Tag Archives: Democracy

Democrats are hypocritical when criticizing political action committees

The eye-catcher …

After a long week of work, impeachment acquittal votes, and the jobs report, I came home last night prepared to chill out and maybe watch a little television.  My mother, the family’s original political analyst, shot me out a text asking if I was watching the Democratic debates.  I thanked her for letting me know then switched to ABC to check it out.

The last debate prior to the New Hampshire primary and the first one post the U.S. Senate’s acquittal of President Donald J. Trump, I expected the debaters to get in a few zings on Mr. Trump.  The debaters had to bring him up since the Democratic Party will need the candidates to spearhead the campaign not only against Mr Trump but against Republican senators up for re-election this fall who voted to acquit the President.

I also heard the unsurprising attack on corporate donations to campaigns.  U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, went all in on former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, former businessman Tom Steyer, and former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, for, in Mr Buttigieg’s case, accepting donations from billionaires, and Messrs Steyer and Bloomberg, for attempting to buy elections with their wealth.  Mrs Warren and Mr Sanders reminded Americans that they were not going to be on the dole for donations from corporate PACs.

Two strategic takeaways.  First, will candidates want to continuously expend energy talking about a failure to pass articles of impeachment against Donald Trump when energy should be spent crystallizing the policy differences between candidates?  Second, are these candidates being disingenuous with Democratic voters when they criticize the existing campaign donation mechanism?

Wasting energy talking about impeachment …

Voters do not have long memories.  While Democrats are still fuming that the President survived impeachment due to votes along party lines, the more important independent vote will need to be swayed by a more effectual campaign tactic.  Mr Trump still has robust jobs numbers and stock market valuation increases to work with.  This week’s 225,000 increase in non-farm payrolls capped off a victory lap for the President and even though talk of recession persists, if he can positively spin his achievements on the economy, enough independents may decide to ignore his behavior and vote with their pocketbooks.  Talking about a failed removal attempt won’t outweigh stock market numbers sitting in the positive zone.

Nor will black voters, a block that Democrats constantly harp on as important, be swayed by calls for impeachment.  In the bigger scheme, beyond the emotion of getting rid of someone deemed as rude and bigoted, the type of person blacks are well equipped to handle due to historical experience to deal with, a focus on impeachment is more evidence that the Democratic Party is further de-emphasizing the immediate and medium range needs of blacks in America.  Independent thinking blacks, already questioning the allegiance their community has to the Democratic Party, need concrete political packages to stay on board.  I don’t see the Democrats delivering that at all.

The political markets are like any capital market. PACs are their private equity firms ….

The attempts on the part of Mr Sanders and Mrs Warren to create a negative view of political action committees and the donations they generate show a continuous practice of poorly educating constituents about how the politics matrix works.  Political action committees are the private equity firm equivalents for political markets.  They pick candidates they believe can help provide returns on and to the public policy positions that PACs take.

While they cannot manage a candidate’s campaign, a PAC can indirectly influence where that candidate should deploy political capital by providing the public with messages that influence voters to contact and persuade candidates to consider positions important to PACs. Like a private equity firm, PACs influence how well candidates perform in providing the products they should be good at providing: messaging and political packages.

A well informed voter will appreciate that this PAC apparatus is an organic outgrowth of the unique American political economy.  Democracy has created a market for votes and like any market there will be information seekers on the lookout for the best investment toward which capital should be deployed.  What candidates who disparage the model tell me is that they may not be viable enough to attract funding from information seekers such as PACs and prefer to hide that lack of viability by making the tired arguments about how bad taking PAC money is.

Conclusion….

So far Democratic candidate tactics for winning the presidency do not look effectual.  Talking about impeachment signals to black voters in particular that a party that wastes time on non-relevant issues or tactics should not be getting their vote.  Their views on campaign financing tells independent voters that they are disconnected from the realities of how markets for anything in America, including votes, actually work.

What Americans consider as political power is not enhanced by impeachment trial…

For most Americans, political power is wrapped up in the vote, their ability to select the the candidate of their choice to occupy a public office.  Political power is about engaging in various forums i.e. courts, voting booths, administrative hearings, etc., in order to get other political actors, i.e. voters, public officials, media, business firms, etc., to get you what you want.

In a republic, the electorate hopes to see gains in political power manifested in the officials they choose.  Donald Trump with the aid of approximately 62,984,828 popular votes and 304 votes in the Electoral College became the manifestation; certified by America’s electoral process as the chief executive who would exercise political power specifically on behalf of those whose political values he asserted to share during his campaign.

The approximately 65,853,514 American voters not sharing Mr. Trump’s political values via their elected agents in the U.S. House of Representatives have decided that to wrest political power from Mr. Trump that impeachment of the President is their best strategy for placing political power into the hands of the Left.  To paraphrase U.S. Representative Al Green, Democrat from Texas, failure to impeach Mr Trump today would result in his re-election.  This lack of faith in the Democrats’ ability to beat Mr Trump in the voting booth should be most telling about how the Democratic Party assesses its own power of persuasion over the American electorate, an incapacity that does not get too much attention.

What does impeachment get you?

If the Democrats are successful in removing Mr Trump from office, the immediate gains in their political power will be reflected how? Yes, among their base Congressional Democratic approval ratings may receive a bump because they would have delivered on their promise to remove Mr Trump, but in order to increase their power, they would need to take the Senate in the fall as well.  Will the Democrats be able to spread the taint of a disgraced U.S. president to his Republican colleagues in the Senate or will Republican voters be emboldened to do everything in their power to ensure that the Senate stays in Republican hands?

But even if the Democrats are able to win control of both Houses of Congress in the fall combined with a removal of Mr Trump, what does that say about the voter’s political power?  What does this say about the importance of the vote?  Is it okay that close to 300 individuals in the Congress would in effect invalidate and throw out the 63 million popular votes and 304 Electoral College votes?  Shouldn’t the electorate, with just over seven months to go to the 2020 general elections, be allowed to determine whether or not Mr Trump receives another four years in the White House?  What does impeachment say about how seriously Congress takes the exercise of democracy?

More importantly, what does the impeachment say about individual political power? One takeaway is that individual political power is severely diluted on the national level due not only to one vote being merely one vote among 130 million votes, but is increasingly made irrelevant by the actions of a handful of men and women in Washington.  Americans may be so caught up in the “we, we, we” of this impeachment trial that they run the risk of not being able to answer the “so what?” question when the trial is over.

Where the benefits of democracy don’t equal its costs …

It is no wonder that democracy is taking a hit in popularity around the world.  Democracy’s dwindling efficacy, if it ever had any, is being exposed in the world’s most noted “democracy”, the United States.  Where significant portions of the American populace is stressed over their inability to create an economy that works for them, that stress is compounded by an electoral system that they have no control over.  This is ironic in a society where “democracy” promises that one person’s vote is as important as another person’s vote.

I would argue that participation in the national vote is less important a tool of individual political power and more important in the validation of national government’s rule over the individual.  National government has to demonstrate that it has validity with the people and does this with a national tally.  National government has to consistently show why it has the power to tax 300 million people and what better way to get “permission” than to encourage the election franchise.  Ask people to describe what the returns are to their vote and they would be hard pressed to describe any tangible benefits that may equate with any tangible hits they take on their wallets when taxes are due.

As an avenue of political power, the vote has not succeeded in aligning the tangible costs of tax liability with any tangible benefits of government.  While one can speak of the benefits of a standing army, harbors, highways, and medicare, most cannot define what the actual cost to the taxpayer is.  The taxpayer does not even demand an itemized bill from government so that she can verify the returns from the tax dollar she pays for alleged benefits.

Nor does it behoove government to offer up an itemized bill.  The blow back and scrutiny from the public would be too much for legislators to address.

Conclusion: Impeachment is a campaign tool on steroids …

What should be asked by the voter is how does impeachment increase my political power. What message does impeachment send about the benefits I receive from government?  Does impeachment increase my ability to influence government? As I have shared before, I see impeachment as a distraction.  Impeachment is a campaign tool on steroids, clearly used as a marketing tool by one political faction to gain public support for a political power grab.  Democrats hope their attempts to remove the President will taint Senate Republicans with the end result being control of both Houses of Congress.

I just don’t see such a power grab, where electoral power is circumvented by an impeachment process, resulting in more political power for the individual.  If anything, it shows how weakened American democracy has become.

Toward a republic: The reining in of democracy …

The dilemma of the masses …

I don’t see any benefit from “people politics.”  I think the notion of democracy, where each person gets a say in choosing who leads a society, has fooled people into believing that it takes the masses to get anything done.  I agree that one person can’t move the mountains necessary for creating a society, but it doesn’t take a large mass of people either.  Masses are considered by a small number of leading individuals as either a battering ram that knocks down perceived doors to power or as the sponge that absorbs the costs of building a society with the gains going to the leader of the pack.

The masses always end up with scraps that depreciate in value.  They are so busy working to pay the taxes that fund that venture capital firm called government that they make no time to participate in the management of society.

Frankly, I like it that way.  The tyranny of the masses of people who operate on their passions and misinformation frightens me.  Just listen to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal any morning and you will cringe at the misinformation that emanates from some of the callers’ mouths.  While I do not believe that citizens should be deprived of basic needs, I don’t think that the masses of citizens should be involved in policy making.  I would be dishonest by saying that the franchise of voting should be open to all.

On the contrary, it needs to be denied to most.  The best way for the individual to enjoy maximum protection is for all avenues that trespass on her liberty to be closed or severely blocked.

One example of the severity of mass ignorance is the removal trial of President Donald J. Trump occurring in Washington.  The Democrats, uncertain of a victory over Mr Trump by any of its current candidates for their party’s nomination, have created a narrative designed to enrage and engage the electorate, the narrative being that Mr Trump abused his power by withholding military funds from the nation of Ukraine and that Mr Trump’s refusal to proffer White House staff for testimony before the House during its investigation of such abuse amounted to the “crime” of obstructing Congress.

The Democrats target rich environment of voters includes those who, rather than educating themselves on how the law defines presidential power or how the law defines abuse of that power, base their preference for impeachment on their genuine dislike for the President’s personality.  The Democrats rather have an uninformed angry mob going into the voting booth this November versus an informed one.

Hence the dilemma of the masses. On the one hand, an uninformed tool easily riled by a party leadership. On the other hand, a mob that has no problem tainting a man’s legacy with charges found nowhere in the Constitution or federal statutes.

Time to rein in democracy ….

American democracy, at least on the national level, needs to be reined in.  The Democrats would not be able to create consternation in the electorate for the purpose of generating momentum to the ballot booth if the electorate were not so easily reached.  One approach would be to get rid of the popular vote and go to an enhanced republican system.  While the voter continues to vote for their state representatives and state chief executives, state legislatures would be responsible for selecting from their own bodies the representatives to Congress.  Congress would then be responsible for selecting the president and vice-president from its chambers.

The biggest benefit from an improved republic would be that in one fell swoop, voters could punish state representatives that selected the congressmen that voted for an ineffective or criminal president.  Washington would stay on edge.  To ensure that the needs of citizens are addressed first, Washington might stay focused on domestic issues versus adventurous campaigns abroad.  The Executive and the Congress may find themselves in greater coordination on policy knowing that ineffective policy behavior by one branch of government severely impacts the other.  Less conflict and more cooperation and communication would reduce the chances of the reckless impeachment behavior we are seeing now in Washington.

Conclusion ….

Democracy isn’t working.  Democracy, by offering a passionate, uninformed mass to weigh in on the selection of leadership, creates gamesmanship that stokes fear rather than reason.  It needs to be reined in.

Republics are to keep the masses at bay, not to include them…

The purpose of governance …

The purpose of taking over government is to control its spoils.  The tricky part is to keep the barbarians from knocking down the gates, an act that may result from the perception that those who have captured government will not allocate an equitable portion of goods, resources, and capital i.e the spoils, to the masses.

The governing class in a republican form of government must then find a way to maximize the prestige and power it garners from taking over government while minimizing the amount of public capital allocated to appeasing the people it rules.  Resources are finite and the governing class can’t afford to have the instrument used for the day-to-day management of the citizenry and the channeling of power and prestige to the governing few to go bankrupt.

The issue then, for those who wish to take over government, is which approach to governance will bring about maximum prestige and power at the lowest cost of paying off the barbarian.  I recommend a political market approach based on transparency.

The market approach of American democracy …

American political governance is limited by the vote buying/selling transactions of the political market.  To garner the right to govern as an elected official, you have to win the vote.  What the candidate is willing to pay for this vote depends on her view of government’s role and her ability to convince the electorate to align its perception with her view.  She will not be transparent about her personal gains from winning office, preferring to tout the benefits that she can help shuttle to Americans as her rationale for running.  She will make the mistake of painting herself as selfless or altruistic.

All market transactions, including political market transactions, are two-sided. The voter/consumer seeks some type of economic relief via a government program, or some cultural win via a statute or regulation, and the elected official is willing to sell her a program in exchange for support in the form of donations, campaign volunteer time, or a vote.  All political parties participate in these transactions.  The voter/consumer must remain aware that these offerings are not being done for altruistic reasons.  They are being done out of the elected official/producer’s self-interest in garnering the power and prestige that comes with elected office.

The benefits of elected official/producer transparency …

When sitting across from the person you are negotiating with, you want as much transparency as possible as to their interests.  Knowing the real value they place on an item they intend to buy from or sell to you helps you to better price your offer.  As an elected official/producer, being transparent with the voter/consumer has three immediate benefits.

First, if the candidate for an office is upfront about their self-interest in running, they can avoid or mitigate the consequences that come from a lack of clarity.  The voter cannot come back and claim that the then candidate now elected official was anything but honest, a virtue many Americans claim to adhere to.

Second, if the candidate is transparent as to their self-interest, she creates a channel within which she can gauge the reasonableness of the voter’s demands.  In other words, the voter has a better understanding of the value of his vote for the candidate and can adjust his demands accordingly.  There will be fewer surprises as to the cost the candidate has to pay in order to secure a continuous flow of power and prestige.  She has a better idea not only of the voter costs for garnering her power and prestige, but can now explore a wider array of options for meeting voter needs at the lowest costs possible.

Another benefit of transparency is that by establishing up front her desire to garner and maximize power and prestige, the candidate will be viewed as transparent going forward during other transactions.  This creation of “good will” can only create for the elected official more opportunities to increase the political capital necessary for deploying the cost effective programs that she can exchange in the future for more votes.

It won’t be the programs that keep the barbarians from knocking down the gates.  It will be the transparency and the perception of honesty that flows that will keep the masses at bay.

Conclusion: Republicans can be transparent without being ogres….

Strength flows from transparency.  Republicans should not be afraid to tell the electorate, “I seek the power and prestige of the office because of the benefits (emotional, psychological, financial) that will flow to me, but I acknowledge those benefits won’t flow to me unless I meet your needs.”

America is a republic and as such, its political power is held by the people and its elected representatives.  What the definition does not tell you is that both groups do not, cannot, and should not rule equally.  What too many choose to describe as “American democracy” is a system that is not based on mass rule, but based purposefully on minority rule.  Because American democracy is in fact based on minority rule (one only need look at the discarding of the popular vote after the November 2016 general election), Republicans especially should take the lead in transparency in governing.  Transparency has a chilling effect on political tension and can only serve to secure Republican political power going forward.

 

Representative democracy has failed black people in America

The growth of political capitalists …

Representation means nothing if the spoils of society are not being delivered for each vote provided by citizens.  Black voters in particular are interested in optimal physical safety, a need stemming from violence perpetrated on them during the Jim Crow era; optimal access to capital, without which economic security is near impossible or very difficult; and the right to exist as a unique and thriving culture.

What I see being exchanged for each vote delivered by black citizens is the acquisition of a title by one or two elected representatives.  Representative democracy has created political capitalism, where owners of the political factors of political output are not creating political outcomes that address protecting uniqueness of black society, optimal black economic security, or optimal protection from violence.  Government, rather, is a feeding trough for black political representatives, with the number of voters they can persuade to vote for their party serving as the tickets for admission to the political feeding spots.

Government as a club you swing, not a club you join …

Blacks should not look at government as a club to send their smoothest talking salesman to.  Rather, blacks should look at government as a club that can be swung in order to generate capital access, physical security, and economic empowerment.  The outcomes should be a result of pressure politics.  This means that black political leadership should not be found embedded in the political machinery.  Black political leadership should be manipulating the political machinery from the outside.

Blacks in America need only go back to 1954 when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, vacated the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, holding that segregated educational facilities were unconstitutional.  This major landmark civil rights action did not flow from the efforts of black members of Congress.  There were hardly any.  This ruling was the result of blacks taking alternative action in the courts, an approach that was focused and targeted on, in my opinion, the most important branch of government.  It is here where the social and public policy goals of law are interpreted and in some cases, where current social policy is brought to light and used to overturn precedent.

Creative chaos versus status quo ….

When black representatives allow themselves to be embedded in the current electoral structure, their priorities shift to satisfying congressional leadership and mining votes for their national parties.  These activities serve the interests of a majority white congressional leadership versus the black constituents black representatives are supposed to be advocating for.  Take for example U.S. Representative Al Green’s attempt to bring forward articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.  The articles were blocked by the House with Mr. Green, Democrat of Texas, not being able to bring the majority of his own party on board with the proposal.

Mr. Green’s actions were in keeping with the status quo of congressional politics.  But did his actions result in any benefits for black constituents?  Did they lead to an increase in physical or economic security?  Did they lead to increased influence of blacks in the national Democratic Party?

What is likely is that Mr. Green lost political capital and as a political capitalist he must realize that a decreased ability to bring voters with him to the trough means lessened prestige in the Congress.  The other issue he has to face is how his constituents will deal with the knowledge that their congressman has wasted scarce political capital on a go nowhere initiative all because being embedded in the machinery creates the obligation of delivering outcomes that don’t serve them.

Conclusion: Representative democracy is failing blacks …

Representative democracy has failed black people in America.  The representatives from the black community in Washington have been converted into agents for their respective party’s leadership, securing the votes needed so that they can pull up a chair at the trough.  Just like social media has turned subscribers to social networks into resource and product for advertisers, the electoral system has turned black voters into lumps of coal with black congressmen acting as the conveyor belt carrying the coal to the primaries and the national elections.

The question is, what is the alternative approach?