- Restoring Representation- A Strategic Proposal-I
- Demagoguery vs. Representation
- Restoring Representation-A Strategic Proposal II
- Restoring Representation- A Strategic Proposal III
- Restoring Representation- A Strategic Proposal III (Cont’d)
- Restoring Representation- A Strategic Proposal III (Concluded)
- On the purpose of what we call the “Electoral College”
Step Three: Focus on a choice that represents the common good
On his departure from office America’s first President, George Washington delivered his famous Farewell Address in which, among other things, he warned against reliance on just the sort of partisan politics system that now dominates America’s political life, and that has deeply corrupted America’s political culture.
Let me now…warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party…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….[T]he 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….[I]n 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 flame, lest instead of warming it should consume.
Washington predicted that, where party spirit reigns unchecked, it spawns disorders and miseries and “leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.” During the history of the United States, the accuracy of Washington’s foresight has often been verified by developments at the State and local level, like the urban party despotisms in cities like Chicago, or the more flamboyantly individual variety that emerged in a State like Louisiana. Never before, however, has the nation as a whole been as clearly threatened as it is at present with “a more formal and permanent despotism”. Many now perceive the outward appearances of that despotism in the Obama faction’s forceful push toward socialism, from the government takeover of health care; to the economically senseless eco-tyranny that is stifling production and distorting cost in the energy sector, at the price of new business opportunities and countless badly needed jobs.
More disturbing than the Obama faction’s ham-handed and obvious socialist coup attempt is the more discretely veiled bipartisan transgression of the U.S. Constitution’s constraints on the consolidation and use of government power. As excuses the leaders of the elite faction’s Parties cite national security or the urgent need to deal with budget shortfalls. But since both challenges result from what appears to be intractable incompetence in the leadership of both the Democrat and Republican parties, the gnawing suspicion is inevitable that these urgent problems result from something more insidious. The suspicion has more bite to it once we realize that the GOP is exploiting the reaction against Obama to advance Mitt Romney to the Presidency. His record suggests that, though he moves toward the objective with a more deceptively alluring style than Obama, Romney will herd Americans more surely and quietly into the stock pens of totalitarian socialism.
Totalitarian socialist party despotism is therefore the goal both parties have in view. They are opposing wings of the same elite faction bird, flapping in unison. With Machiavellian subtlety they have engineered their consolidation of tyrannous factional power so that it looks like political competition; but the only real division between these Parties is their division of the spoils, as they rape and pillage the income, credit and hopes of the nation.
Washington foresaw the danger. He warned against unleashing the partisan spirit that gives rise to it. Almost as he spoke, America began implementing the fateful decision to ignore his words, and now we reap the fruits of it. That is lamentable, but it also raises a question that can help to release our minds from the elite faction brainwashing that makes us slaves to the partisan con they are running against us. When Washington decried the spirit of Party, what alternative did he have in mind?
Washington’s name and influence were key factors favoring the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. Doesn’t it make sense to look into that document in our search for an answer? Washington was himself elected to the Presidency by way of what we call the Electoral College, but without the Machiavellian party machinery we now take for granted. Was that simply a tribute to his enormous reputation, as we have all been taught to believe? Or did it also exemplify an approach to electoral politics consistent with the discouraging party politics, as Washington took pains to do in his legacy to the nation?
Thinking as Washington may have done, imagine that the election on November 6 produces a result in line with his anti-partisan recommendation. Instead of a so-called President-elect from one party or another, the voters have elected a majority of Electors enslaved to no party spirit but bound instead to conscientiously search for and elect a President of the United States who truly represents the people who elected them; and also bound by oath to conduct their search with strict regard for guidelines that represent their common sense of the character, principles and priorities that best serve the common good of all.
Imagine that the conclusion of the election marks the beginning of a period of weeks in which the nation focuses on the activity of these duty-bound electors as they consult with the similarly bound voters who enabled their selection, and especially with one another. They gather and sift through the names and characteristics of a range of possible officeholders that includes not only politicians ripe with self-proclaimed ambition, but capable Americans from other walks of life. America’s founders admired the example of those like the ancient Roman Cincinnatus, who was tilling his crops (not cultivating political power) when the call came to serve his countrymen in their time of need. Thus at critical moments the hopes of the people could be reflected in a choice based on character and perceived ability. Though the political process we have now precludes such a choice, America’s founders did not make that mistake when they framed a Constitutional electoral process for filling the Office of President.
In the absence of a network of communications that could instantaneously span the nation, in earlier eras the period of consultation would have been more difficult for the Electors. But in the 21st century our technology has finally caught up with the inspired political conceptions of our nation’s founders. Thanks to that technology members of the Electoral College majority can communicate, consult and conference together as a body while remaining in their home states, as the Constitution envisages, closely in touch with the people who elected them. They can share documents, news reports and information in all forms, about the people they are considering. After narrowing the field they can interview the remaining possibilities personally, either in closed conference or by means that allow the entire nation to attend.
Having thus sifted and deliberated, in light of the standard and the bond which they are sworn to observe, the members of the Electoral College Majority would cast their votes, to reach a final agreement on the person they all agree to vote for when they are gathered in their State capitals on the day and in the manner prescribed by the Constitution.
Thanks to the intense scrutiny made possible by the “search committee” nature of the proceedings, this process would greatly reduce the possibility of the sort of counterfeit choice, marred by ignorance, manipulation and deception, that has become increasingly characteristic of the present partisan election process. It would prevent the embarrassment of selecting a President like Obama, about whom little is known (and much of that fictional) and much is hidden (either by incompetence or purposeful evasion.)
Ironically, because the people themselves would be more directly responsible for the choice of the electors; and because during the final selection process the members of the Electoral College majority could be constantly in consultation with their constituents; and because all participants would be sworn to act conscientiously in light of a substantive standard of the common good, as seen in light of the organic law of the nation; the result would more faithfully reflect the character, conscience and good will of the people than the present elite manipulated partisan sham.
So the Constitution’s provisions for the election of the President (and Vice-President) allow us to envision a result that is not dictated by the factious spirit of party. But is there any way to mobilize people of good will who long for such a result in time to achieve it in this election year? Is it possible to do so without leaning on the party crutches that have disserved us for so long that we have almost forgotten our own limbs? A hopeful answer lies in the recent history that confirms that we have indeed almost, but not quite, forgotten them. We were reminded of them, in fact by the grassroots mobilization that began amongst the disappointed constituents who abandoned the GOP in 2006; and that culminated in the wave of grassroots action that handed the House of Representatives back to the GOP (with tragically disappointing results) in 2010. If we eliminate the “party” from the Tea Party’s style of grassroots mobilization, what remains fits the new electoral paradigm to a T, as the old saying goes.
Again here, we must call on our most vital strategic faculty. Imagine that in every state of the Union grassroots rallies are held (perhaps by Congressional District, reflecting the practice in some of the States in the early years of the Republic) at which people are introduced to a plan to mobilize voters willing to pledge their allegiance to the nation’s organic law. After speeches that explain and outline the plan, there’s an ‘altar call’, during which people first take the pledge as group, and afterward come forward to sign their names to it.
Sometime later another round of rallies takes place, at which people who have signed the pledge gather to hear from one another with a view to selecting one or more people who will attend a statewide rally that will be convened to finalize, from amongst the attendees, a slate of Elector candidates for the state ballot in November. They will also decide upon two names (one of them, as per the Constitution, must be someone from outside their state) that will go on the ballot lines for President and Vice-President to represent the slate.
Note well: The people whose names are used should be pledge signing citizens of good repute who understand and affirm that they are not seeking office, but merely agreeing that their names be used to represent the slate of Electors. The Electors will not pledge to vote for them or anyone else, but only to fulfill the pledge they have in common with all other sworn participants in the effort, while in addition specifically affirming that, if chosen as Electors, they will follow the guidelines that reflect the common sense of those they represent. At the conclusion of the State rally, the electoral slate would be sworn in accordingly.
Once the electoral slate has been finalized, along with the names of those who are to represent the slate on the General Election ballot, grassroots rallies would be organized to gather signatures and raise funds as required to fulfill their State’s ballot access requirements. These requirements, and the timetable for fulfilling them vary from State to State, and the schedule and organization of the qualifying rallies would have to be arranged accordingly.
Obviously, these grassroots activities would require coordination at the local, state and national level. Using all the means now at the disposal of willing individuals (social networking on the internet, mobile phone communications and networking, etc.), such individuals would have first to find one another and then work out a common plan of action suitable for their State and circumstances. They would also have to identify and reach out to others working along similar lines throughout the nation. This would require developing a network of Ad Hoc Coordinating Committees. The guidelines that will eventually inform the work of those who win office as Electors would have to be worked out by such a Committee at the national level.
For purposes of identification, the candidates running on the pledge-signer slates throughout the country could agree to adopt, as part of their name on the ballot a nickname that would be the same for all of them. For example, all might take the nickname “Righteous” to signify their allegiance to the understanding of unalienable right set forth in the Declaration of Independence. The Presidential candidate would then be listed on the ballot as Mary “Righteous” Smith or John “Righteous” Jones and so forth. The nickname chosen could also be used in a slogan to publicize the pledge-signer election effort and instruct supportive voters about how to find the pledge-signer slate on the ballot. In the example given such a slogan might be “Look for the Righteous” or “Vote for the Righteous.”
Once the slates of electors have been finalized and placed on ballots an ongoing schedule of pledge-signer rallies would begin and continue until Election Day, focusing again at the grassroots level, but culminating in a large State-wide rally in each State in the week before Election Day. The pledge-signer candidates for Elector should play an active role in these campaign rallies, which would prominently feature the names that represent the slate on the State’s General Election ballot.
Given that each State has different requirements and procedures for individual ballot access the ideas discussed here are simply intended to illustrate the kind of thinking that must be done. It is important though to keep firmly in mind that this is not a “third party” effort, but a grassroots movement in which voters act in concert as individuals, drawn together by their common allegiance to the nation’s organic law, not by loyalty to some factious party label. None of the individuals involved would be promoting themselves. Instead they will focus on the Declaration and the Constitution, the documents of the organic law. They will focus on clarifying the ideas, principles and goals articulated in those documents. They will focus on the issues and crises that must be of first priority in light of them. They will focus on the particular stands and policies consistent with them. They will focus on sharing the reasoning that logically connects those particular stands and policies with the requirements of the Declaration and the Constitution. They will thus focus on persuading others, who also hold to the nation’s organic law, to join the movement aimed at voting into office, in the General Election, a majority of Electors sworn to choose, on the actual Election Day specified in the Constitution, a President and Vice-President also sworn to uphold it, and whom they conscientiously believe will act accordingly.
The factious, twin-party electoral sham produces election campaigns that mainly focus on personalities, gossip, and offensively negative attacks on the opposition. This is a necessary consequence of shamming. Since there is in principle no real difference between the candidates (the Democrat is a socialist, the Republic a crypto- Socialist, i.e., a socialist who lies to hide that fact, in order to claim counterfeit credentials as a conservative) other differences must be exaggerated or fabricated outright in order to maintain the pretense of opposition that sustains the illusion of choice.
The new paradigm for electoral politics calls on voters to take seriously the convictions they profess to hold as Americans. It calls on them to take the initiative in acting positively on those convictions. It calls on them to propose and/or advocate what we should do, and what our government should or should not be doing for us, in light of those convictions. It calls on them to gather their moral resources in order to take responsibility for what they do or fail to do with the votes they possess as members of the sovereign body of the people.
By focusing in the first instance on actions and choices grassroots voters must take close to home, the new paradigm for political action deprives these voters of the excuses for irresponsibility with which the current approach to politics purposefully abounds. Because they are choosing representatives from amongst themselves, voters can act on or gather information at first hand, instead of relying on media talking heads to tell them stories about people they may never meet and with whom they will never have a serious discussion. If, from ignorance or carelessness, they choose badly they cannot “blame the media”. And if they choose well they will have done so in a way that confirms, in self-respect, their capacity for self-government.
This is one of the most beneficial aspects of that “scheme of representation” which the elite faction’s corruption of politics has stolen from the American people. The politics of representation requires a personal, visible exercise of responsible self-government that confirms each person’s God endowed capacity for right action. It confirms, therefore, the first premise of constitutional self-government which asserts that each person is authorized by God to exercise (i.e., act on) their rights (i.e., the right inclinations of their nature.)
In order to usurp the constitutional sovereignty of the people the elitist faction must undermine and destroy the people’s confidence in this God endowed capacity. This is the purpose of their assault on decent character and moral discipline of the people. This is the purpose of their encouragement of passive dependency on the government. This is the purpose of their determination to redefine politics as the supine acceptance of leaders made up, and lifted up, by elitist money powers and the media hacks that do their bidding.
This is a far cry from the purpose of America’s founders. The means of self-government they devised challenge Americans to be the active agents of their nation’s present and future hope. The founders knew that this would never be an easy task. They knew from experience that it would require the resolve to take on forces that seem too powerful to be defeated. They knew that it would require the patience to confront and patiently resolve a myriad of problems and difficulties that at first seem insurmountable. They knew that it would require courage beyond the ordinary scope of the human spirit, and judgment beyond the fallible confidence of human discernment. So, even as they called upon themselves to face, against the odds, the challenges of establishing their nation’s liberty, they looked beyond themselves to place their firm reliance in the Providence of God.
Isn’t this, their faith, the true secret of the politics of representation? We, the people, can establish and maintain a government that represents us because we remember our nature as human beings made in the image and likeness of the one who made and still governs the whole of creation. And by remembering this, we can “go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” (President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address) As agents of God’s good will, whom shall we fear; of whom shall we be afraid; (Psalm 27:1) and what effort, however difficult, shall we not count as victory?