One concern of those who drafted the Constitution of the United States was that representatives should not have such small constituencies that the office would fail to attract able candidates.  Even so, Chairman of the Convention, George Washington, called for a minimum constituency of 30,000 instead of the already approved 40,000.  This was his only suggestion regarding details of the Constitution and it was adopted. 

           THE FEDERALIST, No. 51 states that “dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government.” No. 52 adds “… it is particularly essential that ..” the representative “… have an immediate dependence on and an intimate sympathy with the people.”

           Now, with the congressional districts having average populations of about  690,000, and with only 524,160 minutes in a year, we face a very different situation.  All Representatives, whatever their origins, become members of the upper class by virtue of their salaries and perks alone.  The long sessions and  increasing details of their involvement in nearly all matters of government, keep their minds and bodies within the confines of the “Beltway” most of the time.  National journalists, pollsters, lobbyists, and congressional staff members, along with legislative “earmarks,” get them reelected.  Meanwhile, it is literally impossible for them to allot one minute of their time per year to each constituent. 

           Our representatives should be much more numerous; they should spend most of their working time in their districts; and they should have infrequent, but authoritative votes on major public issues.  In order to add that to the Constitution, I suggest the following:     Proposed Amendment Page 2

 

 

FACTS TO PONDER:

 

The First Amendment to our Constitution is not what the First Congress proposed for that spot.

 

Partisan divisions of Congress and the Presidency in the second half of the twentieth century differed extremely from those in the first half.

 

Since 1930, no Republican President has enjoyed a partisan congressional division as favorable as Clinton’s was in 1993-1994, but all other Democrat Presidents have fared better than Clinton.

 

If the average Representative were to spend 1000 hours per year meeting face-to-face with individual constituents, it would not be possible to spend 10 seconds with each constituent.

 

In just 5 weeks of 2006, Israel lost approximately twice (as a percentage of its population) as many soldiers in Lebanon as our military fatalities in five years of the “War on Terror”.

 

Just the increase of violent deaths domestically, among American youths in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, exceeded our combat fatalities in Vietnam.

 

According to the World Health Organization’s calculations of increased malaria deaths following the ban on DDT, that policy has already been more deadly than Hitler’s “final solution”.

 

The pension funds held by state and local governments, and by corporations, for their employees exceed the “National Debt”.

 

None of the above is a secret, but none is emphasized in the mass media.

 See attached link for more  information.  American Politics

Ivan  Parkins

DISASSEMBLE THE HOUSE

By Ivan W. Parkins PhD.

Access Dr. Parkins writings at:

 

American Politics

To order Dr. Parkins book,

 Perspectives For American Society  

Contact info@americanpoliticalcommentary.com

 

©Ivan W. Parkins 2008,  All articles, text, web pages property of Ivan W. Parkins.  Use of any material requires permission of the author and can be obtained by contacting info@americanpoliticalcommentary.com

                                               

 Book Review:

 

AMERICAN CREATION

by Joseph Ellis

 

     Joseph Ellis’ book, AMERICAN CREATION, is a fitting sequel to his Pulitzer Prize winners, FOUNDING BROTHERS and HIS EXCELLENCY.

 

     It sets forth more clearly, than I have ever before seen, just what our nation’s founders did achieve in the face of  specific difficulties, and what the difficulties were that they failed to overcome.  Essentially, they exceeded amazingly well at turning colonies into an independent, large, and free republic that proved to be both durable and expandable.  They failed to resolve two huge problems, native rights and racial freedoms.

     Ellis is easy to read and especially reasonable.  He is specific about assigning both credits and failures to individuals, most of whom he obviously admires.  He attributes much of their greatness to their pursuit of lasting fame rather than immediate popularity.  They were, along with some fortunate circumstances and coincidences, creators of the United States.

Who Is Great?

    

    I am referring to Christopher Hitchens' book, God is Not Great; I haven't read it and do not expect to. I have read the Bible, all of it plus some Apocrypha and some sacred writings from other religions.  Most of that was in the 1930's, when I was a teenager.  I have not been a religious person by the usual standards.

    During my graduate work, philosophy and political science, plus thirty-four years of teaching, I did acquire some bits of what is usually considered to be culture.  And, the Hitchens book calls to mind one interesting experience that I had on three separate occasions.

    Three colleagues with whom I had more than average personal contact (a fishing companion, a fellow-member of several committees, and a residential neighbor) all in different institutions, and states, made nearly identical remarks to me.  Each volunteered that there is one intellectual discipline that is more profound than any other; it is literary criticism.  Need I add that they all taught modern literature?

    I may have encountered more obvious and aggressive proselytizing, but I can't recall it.  And, I married into a family of Methodist ministers, in rural Georgia - where I soon felt welcome.

    It is now clear that this planet, the species that inhabit it, and the universe surrounding are far more complex than our ancestors had means to envision.  Unfortunately, too many of the special class who study and earn livings by rationalizing the varieties and interrelationships of things, living and dead, are more interested in defining their own personal and class status than in shaping more catholic and mutually satisfying visions of the whole.

THE BIG CHANGE?


For 75 years, no Republican President has had as large a majority of his own party in Congress as the least favored Democrat President  (Clinton 1993-4) did.

Is a more unified government, but for Democrats only, the big change for which we are headed?
---   ---   ---   ---   ---
In the past fifty years, tax cuts on business and investment have produced remarkably stimulating and similar results, not just in the United States (on three occasions), but in Ireland and Russia as well.

Are those who oppose such cuts real world "progressives" or are they the kind of doctrinaire fundamentalists who are usually thought to be "reactionaries."?
---   ---   ---   ---   ---
Would deploying a larger force earlier to Iraq have made a better outcome likely?  Among our greatest problems there were inadequate intelligence, resentment of our presence by many Iraqis, adapting to a new style of warfare, and the high cost of supplying our forces with both routine needs and new weapons and protective equipment.

A larger force would certainly have meant a higher annual cost.  It would have made rotations in and out from our limited military slower if not impossible.  But, it would have enriched the target environment for our enemies.  It might be a change if we took most such decisions away from the professionals!

 

Ivan Parkins, February, 2008

About Ivan W. Parkins:

Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University.  He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama.  He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children.  Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years. 

WHAT HAVE THE PEOPLE NOTICED?

By Ivan Parkins

 

Democracy rests upon an assumption that the people are well-informed.  Or as Thomas Jefferson put it, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.  Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they can be relied upon to set them right.”

 

A long life of studying, teaching, observing, and writing about American government has left me with two main conclusions.  First: that the public has generally been right, and is so now in its belief that “the system” needs changing.  Second: that the public is greatly confused regarding what changes are needed.

 

Authoritarians may deny their people some information, but mostly they brainwash them with disinformation.  Old sayings about the pen being mightier than the sword can be misleading.  Often the sword has been used first, to control most of the pens.  The pens are then used to “disinform”  the people in ways that permit most swords to remain sheathed.  Once firmly established, authoritarians control virtually all schools, publishing, news facilities, and other sources of information.

 

Today, that is becoming more difficult.  But, what if most of the pens, i.e. professional communicators, were to unite in cooperation with one another and with one political party?  That is the transformation that I have witnessed in American society since World War II.  Mass communication, especially television, has invaded households to an unprecedented degree.  Schools and teachers have been nationalized by union and governmental actions.  Possible competitors such as families and churches have been harassed and legally restricted.

 

The one place in our national system where information has been most extensive and public choice most informed has been presidential elections.  There, three recent Presidents, (Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan ) won reelections by the largest popular pluralities and by three of the largest majorities in our history.  Johnson was then discouraged from seeking the additional term for which he was legally qualified.  Nixon was promptly forced to resign.  Reagan survived and in many respects triumphed, but only by facing long and severe harassment.

 

Since then, President Clinton survived two terms in office, in spite of having been impeached by the House of Representatives and losing in the courts on the several challenges that he brought there.  He and his defenders claimed that it was all over a “private sexual matter”.  Congress, unwilling to face media friendly to Clinton with another election pending, left most other issues to Clinton’s own subordinates.  Even so, the House indicted, and a secure room filled with hundred of documents showing evidence and testimony of witnesses was provided for the Senate.  No Democrat Senator signed into that room before voting to acquit.  Coincidentally, Clinton was the only President since Wilson, many years earlier to win the office twice without winning a popular majority either time.

Our current President, Bush, did win a popular majority in 2004, only a slim one, but better than any Democrat since Johnson.  He has faced what have probably been the most voluminous and intense media attacks upon his Presidency and his person endured by any President.

 

Now, talk radio, cable television, some of the new publications, and a few websites offer promise that the people may become better informed.  But several decades of public brainwashing by the media have left scars that threaten democracy in America.  How can people choose a better course when they know so little about the one that we have traveled recently?

-February 2008

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