The Final Nail in Democracy’s Coffin?

So much for the infallibility of the founding fathers.

Today’s Supreme Court decision on campaign finance pretty much makes a mockery of our democratic illusions, and in so doing, points the finger of blame directly at our most sacrosanct document: the U.S. Constitution.

We are now at an extremely dangerous juncture.  There is no precedent for a new Constitutional Convention, but perhaps that is what should have been planned for in the original framing.

It is doubtful that, in the spirit of newborn patriotism, the founders could have imagined a country at once so big and so polarized as is the case today.

Frankly, I am not optimistic about the future of U.S. democracy if it remains chained to the unravelling precedents set by this Supreme Court.

It remains to be seen whether the American people will allow themselves to be bamboozled by a cash-fired media blitz into supporting a party so fundamentally opposed to their best interests as is today’s Republican party; but we will get the chance to see, in short order.

The Republicans are counting on stupidity and disengagement to win the day for them; and they just may be right. There are clear indications that they have become emboldened in their scorn for the working man by successes through gerrymandering and packing the bench.

When before has anyone had the temerity to publicly suggest that rich people ought to get more votes?

I have heard over and over again that the amendments to the Constitution collectively known as the “Bill of Rights” should be unassailable.  But the rigidity of that position now threatens the underlying democratic principles that are even closer to the core of who we are as a nation.

If we are unable to adapt to the times by bending the Constitution to serve those democratic principles; we will simply snap from the strain.

Our political leaders are bought and paid for by the highest bidder.  Our middle class has all but disappeared and the vast underclass has been plunged deeper into poverty; but it’s never been better on Wall Street.  

Gun violence has provoked an irrational response, stoked by corporate and political cynicsm.  The availability of firearms has grown exponentially, concentrating them in the hands of the overheated.

Some might say that we are ripe for a revolution, if those whose hands hold the throttle don’t apply the brakes pretty soon.

But like Climate Change, the will simply isn’t there and it may already be too late.

It was a good run while it lasted.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

12 thoughts on “The Final Nail in Democracy’s Coffin?

  1. one has to wonder if this is part of a grand conspiracy to force liberal thinking constitutional reformers to open the door to something REALLY shitty happening during a convention called to fix the money thing?

    What do they really want?  What is the real brass ring??  

    Remember, the fire is now burning for every rich bastard to throw as much cash into the hopper as they can muster to “change minds for the common good”… where do you think this is really going to end up?

    this may be the camels nose under the tent….  watch out for the HUMP>

  2. I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered

    I don’t have a friend who feels at ease

    I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered

    Or driven to its knees

    Oh, but it’s all right, it’s all right

    For we lived so well so long

    Still, when I think of the road

    We’re traveling on

    I wonder what went wrong

    I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong

    And I dreamed I was dying

    And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly

    And looking back down at me

    Smiled reassuringly

    And I dreamed I was flying

    And high above my eyes could clearly see

    The Statue of Liberty

    Sailing away to sea

    And I dreamed I was flying

    Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower

    We come on the ship that sailed the moon

    We come in the age’s most uncertain hour

    And sing an American tune

    Oh, it’s all right, it’s all right

    You can’t be forever blessed

    Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day

    And I’m trying to get some rest

    That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

    Paul Simon

  3. There is only one fight left. We all have our favorite fights. Mine is about energy policy, but that’s irrelevant now. It has been, really, since the Buckley v Valeo decision in 1976. Same for education, labor issues, health care, pick your subject.

    The fight is to make corporations silent and powerless, as they were in the first half of the 19th century. The fight is to make our electoral system immune to wealth. If we can’t do that, we can’t do anything. Maybe a little sweeping up around the edges, but it won’t really matter.

    So, let’s say you are trying, for example, to promote energy policies that will slow down or stop climate change. Forget it. Won’t happen. 350.org is on a fool’s errand. The people you are trying to convince were specifically chosen by wealthy people to disagree with you. They used an electoral system they pushed to evolve so that only people with wealth have influence.

    First we need to get money and corporate influence out of politics. It will be a huge fight, with probable fatalities, but it is the prerequisite for any future political progress.

  4. The problem may be, Sue, as already said in 1st comment, that we’re being ‘set up’ to call for changes in the Constitution.  That our advocacy for ‘changes’ in the Bill of Rights will open the door for the Nazis to really ‘go after’ everything in the Constitution that provides for protection against those who would make the USA a CAPITALIST MONARCHY.  

    It’s our goddamn Supreme Court as it now stands, 5 to 4 for the Bad Guys.  Clarence Thomas, Scalia, and Bush’s boy, Roberts, and the two other ‘quiet’, yet creepy, Justices.  I’d like to see Scalia really put to a Constitutional test–something really extreme.  Maybe he’d cave and vote with Ginsburg.  ???   But it’s the present Court’s outlandish ‘interpretation’ of our Constitution that is …well, UNconstitutional.  This latest ruling, for instance, should be challenged as not in the SPIRIT of the 1st or ANY Amendment.  It feels like the Court is saying:  “Well, they didn’t say back then SPECIFICALLY NOT to let the Rich and Powerful bend these words into something they didn’t mean, so, we’re just going to go with the wording, and NOT the SPIRIT and INTENT behind the wording.  

    There should be term limits for Supreme Court Justices.  I’d like to see Hillary come in in 2017 and try to do what FDR wanted to do with the Court in the 30s–add a couple more Justices on.  But Justices who would pay attention to the SPIRIT and INTENT of a REVOLUTIONARY DOCUMENT in their interpretations and rulings.

    Speaking of Revolutions, this kind of EXCESSIVE use of Money for Power is partly what the Frenchies went ape-shit about in 1789.  Off With Their Heads!

  5. comments all! This is heartbreaking Sue! Was too sad to even comment when I saw it up yesterday. Reading comments today are causing eyes to tear esp Paul Simon’s message of poignant & prescient prose.

    Constitution is on life support due to our rightwing activist SCOTUS – appear to be using it for toilet paper. I wouldn’t be surprised if the tp @ the courthouse is jokingly printed w/the constitution. What about a constitutional convention? Kinda sad we have a constitution but we need to get out the whoopass, have a convention to resurrect it & add a few tweaks to make it actually work.

    We need new specific language in our laws re voting & campaign financing which restore the true meaning & essence of our democracy, one voter = 1 vote. Then we have the other completely wacked decision to allow new voting restrictions!

    Risky, uncharted territory which could have unintended consequences – I get that but somethings got to give this is unfu’king real or acceptable in any context. Returning to the days of the assault & exploits of the monocled, cigar-chewing robber barons wearing pocket watches. Beware if Joseph A Bank & other fancy-shmancy mens (womens?) clothiers start putting watch-pockets in all pants & it becomes the rage.

    My dad said a few years ago that until every American drops what their doing & parks themselves in throngs on the White House lawn we don’t have a chance. I’m beginning to agree. Look at the ME & European protests – crimace! Oceans of ppl as far as the eye can see no matter what hotbutton issue has them riled up. A bunch of wimps by comparison.  

     

  6. The civil rights movement changed the way our electoral system operated without changing the Constitution. There was Brown v Board of Education and the Voting Rights Act.

    The SCOTUS didn’t just wake up one day and say “Holy crap, we’ve been interpreting the Constitution in the wrong way!” It took decades of action on many fronts, but with the “Eyes on the Prize.” That’s what focused action can do.

    Any idiot can lie on a bed of nails. The more nails the better. Your weight gets spread out over so many points that none penetrates. That’s where we are with multi-issue progressive politics.

    However, nobody can lie on a bed of one nail. That’s where the 1% is working. Sure, there are a lot of decoy issues – gay marriage, school privatization, etc. That’s just to recruit the rubes. What the big boys focus on, though, is the money funnel from public to (a few) private hands and getting more control over legislation and regulation. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle of power and the exertion of power. Cash is the medium and possession of it (or non-possession) is the political filter. The K-Street project is a manifestation of this.

    What if we simply made life hell (in a legal way) for any candidate who took any donations of more than a day’s wages at minimum wage? What if we crowded their meetings, dogged their steps, kept their phones constantly busy, flooded their mailboxes, distributed pledges not to vote for them (unless they give the excess money back), got out the vote against them, and so on? Many techniques, many fronts, one goal: rich and poor having equal political clout.  

  7. Sue. The problem is that George Bush’s three stooges on the Supreme Court cannot understand the Preamble to the Constitution. “We the people” includes more than the 1%, or the 10%, or 50%, unless the stooges do not consider the readers of your GMD Diary to be people. In which case, they should be impeached, if such is possible and feasible. What to do?

    First, listening still seems to be free. A litmus test in Vermonters for running for public office ought to be refusal to accept money from other than that candidates electorate, directly of indirectly. Is such a requirement illegal? In the event that it is, the public still cannot be required to elect such candidates. I suggested this once before. It was dismissed by a comment consisting to no more than that is not how it is done. Nonsense! There is no reason that it cannot be done. The public can demand an answer to the question: Will you or have you accepted funds from outside of your electorate?

    This writer is not naive. People lie to get what they want. Rigorous law is needed regarding public documentation of all funds offered before, while holding or for receipt after holding public office. Free speech only goes so far as offering the funds. Acceptance is another matter.

    If that cannot be done, the public of the United States has few alternatives other than to boycott the products of the ruling families. They should be taken down financially, one at a time. I suggest that the current boycotts of the Koch family be expanded to the max. There are sufficient members of the public, many holding office, many members of political parties who agree that democracy must be preserved. The alternative of this nation descending into violence, sooner or later, is horrible.

    If that is to be, the sooner the current economic inequalities are addressed, the better. The fewer people who are hurt the better. Our financial environment is no less pressing than the our natural environment. Neither environment is currently sustainable.

    I am not looking to lead a crusade. At eighty-one years of age, I am not about to stress myself to death. I have fought my battles for what I believed.

    witchcat

     

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