Supreme Court and Democracy

With the composition of the Supreme Court being so consequential, the Senate has an eternal obligation to confirm justices who will defend the constitution on a non-partisan basis for all people within our borders. We hope citizens will ask their senators to go beyond that and make support for free, fair, and accountable democracy one of their major confirmation criteria.

Setting Fires and Pouring Gasoline

Our constitution gives the media a central and protected role in our democracy. Our founding fathers expected the media would help hold leaders accountable and also help educate voters (and legislators) about the pros and cons of various policy options. The media have never been especially polite in doing the job the founder fathers gave them: personal attacks on political leaders started early on. In the last many years, however, many media owners have directed their staff to set fires and then pour gasoline on them.

The 2nd Amendment & Changing Times

Things have changed between the time of the founding fathers and now. On the one hand, the USA now has an extremely well-armed military force, while most state and local governments have well-armed police forces, and all of those forces are under the control of elected civilian leaders. On the other hand, the USA has a far higher rate of gun deaths and mass shootings than most citizens are willing to accept. Whether and how things should be re-balanced are open questions suitable for respectful debate.

Spite

Would you shoot your chief of police because he arrested your best friend?  Or would you malign his reputation in a very public way?  If you did, could you count on him to help you later?  Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. 

Divided We Fall

What if those in power now could be given assurances that they could continue to compete politically all across the nation – if they end their dangerous tactics of retaliation and entrenchment – combined with assurances that today’s opposition will also swear off such tactics? Doing so would allow everyone to return to the business of getting better results for our country, for our children, and for our grandchildren. All that is required is that elected officials look out for the public interest instead of governing in pursuit of their self interest – and for each of us to insist they do so.

Does the FCC Care About the Heartland?

We voters need information about the problems facing us, how politicians and bureaucrats propose to solve those problems, and what they actually do. That’s why our Constitution includes our right to a free press. In today’s USA, our press may be free, but state and local news is becoming harder to find. We now have a serious problem with “news deserts” where people have few if any options to learn what’s going on in their area. New FCC and proposed decisions are not helping.

The End of Partisan Gerrymandering? Fingers Crossed!

One of the most fundamental aspects of a democracy is that citizens vote for their leaders rather than politicians selecting their voters through partisan redistricting (gerrymandering).  On October 3, 2017, the US Supreme Court heard a case that could end this practice forever. It is hard to know how the justices will rule on this issue but one thing is certain:  anything that leads to more political competition will be welcome.  As noted in our August 14, 2017 blog, too many states, and too many districts within those states are currently noncompetitive.  More than a few districts don’t even provide voters with a choice: no-one wants to waste time and money running as an opposition candidate, knowing they are doomed to lose.  Americans deserve better. Let’s hope the Supreme Court justices lend a hand.

An Important Choice

There has been a lot talk about the urban/rural split in American politics, as well as growing political polarization.  All true.  But there’s a deeper point to be made.  Our democracy is undermined when people are segregated into different camps with only limited opportunities for political competition and collaboration.  We need to make a change. Fortunately, we have choices. There are viable options – if we are willing to put the work in.