I have written several articles on postings related to Reform in America. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address additional areas rife for reform.
8 Words That Could Save Our Country
A rogue Supreme Court seems hellbent on establishing a corporate oligarchy. Congress can’t stop it. Every time Congress or state legislatures tries to curb the power of billionaires or mega corporations the Court slaps them down.
Citizens United v. FEC, the recent Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations to spend unlimited sums of money to influence elections is only the most recent step in this process. There will be more. But the shocking decision may be sufficient to galvanize a political movement that can change the rules and ensure our democracy.
We can save our country by adding eight words to the fundamental law of the land, the US Constitution. “Corporations are not persons.” “Money is not speech.”
Such a development is not without precedent. Once before a political movement has changed the Constitution to nurture democracy. The populist uprising of the late 20th century led to the passage, in rapid succession of the 16th Amendment in 1913 that allowed for an income tax, the 17th Amendment, ratified the same year that required the direct election of Senators and in 1920 the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.
A campaign to strip corporations of personhood would have a similar populist and popular appeal. A recent Quinnipiac poll reveals a whopping 79 percent public disapproval of the Court’s ruling. A Washington Post-ABC News poll puts the figure even higher at 81 percent. And as Dan Eggen of the Post writes, “The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent).”
But win or lose, a campaign against corporate personhood would allow us to regain control of a narrative we lost in 1980 when Ronald Reagan declared in his Inaugural Address, “government is the problem” and initiated a process that has resulted in the greatest concentration of private wealth and power in American history.
People may not know exactly what Goldman Sachs is, but they know it is not a person. A person doesn’t have unlimited life or limited liability. A person is responsible for her decisions. If she makes a decision that kills or maims people she will go to jail. If a CEO makes such a decision she, at worst, receives a golden parachute.
Unlike a real person, a corporation lacks a conscience. It is guided neither by ethics nor morality but rather by laws that required its Boards to elevate the maximization of profits above all other concerns. A real person is an independent actor, subject to many influences that affect how he votes. Warren Buffett, for example, thinks it is in his and society’s best interest for him to be required to pay more taxes. A corporation that made this decision could be taken to court by its stockholders.
In his The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith’s first, and in his own mind more important work than Wealth of Nations, he outlined his view of the institutions that make men virtuous. He focused on the inherent human qualities of gratitude and sympathy and empathy that lead to a merging of our self-interest with the public good. To Adam Smith, that was the real invisible hand. A corporation lacks sympathy or empathy although occasionally it might express gratitude in the form of increased financial contributions to politicians who do its bidding.
The curious tale of how a corporation became a person
President Obama had the opportunity to launch a vigorous and informed national campaign on corporate personhood in his State of the Union Address. He came close, tiptoeing up to the topic and then backing away. His was a historic moment, coming just a few days after the Supreme Court decision and in front of an audience of more than 40 million Americans. The President did raise the issue. “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections,” he noted. “Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
From the balcony, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words “not true.”
Not true? That was the moment the President should have presented his case. And what better person to explain to people the bizarre history of corporate personhood than a brilliant, articulate African American who was also a Professor of Constitutional Law?
He would have taught his virtually all white Congressional audience that the end of the Civil War did not result in ex-slaves gaining either citizenship or the franchise. The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865 abolished slavery but it did not grant either citizenship or the right to vote. Congress tried to achieve those goals by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866, but Andrew Johnson, the man who succeeded to the Presidency after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, vetoed the legislation, declaring it improper “to make our entire colored population…citizens of the United States.”
Johnson’s veto led directly to the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868. The Amendment’s first paragraph finally gave all blacks the Constitutional right of citizenship. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
President Obama would then have described how the Supreme Court quickly subverted and perverted the clear intention of the 14th Amendment. It did so in 1876 in a case involving a white militia that had attacked ex-slaves gathered at the Colfax, Louisiana courthouse, killing over 100, most of them after they had surrendered. Several members of the militia were indicted by the federal government under the Enforcement Act, a law passed to protect blacks against vigilante groups like the Ku Klux Klan. The Court ruled that the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment applied only to state action, not to actions of individuals: “The fourteenth amendment prohibits a State from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; but this adds nothing to the rights of one citizen as against another.” The Court’s decision paralyzed the federal government’s attempt to protect black citizens and spawned two generations of lawlessness and vigilantism. Indeed, Federal civil rights enforcement was blocked until 1966 when the Court finally overturned the 1876 case and sanctioned the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
After explaining how the Supreme Court made the 14th Amendment a weak and ineffective tool to defend the rights of natural persons, President Obama would have explained how the Court, in a feat of unprecedented judicial activism, converted the 14th Amendment into a strong and effective tool for defending artificial persons.
It is a fascinating and almost unbelievable tale for the simple fact that the Court never actually decided that a corporation is a person. Indeed, there has never been a Supreme Court decision that has explained how it arrived at this conclusion. In 1886, in a case that had nothing to do with corporate personhood, the court clerk wrote a headnote to the case that contained these fateful sentences, “The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.” Since the case itself never addressed the question these words did not comprise a legal precedent. Nevertheless, from then on the Supreme Court has considered the question settled.
Corporate lawyers must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when the headnote appeared and was taken as precedent because they knew the Court would it impossible to make a case for corporate personhood. The Constitution doesn’t mention corporations. The American Revolution was, in part, catalyzed by hatred of corporations. As Tea Partyers should know by now, the Boston Tea party was not a protest against government or taxes. It was a protest against a huge private corporation that had been exempted from taxes in order to gain a competitive advantage against domestic suppliers. And how were the Justices going to get around the clear language of the 14th Amendment, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States…”
Throughout the 19th century corporations were highly regulated by and subservient to states. By 1886 a populist wave of anger against corporations was sweeping the country, ushering in the first generation of anti-trust legislation.
No, the Supreme Court never made the case for corporate personhood because it couldn’t. It simply assumed it and we continue to live with the consequences. Some 65 years later Justice William O. Douglas observed, “the Santa Clara case becomes one of the most momentous of all our decisions. Corporations were now armed with constitutional prerogatives.” And they made the most of these new prerogatives.
The 14th Amendment, written to protect weak and largely defenseless ex-slaves, was mostly used to protect big and powerful corporations. Of the 150 cases based on the 14th amendment the Supreme Court heard between 1886 and 1896, 15 involved blacks and 135 involved business entities.
In the next 20 years, relying on the 1886 “precedent” the Supreme Court steadily expanded the number of Constitutional rights accorded to this new type of person. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) offers a partial list: in 1893 the Court accorded corporations the right of due process under the 5th Amendment. In 1906 it extended to them the protection against search and seizure in the 4th Amendment. In 1908 it extended to corporations the 6th Amendment right to a trial by jury.
By the 1940s Justice Felix Frankfurter could accurately declare, “Artificial or not, corporations have won more rights under law than people have– rights which government has protected with armed force.”
Imagine if the President had used the bully pulpit at the State of the Union to tell the truth about corporate personhood the week after the Supreme Court gave corporations the right to dominate elections. He didn’t but he still can and the Democratic Party still can, because if is the most important issue of our times.
Money equals speech
The issue of money and speech is separate from the issue of corporate personhood and deserves its own constitutional amendment, although the two issues are related because corporations have the most money and therefore benefit the most from the Court’s 1976 ruling that money is speech.
In that decision, the Court allowed campaign limits on direct contributions but not on indirect contributions. The First Amendment’s free speech rights protected political expenditures. As long as expenditures were not funneled through the candidate or the candidate’s campaign, they would be allowed.
Money has always been important in politics, but today we can without fear of contradiction say that money rules politics. The Center for Responsive Politics puts the total cost of the 2008 elections for Congress and the White House at $5.3 billion, including spending by candidates, national political parties and outside issue advocacy groups. A USA TODAY analysis of campaign contributions in 2007-2008 identified 175 members of Congress who received half or more of their campaign cash from 4600 political action committees (PACs) spawned by the 1976 ruling.
Money matters. The candidate who spends the most money wins over 90 percent of the time. This is true even for open seats. The top spender in House open seat contests won 84 percent of the time. The Senate candidate who spent the most in an open seat race did even better, winning 88 percent of the time. This is the reason members of Congress now spend 25-40 percent of their time begging for money.
A majority of political money still comes from individual contributions, not from PACs. But Jeff Milchen, the Executive Director of ReclaimDemocracy.org points out that just one in a thousand adult Americans contributed $1,000 or more to any candidate in 2004 but those contributions constituted more than 80 percent of the money raised from individuals by candidates for the presidential nomination. “The power of that 1% of citizens making thousand-dollar investments is further amplified by their ability to “bundle” contributions in the name of family members, co-workers or employees to offer many thousands of dollars to a candidate in a lump sum”, notes Milchen. “In George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign, bundling $200,000 was the measure by which donors gained serious influence.”
Jamie Raskin, a Maryland state senator and law professor at American university offers a hypothetical example that demonstrates the Citizens United decision. The Fortune l00 corporations had profits in 2008 totaling about $600 billion. If they spent only l percent of their profits on elections, a trivial sum to protect and foster their interests, the total comes to $6 billion. That is more money than was spent for and on behalf of all congressional and presidential candidates in 2008.
Political scientist Thomas Ferguson has developed an “investment theory” of politics. By tracing the source of campaign funding to the parties and their candidates, he insists, you can predict the issues the parties will push and their policy positions once in office. “Public opinion has only a weak and inconstant influence on policy. The political system is largely investor-driven, and runs on enormous quantities of money”.
“…most of American business and the superrich have espoused increasingly radical versions of “laissez faire” economics…demands for tax ‘relief’, freedom from regulation, cuts in social welfare expenditures, labor cost reductions and tighter control of increasingly decentralized production systems dominate the funders’ consciousness and thus public consciousness…”, Ferguson maintains. For these sectors, ‘compromise’ means foregone profits. They are, accordingly, unbending and expect their political mouthpieces to be similarly unyielding.”
Each time Congress or the states have tried to rein in the power of concentrated wealth the Roberts Court has said no. Citizens United is simply the latest and so far the most egregious example.
When states or the federal government try to make elections fairer the Roberts Court says no. Vermont passed a law to cap campaign expenditures for state offices. The cap for Governor was $300,000. On a per capita basis, that is about $18 million for a California gubernatorial candidate. In 2006 the Roberts Court struck the law down.
In 2002, Congress tried to close a loophole in the campaign finance law that allowed billionaire candidates to spend an unlimited amount of their own money on their own campaigns. Congress didn’t try to impose a limit on their spending. The Court had already forestalled that option in 1976. Instead it allowed a candidate to gain access to more public and other financing when her opponent spent more than $350,000 of her own money.
The Roberts Court struck down what has been called, appropriately, the “millionaire’s amendment”. Speaking for a 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito, the same Justice who shook his head at President Obama told Congress that it may not act to “level electoral opportunities.”
In 2007 in a case based on the same provision of the same law as Citizens United, the Court held that corporate and union ads were constitutionally protected so long as they did not explicitly endorse or oppose candidates. Citizens United expanded that constitutional protection. David Kairys, Professor of Law at Temple University wryly observes, “before Citizens United, a corporation or union could sponsor ads with its treasury funds that said ‘Tell Congressman Smith to stop destroying America.’ After Citizens United, they can add at the end ‘and, by the way, don’t vote for him.’”
Nathaniel Persily, Director of the Center for Law and Politics at Columbia predicts that Citizens United will not be the Supreme Court’s last obeisance to corporations. “… the ban on soft money, which prevents corporate and union contributions to political parties and candidates, might be the next restriction to fall. If corporations are like individuals, how can Congress completely ban soft-money contributions from one while letting the other give within limits? The case RNC v. FEC, now working its way up to the court, poses a very similar question. Given the tone of Citizens United, we should expect a bold response.”
Heather Gerken, Professor of Law at Yale Law School believes the impact of Citizens United goes even further to undermine democracy by dramatically narrowing the definition of political corruption. “For many years, the Court had gradually expanded the corruption rationale to extend beyond quid pro quo corruption (donor dollars for legislative votes). It had licensed Congress to regulate even when the threat was simply that large donors had better access to politicians or that politicians had become ‘too compliant with the[ir] wishes’. Indeed, at times the Court went so far as to say that even the mere appearance of ‘undue influence’ or the public’s ‘cynical assumption that large donors call the tune’ was enough to justify regulation. That is true no longer.” As the Court announced in Citizens United, “ingratiation and access . . . are not corruption” and “The fact that speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that these officials are corrupt. …”.
The Roberts Court has ruled that Congress cannot intervene to make elections fairer by reducing the campaign advantage of a billionaire candidate. It has denied Congress the power to intervene to make elections fairer by reducing corporation influence. And it has intimated that Congress cannot even intervene to eliminate the potential for money-related corruption.
It is time for a four word Constitutional Amendment: “Money is not speech.”
Happily many groups are working for a constitutional amendment that strips corporations of personhood and ends the free speech rights of unlimited campaign spending. Most are small and poorly financed. Some like Public Citizen’s http://www.dontgetrolled.org focus on getting names on a petition urging Congress to act. Others like the coalitions around http://www.movetoamend.org and http://www.freespeechforpeople.org are proposing the actual text of amendments.
In February Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD), introduced a resolution to amend the U.S. Constitution. It reads, “The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity.”
This is a step in the right direction but I worry about the wording. First of all, a national campaign to give Congress the right to regulate may end up putting the spotlight on Congress, the only institution that has a lower approval rating than Goldman Sachs. Secondly, the amendment does not get to the heart of the issue by challenging the personhood of corporations and cutting the link between money and free speech rights.
5 Ways to Save Our Country’s Soul
Could the United States of America, the world’s most powerful country, become a failed state, just as the mighty Roman Empire once did?
These kinds of failures don’t happen quickly. The Roman Empire did not fall overnight.For 200 years, the western half of the Roman Empire – once the world’s most advanced pillar of education, innovation and the arts – wavered under the weight of constant warfare, overspending, and government corruption. Its collapse was self-inflicted, and while it wasn’t inevitable, little was done to stop it. Early historians of the time even described the Roman Empire as a dying republic before it eventually crumbled.
I fear we may now be witnessing a similar weakening of the United States, both internally and on the world stage.
The widening disparity between the wealthy and poor, the racial inequality that leads to human rights violations, and our polarized, uncompromising tribal politics continue to sap our strength and our unity. A financial situation that includes a fast-growing national debt which no longer seems manageable and many more challenges, too long to list here, all have America, the “shining city on a hill,” now slipping down the slope.
If the United States, the “Great Experiment” in democracy, further weakens its influence in the world, then like the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire, humanity could plummet into another Dark Ages, a period of lethargy and decline. Which world power will then step in to help lead the world? China? Russia? Which nation has the moral authority, the liberty and the democratic form of government that the U.S once pursued?
Despite some similarities with the history of the Roman Empire, however, the “failed state” outcome doesn’t need to turn out the same way for the U.S. The United States of America has a destiny beyond mere material success. This nation has always conducted an ever-improving experiment – operating with a level of vision and boldness that has helped the country and society improve and prosper. In some important ways, the goals of the United States – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – are truly spiritual goals, not just governmental ones.
The followers of the Baha’i Faith, me among them, have long believed in the spiritual destiny of America. Here is an excerpt from a prayer spoken by Abdu’l-Bahain Chicago in 1912:
O God! Let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees, even as it has aspired to material degrees, and render this just government victorious. Confirm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the Most Great Peace, to become thereby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the nations of the world.
So how can the United States “upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity” and “promulgate the Most Great Peace?” All around the world, humanity desires leadership that stands for good, watches out for the downtrodden, and protects the health of the planet and the rights of its inhabitants. In the absence of an effective system of global governance, only the United States, unfettered by Europe’s historic fractiousness or the autocratic approach of some other powerful nations, has the freedom and the moral authority to take on that role.
The United States cannot lose this moral authority – it could set the world back hundreds of years. So, let’s explore what we need to focus on to improve our current situation.
You Cannot Find Peace By Constantly Planning For War
In the third and fourth centuries after Christ, Germanic and Goth tribes won several battles against the Roman Empire, which was under constant threat of invasion and raids. As Rome’s policies of colonization spread its military across wider territories, Roman taxes rose, and resistance to paying those taxes increased.
Likewise, the United States has engaged in expensive overseas military campaigns for decades and, more recently, has declared war on enemies and ideologies with no real borders or centralized leadership. The goals of those military campaigns, often vague or too complicated for the average American to understand, have led members of Republican, Democrat and third parties to express their frustrations over decades-long war engagements with no discernible exit strategies.
War, as a means to protect humanity, is one thing. Many historians believe that World War II, for example, was necessary to stop genocide and take humanity to a safer place. But in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has spent trillions of dollars without much positive outcome – and has lost some of its moral authority as a result.
The money the U.S expended so far on the Afghanistan War, for example, has far exceeded multiple years’ worth of GDP in Afghanistan. The vast sums spent on these wars, however, isn’t the primary problem.
Instead, the moral outcome diminishes America’s standing in the world. We cannot kill people and then ask the survivors to respect us.
War creates not only casualties in the hot zones of battle but at home. Maintaining a war effort comes at the expense of funding vital domestic programs and services such as education, healthcare, infrastructure – and once these decline, so does the quality of life and life expectancy.
The United States has a$740.5 billion budget for national security. It spends more on defense than the combined spending of the militaries ofChina, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, UK, and Germanycombined.
To make up for that excessive military spending, in 2019 the federal government enacted a $248 billion cut to Medicaid. The next federal budgetproposes cutting billions of dollarsfrom programs to support Americans with disabilities, significant reductions in college student financial aid, and eliminating food assistance for more than 10 million Americans.
When the world accumulates weapons of war it inevitably ends up using them. Historically, this has always been the case. That’s a very terrifying prospect today, given how much weaponry many countries have already accumulated and how many resources have been spent on planning a level of destruction never yet witnessed by humanity.
The Roman Empire fell, not only because of foreign invaders, but because its economy collapsed. The economy of the Roman Empire operated precariously for much too long, trying to maintain a far-flung Empire. According to The History Channel,“constant wars and overspending had significantly lightened imperial coffers, and oppressive taxation and inflation had widened the gap between rich and poor.”
The United States arguably finds itself in an even worse position today. As of June 2020, the U.S national debt is $25.2 trillion. The World Bank found that if a nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds 77% for an extended period of time, it slows economic growth. The U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is 110% – and that’s assuming a healthy pre-pandemic GDP, which may be wishful thinking at least for a few years to come, during which almost certainly we will add much more to the national debt.
When that happens, inevitably the U.S currency will decline, interest rates will rise, imports will become more expensive and inflation will occur.
With a $4 trillion dollar annual budget – and if interest rates go back to where they were in the early 2000’s – there will be more than a trillion dollars in interest that we will have to pay annually. That’s 25% of the entire budget. In that case, the math simply won’t allow for the U.S to continue as a world power.
The former chairman of Citigroup,Walter Wriston, famously declared, “Countries don’t go bankrupt” – but that’s just not true. Many countries have bankrupted themselves – for example,Argentina faces defaultfor a second time this century. Given everything we as a nation have dealt with, we simply cannot keep our heads in the sand and assume that for some inexplicable reason we are different and that arithmetic simply doesn’t apply to us.
Soon the world may not have enough free cash flow to support our desire to live outside of our means. To think the United States cannot fall victim to this is absurd. What is so unrealistic about believing we have such a great burden of debt that the system can collapse?
The Rise of the Eastern Empire
In Rome’s case, its own eastern half, headquartered in Constantinople, often posed major problems. In fact, that portion of the Roman Empire, known as Byzantium or the Byzantine Empire, actually survived the fall of the Western branch of the Empire.
But for the United States today, the rise of China and the diminishing U.S. participation in international affairs pose the biggest threats to its global influence.
Recently, the United States has begun to take a significantly isolationist stance in governing, withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, UNESCO, The World Health Organization, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-nation free trade agreement meant to counter China’s growing influence in global commerce. This isolationist policy returns the United States to a 19th-century view of the world, a nationalist approach ill-suited to the interdependent world we live in today.
Nationalism has never ended well. The reality is that global ecommerce, trade agreements and treaties have connected the world further than any ancient empire ever succeeded in doing. Functionally, the world is one. National borders no longer pose a major barrier to trade, migration or commerce, but certain governments still try to enforce their borders as they did a century ago because it benefits those in power, not the people. They work to dismantle the institutions that center and balance the country’s collaboration with other countries.
In real terms, the world in 2020 has become more like a single country – which means we need better global governance, not a return to unbridled nationalism and the network of dysfunctional relationships and rivalries it creates. The weaker our global institutions become, the more chaotic interactions between nations will become. We have a global economy – but we still act locally. Humanity has reached a new apex of global collaboration, but many governments still try to draw lines and build walls.
Rome’s emperors indulged in excesses, and the Roman Senate was not only corrupt but incompetent. During its decline and fall, the Roman Empire suffered through periods of turmoil, with one single year having four emperors and another six.
For the United States, the political divide between the two major parties, Republican and Democrat, has widened significantly over the course of 30 years. That polarization means the parties are increasingly at odds with each other at the expense of the average citizen. Citizens have not collectively done enough to dismantle this corrupt approach to governance.
Elected officials have been caught in scandals, selling their offices and profiting from their positions. They’ve allowed monopolies like Google, Amazon and Facebook to control more than 80 percent of their industries. Companies now build billionaires, not jobs, and billionaires create their wealth from stock prices and often the manipulation of those prices, rather than from profits and their share of them.
Commercialized, profit-centered news media, running 24/7, driven solely by ratings since the 1990s, blurs the lines between information and entertainment. That continues to fan the flames of partisan division in the country, even as new threats of disinformation, foreign propaganda, and conspiracy theories spread unchecked online.
With all of these factors at play, thetrust in America’s institutionshas dramatically eroded. Overall trust levels in government and public institutions, ranking at 84% of Americans who said they trusted their national government during the middle of the 20thcentury, has declined to less than 33% today.
If a couple is disunified, they’ll end up divorced. Only love and unity enables things to get built. We must resolve this issue of partisanship and trust, or we won’t end up in a better place.
Why the World Should Fear an American Collapse
I am an immigrant, a refugee. I have loved this country from a distance – as a child in Iran facing daily persecutions, learning about the United States in school and in the media, about its greatness, its opportunities, its leadership in the world. The U.S gave me a home when mine didn’t want me. Icannot put into words how much I love this country.
The United States was never perfect, but for generations, it served as a beacon of hope and set an ethical example for the rest of the world.
I don’t know if today’s children will view America the same way I did.
What followed the fall of the Roman Empire was a period that swept Europe referred to (debatably) as the Dark Ages – defined not only for its decline in culture, science, and innovation but becauselife became nasty, brutish and short. This period lasted 900 years.
We Owe It to the World to Save this Country
One of the best things any American can do for the future of the world is working to save their country from its decline and fall. Here are a few ways we can all work on this together:
- Become an engaged citizen. Vote – in every election. Get off the partisan bandwagon, change your political affiliation to “no affiliation,” and adhere to that independent principle. Freedom comes with responsibility. Commit yourself to becoming educated on the issues, diversify your news sources, expand your friendship circle, and follow the best answer to problems instead of blindly following one political party and voting only for that party.
- Dismantle racism in our communities and institutions. Yes, Black Lives do Matter. Racism is America’s original sin. Until we have love, equality and justice for everyone, we will not be united as a nation.
- Become an activist for love. How can we justify spending more on weapons but less on education than the rest of the world? We need to implement a change in the way we think about safety and peace. Let’s bring about national security by being a source of good and not a country the rest of the world should fear or despise. Let’s demilitarize and disarm, and end our foreign entanglements. Bridges cannot be built in times of war.
- Recognize the pitfalls of greed. We cannot expect our government to run an untenable national debt and have an ever increasing expectation of additional services and higher benefits, assuming that somehow the math will work. We should allow our elected officials to tackle difficult financial decisions without fearing that as a result they will not get reelected. We can put them at ease by empowering them to make the right decisions.
- Nationalism breeds exceptionalism – we must end it. We are citizens of one globe. This world was created for everyone, without borders. The dividing lines and borders were forced on us centuries ago, and it’s time we finally learn how to celebrate our differences and cooperate. Let’s work across those artificial lines some colonial power or despot once drew on a map, and work toward oneness.
Wars never win hearts and minds. Instead, we should focus on securing lasting peace, not just for ourselves, but for the planet. Our happiness and security are firmly tied to everyone who we share this planet with. The sooner we recognize that fact, and act in that manner, the sooner we will experience a better world.
HOW AMERICA ENDS
A tectonic demographic shift is under way. Can the country hold together?
Democracy depends on the consent of the losers. For most of the 20th century, parties and candidates in the United States have competed in elections with the understanding that electoral defeats are neither permanent nor intolerable. The losers could accept the result, adjust their ideas and coalitions, and move on to fight in the next election. Ideas and policies would be contested, sometimes viciously, but however heated the rhetoric got, defeat was not generally equated with political annihilation. The stakes could feel high, but rarely existential. In recent years, however, beginning before the election of Donald Trump and accelerating since, that has changed.
“Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage,” Trump told the crowd at his reelection kickoff event in Orlando in June. “They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.” This is the core of the president’s pitch to his supporters: He is all that stands between them and the abyss.
In October, with the specter of impeachment looming, he fumed on Twitter, “What is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!” For good measure, he also quoted a supporter’s dark prediction that impeachment “will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”
Trump’s apocalyptic rhetoric matches the tenor of the times. The body politic is more fractious than at any time in recent memory. Over the past 25 years, both red and blue areas have become more deeply hued, with Democrats clustering in cities and suburbs and Republicans filling in rural areas and exurbs. In Congress, where the two caucuses once overlapped ideologically, the dividing aisle has turned into a chasm.
As partisans have drifted apart geographically and ideologically, they’ve become more hostile toward each other. In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. As hostility rises, Americans’ trust in political institutions, and in one another, is declining. A study released by the Pew Research Center in July found that only about half of respondents believed their fellow citizens would accept election results no matter who won. At the fringes, distrust has become centrifugal: Right-wing activists in Texas and left-wing activists in California have revived talk of secession.
Recent research by political scientists at Vanderbilt University and other institutions has found both Republicans and Democrats distressingly willing to dehumanize members of the opposite party. “Partisans are willing to explicitly state that members of the opposing party are like animals, that they lack essential human traits,” the researchers found. The president encourages and exploits such fears. This is a dangerous line to cross. As the researchers write, “Dehumanization may loosen the moral restraints that would normally prevent us from harming another human being.”
Outright political violence remains considerably rarer than in other periods of partisan divide, including the late 1960s. But overheated rhetoric has helped radicalize some individuals. Cesar Sayoc, who was arrested for targeting multiple prominent Democrats with pipe bombs, was an avid Fox News watcher; in court filings, his lawyers said he took inspiration from Trump’s white-supremacist rhetoric. “It is impossible,” they wrote, “to separate the political climate and [Sayoc’s] mental illness.” James Hodgkinson, who shot at Republican lawmakers (and badly wounded Representative Steve Scalise) at a baseball practice, was a member of the Facebook groups Terminate the Republican Party and The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans. In other instances, political protests have turned violent, most notably in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a Unite the Right rally led to the murder of a young woman. In Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere, the left-wing “antifa” movement has clashed with police. The violence of extremist groups provides ammunition to ideologues seeking to stoke fear of the other side.
What has caused such rancor? The stresses of a globalizing, postindustrial economy. Growing economic inequality. The hyperbolizing force of social media. Geographic sorting. The demagogic provocations of the president himself. As in Murder on the Orient Express, every suspect has had a hand in the crime.
But the biggest driver might be demographic change. The United States is undergoing a transition perhaps no rich and stable democracy has ever experienced: Its historically dominant group is on its way to becoming a political minority—and its minority groups are asserting their co-equal rights and interests. If there are precedents for such a transition, they lie here in the United States, where white Englishmen initially predominated, and the boundaries of the dominant group have been under negotiation ever since. Yet those precedents are hardly comforting. Many of these renegotiations sparked political conflict or open violence, and few were as profound as the one now under way.
Within the living memory of most Americans, a majority of the country’s residents were white Christians. That is no longer the case, and voters are not insensate to the change—nearly a third of conservatives say they face “a lot” of discrimination for their beliefs, as do more than half of white evangelicals. But more epochal than the change that has already happened is the change that is yet to come: Sometime in the next quarter century or so, depending on immigration rates and the vagaries of ethnic and racial identification, nonwhites will become a majority in the U.S. For some Americans, that change will be cause for celebration; for others, it may pass unnoticed. But the transition is already producing a sharp political backlash, exploited and exacerbated by the president. In 2016, white working-class voters who said that discrimination against whites is a serious problem, or who said they felt like strangers in their own country, were almost twice as likely to vote for Trump as those who did not. Two-thirds of Trump voters agreed that “the 2016 election represented the last chance to stop America’s decline.” In Trump, they’d found a defender.
But now many conservatives, surveying demographic trends, have concluded that Teixeira wasn’t wrong—merely premature. They can see the GOP’s sinking fortunes among younger voters, and feel the culture turning against them, condemning them today for views that were commonplace only yesterday. They are losing faith that they can win elections in the future. With this come dark possibilities.The United States is undergoing a transition perhaps no rich and stable democracy has ever experienced: Its historically dominant group is on its way to becoming a political minority.
The Republican Party has treated Trump’s tenure more as an interregnum than a revival, a brief respite that can be used to slow its decline. Instead of simply contesting elections, the GOP has redoubled its efforts to narrow the electorate and raise the odds that it can win legislative majorities with a minority of votes. In the first five years after conservative justices on the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, 39 percent of the counties that the law had previously restrained reduced their number of polling places. And while gerrymandering is a bipartisan sin, over the past decade Republicans have indulged in it more heavily. In Wisconsin last year, Democrats won 53 percent of the votes cast in state legislative races, but just 36 percent of the seats. In Pennsylvania, Republicans tried to impeach the state Supreme Court justices who had struck down a GOP attempt to gerrymander congressional districts in that state. The Trump White House has tried to suppress counts of immigrants for the 2020 census, to reduce their voting power. All political parties maneuver for advantage, but only a party that has concluded it cannot win the votes of large swaths of the public will seek to deter them from casting those votes at all.
The history of the United States is rich with examples of once-dominant groups adjusting to the rise of formerly marginalized populations—sometimes gracefully, more often bitterly, and occasionally violently. Partisan coalitions in the United States are constantly reshuffling, realigning along new axes. Once-rigid boundaries of faith, ethnicity, and class often prove malleable. Issues gain salience or fade into irrelevance; yesterday’s rivals become tomorrow’s allies.
But sometimes, that process of realignment breaks down. Instead of reaching out and inviting new allies into its coalition, the political right hardens, turning against the democratic processes it fears will subsume it. A conservatism defined by ideas can hold its own against progressivism, winning converts to its principles and evolving with each generation. A conservatism defined by identity reduces the complex calculus of politics to a simple arithmetic question—and at some point, the numbers no longer add up.
Trump has led his party to this dead end, and it may well cost him his chance for reelection, presuming he is not removed through impeachment. But the president’s defeat would likely only deepen the despair that fueled his rise, confirming his supporters’ fear that the demographic tide has turned against them. That fear is the single greatest threat facing American democracy, the force that is already battering down precedents, leveling norms, and demolishing guardrails. When a group that has traditionally exercised power comes to believe that its eclipse is inevitable, and that the destruction of all it holds dear will follow, it will fight to preserve what it has—whatever the cost.
Adam Przeworski, a political scientist who has studied struggling democracies in Eastern Europe and Latin America, has argued that to survive, democratic institutions “must give all the relevant political forces a chance to win from time to time in the competition of interests and values.” But, he adds, they also have to do something else, of equal importance: “They must make even losing under democracy more attractive than a future under non-democratic outcomes.” That conservatives—despite currently holding the White House, the Senate, and many state governments—are losing faith in their ability to win elections in the future bodes ill for the smooth functioning of American democracy. That they believe these electoral losses would lead to their destruction is even more worrying.
We should be careful about overstating the dangers. It is not 1860 again in the United States—it is not even 1850. But numerous examples from American history—most notably the antebellum South—offer a cautionary tale about how quickly a robust democracy can weaken when a large section of the population becomes convinced that it cannot continue to win elections, and also that it cannot afford to lose them.
The collapse of the mainstream Republican Party in the face of Trumpism is at once a product of highly particular circumstances and a disturbing echo of other events. In his recent study of the emergence of democracy in Western Europe, the political scientist Daniel Ziblatt zeroes in on a decisive factor distinguishing the states that achieved democratic stability from those that fell prey to authoritarian impulses: The key variable was not the strength or character of the political left, or of the forces pushing for greater democratization, so much as the viability of the center-right. A strong center-right party could wall off more extreme right-wing movements, shutting out the radicals who attacked the political system itself.
Ziblatt points to Germany in the 1930s, the most catastrophic collapse of a democracy in the 20th century, as evidence that the fate of democracy lies in the hands of conservatives. Where the center-right flourishes, it can defend the interests of its adherents, starving more radical movements of support. In Germany, where center-right parties faltered, “not their strength, but rather their weakness” became the driving force behind democracy’s collapse.
Of course, the most catastrophic collapse of a democracy in the 19th century took place right here in the United States, sparked by the anxieties of white voters who feared the decline of their own power within a diversifying nation.
The slaveholding South exercised disproportionate political power in the early republic. America’s first dozen presidents—excepting only those named Adams—were slaveholders. Twelve of the first 16 secretaries of state came from slave states. The South initially dominated Congress as well, buoyed by its ability to count three-fifths of the enslaved persons held as property for the purposes of apportionment.Whether the American political system today can endure without fracturing further may depend on the choices of the center-right.
Politics in the early republic was factious and fractious, dominated by crosscutting interests. But as Northern states formally abandoned slavery, and then embraced westward expansion, tensions rose between the states that exalted free labor and the ones whose fortunes were directly tied to slave labor, bringing sectional conflict to the fore. By the mid-19th century, demographics were clearly on the side of the free states, where the population was rapidly expanding. Immigrants surged across the Atlantic, finding jobs in Northern factories and settling on midwestern farms. By the outbreak of the Civil War, the foreign-born would form 19 percent of the population of the Northern states, but just 4 percent of the Southern population.
The new dynamic was first felt in the House of Representatives, the most democratic institution of American government—and the Southern response was a concerted effort to remove the topic of slavery from debate. In 1836, Southern congressmen and their allies imposed a gag rule on the House, barring consideration of petitions that so much as mentioned slavery, which would stand for nine years. As the historian Joanne Freeman shows in her recent book, The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War, slave-state representatives in Washington also turned to bullying, brandishing weapons, challenging those who dared disparage the peculiar institution to duels, or simply attacking them on the House floor with fists or canes. In 1845, an antislavery speech delivered by Ohio’s Joshua Giddings so upset Louisiana’s John Dawson that he cocked his pistol and announced that he intended to kill his fellow congressman. In a scene more Sergio Leone than Frank Capra, other representatives—at least four of them with guns of their own—rushed to either side, in a tense standoff. By the late 1850s, the threat of violence was so pervasive that members regularly entered the House armed.
As Southern politicians perceived that demographic trends were starting to favor the North, they began to regard popular democracy itself as a threat. “The North has acquired a decided ascendancy over every department of this Government,” warned South Carolina’s Senator John C. Calhoun in 1850, a “despotic” situation, in which the interests of the South were bound to be sacrificed, “however oppressive the effects may be.” With the House tipping against them, Southern politicians focused on the Senate, insisting that the admission of any free states be balanced by new slave states, to preserve their control of the chamber. They looked to the Supreme Court—which by the 1850s had a five-justice majority from slaveholding states—to safeguard their power. And, fatefully, they struck back at the power of Northerners to set the rules of their own communities, launching a frontal assault on states’ rights.
But the South and its conciliating allies overreached. A center-right consensus, drawing Southern plantation owners together with Northern businessmen, had long kept the Union intact. As demographics turned against the South, though, its politicians began to abandon hope of convincing their Northern neighbors of the moral justice of their position, or of the pragmatic case for compromise. Instead of reposing faith in electoral democracy to protect their way of life, they used the coercive power of the federal government to compel the North to support the institution of slavery, insisting that anyone providing sanctuary to slaves, even in free states, be punished: The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 required Northern law-enforcement officials to arrest those who escaped from Southern plantations, and imposed penalties on citizens who gave them shelter.
The persecution complex of the South succeeded where decades of abolitionist activism had failed, producing the very hostility to slavery that Southerners feared. The sight of armed marshals ripping apart families and marching their neighbors back to slavery roused many Northerners from their moral torpor. The push-and-pull of democratic politics had produced setbacks for the South over the previous decades, but the South’s abandonment of electoral democracy in favor of countermajoritarian politics would prove catastrophic to its cause.
Today, a republican party that appeals primarily to white Christian voters is fighting a losing battle. The Electoral College, Supreme Court, and Senate may delay defeat for a time, but they cannot postpone it forever.
For a populist, Trump is remarkably unpopular. But no one should take comfort from that fact. The more he radicalizes his opponents against his agenda, the more he gives his own supporters to fear. The excesses of the left bind his supporters more tightly to him, even as the excesses of the right make it harder for the Republican Party to command majority support, validating the fear that the party is passing into eclipse, in a vicious cycle.
The right, and the country, can come back from this. Our history is rife with influential groups that, after discarding their commitment to democratic principles in an attempt to retain their grasp on power, lost their fight and then discovered they could thrive in the political order they had so feared. The Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, criminalizing criticism of their administration; Redemption-era Democrats stripped black voters of the franchise; and Progressive Republicans wrested municipal governance away from immigrant voters. Each rejected popular democracy out of fear that it would lose at the polls, and terror at what might then result. And in each case democracy eventually prevailed, without tragic effect on the losers. The American system works more often than it doesn’t.
The years around the First World War offer another example. A flood of immigrants, particularly from Eastern and Southern Europe, left many white Protestants feeling threatened. In rapid succession, the nation instituted Prohibition, in part to regulate the social habits of these new populations; staged the Palmer Raids, which rounded up thousands of political radicals and deported hundreds; saw the revival of the Ku Klux Klan as a national organization with millions of members, including tens of thousands who marched openly through Washington, D.C.; and passed new immigration laws, slamming shut the doors to the United States.
Under President Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic Party was at the forefront of this nativist backlash. Four years after Wilson left office, the party faced a battle between Wilson’s son-in-law and Al Smith—a New York Catholic of Irish, German, and Italian extraction who opposed Prohibition and denounced lynching—for the presidential nomination. The convention deadlocked for more than 100 ballots, ultimately settling on an obscure nominee. But in the next nominating fight, four years after that, Smith prevailed, shouldering aside the nativist forces within the party. He brought together newly enfranchised women and the ethnic voters of growing industrial cities. The Democrats lost the presidential race in 1928—but won the next five, in one of the most dominant runs in American political history. The most effective way to protect the things they cherished, Democratic politicians belatedly discovered, wasn’t by locking immigrants out of the party, but by inviting them in.
Whether the American political system today can endure without fracturing further, Daniel Ziblatt’s research suggests, may depend on the choices the center-right now makes. If the center-right decides to accept some electoral defeats and then seeks to gain adherents via argumentation and attraction—and, crucially, eschews making racial heritage its organizing principle—then the GOP can remain vibrant. Its fissures will heal and its prospects will improve, as did those of the Democratic Party in the 1920s, after Wilson. Democracy will be maintained. But if the center-right, surveying demographic upheaval and finding the prospect of electoral losses intolerable, casts its lot with Trumpism and a far right rooted in ethno-nationalism, then it is doomed to an ever smaller proportion of voters, and risks revisiting the ugliest chapters of our history.
Two documents produced after Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 and before Trump’s election in 2016 lay out the stakes and the choice. After Romney’s stinging defeat in the presidential election, the Republican National Committee decided that if it held to its course, it was destined for political exile. It issued a report calling on the GOP to do more to win over “Hispanic[s], Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Indian Americans, Native Americans, women, and youth[s].” There was an edge of panic in that recommendation; those groups accounted for nearly three-quarters of the ballots cast in 2012. “Unless the RNC gets serious about tackling this problem, we will lose future elections,” the report warned. “The data demonstrates this.”
But it wasn’t just the pragmatists within the GOP who felt this panic. In the most influential declaration of right-wing support for Trumpism, the conservative writer Michael Anton declared in the Claremont Review of Books that “2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die.” His cry of despair offered a bleak echo of the RNC’s demographic analysis. “If you haven’t noticed, our side has been losing consistently since 1988,” he wrote, averring that “the deck is stacked overwhelmingly against us.” He blamed “the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners,” which had placed Democrats “on the cusp of a permanent victory that will forever obviate [their] need to pretend to respect democratic and constitutional niceties.”
The Republican Party faced a choice between these two competing visions in the last presidential election. The post-2012 report defined the GOP ideologically, urging its leaders to reach out to new groups, emphasize the values they had in common, and rebuild the party into an organization capable of winning a majority of the votes in a presidential race. Anton’s essay, by contrast, defined the party as the defender of “a people, a civilization” threatened by America’s growing diversity. The GOP’s efforts to broaden its coalition, he thundered, were an abject surrender. If it lost the next election, conservatives would be subjected to “vindictive persecution against resistance and dissent.”
Anton and some 63 million other Americans charged the cockpit. The standard-bearers of the Republican Party were vanquished by a candidate who had never spent a day in public office, and who oozed disdain for democratic processes. Instead of reaching out to a diversifying electorate, Donald Trump doubled down on core Republican constituencies, promising to protect them from a culture and a polity that, he said, were turning against them.
The conservative strands of America’s political heritage—a bias in favor of continuity, a love for traditions and institutions, a healthy skepticism of sharp departures—provide the nation with a requisite ballast. America is at once a land of continual change and a nation of strong continuities. Each new wave of immigration to the United States has altered its culture, but the immigrants themselves have embraced and thus conserved many of its core traditions. To the enormous frustration of their clergy, Jews and Catholics and Muslims arriving on these shores became a little bit congregationalist, shifting power from the pulpits to the pews. Peasants and laborers became more entrepreneurial. Many new arrivals became more egalitarian. And all became more American.
By accepting these immigrants, and inviting them to subscribe to the country’s founding ideals, American elites avoided displacement. The country’s dominant culture has continually redefined itself, enlarging its boundaries to retain a majority of a changing population. When the United States came into being, most Americans were white, Protestant, and English. But the ineradicable difference between a Welshman and a Scot soon became all but undetectable. Whiteness itself proved elastic, first excluding Jews and Italians and Irish, and then stretching to encompass them. Established Churches gave way to a variety of Protestant sects, and the proliferation of other faiths made “Christian” a coherent category; that broadened, too, into the Judeo-Christian tradition. If America’s white Christian majority is gone, then some new majority is already emerging to take its place—some new, more capacious way of understanding what it is to belong to the American mainstream.
So strong is the attraction of the American idea that it infects even our dissidents. The suffragists at Seneca Falls, Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and Harvey Milk in front of San Francisco’s city hall all quoted the Declaration of Independence. The United States possesses a strong radical tradition, but its most successful social movements have generally adopted the language of conservatism, framing their calls for change as an expression of America’s founding ideals rather than as a rejection of them.
Even today, large numbers of conservatives retain the courage of their convictions, believing they can win new adherents to their cause. They have not despaired of prevailing at the polls and they are not prepared to abandon moral suasion in favor of coercion; they are fighting to recover their party from a president whose success was built on convincing voters that the country is slipping away from them.
The stakes in this battle on the right are much higher than the next election. If Republican voters can’t be convinced that democratic elections will continue to offer them a viable path to victory, that they can thrive within a diversifying nation, and that even in defeat their basic rights will be protected, then Trumpism will extend long after Trump leaves office—and our democracy will suffer for it.
So far in this article I have listed what other people think we need to or can do to save our country. In previous articles I have also discussed how people have been attacking our country in an attempt to either destroy it or to mould it into a different image. While I agree that we do have problems, and we do a lot of things incorrectly, I believe that we get more right than wrong. So we need to tweak our country, not radically change it. I believe Critical Race Theory, Wokeism , Cancel Culture and Systemic Racism, Socialism and Communism and Gender Identity are things that need to be dropped, like a large pile of shit. Because frankly, that is all these ideas are worth.
Now that I have that off my chest, I want to discuss some things that we can do to save our country. 1st it goes without saying , that we need to stop any policy that involves the crap I just mentioned. That would certainly be a good place to start. In regard to the green new deal, we are not the problem, China and Russia and a major number of third world countries are the problem. Let them get their shit together. So we can save trillions of dollars by stopping the green new deal BS. 2nd we need to end all of the shutdowns that are still taking place in the country. Stop the mask wearing BS. I know it is impossible, but we need to reverse the 2020 election outcome. I had to say it. I know it won’t happen. But Vice President Pence lacked the stones to stand up against the left and basically sold President Trump out on January the 6th. The Supreme Court also failed to act when they had the ability and the duty to do so. There were a lot of illegal shit going on in the states and the state supreme courts that should have been reversed. I know this is like crying over spilled milk. But I said I would discuss how to save the country, and getting Trump back in office would certainly do it. But we are going to have do it the hard way. A country can’t survive without borders. We need to finish the southern wall. and close our borders. 3rd, we need to stop the zero bail, catch and release and cleaning out the prisons. They were put there for a reason. We need a well trained police force with unified training and financial support. So stop defunding the police. We need to stand up to China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. China and Russia are shitting on us. Russian Hackers are attacking our infrastructure. We need to make them hurt. Anybody found guilty of hacking and damaging our infrastructure should be executed.
We need to enforce tariffs against China, so that we can compete on an even playing field. If we hold firm with China, maybe they will start to respect us a little.
We generate enough tax dollars, at least we would if everybody paid their fare share. I believe that we should eliminate all tax loopholes. Especially earned income credit, where people get more money back than they put into the system. Why should families be compensated due to how many children the have. We are encentivizing people to have more children than they can afford. We also should stop giving our hard earned tax payer dollars to other countries. We need to take of number 1 first. Our infrastructure is in a sorry state. We need to keep our money in this country.
We need to give families options for education. Public schools are not doing their job. Charter schools have a much better success rate. We need to break up the teacher unions. They have become too strong, and frankly are corrupt.
I don’t believe that we should pay fees to enter our state and federal parks, that is what tax payer dollars are for. Federal parks charge $35.00 for each park entrance. This is ludicrous.
We need to eliminate some of the freebies that politicians get, if they want to travel to another country, let them pay for it out of their own pockets. The only politician who has a need to travel to another country is the secretary of state, and of course foreign ambassadors. Otherwise they have no need to travel out of the country. That is what the internet and conference calls are for. We also need to reduce the number of staff they have.
I also believe that everybody should be treated equally. Everybody should have the same medical and retirement system. Politicians have premium health care and they get a pension, where most people either rely on social security or have to invest in 401ks to get a retirement. If politicians had to walk in our shoes, maybe they would think twice before they passed some of the bills they do.
No more unlimited campaign donations. They should be limited to no more than $1,000. No more laws written by special interests and one law per bill, no more piggy backing on laws. We need to have term limits for our congressmen, and no longer do the Supreme Court Justices get to stay in office till they die or retire. 25 years is more than enough time for a Justice. The also should set a 9 justice total for supreme court justices, as that would eliminate court packing. No more passing a law or bill by simple majority. It needs to be changed to 2/3rds.
This is by no means a complete list, in previous articles I have also discussed other options for reform. So I will not repeat those actions. If we can follow the action plan I listed we would definitely be making some progress.
ilsr.org, “8 Words That Could Save Our Country,” By David Morris; oneplanetgroup.com, “Is America’s Light Dimming? 5 Ways to Save Our Country’s Soul,” By Payam Zamani; theatlantic.com, “HOW AMERICA ENDS:A tectonic demographic shift is under way. Can the country hold together?,” By Yoni Appelbaum;
Annual Message to Congress —
December 1, 1862One month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln sent a long message to Congress which was largely routine, but also proposed controversial measures such as voluntary colonization of slaves and compensated emancipation.
Lincoln devoted so much attention to preparing the message that his friend David Davis said, “Mr. Lincoln’s whole soul is absorbed in his plan of remunerative emancipation.” The concluding paragraphs shown below demonstrate Lincoln’s passion for this plan and contain some of the most famous statements he ever wrote. Composer Aaron Copland used excerpts in his evocative “Lincoln Portrait.”
I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper addressed to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate of the nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors, nor that many of you have more experience than I, in the conduct of public affairs. Yet I trust that in view of the great responsibility resting upon me, you will perceive no want of respect yourselves, in any undue earnestness I may seem to display.
Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood? Is it doubted that it would restore the national authority and national prosperity, and perpetuate both indefinitely? Is it doubted that we here–Congress and Executive–can secure its adoption? Will not the good people respond to a united, and earnest appeal from us? Can we, can they, by any other means, so certainly, or so speedily, assure these vital objects? We can succeed only by concert. It is not “can any of us imagine better?” but, “can we all do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.
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