Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Final Discourse on Federalist #10

Continuing with Madison's essay, he now tells us that, since "neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control" for faction, governmental structure must be relied upon to solve the problem.

And the structure he recommends? A republican form of government (elected representatives), a large country that would provide wide-ranging views on issues, and properly-sized districts from which representatives are elected. This structure, he argues, would refine and enlarge "the public views" of the nation and pass "them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens ... whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations."

"Extend the sphere," "a greater variety of parties (factional groups) and interests," "less probable that a majority … will … invade the rights of other citizens," "more difficult for (that majority) … to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other" … as Madison's argument takes full strength, you can see that these are not statements in support of any coagulation of individuals.

Communication between representatives would be checked by a natural distrust of the motivations of the other representatives. This is not a bad thing; the Founders were studiously suspicious of human nature and they saw this as the way that self-interested representation would work. The belief here is clearly that individuals, by virtue of the government's structure, would be forced to compromise with other individuals for the public good.

The remedy for the problem of faction, then, is a special kind and size of republican government, one whose focus is self-interested individuals who represent as best they can the constituents of their districts, but find it "more difficult … to discover their own (collective) strength(s), and to act in unison with … other(s)."

As it oozed into the available crevases between the Founders' words, the modern political party eventually proved to be a successful effort to circumvent Madison’s remedy for faction. Party creates artificial lines of communication between individuals elected by separate electorates; it makes it easier for groups of these individual representatives to "discover their own strengths" and "to act in unison," both activities Madison found distasteful.

There is an argument that modern parties are amalgams of disparate factions that themselves smooth the edges off factionalism. Madison did not address that argument because modern parties did not exist at the time. But a reasonable review of history and current events proves the argument to be a red herring.

Modern political parties have a life of their own, so to speak, apart from the separate factions that comprise them. In that vein, parties act like singular factions, often with the voice of a controlling majority of party faithful that do comprise a single faction, and act singularly for the expressed benefit and furtherance of the party.

Time and again, representatives who should (according to Madison) be representing the constituencies of their districts, act solely in the interest of their party. Orchestrated non-votes, filibusters, shared bully pulpit language, committee pecking order games, … all of these are stupendous wastes of the public’s time and money, all in the interest of party.

The argument is also made that furtherance of the power of a party is, in fact, in the interest of the comprising factions. Precisely! Only ideologically-narrow factions believe that their interests match those of the general public. Madison argued 180 degrees opposite – that the interests of a faction were not equivalent to the public good.

Inspect the common activities of modern parties, and you clearly see the successors of the hated factions of Madison’s day. To ignore that "the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties" is to ignore historical fact.

Madison did not argue explicitly against modern parties; but he clearly argued against the kinds of activities they engage in.

A Brief Pause from #10

I'm watching C-Span2 and here are Sens. Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) offering an amendment to the upcoming federal budget. What's the amendment about? Setting aside the annual incoming surplus in the Social Security "trust fund" so that it is dedicated to paying future SS benefits -- a laudable concept.

What's the issue, you ask? Well, arguing against the two Republican senators is Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), who offered the same amendment a few years ago when he was in the minority. Now that the Democrats run the show, they aren't inclined to handcuff themselves in budgetary matters. And now that they are in the minority, the Republicans are very interested in handcuffing the other side.

This is the height of absurdity and partisanship. If an idea is a good one and at different times has attracted a majority of senators on both sides of the aisle, then ... well, it's a good idea! It is a fact (both Dems and Repubs agree on this) that in 2017, the SS receipts will go into deficit, and around 2040, the "trust fund" will run out of money it has collected over the decades it has been around.

So even though everybody in Washington, D.C., knows the train wreck will happen, the will is not there to fix the problem -- that is, unless the orator is in the minority and willing to be an irritant to the majority in power.

Clearly, the only reason the issue is ever raised is for partisan purposes. This is the government we deserve if we do not wrest control back from the parties.

Federalist #10 ... continued

Madison continues by defining faction ("a majority or a minority of the whole" united by "some common impulse ... or interest" that is adverse "to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community."). Throughout this essay and in other writings by the Founders on this issue, it is clear what they had in mind: public servants who would legislate, administer, and adjudicate only what was in the best interests of the community as a whole.

Factions, by definition, are incapable of providing that.

Madison then lays the foundation for the rest of the essay, that is a discussion of the "two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction": "removing its causes" and "controlling its effects."

He quickly discounts the first method because that would require either ending liberty, as discussed in my previous post, or performing an impossibility: "giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests." The former is a non-starter because liberty was at the core of what the Founders were trying to create. The latter is impossible because of the natural divisions in society caused by "various and interfering interests" such as:
  • "diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate"
  • "the possession of different degrees and kinds of property"
  • "the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors"
  • "zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points"
  • "attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power" who have "divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good"
  • some who are "creditors" and some "debtors," some representing "landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a money interest ..."
Another phrase often misquoted in this section of the essay is: "The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man ..." Again, this is not an endorsement of faction or resignation to its inevitability; only an acknowledgement of nature. The focus of this essay is to provide methodologies for controlling faction as best government can while leaving liberty untouched.

Finally, the last widely misquoted line involves the following sentence: "The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government." Many proponents of party misstate this by concentrating on the second half of the sentence all the while the first half clearly notes that "regulation" of the causes of faction is the "principal task of modern legislation." Not cooperation with faction, not collusion with faction, but "regulation."

Madison then recognizes that no person can be "allowed to be a judge in his own cause," meaning that everyone will naturally serve their own purposes or, in the case of elected representatives, they should represent their constituents' interests. And a group of like-minded legislators ("the most powerful faction") not only must be "themselves the judges," but also "must be expected to prevail." In no way is this an endorsement of faction-function government (that kind of endorsement would not fit with the critique of faction in the previous paragraphs).
It is simply a recognition of the realities of majority-rule assemblies. The prime focus of this essay is resolution of the problem of how "to break and control the violence of faction," not facilitate it.

What governmental structure can by its very nature "break and control" faction? We'll discuss this next as Madison gets into the concepts of a large republic with an appropriate number of representatives all representing their constituents coming together and deliberating for the good of the nation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The True Meaning of Federalist #10

Many proponents of party attempt to give historical credibility to their position by bringing into play the words of the Founders themselves. Given their well-documented fear of and disgust with the concept of faction, the misquoting of the Founders in this way is a true outrage. A good starting point and one that is constantly misquoted is Madison's Federalist Paper #10.

In paragraph five, Madison writes, "Liberty is to faction what air is to fire..." This is undoubtedly the most misrepresented quote by the author, suggesting that the author favored faction or at worse he felt that it was inevitable since the only way to constitutionally extinguish it was to eliminate liberty. In that limited passage, Madison correctly pointed out that the cure (eliminating liberty) would be worse than the illness (faction).

But Federalist #10 is a long, verbose, and complex document, and the last thing an honest reading of it would unearth is an endorsement of faction or party ... or even resignation to its inevitability.

Madison begins #10 with a clear premise, that a "well-constructed Union" would tend "to break and control the violence of faction." That in establishing a government intended to satisfy the general welfare, "a proper cure for" faction was necessary; otherwise the result would be "mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished."

Another common misrepresentation of Madison's meaning here is that the Founders were against the "violence of faction," as represented by the likes of, say, Shays's Rebellion. You know, physical violence. But that is not the true meaning of Madison's words, as he clearly applies a very unconfined, nonphysical definition of the word later: "instability, injustice, and confusion ... in public councils" and "clog(ging) the administration."

Next, Madison points out that previous "American constitutions" (federal and state), although improving on popular government models, had not completely prevented the occurrence of faction. Complaints were widespread that "the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties."

[The term "parties" is meant to be equivalent to factions. It is ironic that the Founders used these terms interchangeably because within a generation actual political parties formed despite continued demonization of the concept by aging or recently-deceased Founders. It should also be noted that party organizations were eventually (1830s) formed not because they were thought by politicos of the day to be intrinsically good, but simply because they were not illegal and served the purposes of the leaders.]

Madison's final put-down of parties again refers to their influence on public bodies: "measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority." To use Madison's words, the two major parties today clearly form a "superior force of an interested and overbearing majority" which refuses to do "the public good."

There is nothing in these opening sentences of #10 that suggests Madison thought faction had any redeeming qualities whatsoever. Granted, there is no mention of anything resembling modern day political parties; if their writings are to be taken as insight into their thinking, the Founders frankly never foresaw them. But the crossover from recognizably insidious faction to the workings of modern political parties is easy, and I believe, if given the chance today, the Founders would write powerfully and eloquently against the character and mechanics of the two major parties.

We'll continue with the analysis of #10 in my next post.

Party Discipline vs. Representation

Just watched a program on KOCE-TV (Inside OC with Rick Reiff). Reiff interviewed a partisan named Michael Schroeder who said he tried to convince the California Republican Party to retract its endorsement of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Asked why, he said, "He (Schwarzenegger) veers wildly from the far left to the far right." Reiff asked, "Doesn't that make him a moderate?" Schroeder responded, "That doesn't make him moderate; it just makes him erratic."

In the partisan's mind, anything that deviates from the party line is unacceptable. That means, to the partisan, that there are only two visions -- black and white -- despite the complexity of our world. Quite often in general elections, you hear the candidates mouth this view as they move further away from each other to "give voters a clear choice." No wonder so many people retreat from participating in politics.

If you believe, for instance, 1) keeping abortion legal but trying to reduce abortions to zero in every way possible, 2) the Iraq War was justified and the only mistake made was the low-balling of how difficult the effort would be, 3) gun ownership should be protected but reasonable limits are OK, 4) electricity should be provided by government alone because a marketplace for it is impossible to adequately regulate, and so on ... there is no party for you.

And according to Michael Schroeder, you're some kind of nitwit without a rudder.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Red vs. Blue

Time magazine once had a cover about the supposed Red vs. Blue divide in the United States population.

This is a lie.

Our politicians are polarized, and so is the media -- who can't escape the civics class brainwash that political parties have always been around and who meekly follow in the footsteps of the political class toward polar extremes.

But make no mistake -- the populace is not polarized.

I ran for public office some 17 years ago, went door-to-door for 10 months, put holes in two pairs of shoes, and talked to a lot of folks over the span of a large congressional district. Survey after survey supports the views I developed about the populace, which is pretty much divided as follows: 20% conservative, 20% liberal, and 60% moderate. [Moderate defined: mostly a mixture of conservative views on some issues, liberal views on others, and moderate views on some others.] Unfortunately, the populace thinks they only have the two major parties to apply their political philosophies when it comes to elections.

The Founders would disagree. In our nation's colonial period and for its first 40 or so years as a nation, there were no formal parties. Why? Because the Founders knew that party candidates, by their nature, would do and say anything to get elected. Ever since the Martin Van Buren presidency, when formal parties began, politicians have attempted to polarize the electorate.

The end result, for instance, is Bush/Cheney outrageously saying that terrorists will be more likely to strike if Kerry is elected and Kerry and Co. calling the President a liar at every turn.

This is where we have come, and the Founders would have predicted it. Some say when you vote for the man, you get the party. That on the face of it would have been ridiculous to the Founders. A couple of examples: Jim Jeffords and a U.S. Representative from Louisiana named Alexander. Both changed parties after having been elected, Jeffords from Republican to Independent and Alexander from Democrat to Republican. Did either man change their stances on ANY issue? No. Did the voters who elected them the previous election vote for their party or for their stance on the issues of the day? If it is the former, then that is an indictment of our current system of "representation."

A representative should be an advocate for 1) his constituents and 2) his country. Where in the Constitution is there any mention of allegiance to party?

The political parties, through their disciplining tools, have warped representation in this country. Discipline comes in many forms, including: committee assignments, placement of bills in the legislative pipeline, leadership PAC money, and threats of primary opposition.

Can this be fixed? You bet. Can any current politician fix it? Absolutely not.

For starters, we must implement open primaries (like Louisiana) in every state, so that we can push the parties back from controlling our elections. Next, we need to encourage competent, average citizens to run as Independents for all offices, and then we 60% of moderates need to elect them to office. Once there, they can use their new-found power to deconstruct the gerrymandering system of creating safe (safe for partycrats) districts.

Next, there should be real, mandated, public debates that require the incumbent to meet his challengers, with all issues being answered. Elections are for electing people to office, yes; but first there must be an open conversation for the benefit of the voters.

Finally, we need to remove from government all vestiges of partisan politics: no free caucus rooms (if partycrats want to caucus, they should do it across the street on their own dime), no separate committee staff for Dems and Repubs, committee assignments are to be done like the 1st Congress did it (sort of a voting process). Think of all of the tax dollars we'd save by removing all of the party-based overhead to the Legislative and Executive branches of government.

Remember Anita Hill? I'll never forget when she testified before Congress, she said that one of her jobs was to be Clarence Thomas's "political eyes and ears" at the EEOC. For what purpose does the head of EEOC need any "political eyes and ears"?!

The faster we reduce (and ultimately remove) the effects of party from our elections and government, the more democratic our institutions will be. And the polarization will magically disappear.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Party Primaries

In June 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court (a more political institution than it will admit) struck down California's Proposition 198, which was the effort by Californians to moderate their choice of candidates and wrest control of their elections back from the partisan political class.

Even if one grants the court the benefit of the doubt in its strict reading of choice and party primaries, it still missed a critical point. The court called the selection of party nominees "internal processes."

"[T]he process by which political parties select their nominees," the majority wrote, "are not wholly public affairs that States may regulate freely."

In so ruling, the court neglected the fact that party primaries are the first steps in a larger process by which the electorate chooses its representatives, a process that is a wholly public affair.

Partisans, by simple virtue of having legislated the process, have co-opted arguably the most important segment of that wholly public affair, the segment in which the most choices are presented on the ballot.

Primaries must be abolished. That would be a first step toward making government more representative.

I get a lot of grief from party proponents when I make this analogy, but I believe it clarifies this issue. If the two major parties were the Nazi and Stalinist parties, would you feel comfortable voting for either party's "Chosen One," candidates that came out of each party's "internal processes"?

Primaries have usurped a fundamental piece of the process by which Americans choose their representatives. Does this bother you? Open primaries like the one in Louisiana are the answer ...

Sometimes they get it right ... or almost.

Grolier's Interactive Encyclopedia:

"The framers of the U.S. CONSTITUTION had hoped to avoid the factionalism of political parties and wrote no role for them into the Constitution. Nevertheless, party divisions began during the administration of the first president, George Washington. The Federalists coalesced around John Adams and the Democratic-Republicans around Thomas Jefferson. The Jeffersonians became the Democratic party, and the Federalists were succeeded by the National Republicans in the 1820s and then by the Whig in the 1830s. The Whigs, in turn, were replaced by the Republican Party in the 1850s. Since then, the Democratic and the Republican party have been the two major parties."

If you hold the writers of this piece to tight grammatical standards, the comma in the fourth sentence is critical to their error. Grammatically-speaking, "The Jeffersonians became the Democratic party" is not connected to the phrase "in the 1820s" as is the clause "and the Federalists were succeeded by the National Republicans." Therefore, this text suggests that only the Federalists coalesced into a party in the 1820s, where actually both parties did not exist until Martin Van Buren's presidency. Yes, the "Federalists," a philosophical movement, "coalesced around John Adams" and "the Democratic-Republicans," another philosophical movement, coalesced "around Thomas Jefferson."

But these movements were just that -- movements. And the Founders actually despised the concept of being held to some common belief system, much less the discipline of a party that would hold them to that system.

And by the way, the reason the Founders, "wrote no role for them (parties) into the Constitution" was they didn't want there to be role a for them. They knew they couldn't stop them (except by the sheer weight of their personalities in the body politic) because, as Madison wrote in Federalist #10, extinguishing them constitutionally would be extinguishing free speech and assembly. But what is often misrepresented as their tacit approval of parties is simply their acknowledgement that, under this constitution, parties would be inclined to emerge, persist, and try to grab power. They disapproved of these eventualities and spoke vigorously against them.

More on Federalist #10 at length later on ...

How about John Adams?

In his inaugural address:

" ... we should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party through artifice or corruption, the Government may be the choice of a party for its own ends, not of the nation for the national good."

Translation: If we allow parties to control our elections, we are doomed ...

They are taunting you ...

Fred Barnes, the conservative pundit on the cable show The Beltway Boys, on 11/12/06: "Moderates are followers.” Unfortunately, there is a kernel of truth to what he said. Not so much that moderates "follow," but more that they have given up on their government ever representing them -- so they "leave" the system.

It is time to lead ...

Otherwise, (like in admittedly more egregious scenarios -- Nazi Germany, Pol Pot Cambodia, Stalinist Russia), the radicalized, vocal minority will fill the power vacuum. Just because Democrats and Republicans are not as bad as, say, Nazis does not change the fact that they represent minorities of the electorate and because of the electoral system they have put in place, one minority or the other determines policy.

It is time for independents to run for office and for the rest of us to elect them. The governing minorities are taunting us. A bit like the bully, who because the overwhelming numbers of good kids don't do anything about him, continues to control the school yard.

Taunt, taunt, taunt ... gonna do something about it?

George Washington's Take on Party

Washington, in his farewell address to the nation, said, “…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. (Party) serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration.”

“All … combinations and associations … with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are … of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.”

Clear enough?

And more harm ...

The American populace is largely moderate and increasingly it is registering non-partisan (a very good thing) or receding from the political world (not a good thing at all). According to a CNN poll at the end of the 2004 presidential campaign, “Nearly half of all respondents -- 47 percent -- said Kerry's political views are too liberal. Four in 10 said Bush is too conservative.”

The book Culture War exposes the fact that the only red/blue divide in the U.S. is in the political class, not in the general electorate. Wattenberg demonstrates in The Rise of Candidate-Centered Politics that straight-ticket voting has declined drastically since early last century and the number of citizens who self-identify as Democrat or Republican has fallen 11 percent since 1952. In 1988, independent voters outnumbered any other sector of the electorate.

Does our electoral system satisfy the needs of these realities? Hardly. The party demagogues hold on to the process to protect their main interest: maintenance of party control.

There are those who argue against my position on party by saying that their representative (a member of a party) does not “toe the party line on every issue.” Sure, but the national party structure has taken on an organic function that its proponents claim is democracy in action – that is, within the party, a majority controls the direction of all of its members. Yes, this is democratic, but it is a second-level filtration of democracy.

The electorate, given the choices, is forced into one of two groups and within one of those groups, a majority controls policy. Think about that … about 25 to 30 percent of the representatives control all of policymaking. Is that really democratic? If the same set of representatives were free to express the wishes of their constituents on each individual issue – with no party discipline or control hanging over their heads – wouldn’t that be a truer measure of democracy?

In other words, an individual Democratic or Republican member of Congress can claim to be “independent” (one often hears this claim during election season), but functionally, when those members get to backrooms on the Hill, they discover that other members control the direction of positions taken by their club. Any deviations (with the rare allowed exception) are kicked to the back burner because, of course, if you are in the majority party, your view is a minority opinion and if you are in the minority party, of course, the way to displace the majority is to assimilate into a group that does everything and anything in the political handbook to besmirch members in the majority.

It becomes a game literally for the benefit of party (either one). Nowhere in sight is the representative democracy that the Founders envisioned – the slow coalition building on each issue, coalitions that reformed when the next issue arose.

More Harm

Throughout the following comments, consider Congress as the environment being described. But these problems can easily be ascribed to state assemblies, etc.

No matter which party corrals a working majority, Americans consistently fail to get respectable and representative government one election after another. The result: zigzag elections as one set of bums is kicked out in hopes that the other set will correct the incumbents’ excesses – this happens until the correction becomes unbearably out-of-whack with the public’s wishes.

Abuses of power occur quickly as the excitations of electoral victory unleash the most strident elements in the winning camp. Does a 51-49 majority in a legislative body constitute a “mandate” for sweeping and uncompromising change? You hear it all the time from the political class, and always in the context of their recent victories, never when the other guys get the majority.

Because the requirement to retain power is institutional and absolute, the majority party corrupts all facets of government operation to attain that end. How many times has Congress voted on a flag-burning amendment – just ahead of elections – when its proponents knew it had no chance of winning? How about gay marriage, gun control or some other divisive issue the partisans use to yank your chain during the upcoming campaign?

Your representative – the one citizens in your district elected to office to represent you (it doesn’t matter whether you voted for him or her) – is subject to discipline from people you did not elect. Party leaders control committee chairs, making them more powerful than all other members and making your representative beholding to them in all aspects of what would be normal democratic function.

When a representative does ascend to a committee chair, the pressure continues unabated from the party machine. The possibility of being unseated is an overarching concern, as Rep. Joel Hefley of Colorado, chair of the Ethics Committee, found out after he and other Republicans had the temerity to censure Texas Rep. Tom DeLay on three counts of clear abuses of power.

Want a bill that is important to your constituents to see the light of day on the floor of Congress? Better play ball; the same leaders control which bills even get to a vote, not to mention their influence over whether other members will vote for your bill.

Before going on, ponder what I just said: Other people's representatives have more power than yours. Are you OK with that? Is that democratic?

A severe misrepresentation of the concept of checks and balances has currency today: divided government – one party in control of the White House and the other party running at least one house of Congress. That’s not what the Constitution says. The real meaning is that each branch jealously guards its own prerogatives as an institution. The introduction of party has warped that meaning such that when one party controls both the White House and the legislative branch, no oversight of the executive occurs. That’s how we get bad, rubber stamp legislation. How is it that President Bush can claim to sign a bill and at the same time merely give a speech in which he states his intention to circumvent the clear meaning of the legislation? And Congress does nothing – except for the other parties’ mouthpieces who are not really guarding the precious prerogatives of the legislative institution in Article I of the Constitution. Rather, they are preparing for the next election cycle.

Money that you contribute to your representative is often given to other representatives and leadership political action committees to curry favor for chairmanships (see above), fending off primary election foes, and making even more campaign funds by courting more contributors who, while sitting down eating the rubber chicken, get a better seat at the ear of your representative than you do.

Your representative colludes with his or her party to scientifically dissect you and your fellow citizens into districts that resist debate during election cycles. Drawing district lines should be done by nonpartisan (not bipartisan, but nonpartisan) commissions which are barred from using political demographics to determine district boundaries.

The electoral system has been straight-jacketed so that no voices beyond those in the major parties can be heard, that small minorities of the populace decide the general election slate, and that nominees of parties are guaranteed a slot on the final ballot. The exception is Louisiana’s open primary system in which all candidates run against each other on the first ballot that is essentially the general election (if one candidate garners more than 50 percent, the election is done). The Louisiana system should be universally implemented ... as a fundamental starting point in surgically removing party from our goverment.


Let's start with a few points about the harm that political parties inflict on our government.

1. It should be a basic foundation of a representative democracy such as ours that the voters of a given district have the right to elect whoever they wish.

If it were not for Connecticut's unique statutes that allowed Joe Lieberman to run as an independent candidate in the general election after having lost the Democratic primary, though, the people of that state would have been denied the right to elect the candidate of their choice. Lieberman played by the rules and ran against Lamont and lost in the primary. Then, those who support party (I call them partycrats) told Joe to sit out the general election because it was the "honorable" thing to do.

But what about the people of Connecticut? They, not JUST the Democrats in that state, should determine who their senator is to be, right?

The party primary system is the most UN-democratic feature of our current government function.

There are many other examples ... in other states that don't provide the flexibility Joe had. For instance, Dick Riordan should have been elected governor of California four years ago. In all polling, he was by far the favored candidate among ALL Californians. But he was too moderate for the far-right conservatives who typically vote in Republican primaries, and he lost to Bill Simon. Simon, who of course was way too right-wing for the California electorate, lost easily to the "pay-to-play" corrupt Gray Davis ... and in less than a year, the people of the state recalled him and put in Schwarzenegger. Why couldn't the people have the moderate Republican they wanted in the first place?

2. Much of what passes as legislative effort in Congress is positioning for the next election ... either for discrediting members of the opposite party or improving the chances of members of one's own party. This is true on every issue, including war and peace. This is an abomination, not to mention a huge waste of time and loads of YOUR tax money.

More to come ...

In the beginning ...

... there were no political parties. Very few people know this. There were two political philosophies that dominated the early years of United States government, but the brilliant men who held either Federalist or Anti-Federalist views would literally spin in their graves if they could see how modern parties have corrupted their vision.

As this blog goes forward, I will post the kind of incontrovertible evidence that proves this premise. There may be those who suggest, "So what? What's the big deal? So we've invented something the Founders didn't think of; so what's the harm?" I'll address that as we go forward.

Stick with me. Like one local talk show host says, "We have a country to save."