Domestic political reform: All reforms herein are designed in hope of stopping a repeat of crimes against humanity and collapse of faith in our public institutions.
The US constitution designated a state that evolves and is self-correcting. In the beginning there were no political parties as we know them, nor any mention of them in the founding document. Running for office was a no holds barred anything goes endeavor that featured the Founding Fathers engaged in negative campaign tactics that might make even modern practitioners of the art blush. The current state of political parties and the legislative process finds a deadlock that ensures little or nothing will get done. The term banana republic comes to mind with their examples of ossification and corruption. This cannot be the future our founders had in mind. Our institutions are in a crisis that no one seems to be able to answer.
The rise of transnational corporations, international financial institutions, and other supranational entities dwarf our public institutions in their wealth, political power, and unchecked influence upon our lives. It has been repeatedly stated by many social scientists for over a generation that transnational institutions would increasingly control our lives, and that eventually governments would become no more than a fig leaf for lending legitimacy to their larger designs. In an age of repeated epic financial fraud and collapse, and wars without end, we increasingly realize we are no longer in control of our own destiny. The standard American model of a robust middle class has largely given way or is in the process of giving way to a South American model of a few fabulously wealthy families and a population mostly composed of low wage “slaves”. It is clear under these new circumstances that a Republic cannot prevail and that authoritarian government is the default setting for the future. A system of such inequality and basic unfairness can only be sustained by violence, the kind practiced by a police state upon its own people, similar to regimes in the south. This probably includes the widespread use of torture and death squads to intimidate the masses.
This awful model is very widespread across the face of the earth, and has been for a very long time. The US has historically been seen by the rest of the world as a bulwark against the triumph of this onerous model that moves humanity towards a perpetual state of despair without hope of deliverance. Even those who condemn US foreign policy in strident terms, often inquire with their next breath about the possibility of obtaining a visa to live and work here. As Lincoln observed, we truly are the last best hope of the human race. We did not conceive, nor originate this system that brings hope; we have inherited it from those who came before us. It did not come cheap, for often they purchased it at the cost of their lives.
I have come here not to castigate the current generation, nor to praise it, but merely to map out a manner of keeping what we have been given. It is difficult to know where to turn or how to answer questions that seem to have no easy answers. Our institutions and leaders do not seem up to the task for reasons that are not entirely their fault. The fault is not in our stars dear friends, but within ourselves. We have participated in the divisions and mistakes that are leading us down a path to decay and collapse. Happily since we are largely the cause of our own problems in life, then by definition we are also the answer to the problems seemingly without solutions. Democracy was enshrined on the plains of Marathon in a desperate battle between the independent city states of Greece and the super power empire that marched to deliver their destruction and submission. The shared sacrifice of the land owners and the poorer citizenry sealed a bargain, and without that social compact of shared sacrifice this is not a system of government that can endure.
The corrupting influence of money upon the political process was acknowledged and dealt with 100 years ago. The Progressive Movement curtailed the worst abuses of the Gilded Age, and set in motion the zenith of American power and influence on the world stage in what came to be known as the American Century. No person or nation is completely self-serving and without fault, but the defeat of Fascism and Communism cannot be argued away. We have saved the world on more than one occasion, so let us on this hopeful new day go to the trouble of saving ourselves. There is nothing new under the sun. The historian tells us how great nations and empires rise and fall, it is no great mystery. Simplified and condensed, the elite take the opportunity to garner the lions’ share of resources within their society for themselves. The term used is rent seeking behavior. The Ottoman Empire decayed because the administrators of the realm changed the rules to allow their children to inherit their power and wealth. The French kings sold off the rights to tax the citizenry to an aristocracy that made themselves immune from taxation, and slowly bled the populace dry. To put the problem in modern terms, no one can resist the power to print money. Political power confers the right of the stock market and financial entities to violate the basic tenants of fairness and common sense in order to make vast sums of money in schemes bound to fail. Political power purchased with the wealth earned in this manner allows them to ignore the laws and rules we all play by. These institutions become much wealthier; they then use that wealth to purchase more political power that in turn leads to increased wealth. It is a feedback loop that seems to have no end; however everything must end, witness the Ottoman Empire and the French Aristocracy.
Everyone knows that before they go on vacation, if they give their teenager the keys to their sports car and hand them a credit card with no limit, then when they return from vacation the sports car will be wrapped around a tree and their bank account will be empty. No one can resist the ability to print money, but if enough people print enough money, then money becomes worthless paper. This is why we elect representatives, to act as the adults in the room when someone suggests they be allowed to engage in activity equivalent to the ability to print money. I must tell you the obvious at this point, that the money being “printed” is used to bribe our representatives whose job it is to restrain childishness and corrupt self-interest that leads to collapse. Blame your representatives all you want for this deplorable state of affairs, it is mostly our fault. The first step towards solving a problem is to admit it exists. Next one must accept responsibility for the problem. Finally, we the people, must take the necessary steps to solve the problem. Our political system has evolved into a system of legalized bribery and extortion. I now take this opportunity to suggest in all humility to my fellow citizens how we might fix this problem.
First, a new law which mandates the public financing of all state and federal elections, not to exceed 1/2 of 1% of the state or national budget. New laws that severely penalize the offering or acceptance of bribes for political favors, as well as extortion by representatives for payments to avoid political sanction, penalized by not less than twenty years in federal prison. Pay rates for representatives commensurate with their responsibility, pay that is similar to (50-100%) that of the average pay for a corporate CEO, all remunerations for pay, housing, travel, and elections not to exceed 1% of the state or national budget. Open primaries (state and national) that choose two candidates independent of party affiliation, and then a runoff election between the top two contestants to decide the election. Free air time on the public airwaves (as a condition for the license holder) for all candidates so that they may communicate their legislative agendas unhindered beginning 100 days before elections, not to exceed the seven highest polling candidates, such air time not to be less than 100 hours in times and manner of maximum exposure to the greatest numbers of the citizenry of all classes. The expense borne by any one communication medium (example: television) for the 100 days may be shared across the various stake holders of each respective medium.
Any political communications that rise to the level of campaigning that are not publically financed within the 100 days regarding the election of state and federal representatives are restricted, just as political communications within a certain distance of polling places are restricted. The penalty for purposeful violation of this restriction are civil fine for the first offense, and criminal penalty for subsequent violations, not less than $10,000 or 180 days in jail. Political communications that rise to the level of campaigning outside the 100 day period that are not publically financed may not be reciprocated by elected state or federal representatives with favors in kind, including favorable treatment in votes for legislation that affect the interests of said outside parties. The penalties for garnering influence in this manner shall be censure, dismissal, and criminal penalty not less than ten years in federal prison for all (both) parties to the act(s).
All representatives shall enjoy the right to travel free of charge at the public expense with one other person, anywhere in the US (state representatives) or the world (national representatives) in economy class. All representatives shall enjoy free communal housing as near as possible to the location of their workplace in the capitol of their state or the nation, including immediate family relations. Transparency in government will be the de facto rule of the land. This includes the transparency of ALL documents, emails, conversations, actions, judgments, and ALL other records and deeds of the nation’s legal representatives relating to public business within one year of their creation, and severe criminal penalty for violation of said transparency. All official legislative business must be recorded in full in an immediate public record that cannot be obscured or altered under severe criminal penalty, not less than twenty years in federal prison. No legislative legal actions may be taken or enacted that are not immediately made public in a manner accessible to the greatest number of constituents; this includes all financial records of representatives, personal, private, and public. National and state representatives must be in session transacting the people’s business no less than three quarters (¾) of the calendar year, excluding weekends and national holidays. Time out of session may not exceed thirteen (13) weeks. The 100 days prior to election the representative is standing for shall not be included as time out of session.
Elections shall be held on days to include an official holiday for that purpose and a weekend so as to insure maximum participation by the citizenry. Elections will include legal voting by all persons who are born or naturalized citizens regardless of past civil or criminal offense. All elections must be certified as verifiable in their results by a reasonable means of oversight, this precludes electronic means that cannot be verified by paper receipt or similar means after the fact. Any such electronic means or other means of election that is not legally certified by the courts as verifiable is null and void and must be repeated in a legal manner. All ballots and other means of election must be made available to the general public during the 100 days as an example of how the ballot shall appear and how it will be filled out or otherwise put to its intended use. The courts may judge if ballots are misleading and may direct a standardized design. The means of choosing the President shall be direct election of the President of the United States. A civil penalty of a nominal fine will be liable for all persons of age and physical ability who fail to vote. Repeat violation may be punished by 24 hours in jail. Absentee balloting shall be available to all citizens eligible to vote upon request without qualification or hindrance. Any person or persons who engage in voter suppression shall be liable for criminal penalty. If said suppression extends to more than one thousand persons then said criminal penalty shall be twenty years in federal prison.
This list of reforms shall be added to the constitution as the 28th Amendment in order that the courts or other legal entities not strike it down after the fact of its coming into law. In order to make this Amendment a reality, voters must demand ALL of their representatives publicly sign an explicit promise to vote for this reform at the earliest appointed time. If your representative, who is a servant of the people, fails to uphold their promise, then they must be replaced at the next election, or prior to that election, if legally possible. The benefits of these reforms will take several years to become apparent. It is our hope and prayer that the reforms will break the system of legalized compulsory bribery and extortion being practiced in the open today. The responsibility for realizing the reforms recorded here fall first upon the people of this great country, and after the fact upon their legal representatives. God Bless the United States of America. MGT 9/24/12