Thursday, October 30, 2014
Until we have free and fair elections for the House of Representatives and President, I will have to vote for Democrats for the Senate, regardless of their qualifications for the office or whether their opponent would be more qualified. I strongly believe that everyone, regardless of party affiliation, should follow suit.
Many Republican state legislatures have redrawn district lines with the idea of maximizing Repiblican districts. By and large they have succeeded. The result is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, for the House of Representatives to be controlled by the Democratic Party.
Republican state legislatures have also begun to change the rules for choosing a President, with an eye to increasing the chances that a Republican will be elected President. In some states where Democrats have scored narrow victories over Republicans lately and law making is controlled by the Republicans, schemes allowing for the state's votes for President to be divided among the candidates rather than all going to one candidate have been proposed. If the changes that being proposed would have been in place during the last election, the result likely would have been different.
The only way to balance out these structural advantages in the short term and create a strong incentive for all involved to make wholesale changes in the long term, like having resditricting overseen by impartial bodies, is to have citizens take collective action. If we vote only Democrats into the Senate, there will be real changes and they will come real quick. It is time we took some action before our democracy slips completely away from us.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
If you don't think about it, it sounds like a message anyone should be able to get behind. The right to bear arms clearly allows us to force the government into recognizing our other rights. The main threat to our rights is the government after all, that foreign and uncontrollable power. It would seem to be an awesome statement to put on your bumper. The problem is, while there are indeed twenty seven amendments, the right to bear arms is not a guarantor of any of them. In fact, the guarantor of our rights is not the presence of guns in the hands of citizens but the government itself, the democratically elected representative government, and the presence of ballots in the hands of citizens.
First of all, while there is a right related to gun ownership that is recognized by the current Supreme Court, it is not an un-qualified right. No right, however sacrosanct, cannot be limited by the government in some circumstances. In some cases, the circumstances under which the government can abridge it will be quite rare ... but they will always exist. The Supreme Court did not proclaim the right to bear arms to be at this highest level. It is fairly clear that limits can be put on it.
Second, the idea that having folks wander around malls, playgrounds, schools, etc. with guns will make it safer and easier for me to exercise my rights is kind of silly. I've seen road rage in action, and watched people get belligerent with customer service or erupt at the sign of perceived injustice, and the thought of adding guns to these situations does not make me feel more likely to speak my mind or proclaim my religion.
Lastly, this notion that gun ownership guarantees freedom of religion or the right to practice one's religion rests on a particular vision of government as a threat to rights no people everywhere. The reality is that if there is. Right that guarantees all the others it is the right to vote. The right to choose the folks who make the laws and have a direct influence on policy making. In a democratic government that functions as it should the people are, in a very rel way, the government. The people, the citizens of America, don't protect their rights by holding a gun to their own heads ... they simply need to assert their rights to participate in the political system. When we focus on our right to carry a handgun what we are actually doing is ceding the right we have to really make. Difference ... Our right to participate in our own governance.