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Front Page
Disassemble the House
The Political Long View
Media Bias
War and Their Costs
Broken Congress
Dividing America
Dividing America, Part two
Disinform., Liberal Ideology
The Supreme Court-Judiciary
Environmentalism 
The Presidency, Part One
The Presidency, Part Two
Failure of the People’s House
The Republic in Danger
2011 Vol. 4, Archive
2010 Vol. 3, Archive
2009 Vol. 2, Archive
2008 Vol. 1, Archive
Older Archives
  
How to order Dr. Parkins book,
“Perspectives For American Society”

IN THIS ISSUE-

-RE: Mr. Gingrich

-What Have the People Noticed (Reprise)

-Article One, Section Two (Disassemble the House)

-Naked Emperors (Broken Congress)

   

 

 

 

 

RE: Mr. Gingrich  

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

I am unconvinced that the bright, but irascible and incontinent, fat man is our best choice to oppose President Obama, an athletic, and artful, but superficial, charmer.

             Newt Gingrich deserves the thanks of all Americans for his service in planning and executing his own election as Speaker of the House.  In 1954 the branch of our government that, in our Constitution, was designed to be most reflective of public opinions had been in the firm control of the Democrat Party for forty years.  In those same years four Republicans had won 26 years in the Presidency, several of them by landslide proportions (over 55%).  Nothing in this nation’s plan or previous history  prepared us for such a situation.  And much of what made it possible is with us still, though that is now changing.

             In 1954, I sought (unsuccessfully) a Democrat nomination for the House of Representatives.  One of my strongest impressions from that experience was that a new factor, television, was becoming extremely important in political campaigning.  Soon, a few major networks, and their mainly Democrat news departments were providing a very large part of the political information most available to those Americans who took politics lightly. Actually, the American electorate was also being expanded rapidly, and our politics becoming more complex.  Furthermore, ballots were being changed to discourage “straight ticket” voting.  The percentage of eligible voters who actually did vote was declining.  And many who attended the four-year presidential voting did not bother to vote for a Representative.  Tens of millions fewer voted in off-year elections than in presidential years.  That combination of circumstances provided the environment in which partisan choices of Presidents could vary extremely from choices of Representatives.

             Speaker Gingrich lasted only through two two-year Congresses and resigned both that office and from Congress after the election of 1998.  By then, and now, his leadership is  not regarded highly among those who knew him best.  Recently, the Wall Street Journal noted that Mitt Romney has several dozen Congressional endorsements, but Mr. Gingrich only a handful. The greatest difference between the two candidates is their records of working successfully with others who do not agree with them exactly. 

 

 SEE MY ARTICLE “NAKED EMPERORS”

WHAT HAVE THE PEOPLE NOTICED?

By Ivan W. Parkins

Advantages in the media have, until recently, enabled Democrats to favor with wages; benefits; opportunities; welfare; and privileges; a variety of groups likely to vote for them.  It is a powerful phalanx to overcome at the polls. 10/28/2010  This is a reprint from Feb. 2008-

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 believe 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 has 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 hundreds 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 newer publications, and a few web sites 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? 2/08

ARTICLE ONE, SECTION TWO

Reconstitute Congress

This article was written as a prelude to my “Disassemble the House” proposal

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. 

           The House was intended to reflect changes in public opinion.  It too often reflects entrenched political power and privilege.      My proposal, now very old and not so much forgotten as dissed, i.e. never widely considered, was "Let's Disassemble the House,"--the title of my article in SOUTH ATLANTIC QUARTERLY, Spring 1960.  The legally fixed number of the United States Representatives is now 435, far more than the Framers, and I, believed to be practical for a legislative assembly.  But, with our vastly expanded national population and improvements in communication, wouldn't it be possible, now, for much more numerous representatives to operate separately, from their several districts?  And, wouldn't the representatives then be much more directly dependent on and sympathetic with their constituents?

    My submission of that to a couple of dozen political scientists, some acquaintances and some not, produced several and mostly similar responses.  My idea was declared to be original, interesting, logical, and sound in its description of Congress.  But, it was unlikely to be accepted and unworkable.  Such comments came from senior people at Harvard, Cornell, Miami of Ohio, and the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress.  My chief reply, now, would be that the present House looks less effective and our population and communications improvements continue to grow.

    A much larger number of disassembled representatives would be a very practical defense if our nation's capital were to be destroyed.  It should also provide a suitable base for nominating presidential candidates--as the earliest Congresses did.  It should reduce the need for vast media advertising and the money to pay for that.  Most of all, it should encourage more extensive and meaningful involvement of "the people" in major policy decisions.

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:  (See “Disassemble the House,”  Page two)