Ivan W. Parkins
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(The following article is a reprint from
January of 2008 –Ed.)
AMERICA’S CRISIS, 2008
Or How the Media makes Popular Presidents Impotent
By Ivan Parkins
During the Franklin Roosevelt Administration, and for about a decade after, “liberal” academics contended that strong executive leadership had rescued our divided political system. The weakness, an inability to control powerful minority interests, was not represented in the presidential administrations of the two Roosevelt’s, Lincoln and Jackson. They had supposedly rescued America by an ability to control powerful minority interests. I did, and I do, subscribe to that broad thesis.
What materialized during the Vietnam War, and especially in the 1968 elections, was the rise of a new special interest or elite. Burgeoning college enrollments, new and more pervasive media communication, private foundations, etc. created a rapidly growing mass of extensively schooled and nationally organized persons. Dominating, as they did and still do, the main channels of communication, they maligned old institutions and elites. Meanwhile, they made themselves the most politically potent and legally protected elite- and ultimately the enemies of strong Presidents.
In this nation, a clear and lasting majority of the public can accomplish almost anything, politically. But only a talented and vigorous President is able to assemble and maintain majority support. In the late twentieth century, with the outlets for political information more centralized and united than ever before, we had conflicts on an unprecedented scale between professional communicators and those Presidents who won the largest popular majorities at the polls.
Americans are now understandably confused and depressed. The solution, I’m convinced, is more diverse information and accountability of professional communicators regarding the information that they disseminate.
The First Amendment should not canonize professors, journalists, artists, or protesters. I.W. Parkins, January 25, 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.
Inside This Issue
Page 2, Disassemble the House
Page 3, Media Bias
Page 4, Book Reviews
Page 5, War and Their Costs
Page 6, Broken Congress
Page 7, Dividing America
Page 8, Dividing America, Part two
Page 9, Disinformation, Liberal Ideology
Page 10, The Supreme Court and Judiciary
Page 11, Environmentalism
Page 12, The Presidency, Part One
Page 13, The Presidency, Part Two
And Our Constitutional System
The following articles are centered around the power of the President, and the role that political parties and the media have in it.
VOTE REPUBLICAN! FOR A CHANGE
You Just Might Get Real Change
By Ivan W. Parkins
This is a largely negative account. My excuse is that I believe most Americans are not conscious of the fact that they have never witnessed one four-year term in which a Republican President was able to function with the support of substantial Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress and substantial media support. I have, but as a first-grader I was too young during 1928 to remember much of it. For a great majority of Americans, such a term may be the greatest change possible within orderly political processes.
Since Franklin Roosevelt took office more than three-quarters of a century ago no term of Republican Administration has included both the Presidency and comfortable majorities in both Houses of Congress. In more than seventy-five years only six years have included Republican control of all three elected branches, and those were all by narrow margins. Democrat Administrations, especially in the early part of that period, had many more years of partisan unity, and by much larger margins. In comparing party accomplishments, shouldn’t that be considered?
As the crisis in Georgia illustrates, the War on Terror is not the full extent of our danger. Both our continuing leadership in civil matters and our ability to defend ourselves are challenged. And, since the mid-1960s Democrats have been mostly noise or dead weight. Now, the question of a dependable supply of oil, both as an energy source and as a feed stock for much of our industry, has become critical. Democrats, in varying degrees, are largely opposed to our further exploitation of domestic resources.
Regarding our economy, Democrats devote their attention mostly to oversight of our business enterprises, often hobbling them with taxes on investment, unpredictable legal liabilities, and social responsibilities better assigned elsewhere. In spite of that, our economy has prospered, and it is doing so in international trade. But, Democrats are reluctant to encourage such trade because of their heavy dependence upon the support of labor unions, predatory lawyers, and sanctimonious social action groups.
Where our unelected Judicial Branch is concerned, Democrats have made lengthy tests of “social service,” as opposed to judicial experience and temperament, the chief hurdle to advancement. Often they have shown no regard for the Constitution as a multigenerational consensus on the form of our government, and seem obsessed with it as just another instrument of policy formulation. The next administration will likely have an opportunity to decide whether Western and Anglo-American constitutionalism or more quasi-Marxist domination by “ruling class” politics prevails in the United States.
The elections of 2008 will be a watershed, in part, because of their implications for the future of our nation’s information system. Democratic dominance, referred to above, especially that in the Houses of Congress and their success in hobbling the Executive Branch, has been possible largely because our information system, academic and artistic as well as journalistic, has been heavily biased in the Democrats’ favor. Recently, that has begun to decline. As major Democratic victory at this time would almost certainly be followed by efforts to reinforce the old bias. And that places America’s future as the leading example of representative democracy in danger.
Need I add; I will vote Republican! I believe that a major party in temporary control is essential to the effective management of our government. I regret to say that I believe only one American party is, now, an appropriate choice for the job.
On behalf of Republican Presidents I note, again, that beginning with Eisenhower, they have faced an historically unique hurdle in the almost total lack of partisan majorities in Congress. And I attribute that, largely, to the increasing role and unity of our mass information media in our political choices. Yes, Republican Presidents have often agreed to spend too much. But, recalling President George H.W. Bush’s acquiescence, who wouldn’t yield a few billions to congressional “boodlers” in order to prevent hostile dominance of Middle Eastern oil resources? In foreign affairs, where the Constitution grants the initiative to Chief Executives, Republican Presidents have served us particularly well—at least until Democrat Congresses could get the upper hand.
DRIVING OUT OUR
LETTER TO THE EDITOR, The
Atlanta Journal and Constitution,
Mount Pleasant, Mich. - Concern for the presidency deserves priority over concern for Ronald Reagan, as suggested in Bill Shipp's Dec. 26 column. However, my concern for the presidency first became critical when Lyndon Johnson was being hounded from office in 1968.
I was reassured by the vigorous leadership of Richard Nixon and by his record plurality in 1972. We all know the outcome of that.
Ronald Reagan has been a significant president because of his capacity to win and retain a large popular following and because of his success in imparting a spirit of hope and direction to America. Much more than his personality and reputation is at stake.
If, within one generation, a third president of the United States is driven into oblivion not long after winning a landslide confirmation of his leadership, I will regard that as the greatest repudiation of constitutional democracy in history. I.W. Parkins
Presidential Choices, 2008
Ivan W. Parkins
Presidential choices in 2008, and the ways that they are presented in the media, seem inadequate to me. The more that I observe and read about politics, the less of it seems really new.
For instance, John McCain, the “old” Republican candidate, was just starting elementary school when I graduated from the Naval Academy. Whatever his future successes, he has already demonstrated a remarkable capacity to rise above the self-serving opportunities that life has afforded him.
Barack Obama appears to be a talented young man. And he has demonstrated a capacity to rise beyond several more common personal hazards. But when he talks of change and offering something new I cannot help remembering that in 1952, before Obama was born, I served on the Akron, Ohio, Committee of Volunteers for Stevenson. Adlai Stevenson was also an Illinois politician, a great platform performer, and one with a solid record of executive experience. He promised things not unlike those that Obama does today.
In 1954 I ran for nomination to Congress, against three more experienced Democrats. I too stood for change, more of it than I could have delivered—I never had to. But Lyndon Johnson, a decade later, delivered much of it, before America became tired of him. And, after 25years as a Democrat, I became a Republican following the 1968 fiasco.
Forty years later, this is likely to be my last presidential election. Presidents that I have seen come and go have mostly been better than they were credited with being while in office, especially Truman and Reagan. I haven’t been entirely happy as a Republican. But no Republican President has gotten decent support from Congress and the media.
Now, McCain is, by far, the candidate best prepared to take the office; Obama needs a decade or so of “seasoning.” But, for reasons cited elsewhere in this blog, I can see little hope of major and lasting improvements in our government’s performance. That is, until Congress is made, in fact, more representative, and the media of information are reduced to mere participants in, rather than the overseers of, our system. - I.W.Parkins, 82408
2008 AND AMERICA’S DESTINY
By Ivan W. Parkins
American voters who are serious about, not just the coming election, but also the long-term future of America, should take a look at Jonah Goldberg’s LIBERAL FASCISM. I say “take a look at,” because I eventually found the volume tiring. And I already have some familiarity with many of the fascist and American writers to whom Goldberg refers.
Goldberg begins by suggesting that American fascism will have a “smiley-face.” He warns (page 7), “It is difficult now, in the light of their massive crimes and failures, to remember that both fascism and communism were, in their time, utopian visions and the bearers of great hopes.” He goes on to note that both, in earlier times had strong followings in Western societies, including the United States. The heyday of fascism was the early 1930s, a time of very real and deep economic distress.
My one-time professor, Rex Tugwell, is quoted as calling early Italian fascism the “… cleanest, neatest, most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen.” Quoting further from Goldberg’s first chapter: “Rather than talk in explicitly religious terms, however, today’s liberals use a secularized vocabulary of ‘hope’ and construct explicitly spiritual philosophies like Hillary Clinton’s ‘politics of meaning.’”
The French Revolution is Goldberg’s nominee for the first fascism,” totalitarian, terrorist, nationalist, conspiratorial, and populist.” He cites Robespierre and Napoleon as the first modern dictators.
A good time to look elsewhere! I suggest James R. Gaines” FOR LIBERTY AND GLORY. It provides a sharp picture of Lafayette’s close relationship with George Washington and our Revolution. It also follows the young French nobleman’s different experience when he tried to apply in France what he had learned here. At first, he was a hero and great leader there too. But, step-by-step he was brushed aside, mocked, threatened, and forced to flee, to years of confinement in a foreign prison. In Paris, the brutal and bloodthirsty mobs were gradually succeeded by utopian regimes who substituted public displays of guillotining, after show trials, for the more savage disorders.
Our Founding Fathers, people like Washington, Madison, John Adams, Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris, built our national foundations upon a few basic principles of popular representation and limited government led by a temporary executive; federalism and protection of individual rights were also essential. It was not, and it is not Utopia. It is, and has been for more than two centuries, the most effective large representative democracy in history. It can continue to be that if we can continue to keep it representative and democratic until something larger and equally satisfactory surpasses it. Meanwhile, it is a very practical means of living together, safely and productively; it is not a vehicle to one of the many imaginary Utopias. I.W. Parkins 0808