A BRIEF HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
The United States espouses a two-party political system, albeit there have been a few more from time to time throughout our history. However, the number has been limited to two viable parties, which have dominated our national political scene.
We have a republic based on the Constitution, and a series of amendments to the Constitution adopted and ratified over the course of our nation’s history. The first ten amendments are referred to as The Bill of Rights.
Within the context of those documents are set forth the structure and the defined roles of each branch within the overall context of our national government.
1. The Executive Branch, which consists of the Office of the President and Vice-President, plus all administrative agencies of government headed by members of the Cabinet, appointed by and accountable to the President, and ratified by the Senate. The President and Vice-President are elected by an Electoral College, largely, but not necessarily, based on the results of a popular vote of the people.
2. The Legislative Branch, referred to as the Congress, which is comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Members of the House of Representatives are elected by the voters within defined legislative districts within each of the fifty states. The voters within each of the fifty states elect members of the Senate.
3. The Judicial Branch or the Supreme Court comprised of nine Justices appointed by the President and ratified by the Senate.
4. The roles and powers of each of the three branches of the government are clearly defined in the Constitution and Amendments thereto, properly ratified by three-fourths of the states.
* Comment: To my knowledge, I do not believe the consequences of any amendment, subsequent to ratification, have ever been evaluated in order to ascertain weather or not the passage of a specific amendment produced the desired results envisioned by that amendment. This raises the question as to what extent any of the amendments may have inadvertently served to enable conduct that may have been contrary to that which was intended, and may be contrary to the best interests of the people. That might prove to be a good project for a group of graduate students to undertake as a possible insight into how we arrived at the point where we currently find ourselves.
Because we seem to have lost the ability to be shocked by any conduct or malfeasance, we no longer hold our public officials to absolute standards of honesty, integrity and transparency that should be inherent in the conduct of those we elect to public office. Rather, we appear to have evolved to the point where those terms have become situational and, essentially, render any meaningful standards moot.
Elected officials who serve the public and who routinely engage in conduct that is clearly contrary to the public trust, is a conflict of interest, is self-serving or compromises the standards of conduct the electorate should properly expect from them.
Too many elected officials pander to the influence of corporate power and money, and to the interests of the oligarchs and plutocrats, all at the expense of the common person for whom this democracy was ostensibly founded.
* The pernicious and pervasive dominance of special interests over our system of government runs from K Street to Wall Street to the Congress to the White House and to the Pentagon.
* We have come to accept, as routine, the massive amounts of money that flow into the coffers of our political system from special interest groups in order to buy favor from those in elected office who, in reality, serve as their minions in Congress and the White House.
* The only time our elected representatives in Washington appear to pay any attention to the people is when they are seeking votes for their re-election or support for an agenda that predominately serves the interests of corporate America or
enhances personal wealth.
* Corruption has become a way of life within both major political parties and among our elected officials in Washington, as evidenced by lobbyists, the power of money, and the blurred distinction between the two major political parties. For example:
(1) Both parties feed from the same trough of graft and largess provided by big money and influence.
(2). The Republican Party has, historically, tended to favor big business and wealth over the welfare of the common person. Their efforts have become more blatant in recent history. For example, aborting the recount of votes in Florida in 2000 that enabled the Republican Party to steal the election for George W. Bush. We are seeing a reprise of that same tactic
with current efforts at reforming the healthcare system.
(3) Massive deregulation of the economy that has led to a scale and concentration of economic and political power never before seen in the history of this country.
(4) The largest transfer of wealth from the common person to the super rich in the history of this country.
(5) The largest budget deficits in the history of this country, starting with the Reagan Administration and continuing to this day.
* Any real distinction between the two major political parties became blurred with the end of the Johnson Administration and has continued to the present time. Some examples are:
(1) The opening of the Social Security fund by President Carter to immigrants coming into the United States.
(2) The Reagan Administration piling more debt on the backs of the American people than all previous presidents combined, all in the name of smaller government and fiscal conservatism.
(3) The role of the Clinton Administration and Republicans in Congress in the deregulation of the financial industries that led to the current recession/depression that has taken this country to the brink of total financial ruin, largely at the expense of the common person.
(4) The transfer of massive amounts of wealth through tax cuts for the top tier of the American social system by the Bush Administration.
(5) An illegal war and questionable practices associated with no-bid contractors benefiting from that war.
(6) The Obama Administration coming into office promising the American people “change they can believe in,” only to embark on placing former “Clintonites” in strategic positions that have served (and continue to serve) the interests of the financial community, such as advice and counsel from Robert Rubin, the appointment of Larry Summers as the Chief Economic Advisor to the President, and the appointment of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury.
* The shroud of secrecy that has been placed around dealings between the Administration, the Federal Reserve and Wall Street.
* The absence of any real accountability and transparency by the Administration, the Federal Reserve and Wall Street. The American people still have no idea as to what has really gone on, the magnitude of the financial obligation to be borne by the taxpayers, and deliberately being kept in the dark because of specious arguments such as “too big to fail,” and other forms of deception. In the meantime, Wall Street profits handsomely while the economy falters and the common person suffers.
Clearly, the credibility and motives of Rubin, Summers and Geithner are called into question by their previous associations with the Clinton Administration and the financial houses on Wall Street.
In the meantime, pre-eminent economic minds such as Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate) at Columbia University, Nouriel Roubini at New York University, James Galbraith at the University of Texas, Paul Krugman (Nobel Laureate) at Princeton University, Robert Reich at the University of California at Berkeley, and Simon Johnson at MIT have either been marginalized or totally ignored by President Obama. Why? Where do we see evidence of the old adage that “two heads are better than one?” The combined knowledge and wisdom of those enumerated above would certainly seem to be infinitely superior to the former “Clintonites” who appear to have the President’s ear in dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
(7) The Obama Administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are clearly in bed with those who dominate the for-profit healthcare industries to the tune of billions of dollars in profits at the expense of small business, individuals and those on the lower rung of the socio-economic ladder. We get more “smoke and mirrors” while Obama has racked up millions of dollars in contributions from the proprietary health care industries, and Max Baccus and other prominent Democrats and Republicans lace their pockets with millions of dollars in “campaign contributions” from drug companies, private hospitals, insurance companies, etc., while denying any meaningful input from those advocating a single-payer system of healthcare, all to the collective detriment of the American people.
(a) It is interesting to note that the President nominated Kathleen Sebelius for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services. She is reputed to be a strong advocate for a private system of health care, and her behavior in the current debate would tend to confirm that observation. She was picked over a much more qualified individual in the person of Howard Dean, ostensibly because Rahm Emanuel does not “like” Dr. Dean. Is that rational and in the best interests of the country, or is it stacking the deck?
(8) Meanwhile, President Obama back-peddles on campaign promises, engages in conduct reminiscent of his predecessor and cozies up to the very interests he vowed to challenge when he became President. He has favored corporations and big business at the expense of untold millions who have lost their homes, their jobs and access to fundamental human rights such as health care.
(a) With time, Barack Obama appears to be acting more like a classic Chicago politician and less like the statesman-like President of the United States we have every right to expect.
(b) Secrecy, as we all know, does not foster trust and confidence. Contrary to some of the greatest hopes for this administration, it is simply no longer credible and appears to be just another dose of the Clinton “Republicans” (euphemistically called Democrats) under the guise of “inclusiveness,” “bi-partisanship,” etc.
(9) The arrogance of power and corruption, so endemic within our national government, and the political parties of which it is comprised, is so blatant and so formidable that people are scared and utterly bewildered as to what, if anything, can be done to stem the tide of what is rapidly becoming the complete unraveling of our national fabric. They want honest government they can trust and one that genuinely cares about the people of this country.
If there is one aspect of our world that forever remains constant, it is that the parasite never realizes, because of his insatiable appetite, that he will eventually kill the host and ensure his own demise. I fear we, as a nation, may have reached that point. We are in desperate need of a political party that will stand on the principles which made this country great and will set itself to the task of restoring honest government to the people, where it was intended and where it belongs.
A NEW POLITICAL PARTY
The time has come to create a political party that clearly represents the will of the people, by reigning in the sheer power and influence (both political and financial) of corporations and the vast wealth that has corrupted both major political parties. The massive corruption that has permeated our system of government needs to be routed out, integrity restored and safeguards put in place to ensure a government that is, unequivocally, based on the principle of “a government of the people, for the people and by the people.”
There is fertile ground for a new political party, but not without its challenges. No matter how formidable it may appear, we no longer have the luxury of waiting for a more opportune time. There is a malaise across the land. People are losing confidence in the ability and the will of our government to help them and, consequently, are becoming confused and apathetic. I shall forever remember words of wisdom imparted to me by the captain of the ship I served on in the United States Navy many years ago, to the effect that “So long as the crew is bitching, I do not worry. It is when they stop that I do.” People can only go without the basic necessities of life for so long. When relief is not forthcoming, trust and confidence evaporates, and violence will surely follow.
GOVERNING PRINCIPLES OF THE PARTY
1. The political party must be grounded in mainstream America. This is not the place for the extremist fringe. It must be made very clear that the party advocates a government of, by and for the citizens of the United States. It is a party of inclusion, not vested interests.
2. Because of the extremely complex nature of the world today, and the place of the United States in the world community, the party advocates a strong central government.
3. The party stands for a government based on a system of and respect for the rule of law rooted in the Constitution and the amendments thereto.
4. The party stands for the prohibition of all lobbies and vested interests seeking to incur the support of government officials by incurring favor with money and gratuitous gifts. The only legitimate avenue for making their positions known to government should be in open meetings of the appropriate congressional committees, and without any cash or compensation in kind.
5. The party stands for a mandatory retirement age in all branches of government in order to prevent members from holding seats they can no longer occupy. The business of the country is far too important for those seats to remain filled but are, in fact, dormant.
6. The party is opposed to all forms of largess that have nothing to do with the national agenda, such as Congressional “ear-marks,” etc.
7. Except in cases where national security is involved, the party is opposed to any
and all kinds of secret meetings or agreements by the Executive and Legislative
branches of government.
8. The party supports the publication detailing any proposed changes in compensation and benefits for elected officials, at least three months prior to any formal action by Congress.
9. The party encourages and supports a strong free-enterprise model to the extent there is proper oversight and adequate regulatory controls in place to ensure that the interests serve not only ownership, but accrue to the benefit of the American people, as well.
10. The party supports re-building the nation’s industrial base and a value-added tax on foreign imports in order to protect the viability of our industrial base.
11. Free trade agreements will only be supported if they do not accrue to the detriment of our economy and our workforce.
12. To the extent the business community cannot or will not serve the best interests of the people, the party will advocate for government-funded national programs to meet those needs. For example, health care as a basic human right.
13. The party guarantees the rights of workers to organize and engage in collective bargaining.
14. The party advocates reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, or comparable legislation, as the regulatory and oversight mechanism for all financial industries operating in the United States.
15. The party advocates and supports a tax system that supports a fair and equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth.
16. The party supports the concept of the full and complete separation of church and state.
17. The party supports full equality and justice for all citizens.
18. The party supports a system of education that addresses the needs of academically oriented students and vocationally oriented students, respectively.
a. Within the system of education, at the junior high and high school levels, the curriculum should provide for education in civics and the functions of government in order to ensure a working knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a citizen of the United States.
19. The party advocates a re-definition of the status of corporations under the law, divesting them of their status as citizens, equal to that of warm-blooded human beings, and re-classifying their status as business organizations.
20. The party advocates prohibition of corporate or other forms of absentee ownership of news media outlets, thereby reasserting the status of our news media as a free and independent press, there to serve as a watchdog on government.
STRUCTURE OF THE PARTY
1. The organizing committee must be headed by a nationally prominent person who has a reputation for being principled, honest, intelligent and dedicated to a better America.
a. Members of the organizing committee should be people of stature equal to that of the chairperson who share a common vision for the country, and who share a common concern about the current state of the political system and its effectiveness.
2. The party will be governed by a committee and chairperson at the national level.
a. This is not the place for renegades, megalomaniacs or eccentrics. The party must establish a reputation for leadership that is squeaky clean, above reproach, intelligent, civic minded and that enjoys a certain degree of national prominence.
3. Local committees should be established at the state and local levels.
a. Local committees should focus on campaigning for the election of candidates at their respective levels. Initially, emphasis should be on local elections in order to build a solid base of support for future political endeavors at the state and national levels.
b. Every committee at a local level, and of a certain population base, should have a speaker’s bureau, comprised of individuals whose sole purpose is educate the public on why a third political party is necessary, a thorough understanding of what the party stands for and the ability to impart that knowledge to others. Members of the speaker’s bureau would be available for seminars and lectures at universities, colleges, community colleges, high schools and community organizations, for the explicit and exclusive purpose of educating their audiences about what the party stands for and why. Education and information must be the thrust, not campaigning or fund-raising. The speaker’s bureau could, for example, be called The Wellstone Society.
4. The party must be prepared to reconcile and include a divergent range of interests among the electorate who feel most disenfranchised by the system and other political parties, particularly progressives, blue-collar workers, service workers, professional and semi-professional workers, small business owners, etc.
SYMBOLISM FOR AND ORGANIZATION OF THE PARTY
1. Image is paramount in our culture. The name and symbols of the party must reflect traditional American values; rooted in American history and that convey a sense of strength, stability and patriotism.
2. The party should use colors and symbols reflecting our national identity For example, symbolized by the bald eagle, with red, white and blue as the official colors. This is not the time for abstract symbols or colors that are not associated with our patriotic heritage.
3. I would recommend the party be called THE NEW FEDERALIST PARTY, which reflects historical precedent and a commitment to a strong central government.
4. Founding members of the party must be of the highest caliber. They must bring to the table the education, knowledge and skills necessary to make this effort more than a flash in the pan, hastily put together and without the time and effort necessary to build a lasting movement. They must be statesmen and stateswomen, highly principled and above the fray of politics. They must genuinely believe the time has come for a new direction and one that is based on values that have stood the test of time.
I do not hold myself out as any kind of self-styled authority on matters of this nature. I would, also, like to think that I am not a megalomaniac seeking fame or notoriety on the national stage. However, I do know that the political system we now have is not working. The two-party system is not solving the problems that have created the worst national crisis since the Great Depression. Without a moral compass to guide us and to restore some semblance of sanity to what we are all about, we are surely on a dangerous slope that could eventually lead to our demise as a great nation on the world stage. This is not an issue for a one-man band with a lot of money, a personal axe to grind and a radical outlook on life. This is an issue for serious study by scholars and intellectuals who have a genuine interest in rescuing this fragile republic and restoring the democratic form of government that once clearly established this country as the beacon of hope for the world.
The system is simply broken. It is desperately in need of fixing. No one person or political party can do the job. It is time to think outside the box.
“Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”
— George Bernard Shaw
The time is now, December 23, 2009
The Sagebrush Philosopher