the aid of the Supreme Court, handed the Presidency of the U.S. to a man who lost the popular vote in the nation by the population of Milwaukee. It was a close election all right, and the finger on the scale of history tipped the balance away from the people’s choice.

It’s happened three times before in our history, and it will happen again, and again, until the Electoral College is eliminated or marginalized. The electoral college was a political compromise made in the founding days of the republic, when it was feared that the common man, in the days before mass media, could not know enough about the candidates to make an informed choice. So now, in all but two states, electors unknown to the people cast all of each state’s electoral votes for the winner of the popular votes in that state, throwing out all votes cast for the opposition, and in effect dumbing down the national electoral votes, so they do not necessarily reflect the overall popular will. How dumb is that?

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Few think the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was a bad idea. When a bill was proposed last week to approve a United Nations treaty that would extend the ADA principles to all U.N. nations, with the full endorsement of John Kerry, John McCain and the legendary former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, who came to the Senate floor in his wheel chair to endorse the bill, the Senate, in its wisdom, rejected the bill. Why? Some radicalized right wingers suggested that the bill might somehow undermine the soverignty of the U.S., despite the fact that it was based on U.S. law.

To me, and to most thinking people of moderate intelligence, it’s just more evidence that our current Congress is dysfunctional, and is not effectively governing the country. I worry that the replacement of common sense deal-making by obtrusive demagogery in Congress is at risk of undermining the very stability of our society. Is Congress rejecting a functioning democracy at home and our global leadership role abroad in an attempt to create an isolationist, cowering culture intent on seeing shadows everywhere and seeming to be intent on reliving the Civil War?

It’s time to update our electoral processes, review our Constitution, get the money out of politics and expect our elected officials in Congress and the White House to govern rationally, which is what we elect them to do, right? Now, Senators, that you have embarrassed yourselves again, go home and have a nice Christmas reviewing your generous pension plan.

In the Presidential debates tonight, I doubt whether either candidate will have realistic answers for these 5 questions.

1. When will our endless wars and military occupations stop?

2. How and when will we unwind our spiraling national debt?

3. When and how will we implement election reform and restore civility to federal government?

4. How will each American receive the medical care they deserve and how will it be paid?

5. How and when will the banking and financial risk industries be separated again?

All the debate and calls for term limits in Congress prompts me to tell my story about the successful application of term limits to organizational health.

Last night, I attended a reception for myself and a fellow retiring board member of an environmental not-for-profit, the Geneva Lake Conservancy. When I chaired the group, six years ago, I urged the board to adopt term limits, in order to promote refreshing and diversifying the board on a regular basis. We phased in term limits. Over the past three months, knowing these “retirements” wee pending, we were stimulated to identify new board members, and now six have been voted in — our largest freshman class of new board members since the founding of the organization. I’ll continue to volunteer on a couple of committees and be available to help on an ad hoc basis, as will my fellow retiring board member. Now the organization will go forward, refreshed and I hope stronger than ever.

That’s what we need in Congress, too!

Yes, the Super Committee empowered by Congress and the President to work out part of our national debt issue, after Congress itself failed to do so — has failed.

What to do with the “Blooper Committee?” I think the people, including Congress, the President, the media and the people should call for their mass resignation from Congress. They have failed all of those groups, and failed in their jobs. They should resign, now, admitting their failure and sending a message to the rest of Congress and the nation, that failure is no longer an option for our leaders.

They have failed to lead. Give the next guy (or gal) a chance. It’s not a real gallows, just a political one.

As a lifelong student of public relationships, it is increasingly clear, perception-wise, that the U.S. Federal government is incompetent. The apparent looming failure of the bi-partisan Super Committee to reach agreement is just the latest example. The question: is it the institution itself that has become irrelevant and incapable of adapting to the needs of our times, or is it the people “occupying”, to use a current phrase in a different context, government offices who are incompetent? Or is is both, to varying degrees?

Representatives are elected and sent to Washington to work out issues that pertain to the masses. Their greatest recent achievement along that line were to declare pizza a vegetable in public schools!  For a long time, I’ve thought we need a new Constitutional Convention to update our scheme of governing. The Senate is dysfunctional. Campaign contributions and lobbying have gone amuck. The Electoral College subverts our democracy in electing Presidents. Endless terms in office undercut the representative philosophy of governing. The military and their corporate surrogates have too much power inside our government. Government has repeatedly demonstrated their inability to understand and control the economy. On and on.

Of course, the problem with having a Constitutional Convention is who will participate? Will it be the same goons who populate Federal government now? Probably, for the most part. Then, what do we do? Have another revolution or civil war? I hope not. I think direct public demonstrations, like the “Occupy” and “Tea Party” movements, are one way to send messages to our current leaders. The ballot box is another. If your legislator is not actively negotiating on your behalf with their counterparts, and representing your views, vote them out and someone better prepared in.  And, demand honest, balanced and probing truth from the news media, which so often let us down in that regard.

The bottom line: we must struggle through this, enact reforms large and small, keep trying to elect better people, get as much of the money and clout out of politics as possible, reform our failed institutions of government decision-making and regulation,  and tweak our economy wherever needed, and get on with it, now.

Perception eventually becomes tantamount to reality. If we want perceptions of the trajectory of our society to be positive, we must take action, quickly, before perceptions of incompetence become accepted as the new reality.

With the unchecked excesses of Wall Street and the financial markets in mind, and the growing, yawning gap between the “have’s” and burgeoning “have-nots” of American society in mind, maybe it’s time to move to some Americanized version of the German Social Market Economy model (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_market_economy). Germany’s hybrid of a U.S.-type mixed economy, with its commitment to free enterprise, together with strong government regulations to protect social services and prevent private excesses, has been in place since after WWII, and pretty successful by most standards. It is NOT socialism, but a modern system that recognizes the pragmatic reality of the strength of a robust private economic sector, with the social protections that economic self-determinism alone cannot assure.

Of course, and I say that because it is self-evident to me, our government needs major reform, if not a new Constitutional Convention, if it is to assume a responsible role in a sane and democratic future. Lop-sided influences need to be removed from the electoral process, starting with federal funding of federal elections, term limits in Congress to restore “citizen government.” Further we need to reform institutions that defeat the “one person/one vote” democratic principle. Kill the obsolete Electoral College system of electing Presidents, that allows election in 11 or 13 “swing states” to determine the Presidency.  Consider eliminating the Senate, which is a weak shadow of the old British House of Lords, and represents real estate rather than people, with its two-senator-per-state system that gives the citizens of some states 60 times the voting power of the largest states.

It is time to reform and evolve both our market economy and our representative government, and it must be done soon and together if either, if both, are to remain viable through the 21st century.

That’s it! I disown both the Republican and Democratic parties in the U.S. Their inability to work together in the national interest is subverting the economic reputation of our country.

In college, I was a young Republican, and believed in economic conservatism, with a measure of social liberalism. Thanks to the Vietnam War and the greed of conservatives, I became a staunch Democrat.

It’s increasingly become clear that neither party any longer represents the range of my beliefs and interests, and I’ve concluded that the only hope for this country is a multi-party system like much of Europe has, where one can find at least a smaller set of issues to rally support around, and then form some sort of coalition to elect a government.

We badly need a Constitutional Convention to revisit the principles upon which this nation stands. We need to get rid of the archaic and dangerous Electoral College system of undemocratically electing our Presidents. We need something like a Balanced Budget Amendment to control debt and balance revenue with spending. We need some process to protect us from the military imperialism that now characterizes our nation. Our elitist economic structure is sliding down a path towards the modern-day equivalent of the French Revolution, unless Congress, the White House and the judiciary recognize and prioritize the social values that the American people, as a democracy, hold dear. We need to protect the State from all churches, if we hope to preserve freedom of religion and freedom from religion. We need to build a new commitment to education and an enlightened and compassionate dedication to protection of the poor into our culture and economy. We need Congressional term limits, to get fresh thinking and avoid entrenched politicians. We need to control campaign contributions so our representatives are not bought and sold. We need a military draft so that our population and government stay aligned on military adventurism. And we should start an alternative domestic service draft, sort of like the WPA of the Roosevelt era, to rebuild our infrastructure and build a sense of public service among our youth.

And if I never hear the tainted words Republican or Democrat again, that’s just fine with me. I will continue to vote, but with great hesitation to support any incumbent, of either current party, in future Federal elections, unless they demonstrate a commitment to higher principles than those who are currently sold-out to dogmatic, selfish interests.

I haven’t lost faith in the American people, just in the obsolete, insular and out-of-touch political parties that pose as representative of fundamentally good people.

Indeed the American people are on the verge of running over their very lame indeed so-called Lame Duck Session of Congress, which seems unable to get together to pass any legislation that the people need and want. Whether it’s tax relief, at least for the hard-pressed middle, or unemployment relief or eliminating the hypocrisy of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” in the military, this Congress is useless. They might as well all go home and just stay there, and hope the citizens with the pitchforks stay in for the holidays.

Gee, yesterday it just so happened that the President himself argued that the various tax benefits to be had by the middle class justifies his support for the continuation of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Republicans and most democrats seem to agree this is OK. Even many of today’s pundits are calling this a fair “deal.”

Partisan politics aside, if that is possible, why is it no surprise that once again our politicians, even those elected on the premise that they would help out the little people, are supporting un-needed and un-justified tax benefits for the richest one or two percent of the population, and the increased deficit be damned?

Is there no better argument than this hypocrisy for mandating government-funded elections, to put the people back in democracy, and help get some of the big money out of politics?

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