The Constitution was designed at a time when there wasn’t any meaningful inequality among the white property owner class which wrote it.
The problem is that our constitutional system might not survive in an unequal economy. Campaign contributions, lobbying, the revolving door of industry insiders working in government, interest group influence over regulators and even think tanks — all of these features of our current political system skew policy making to favor the wealthy and entrenched economic interests. “The rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave the rest,” Gouverneur Morris observed in 1787. “They always did. They always will.” An oligarchy — not a republic — is the inevitable result.
Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “There can be no real political democracy unless there is something approaching an economic democracy.”
For all its resilience and longevity, our Constitution doesn’t have structural checks built into it to prevent oligarchy or populist demagogues. It was written on the assumption that America would remain relatively equal economically. Even the father of the Constitution understood this. Toward the end of his life, Madison worried that the number of Americans who had only the “bare necessities of life” would one day increase. When it did, he concluded, the institutions and laws of the country would need to be adapted, and that task would require “all the wisdom of the wisest patriots.”
Our Constitution Wasn’t Built for This https://nyti.ms/2y5UDEK
This is a really good look at what’s wrong with how we think about our Constitution and our country’s history.
Sure, it was a great start, but it’s no longer working quite the way it should.
It’s time for some changes.
American exceptionalism is at best an innocent mistake that uninformed patriotism makes difficult to surrender.
The Making of a Non-Patriot https://nyti.ms/2uB4wZk
Wow. A Spectacular lapse by the Federal government. ITT profited for 17 years after the gov knew it was being defrauded. A textbook example of corporate defenders in our government.
Not everybody was a loser in this tale, of course. Going through ITT’s financial filings from 2000 to 2016, I found that the company generated over $12 billion in revenue, roughly 70 percent of it in government-backed student aid.
Beginning in 2001, with George W. Bush in the White House and Republicans ruling the House of Representatives, the winds were shifting in favor of for-profit colleges.
A Whistle Was Blown on ITT; 17 Years Later, It Collapsed http://nyti.ms/2esW0We
Our political dysfunction is causing real and lasting problems.
Is American democracy broken?
There are precedents around the world for the kind of political jolt the United States experienced in November. They usually include a political firebrand who promises to sweep away a system rigged to serve the powerful rather than the interests of ordinary people. They usually end badly, when the popular champion decides to read electoral victory as an invitation to bend the institutions of democracy to the force of his will.
A system of political finance in which many candidates are funded by deep-pocketed single-interest groups like gun rights advocates and environmentalists will increase political polarization, even as it reduces public confidence in the system. So will electoral districts gerrymandered so narrowly for partisan benefit that even holding elections can seem pointless.
move the drawing of electoral districts out of partisan hands, as California has done, would greatly improve the nature of political contests.
A Threat to U.S. Democracy: Political Dysfunction http://nyti.ms/2hOIUFx
We all get so excited when a billionaire claims he will give away all his money. We think philanthropy is so wonderful that it can solve all the world’s ills. Reality is that this type of philanthropy follows the whims of the giver.
In recent years, many of the industry’s elite have pledged financial support to schools, hospitals, police stations and homeless shelters, all while many of the industry’s companies have avoided paying taxes that would fund those same vital public institutions.
Wealth gleaned by way of tax dodges and monopolistic business practices is wealth stolen from the public, even when it is returned in the form of supposed gifts. Philanthropy has the power to do a great deal of good, but so do tax dollars allocated in an equitable democratic system. Perhaps it’s time to adopt a Gospel of Government.
What Can’t Tech Money Buy? http://nyti.ms/1WrhUuw
Of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Except that that’s not how it’s working out these days. It’s working out to be a government for the rich and for corporations.
A recent study found…
that in policy-making, views of ordinary citizens essentially don’t matter. They examined 1,779 policy issues and found that attitudes of wealthy people and of business groups mattered a great deal to the final outcome — but that preferences of average citizens were almost irrelevant.
“In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule,” they concluded. “Majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.”
One reason is that our political system is increasingly driven by money: Tycoons can’t quite buy politicians, but they can lease them. Elected officials are hamsters on a wheel, always desperately raising money for the next election. And the donors who matter most are a small group; just 158 families and the companies they control donated almost half the money for the early stages of the presidential campaign.
America the Unfair? http://nyti.ms/1UdlP9G
The Electoral College should not vote for a candidate who is not qualified for the job.
Alexander Hamilton provided a blueprint for states’ votes. Federalist 68 argued that an Electoral College should determine if candidates are qualified, not engaged in demagogy, and independent from foreign influence. Mr. Trump shows us again and again that he does not meet these standards. Given his own public statements, it isn’t clear how the Electoral College can ignore these issues, and so it should reject him.
Why I Will Not Cast My Electoral Vote for Donald Trump http://nyti.ms/2gJkwVt