Ivan W. Parkins

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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. 

Front Page

In This Issue:

· OUR POLITICAL CRISIS AND IT’S

   CONSTITUTIONAL  PROPORTIONS

· DOMINATION OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BY DEMOCRATS FOR 80 YRS.

· “THE IDEA” OF REPRESENTATIVE

      DEMOCRACY

· DISASSEMBLE THE HOUSE

OUR POLITICAL CRISIS HAS

 CONSTITUTIONAL PROPORTIONS

The first amendment was not the original first amendment.

Do you know what was?

 

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

The huge numbers of miscellaneous Americans who have turned out for “Tea Parties,” protesting the political stalemate and fiscal crisis that we face, are a strong indication that more than contemporary policy issues is at stake.  The seed for this present crisis was planted more than two centuries ago in the adoptions of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.  Only the Civil War of the early 1860s has exceeded the present threat to the very skeleton of our nation!

 

“We the People of the United States,” ratified those basic documents.  And from them, plus an environment especially well suited to the founding of a new and significantly different nation, America has prospered.  But the more than two centuries of our growth, and changing social conditions, have required amendments.  Our Founding Fathers anticipated that, but not the likelihood that their own first proposal of amendment would not be ratified.

 

When, yielding to popular pressures, James Madison and others of the First Congress of the United States drafted proposals for a bill of rights, the first right that they attempted to assure was fair and adequate allotments of Representatives.  But that is now the only one of their proposals that has never been ratified—and the original language is now quite out dated by huge population growth and other factors.

 

As a result, what was originally intended to be, and to remain, the branch of government most representative of “we the people,” is now arguably the least representative, and in the present instance is probably the most hated, of our federal elective authorities.  It is a crisis relating intimately to our Constitution, and imperiling the future of our nation.  We need a replacement for the originally proposed first amendment.  We need a much more intimate system of representation.  SEE MY PROPOSAL ON DISASSEMBLING THE HOUSE.

SINCE 1930, (FOR  80 YEARS)

THE DEMOCRATS HAVE

DOMINATED THE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

THIS IS NOT WHAT THE FOUNDING FATHERS

HAD ENVISIONED 

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

The nearly complete dominance of what was to have been our most popular branch of government by one political party for eighty years is a terrible example of representative democracy.  That is especially true because in the same period partisan control of the popularly elected Senate has changed more, and the partisanship of our popular Presidents has changed frequently.

 

Two factors go far in explaining Democrat dominance in the House.  In 1930 party column ballots were common, and many voters  made one mark at the top of a column to elect their choice of a President and with him other officers of the same party.  Presidential “coattails” were very influential at a time when our most dominant President, a Democrat, held office.  But, following WWII there was a movement among independents and many Republicans to reduce the effect of coattails, partly by changing to office block ballots.

 

If voters do not vote straight party tickets, how do they choose among individuals running for the lesser offices?  Many vote for the more familiar name.  And, especially in very populous election districts, the more familiar name is apt to be an incumbent or one made familiar by the mass media.  By 1960 familiar names in our very large congressional districts were likely to belong to either a Democrat incumbent or a Democrat favored by newly emerging television. The forty years (1954-1994) of unbroken Democrat majorities (33 to 155 votes) in the House of Representatives can best be explained as the effects of incumbency and bias in the mass media.  Since 1954  Republican Presidents have won 8 elections, 6 were popular majorities, 3 of them landslides; meanwhile Democrats won the Presidency  6 times but only 3 were by popular majorities and only 1 was a landslide.

 

More recently, with the emergence of cable television, talk radio, Fox News, a revamped WALL STREET JOURNAL, etc. Republicans have achieved some small majorities in the House.  Additional partisan changes in the House are now quite possible.  But, the larger problem remains, and grows.

 

Either we must have enough more Representatives to facilitate greatly their personal contacts with individual constituents or we will not have, in fact, the kind of representative democracy in which we claim to believe.  SEE MY PROPOSAL ON “DISASSEMBLE THE HOUSE”.

THE IDEA OF

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY

By Ian W. Parkins

 

Democracy is the idea that political authority derives from the people.  And, in the long term, democracy depends upon the degree to which government effectuates the ideals and nourishes the interests of the people.  Representative democracy is the practical acknowledgement that simply welcoming the voices of large masses of people produces disparate cacophony with little meaningful direction.  But, if defined groups of people can select one of their number as the best spokesperson for their group, a conference of those representatives can achieve an orderly approximation of the common view.

 

The original plan of our Founding Fathers, in a time when communication was much more difficult than it is today, was that Representatives would be chosen from the various parts of this nation by people among whom they had extensive personal contacts.  Those Representatives would then assemble from time to time at the nation’s capital to meld a limited number of views into public policy.  It was a practical plan for enabling a nation of a few million people to share in governing and live in reasonable harmony.  Today, with a vastly larger population, and with greatly enhanced means of communication, the plan needs constitutional change.

 

The idea that Representatives should have extensive and often personal contacts among those that they represent is now mocked by congressional districts in which the numbers of people exceed the number of minutes in a year (minutes in 365—24hour days, not a work year). 

 

Our House of Representatives has become a dysfunctional farce, and tragedy.  Furthermore, that is not simply due to the shortcomings of individual members and rules of procedure. Any formula of representation that provides few enough Representatives to consult and bargain together will not be numerous enough to allow meaningful contacts of Representatives with their constituents.

 

We need to expand, greatly, the number of Representatives; and that implies that they perform their role from separate locations.  See my proposal for that change which I wrote almost 50 years ago.  SEE MY PROPOSAL

DID YOU KNOW?

A.K.A. Parkins Points

 to Ponder

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

NOT ALL PARTIES

SERVE TEA...

    On August 1, 1946, in Athens TN, the local Sheriff, also known as Boss, took all ballot boxes into the court house, protected by scores of armed deputies.  They were soon surrounded by hundreds of armed WWII veterans.  After losing the porch of his “fortress” to dynamite, the sheriff surrendered. A veterans’ slate won the election and not much more that was newsworthy happened. 

 

….. According to Wikipedia, a March 2009 atmospheric measure of CO˛ showed 387 parts per million (p.p.m).  At 10,000 p.p.m. people get drowsy.  At 70,000 to 100,000 they get ill or die.  10,000 p.p.m. can be reached in a poorly ventilated auditorium.
Where are EPA and the Obama Administration's priorities?
 

 

….. At the time that Congress ordered a halt to all financial, air, and military equipment support to our allies in South Vietnam, it appeared the South Vietnamese were successfully and willingly holding off the attacks of the Communists, without support from American ground forces.

 

….Both of the major presidential impeachment efforts of recent Congresses, Nixon’s and Clinton’s, were subsequently denounced as improper in books by the Chief Investigative Counsels chosen by the House Judiciary Committees to pursue them—and those Chief Investigators were both Democrats.  In Nixon’s case the charges were drawn by the Judiciary Committee in such a way as to exclude evidence of any similar behaviors by earlier Presidents; in Clinton’s case they were drawn so as to exclude Clinton’s most obviously official and illegal acts, grants of citizenship to persons not eligible and severe campaign finance violations.

 

….. Since the Korean War, the trend of military spending, as a portion of this nation’s gross domestic product , has been downward to a little less than half of what it was in 1951-52.  Meanwhile, spending for education, health, and other welfare have all taken increasing portions, and together have taken much more than spending for defense.

 

…..One hasty act of the Environmental Protection Agency, joining with the World Health Organization in the ban on DDT, resulted in more deaths (of Blacks from malaria) than all the deaths from all ethnic conflicts and American military engagements in our nation’s history.

 

DISASSEMBLE THE HOUSE

    By Ivan W. Parkins   

     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,  SEE MY PROPOSAL.