Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

By Alan J. Yeck

Just when I thought the political fruit cake couldn’t get any nuttier, I woke to the news that Hillary Clinton, in a discussion with Nancy Pelosi, shared her own conspiracy theory that President Trump called Vladimir Putin on the day of the riot at the Capital. I find myself going back and forth between being entertained by the moron platform (well used by both parties) to really pissed off that this is even in the news. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not? That’s why we wait for facts before holding public hearings. I don’t like Trump but I don’t like Biden either. I don’t like any of them and this is just another example of ‘why.’ Their intense, personal hatred of Trump comes first and foremost, well before issues that are affecting and destroying the American people on a daily basis. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord…and Hillary and Nancy. Don’t you wish they were that consumed with the fraudulent, student loan industry? Don’t you wish they spent their energy on campaign finance reform, or healthcare, or a distribution plan for the COVID vaccine? Don’t you wish all of them had their heads out of their asses and actually worked for the welfare of the American people? I do.

The next WTF moment came with two commercials on the networks; one was about TV news personality, Katie Couric, being interviewed by the news, about Trump. The other promo was about the news, interviewing CBS News White House correspondent, Major Garrett, on Trump. This is what we do now – the news interviews the news and makes it news when it’s not news at all. Again, I’m not defending nor supporting any of the politicians including Trump, but is it a surprise, to anyone in the country, how the mainstream news networks loathe Trump? I’m not saying they don’t have good reason – I’m saying they are news networks and not gossip tabloids (or shouldn’t be gossip tabloids). If you also loathe Trump do you need more loathing ammo? If you support Trump, does this ease your fears as we transition to a new Biden administration? Maybe try reporting on how much money from Super PACs go to which politicians? How about where the thousands upon thousands of lobbyists spend their time, and money, in Washington? How about using the power of the press to bring real, lasting change to a country desperately needing it, by real reporting and not a vendetta agenda. Do you understand that as you also seek your pound of old, white, flabby, flesh that you only create more mistrust in what you report on?  The only difference between you and The National Enquirer is…nothing. Except I did see Elvis in an Asheville head shop so the Enquirer’s reporting on that was true. 

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The Constitution as Contract for Individual Freedom

By Christiane Warren, Ph.D.

Contemporary voices who demand that the Federal government should actively guarantees everyone’s democratic equality in access as well as quality of outcome, fail to grasp the original purpose and design of the U.S. Constitution. Written in  response to the shortcomings of the preceding Articles of Confederation, the Constitution needs to be seen as a charter, an assignment of power and authority. [i] To establish a “more perfect union,” the founders’ task was to determine the inter-connectedness of authorities and responsibilities assigned to the Federal government and to the American people. The founders informed by enlightened social contract theory and Adam Smith’s views on free enterprise designed the United States as a representative republican confederacy of independent states.  The Constitution grounded in the Lockean classical liberalism ideals was the contract that protected individual freedom and private property.[ii]

The Federal government’s authority is received by those it governs, and its primary responsibility to them remains the protection of individuals’ freedom from government overreach and to ensure their safety in the furtherance of private enterprise. The Constitution reflects the founders’ resistance to Britain’s mercantilist trade policies and to governmental control through taxation and legislation. Thus, they created an economic and legislative structure that asserted the primacy of private property rights as the foundation for personal freedom as Madison asserts.[iii] Contemporary scholars such as Cost afford the founders to have the foresight of creating a system that paved the way for capitalism.[iv]

To achieve their goal, the authors of the Constitution identified the existence of factions as the greatest threat to freedom and the rule of law. James Madison saw factions leading to power imbalances which in turn may lead to instability and even insurrection.[v] John Adams saw factional divisions as being tied to economic status and warned against the danger of majority rule; the dominion of the masses.[vi]  In response, as Constitutional scholar Grimes asserts, Adams needs to be credited with developing the solution, through his introduction of a representative balance achieved in the form of “mixed government.” [vii]

The complex structure of check and balances embodied in the three branches of government was designed to protect the confederate structure of the new nation and enabled leadership to protect the people from majority rule as Hamilton affirms.[viii] The success of this system is predicated on the acceptance of all sides in the basic fairness of the Constitutional compact and is put in practice when all parties abide by the established laws and procedures, including those that allow for revisions when deemed necessary. The body politic succeeds as a national enterprise when all of its people and their representatives follow the established procedures and rules of civility in a confrontation and accept the outcome.[ix]

Thus, in today’s volatile societal discourse all Americans will be best served to recall the uniquely American success story of justice guaranteed by the Constitutional contract between government and the American as established by the nation’s founders.

Notes:


[i] Bruce P. Frohnen & George W. Carey, The Framer’s Constitution, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016), p. 81.

[ii] Edling, Max M. Chapter editor: “A Mongrel Kind of Government” in Peter Thompson and Peter S. Onuf. British America and the Early United States. ( University of Virginia Press Stable, 2013), p.153. 

[iii] James Madison, “Property” 1792 From Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, ed., The Founders’ Constitution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 1:598-99.]

[iv] Jay Cost, “The Business of Society – Capitalism, Socialism, and the American Founding,” American Enterprise Institute, p.3.

[v] James Madison, Federalist Papers #10, The Avalon Project, https://www.avalon.yale.law.edu/18th_century/fed10.asp

[vi] The Works of John Adams, edited by Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), vol. VI, p.68.

[vii] Alan Pendleton Grimes, American Political Thought, (Lanham, MD: American University Press, 1983), p.111.

[viii] Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers #9, The Avalon Project, https://www.avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed09.asp

[ix] Adam White, “A republic, if we can keep it,” American Enterprise Institute (2/4/2020) https://www.aei.org/articles/a-republic-if-we-cankeep-it/

Bibliography:

The works of John Adams, edited by Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), vol. VI, p. 57.

Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge, MA: The Bellnap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992.

Cost, Jay. “The Business of Society – Capitalism, Socialism, and the American Founding.” American Enterprise Institute, 5/2020. https://www.aei.org

Edling, Max M. Chapter editor: “A Mongrel Kind of Government” in Peter Thompson and Peter S. Onuf. British America and the Early United States. University of Virginia Press Stable, 2013.  http://www.jstor.com/stable/j.ctt6

RICHARD A. EPSTEIN. The Classical Liberal Constitution. Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England: Harvard University Press, 2014.

FROHNEN, BRUCE P., and GEORGE W. CAREY. “The Framers’ Constitution” In Constitutional Morality and the Rise of Quasi-Law, 243-86. Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England: Harvard University Press, 2016. www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvjnrsvf.11.

Grimes, Alan Pendleton. American Political Thought. Revised Edition, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983.

Hamilton, Alexander. The Federalist Papers #9. The Avalon Project.https://www.avalon.law.yale.edu18th_century/fed09.asp

Hamilton, Alexander. The Federalist Papers #51. The Avalon Project.https://www.avalon.law.yale.edu18th_century/fed51.asp

Keller, Morton. America’s Three Regimes – A New Political History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Madison, James. The Federalist Papers #10. The Avalon Project.https://www.avalon.law.yale.edu18th_century/fed10.asp

Madison, James. The Federalist Papers #39. The Avalon Project.https://www.avalon.law.yale.edu18th_century/fed39.asp

Madison, James. The Federalist Papers #45. The Avalon Project.https://www.avalon.law.yale.edu18th_century/fed45.asp

Madison, James. The Federalist Papers #47. The Avalon Project. https://www.avalon.law.yale.edu18th_century/fed47.asp

Madison, James. “Property.” 1792. From Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, ed., The Founders’ Constitution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 1:598-99.]

Maggs, Gregory E. A Concise Guide to the to the Federalist Papers as a Source of the Original Meaning of the United States Constitution. George Washington University Law School, 2007.

White, Adam J. “A republic, if we can keep it.” American Enterprise Institute, 2/4/2020. https://www.aei.org/articles

More About the Author

Guest author, Dr. Christiane Warren, Senior Consultant atAnna J Cooper Education AdvocacyRecognized for producing growth and cultivating success in the career and education space, Dr. Warren has served as tenured faculty, department chair and academic dean for entire divisions and in the Academic Affairs office at both 2-and-4 year institutions in NJ and NY. Read more about Dr. Warren here.

If No One is Around When Democracy Dies, Does it Make a Sound? Part 2

The fox passes acts to watch the hen house…

The Tillman Act of 1907 was the first legislation in the United States prohibiting contributions from corporations  and unions to national political campaigns. More regulations were added in 1910, with subsequent amendments in 1925, with the Federal Corrupt Practices Act. This was followed in 1943 with the Smith-Connally Act and again in 1947 with the Taft-Hartley Act. All were focused on regulating union and corporate spending in federal campaigns and public disclosure of donors. While all these Acts were on the books, there was never a government agency tasked with enforcement (similar to having a speed limit sign on a desert highway with no cops).  

In 1971, Congress consolidated its earlier reform efforts in the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), instituting more stringent disclosure requirements for federal candidates, political parties and Political action committees (PACs). This was later amended in 1974 to set limits on contributions by PACs, individuals, political parties, and also established the Federal Election Commission (FEC) – the first independent agency that would be tasked to enforce campaign finance Acts.

In 2002, Congress made major revisions to the FECA in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, more commonly referred to as “McCain-Feingold.” However, major portions of McCain-Feingold were later struck down by the Supreme Court on constitutional grounds.  In June 2008, the “millionaire’s amendment,” a section of the act that attempted to provide a fairness through increasing campaign contributions for candidates who were being substantially outspent by opponents using their own personal wealth, was overturned by the Supreme Court in Davis v. Federal Election Commission. Senator McCain consistently voiced concern over campaign practices and their funding.

“Questions of honor are raised as much by appearances as by reality in politics, and because they incite public distrust, they need to be addressed no less directly than we would address evidence of expressly illegal corruption…By the time I became a leading advocate of campaign finance reform, I had come to appreciate that the public’s suspicions were not always mistaken. Money does buy access in Washington, and access increases influence that often results in benefiting the few at the expense of the many.” Senator John McCain, 2002.

B-I-N-G-O! And 18 years later it’s only gotten worse.

This is part 2 of the “Democracy Dies” series, covering the corruption surrounding PACS, SuperPACs, and how candidates pay for votes. To read part 1, go to https://altraged.com/2020/10/23/if-no-one-is-around-does-democracy-make-a-sound-when-it-dies-part-1/