Thinking through Preserving Democracy, chapters 6-10

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This is an ongoing review, taking it chapter by chapter, or so. This post covers chapters 6-10. While I generally try to be apolitical until the political sphere and the religious sphere clash, when Energion asked me to consider reviewing this book, I took the chance to do so to engage in a discussion which does far too often come in close contact with the Church. Each of these posts will discuss just various points within the chapter.

In chapter 6, entitled, ]], Hushbeck presents an overall portrait of the American voter which is rather, well, correct. Most Americans are uninformed of the political process, what the issues really are, and do little to participate. Further, most believe that their votes do not count. Again, while I agree with his overarching theme, I find a few problems, with one being the overarching problem that I would have with his conclusions for the next several chapters.

First, he attempts to correct the notion that we do not have a democracy but a Republic by stating that a ‘republic is a form of democracy.’ (p149). The issue here is that anyone can have a Republic without it being anything close to resembling a Democracy. I note the ‘People’s Republics’ of both China and the Soviet Socialist Republics, neither of which can be said to have (or have had) anything close to resembling a democracy. Instead, we have a democratic Republic in which the citizens (as opposed to the people) elect government leaders which act in the best interest of the people. If we forget this one important fact, then the rest of political science is thrown off kilter. We do not have a direct democracy which the Founders abhorred, but then again, our original democractic Republic was limited to only land owning white males, which is hardly the idea for a democracy. While he handles the idea of voting, gerrymandering, and other issues, he makes such grandstanding statements which discredit his unbiased attempts, especially when he writes, ‘Sadly, an increasing number of elections in the United States are little better than those held in the old Soviet Union, or more recently in Iraq.’ (p158) I would say, that if you would interview those who voted in those types of elections, in which more often than not, the military made sure you voted a certain way, they would laugh at this statement.

In discussing incumbency, he notes that the Founders envisioned that the House would change hands frequently while the Senate – which was elected by State legislatures and meant to represent a share in the executive powers of the Presidency by the Several States – has changed hands more frequently. He does all of this without noting the change brought about in the 17th amendment, which allowed for a direct voting for Senators.

Over all, he is correct that voting and our system of voting, is spoiled, where fraud is rampant, rules meant to allow more people to participate in turn only serve to have the opposite effect and that our current system is often radically different than what the Founders envisioned. The overarching problem that I have with Hushbeck here is his conclusion. He offers no substantial changes. Several times throughout the chapter, I thought I knew where he was going, but he never completed the stop. To preserve a democratic Republic, we must reexamine the 14th and the 17 amendments to the Constitution, as well as return what the Founder’s envisioned in regards to political parties. One of the biggest obstacles to fighting incumbency and political excess is the legal preservation of the two-party system. Later, in other chapters, he attempts to criticize both parties, but he misses the boat in that one of the largest problems in the United States is the two party system. Break that, and you will go a long way to solving several problem mentioned later in the book.

In a chapter devoted to the Distortion of Language, our author greatly distorts Hitler’s Party which was socialist in name only. Currently, the trend is to connect Fascism with Communism and thus the Left. Political Scientists have stated for a very long time, with ample evidence, that Fascism is very much a part of the Right spectrum. Further, he makes these assertions without documented evidence. Overall, he is correct that Language, especially political speech, has become distorted in our modern age, wherein we are more sufficiently satisfied with a 15 second soundbite than by listening to the politician take hours to dictate his views and try to support them. I return to my overarching disagreement with his conclusions. This is a cultural problem and related very much to the very large political parties. Politicians rarely need to give anything but soundbites (Reagan was the best at this). It has become a one party vs the other party thing anyway.

This overarching disagreement with his conclusions carries over into chapters 8 and 9, An Informed Electorate and The Loss of American Values. While his charge that more Americans should have known that the Democrats were ‘in charge’ for the last two years of the Republican President George Bush’s (because that’s all we have now, is Democrat Americans and Republican Americans) term, he fails to make himself informed of inherent biases and anything outside of his own viewpoint. Further, his stating that FoxNews is actually fair and balanced only serves to prove that Hushbeck is doing little more than touting the party line, and leaves me answering why he didn’t attack the two party system. His redeeming chapter, and it is short lived, is his ninth chapter, in which he rightly notes in great simplicity, that Americans have replaced Liberty with Equality. In this chapter, he very well upbraids me and sets me a little straighter on a few issues. His final chapter, however, leaves a lot to be hoped for, especially in the area of being unbiased.

The final chapter, entitled The Never Ending Struggle, is Hushbeck’s send off. It goes to the core of Hushbeck’s personal feelings, in that he reveals himself as a conservative who sees nothing good in government, blaming them for the problems which the country is facing. In answering his question, how did we get here, (p245) he writes,

If you have read this far, it should not be too surprising that the roots of the current problems can be traced directly back to the government…’

The issue here is that like most conservatives, Hushbeck sees the government as something apart from the people. We the people of these united States, in our smallest incorporated communities to the presidency, elect our government and in many ways, receive the government which we deserve. No, it is not the Government’s fault that voting is breaking down, that the voter is uninformed, or that the Court system is off kilter in regards to the Rule of Law. No, it is not the Government’s fault, but the people’s fault. In a democratic Republic, it is we the people, the citizens, who return without demand of change, the same people, and the children of the same people, who have so corrupted our political process.

Before he moves on, he gives up any pretense that he will remain unbiased, blaming the Democrats for all the ills. He never states anything about the voter’s mandates to the current President nor the fact that the Democrats ran on certain platforms. Instead, he readily blames them for doing exactly what they told the voters that they would do if elected. He fails to mention the Senate Filibuster rule which excludes majority rules or that there was actually a GOP congressman who voted for the healthcare bill. He easily repeats the Republican talking points against the President by accusing him of bringing ‘Chicago style politics’ to Washington without really ever defining what he means. He accuses the President of using such tactics (never examining the tactics which Bush used) during the health care reform debate. Hushbeck actually believes that the election of Scott Brown to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat was the ‘will of the people’ although this was one state, one Senator of that state, and in a election marred by the usual politics. He accuses the Democrats of having other areas of concerns, quoting such ‘unbiased’ sources as Glenn Beck and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, such as Card Check, the Fairness Doctrine and czars. The resounding issue here is that the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t portray Card Check with any sense of truth. The Democrats, including the President, have come out against the Fairness Doctrine, which has been implemented before. And, while he notes that other Presidents have appointed czars, he still lists it as mark against the President. Further, he comments against ‘Obama’s politicization of the Census’. I note that this book was written before the Census completed and before redistricting has started, so he based his view on nothing but fear of what he thinks could happen. He does the same thing with the Value Added Tax, in which the President and other Democrats have stated their opposition against. Further, He bases his viewpoint on the President on things that have never and will never happen.

He ends the chapter, and the book, with a subsection entitled, The Second American Revolution. Considering that the first one was about the overthrow of government by force, I wonder why this title was chosen. He gets his facts wrong on the beginning of the Tea Party, which he pins to Rick Santelli of CNBC on February 19th, 2009, less than a month after the President was sworn in. It actually started the day before the President was sworn in and was a concerted effort to thwart the incoming President. He also fails to mention the many corporate sponsors that the Tea Party (in reality, there is no real monolithic structure name The Tea Party) has had via such groups as Freedom Works.

I believe that had Hushbeck spent more time looking for solutions rather than blaming the Democrats, he might have seen the real issues.

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