Democracy

8/18/06

   President George Washington’s Farewell Address 1796

“The danger of parties in the State”

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with
particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations.
Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most
solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in
the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in
all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those
of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst
enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the
spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and
countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful
despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent
despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the
minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an
individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able
or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the
purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless
ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of
the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise
people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public
administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false
alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments
occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and
corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through
the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country
are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon
the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of
liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a
monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon
the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments
purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural
tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every
salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort
ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to
be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a
flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

“This is the best Congress money can buy”

– Mark Twain 1835-1910

Comments by Gordon S. Wood, 2006, U.S. Historian

“As the common man rose to power in the decades following the (American)
Revolution, the inevitable consequence was the displacement from power of
the uncommon man, the aristocratic man of ideas.

“The Revolution helped…usher in a new, democratic, capitalistic world, that
it undermined the whole idea of aristocracy and elitist virtue and helped
bring about a new society defined by the common man.

“What most members of the founding generation shared (was a) devotion to
the public good”, a gentlemanly belief in the importance of disinterested
public service, and a self-conscious seriousness about their duty to promote
the common welfare.

An exception, Senator Aaron Burr used “his public office in every way he
could to make money…and his self-interested shenanigans”.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
++

Comments on Democracy by Adolf Hitler in

“Mein Kampf”  (My Struggle)

Chapter III “General Considerations Based on My Vienna Period”

“A man…ends up by sacrificing the last shred of leadership and turning into a
‘politician’; in other words, the kind of man whose only real conviction is lack
of conviction, combined with offensive impertinence and an art of lying,
often developed to the point of complete shamelessness.

If to the misfortune of decent people such a character gets into a parliament,
we may as well realize at once that the essence of his politics will from now
on consist in nothing but a heroic struggle for the permanent possession of
his feeding bottle for himself and his family.”

“How little regard is taken of such decency today is attested by the general
degeneracy of the rabble which contemporaneously feel justified in ‘going
into’ politics.

“Hardly a one of them is fit for it.

“What gave me most food for thought was the obvious absence of any
responsibility in a single person.

“The parliament arrives at some decision whose consequences may be ever
so ruinous—nobody bears any responsibility for this, no one can be taken to
account.

“The internal composition of the five hundred representatives of the people,
with regard to profession or even individual abilities, gives a picture as
incoherent as it is usually deplorable.

“The most important economic measures are thus submitted to a forum, only
a tenth of whose members have any economic education to show.

“This is nothing more nor less than placing the ultimate decision in a matter
in the hands of men totally lacking in every prerequisite for the task.

Comments on U.S. “Democracy”

We believe that we live in a democracy, where, when we vote or voice an
opinion, it matters.

Other than in the fabled “town meetings” of the New England colonial
period, when the villagers all gathered together for deliberations and voted
directly to effect their decisions, we have relied on a republican form of
government in which elected officials and representatives exercise power.

Since Theodore Roosevelt and his Bull Moose Party in 1912, the Republican
and Democratic Parties have entrenched themselves nationally, and have
worked together to prevent any other party, like the Reform Party, the Green
Party, the Libertarians, the Conservatives, Workers, Socialists, Communists,
or anybody else from sharing their power.

They have a stranglehold on our government, from local townships through
federal, and have developed a system whereby nothing can interfere.

One of the ways in which they exercise power is through the use of
“gerrymandering”, a methodology begun in 1812 whereby a state legislature
will define electoral districts based upon a preponderance of voters of a
certain political party in certain districts, and minimizing the concentration of
voters in other districts.

Another way is through election fraud. Philadelphia is notorious for “voting
the cemetery”, and Chicago is notorious period.

Nixon was going to challenge Kennedy’s vote in Illinois, but when Kennedy
said he was prepared to challenge Nixon’s vote in Texas, Nixon dropped the
idea.

It is well known that corporate interests and wealthy individuals make
campaign contributions to the candidates from both parties, so that
regardless of which wins, they have “access”.

This “pay-for-policy”, or sometimes called “pay-to-play”, results in Congress
passing laws which are the opposite of what the public wants, but are the
wishes of campaign contributors and lobbyists.

John Jay (1745-1829), the first chief justice of the Supreme Court said “Those
who own the country should govern the country”.

In the federal Congress, the several political parties hold conferences, or
caucuses, where the party leaders are selected and the committees
organized,

On this federal level, in Congress the Speaker of the House, and the majority
leader in the Senate, determine both who will serve on what committee, and
to what committee new legislation shall be referred, according to “carefully
delineated rules of procedure”.

Once a bill is introduced, and placed on a committee calendar, the chairman
of that committee has the power to decide whether or not to consider the bill
at all, or to let it die, or refer it to a sub-committee.

After the sub-committee has completed its work, the bill is “marked up”, i.e.
changes and amendments are made before referring it back to the full
committee. If the sub-committee votes not to report it back to the full
committee, it dies.

Once considered, and approved, by the full committee, it becomes eligible
for a full House vote. However, before this can occur, it is referred to a
scheduling legislative calendar; it must be reviewed by the House Ways and
Means Committee, which must approve it before it can move forward towards
a vote.

Next it goes before the House Rules Committee, which must give its
approval, and then it will be placed on the calendar in chronological order.

There it is ready for a full House vote, provided that the Speaker brings it up
for a vote. If he doesn’t, the new bill dies at the end of the two year
legislature term.

Too often, lobbyists are trying to influence the way in which a legislator will
vote, and bribe them with gifts, meals or cash, etc.

Another aspect of legislatures is the practice of “log-rolling”, i.e. “I will vote
for your bill if you will vote for mine”.

During this period, a companion bill will be working its way through the
Senate, with a similar set of obstacles to be overcome.

Once the bill reaches the floor of the House or Senate, there are rules or
procedures governing the debate on the legislation, determining the
conditions and amount of time allocated.

After this debate, and approval of any amendments, the bill is voted upon.

If passed, the bill is referred to the other chamber, where it usually follows
the same procedure.

Should it manage to be passed by both houses, if the wording of the two bills
needs to be reconciled, a joint committee of the two houses will be
convened to resolve these differences, and then it has to be re-voted upon
by both house as previously.

Too often these days, several bills on totally different subjects will be
“bundled” into one “omnibus” bill, which the legislators must then either
vote up or down, thus passing bad bills with the good, or contrarily,
defeating good bills with the bad.

Throughout, the members of the majority party, Republican or Democratic,
elect the House Speaker and the Senate majority leader, so the majority
political party wields almost dictatorial power over the legislative process.

As a final step, the bill must be approved by the president, or else it dies,
unless a  two-thirds vote is taken in both chambers to override the veto.

The similar system is used by the Pennsylvania legislature, so nether the
public, nor an individual legislator, has practically any influence or effect on
the wishes of the majority party leaders.

The framework of these parties in Pennsylvania begins with the selection, or
appointment, of local committee persons by the county chairman, who in turn
is elected by these committee people.

These county chairmen elect the state chairman, and national committeemen
are selected on a state level by _________?

The national committeemen run the national party.

At present, delegates to the party national convention are voted upon by the
party members in primaries, and the sum total of these delegates elect a
candidate for president and vice-president.

Individual presidential candidates put up their own set of delegates to be
voted upon by the public by state, and at present, a winner-take-all system is
in effect for each individual state primary.

In the general election, the public can vote for the electoral delegates of the
presidential candidate of their choice, and again a winner-takes-all system
awards all winning delegates of a candidate in a state to be eligible to vote in
the electoral college.

This sometimes results in a candidate having a majority of the popular vote,
but losing in the electoral college, and thus losing the election.

The British call our Republican and Democratic Parties “twiddle-dee and
twiddle-dumbmer”. This from their two-party system of the Tory and Labor
Parties.

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