Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This is Serious Tim speaking...

I know I joke a lot. I like to mess around and have a good time. I am well aware that I’ve made that name for myself and I’m willing to live with it.

I’m asking you, the reader, to set that aside for a minute and accept that I might have a serious side and would like for you to read the following and reply with your thoughts because I’m at an impasse. At the end of this post I’m going to have a list of questions. There are no “right or wrong” answers… this is not a test. You can post your answers in a comment to this post (encouraged method as I’d like to incite discussion on the matter), or you can email them to me if you’d like to keep it private. BUT I WOULD LIKE YOUR INPUT!

On Monday I begin school again. I’m going back to college for a degree in International Relations with a concentration in Comparative Politics. I chose that simply because it’s an area I’m interested in and if you’ve read half of my posts, you’ll know that to be true. Any-who, my first class is on American Foreign Policy and a question I’d like for that class to answer is this: “If we are a country established as a Constitutional Republic, why do we help establish and encourage the establishment of Democracies (a political system our founders spoke vehemently against) in other countries?”

Well, I’ve been thinking more and more about it (the question) and wondered if we are indeed still a Constitutional Republic. Here’s my rationale:

The first hit our Constitution took was with the ratification of the 17th Amendment. Before the 17th came along, Senators were appointed by the governments of their respective states and were in place to be a voice for that State.. NOT the people *of* the state, but of the State itself. The people had their own house of congress called the House of Representatives. This was fine because it was the House, not the Senate, who held (and continue to hold) the purse strings of our Federal Government. When the 17th Amendment was ratified it stripped the States of their representation in Congress and gave the people both houses. On a side note, this left the only State control in the hands of the Presidential election with the presence of the Electoral College… more on that later.

The second item on my list actually lies, historically, before that (the 17th Amendment) and I’m a little miffed at the founders for not doing anything about this in the Constitution’s original script. The whole system of Checks and Balances. The President can veto. The Congress can overrule a veto. The Supreme Court can overrule either. The President appoints Supreme Court Justices but they must go through Congressional approval. Yadda yadda yadda… Where is the Check or Balance for the Supreme Court after the Justices are confirmed?!? These people are in their seats for LIFE. L-I-F-E!!!! So we’re to think that a Presidential appointment and a couple of months of scrutiny (if that) are enough insight into a potential Justice to have him (her) sit in that chair for life?!? I recommend having an Amendment whereby Congress can, with a super majority and approval of the States (similar to the ratification of a Constitutional Amendment), remove a sitting Justice from their seat should we find their actions censure-worthy.

So I started thinking more and more…

I am a member of the United States Armed Forces. I have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution against ALL enemies foreign AND DOMESTIC. Is our Constitution under attack? Here’s some substantiating reasoning behind this question…

Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 and the 12th Amendment to the Constitution established and refined the procedures of the Electoral College. We now have Massachusetts and a hand full of other states (Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington.. read more @ who have decided to allocate their Electors according to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote. Now a State has the right to vote for whomever they choose with these Electors. These new laws can me challenged and/or repealed. The problem is with the desire to establish them in the first place. This goes DIRECTLY against the construct of the Constitution and the methodology for electing our President. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version: If we go off the popular vote, California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, and North Carolina… the 10 most populous States in the union, could carry the election. The other 40 States could (read: would) be ignored. Why care about them? You’d only need these ten to carry over half the US population! James Bovard said it best when he said, “Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”

The Fifth Amendment reads (in part) “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Eminent Domain laws have been stretched to the limits in our country to include “taken for public use” to mean that if a State can garner a higher tax income from a business than from your property, then they can take your land/home, and “just compensation” does not mean “fair market value”. If WalMart convinces a local government of their tax importance (in combined business, sales and income taxes) and agree to move into the town at a particular location, guess who’s looking for a new home.

The Second Amendment secures the right of individual citizens to bear arms. During the Katrina debacle National Guard units went door to door confiscating weapons. (

The Tenth Amendment states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This has been all but destroyed and forgotten. A single recent example includes the national mandate for individual citizens to enter into a contractual agreement with another party to pay for services not necessarily desired by the paying party. There are many, many, many, MANY more examples coming from both sides of the aisle… this is not meant to be partisan.

In addition to these direct assaults on the Constitution, we’ve got indirect attacks with the branches giving themselves powers not delegated by the Constitution. Executive Orders are not a power of the President. Passing law through judicial precedent is not a power of the judiciary.

Okay… it’s late and I want to get this out before I go to bed so I’ll stop the rant portion of my post here and move on to the questions…

  1. Are we still a Constitutional Republic?
  2. Why do we push Democracies on other countries if we do not practice the same?
  3. As I am sworn to protect (in a military manner) the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, at what point am I failing in my duties by allowing these assaults to continue?
  4. (With the same premise) at what point am I expected to retaliate?
  5. (With the same premise) how would I retaliate?
  6. (With the same premise) At what point do I quit, accepting the fact that I am unable to fulfill my sworn obligations?
  7. Why are we doing this to ourselves?

Please let me know what you think. Ask questions back. Rant alongside or against me.


toto said...

The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all rule (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but now used by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Massachusetts (the 13th largest population state, with 12 electoral college votes) and 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states (with less than 7 electoral college votes) were not among them. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states, and candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.
Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

toto said...

The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate. However, if anyone is concerned about the this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states -- that is, a mere 26% of the nation's votes.

The political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five "red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six "blue" states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched. Indeed, among the 11 most populous states, the highest levels of popular support , hardly overwhelming, were found in the following seven non-battleground states:
* Texas (62% Republican),
* New York (59% Democratic),
* Georgia (58% Republican),
* North Carolina (56% Republican),
* Illinois (55% Democratic),
* California (55% Democratic), and
* New Jersey (53% Democratic).

In addition, the margins generated by the nation's largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:
* Texas -- 1,691,267 Republican
* New York -- 1,192,436 Democratic
* Georgia -- 544,634 Republican
* North Carolina -- 426,778 Republican
* Illinois -- 513,342 Democratic
* California -- 1,023,560 Democratic
* New Jersey -- 211,826 Democratic

To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004 -- larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004.

toto said...

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. It would no longer matter who won a state. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. The National Popular Vote bill does not try to abolish the Electoral College. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska -- 70%, DC -- 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota -- 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 30 state legislative chambers, in 20 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


Anonymous said...

FWIW, I don't think that the constitution will save us from circumstances, such as those in which we currently dwell, where there is widespread belief that using the coercive agency of the state to advance one's desires is not only advantageous, but proper. We're a long, long way from merely people's life and property.

The anti-federalists were right: once you empower a government, people will, over time, find a way to get around the impediments to your use of that power.

-- stinky

Larzanth said...

I like short simple answers. Here's my 2 cents.

1. Barely
2. Think about your backyard. Do you look more at your yard or your neighbors yard. Which one bothers you more if it isn't maintained to your liking?
3. You're under orders pal. You have no choice regardless of what you swore. Your leaders will always find a way to justify their actions.
4. When you are ordered to.
5. Good question. Walking the thin line of razor wire can be tricky.
6. Rather ask yourself this question, to whom do my loyalties lie more towards, my country or my family? Remember those old crust dogs who've been in for 30+ years. They chose who they want to be married to and divorced the other.
7. That's the human condition.