Unless you have been living under a rock, you may have noticed that America runs through the quadrennial escapade known as the ‘Presidential Election’ in the coming year. On the surface, it seems that this would give citizens of the United States the chance to vote and, therefore, have a voice in selecting a temporary leader. Careful observers know that the average voter has little, if any, but a two-choice list of carefully selected individuals both of whom, for the most part, represent the same interests. Conservatives who thought Ronald Reagan was a wonderful president dig their heads in the sand whenever it’s pointed out that he has a rich liberal legacy:
“Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised.” Source: Washington Monthly
Meanwhile, Democrats who thought current President, Barry Obama was going to issue in a new era of progressiveness have been sorely disappointed. The Fiscal Times published a litany of tell-tale signs that Obama has actually governed, in policy, as a conservative:
- His stimulus bill was half the size that his advisers thought necessary;
- He continued Bush’s war and national security policies without change and even retained Bush’s defense secretary;
- He put forward a health plan almost identical to those that had been supported by Republicans such as Mitt Romney in the recent past, pointedly rejecting the single-payer option favored by liberals;
- He caved to conservative demands that the Bush tax cuts be extended without getting any quid pro quo whatsoever;
- And he has supported deficit reductions that go far beyond those offered by Republicans. Source: Fiscal Times
Clearly, voters are not getting the product they think they are buying when they go to the voting booth. On top of this are a host of other problems that the current ‘democratic’ process does not seem to have any method of addressing not the least of which include corrupt financial institutions and corrupt politicians.
So what can be done? We at Swatting At Flies have a short ‘laundry list’ of sensible solutions:
1. Kill Citizens United. For those unaware, the Supreme Court, at the beginning of 2010, decided, effectively, that there is nothing wrong with corporations spending unlimited sums of money to influence elections. As reported in the Christian Science Monitor, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissenting opinion:
“The court’s opinion is a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt.”
2. Restore the Glass-Steagall Act. In 1999, a sixty-six year old concept in banking was uprooted. That concept was simple: there is a big difference between being a steward of someone else’s money (as in a bank) and taking that same money and risking it on investments. First, it must be said, that, regardless of the investment, there is risk. So, mixing these two types of financial services (banks and investments) are, by nature, incompatible. There should be no risk involved in money of which you are merely a steward. But, two Congressman (one of which is deceased and one who is no longer in office), thought differently. They introduced the repeal of Glass-Steagall, enough of their colleagues agreed and President Bill Clinton signed the repeal into law. Some say the end result was the economic collapse of 2008. Whether this is true or not makes no difference. The fundamental concept behind Glass-Steagall are sound and should be reinstated in some form or another.
3. Kill Delaware. Look on the map and you will see no smaller ‘state’ than Delaware. Oops – Rhode Island is smaller – oh well. Regardless, it could be said that if it were not for the immense power of the Du Pont family, Delaware would not exist today. One family’s influence should not hold enough bearing on the rest of the nation to make a 30-mile wide plot of land a state. Add this to the fact that this tiny ‘state’ is nothing more than a tax haven for corporations and corrupt politicians and you have an even more compelling argument. If you want a nice round 50 states, add Puerto Rico
Editors note: OK… maybe we shouldn’t get rid of little ol’ Delaware as a state. And maybe it’s unfair to blame the aristocratic hold-over Du Pont family for the ethical lapses of all of Congress. However, something smells fishy when over half of all U.S. Corporations are incorporated in one state. That doesn’t seem like a symptom of a healthy capitalist democracy.
So, for this 3rd sensible solution, there are really two things: 1) federalize all business incorporation so that all corporations can benefit from the tax break offered by Delaware 2) bolster the ethics rules of Congress by making it illegal for members to write laws that personally enrich themselves.
These are just a few ideas, none of which are necessarily original. Nor are they ‘non-negotiable’ in practical terms. The concepts behind these solutions are fundamental, but there is flexibility in their execution. Regardless of how it is achieved, we believe we must restore the ideal of the ‘consent of the governed’ in America.