Political Correctness

The founding fathers were a little fucked up — Updated

This is a good time to remember the “Founders.”  But if one more wanna be GOP “thinker” tells me he “believes in” the Constitution, I’m just going to take a shit on his shoe.

It’s not a fucking religious text that you “believe” reveals some deep and mysterious truth.

It’s a fucking legal framework designed to prevent some pompous (orange) prince from declaring a dictatorship.

People pledge to uphold the constitution and the rule of law. It’s our common rules for learning to live together in a peaceful political process.

We spend a lot of time talking about how divisive impeachment is. But it beats the fuck out of a coup.

This “original intent” argument is mostly bullshit too. The original intent of the constitution was to support slavery and keep women from voting. It’s designed to change over time and be “interpreted.”

You know fucking Donald J. Trump doesn’t give a shit about these ideas. He and Mitch McConnell are colluding to lie and cheat their way to long term power.

Sure it’s obvious how they are putting on a sham trial for impeachment. But that’s just a blip compared to what they are really doing.

They have been colluding to steal as many seats as possible to fill the all the federal courts with 50-year-old reactionaries to please a dwindling and dying minority of white christians who only want to hold on to a past that never really existed.

After the bullshit about “I believe”, usually the next sentence out of these shitheads is about how great the founding fathers “are”. They hardly ever use past tense. The founders died 200 years ago — dumbass.

founding fathers in bronze

They say it like they are talking about Jesus and Moses and George fucking Washington all rolled into one. And I’m pretty sure half of them couldn’t tell me the difference.

No doubt the political leaders who won a revolution over the most powerful country in the world did some impressive things. But they were just people.

Racist, sexist, narrow-minded, drunk people who mostly wanted to evade taxes and free load on the largess of the British Empire. When they couldn’t free load, they pitted the French against the British and hoped both of them would fight so long and hard they’d leave the nutjobs in the new world alone.

Once they won, the leaders feared two things: the people they were about to rule; and each other.

They crushed the Whiskey Rebellion and put down dissent at all costs. They restricted voting to men with land or other wealth and some states added religious tests.

They also set up a system of checks and balances to keep any one group from completely taking over. Hence the branches of government, restrictions on power and roles left to the states.

They knew the Greek and Roman experiments in republics ended in dictatorship. Most were convinced there would eventually be an American Caesar, who would lie, cheat, bribe and kill his way into totalitarian power.

They feared the military, the religious and the revolutionary zealots who might act like the French and start lopping off heads.

When the war was over, they didn’t hold massive military parades and build the biggest army in the world.  They had a party and sent everyone home. The last thing they wanted was a standing army. That’s why we don’t roll tanks down Pennsylvania Ave every year, Donnie — you stupid mother fucker.

The constitution is about paranoia and distrust more than it is about justice.  Don’t even say it had any notion of equality.  It was designed to favor the smaller states (senate/electoral college) and included the three-fifths compromise — that’s right some people were only 60 percent human as far as population count and not at all as far as legal rights.

The only smart thing they did was include an amendment process and made it vague enough for the Supreme Court to have legal review.

At least they were smart enough to know that some time in the future, people would be a lot smarter than a bunch of drunken slave owners in tights.

So whenever these shitheads cite the constitution like its the holy book of Ra, it just knots up my bowels into a crouched squat ready to fire.

12 replies »

  1. Seems to me like the Republicans don’t give a shit about the Constitution. They’ve been working at voter suppression for years. Trumps antics are the next step toward securing a lock on power, and they’re going to let him get away with it. Seems like they really do want to turn us into a totalitarian nation, with Trump as our dictator.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found your blog from Jenny Lawson’s blog and I LOVE IT and have been gobbling up many of your writings. (Just last weekend tamales came up in conversation and I related your first encounter to my friends who laughed, and then I told them to read your stuff too!) With respect to this post though, I’d love to hear you read it. I kind of ended up reading it in my head in Lewis Black’s voice. I like to think you might have enough severe anger about this sort of thing in you to say it in a Lewis sort of way? Hmmm?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seems to me like the Republicans don’t give a shit about the Constitution. They’ve been working at voter suppression for years. Trumps antics are the next step toward securing a lock on power, and they’re going to let him get away with it. Seems like they really do want to turn us into a totalitarian nation, with Trump as our dictator.

    Like

  4. I will be attaching to this post the text to an interesting article in the Washington Post by John M. Carey, a Wentworth Professor and Associate Dean for the Faculty of Social Sciences at Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH). Carey is also a co-founder of Bright Line Watch, an organization that monitors threats to Democracy in the United States.

    Thirty years ago, a political scientist named Juan Linz wrote a series of influential essays articulating a link between presidencies and democratic backsliding, including by coup. In contrast to parliamentary systems, where legislators choose the chief executive (usually called a prime minister), presidential systems produce rival centers of power and reduce incentives for compromise, Linz argued. When the legislature and the president can each claim an electoral mandate, intractable differences might tempt one or the other to “knock on the barracks door” in search of military allies; a violent dissolution of democracy could be the result. Parliamentarianism, by contrast, provides a safety valve because the legislature has the ability to remove the executive, typically by simple majority vote. Even when things don’t get to the stage of full meltdown, presidencies tend to heighten tensions in polarized societies, Linz contended, encouraging extreme political views rather than compromise, and often producing political gridlock.

    Did Donald Trump prove him right?

    A professor at Yale who died in 2013, Linz wrote in an era not long after conflicts between presidents and legislatures had preceded military coups in Chile, Brazil and other Latin American countries, leading to brutal dictatorships. Scholars have debated the theory ever since, and, while Linz may have painted with an overly broad brush at times, his arguments hold up better than most middle-aged theories in political science.

    The United States, with its long-lived presidential system, always posed a challenge for Linz. But the events of this month — in which a defeated president reluctant to leave office roused a mob that then attacked the national legislature — were precisely the kind of conflict he worried about. And there are many other echoes of Trump in Linz’s writings, which argue that the powerful presidency attracts a strongman personality who “will always find it hard to reconcile himself to being out of power for good.”

    The United States may have avoided the worst possible outcome for a presidency, but other Linzian observations have fresh relevance today. He made the case that since you can run for president without climbing your way up a party ladder — unlike vying to be prime minister — the office appeals to outsider candidates with no allegiance to the political system, who can gain popularity by railing against that system, diminishing trust in it. Presidents are inclined to insist that they and not the fragmented legislature speak for “the people,” as a way of aggrandizing their power. (Trump’s “silent majority” and “real America” rhetoric fits this pattern.) At the same time, they have less incentive than a legislature to represent the interests of the minority party or parties. Unlike in a parliamentary system, there is no penalty for appointing toadies and hyper-partisan hacks to the Cabinet.
    True, constitutional structure is clearly not destiny. Chile, which Linz viewed as a victim of presidentialism’s failure for its 1973 coup and the dictatorship that followed, has experienced long periods of democracy under a presidency. (The country is currently rewriting its constitution after protests, but abolishing the office is not on the menu.) Costa Rica has maintained competitive elections, peaceful transitions of power and a functioning social safety net for more than 70 years, despite using a presidential system.

    You also don’t have to search far to see parliamentary systems in crisis: There have been coups in Thailand in 2006 and 2014, democratic backsliding in India, and standoffs over government formation in Spain. In March, Israel will hold its fourth parliamentary election in the last two years because the previous three failed to produce stable governing coalitions.

    Still, parliamentary democracies outperform presidential democracies on a host of metrics. They tend to have lower rates of poverty, economic inequality, criminal violence and corruption than do presidential democracies. All of that remains true even if you control for national wealth — a powerful driver of good outcomes.

    But if the United States, the oldest democracy in the world, had a presidential system, how perilous could it be? Linz pointed to two sources of American exceptionalism. First, he thought the American people were “overwhelmingly moderate.” In the U.S. system, he wrote, “anyone who makes alliances or takes positions that seem to incline him to the extremes is unlikely to win, as both Barry Goldwater and George McGovern discovered to their chagrin.”

    Linz also pointed to America’s “uniquely diffuse” political parties, each containing members with a wide variety of views, which facilitated ad hoc compromises on policy, both within Congress and between Congress and the president. But both of these observations now seem dated. Opinions may differ on what constitutes moderation, but few would now argue that extremism can never win in the United States. And even as Linz was writing, the era of flexible parties was approaching its end. Democrats and Republicans diverged in the 1990s, growing more internally unified and more hardened against each other (there are virtually no socially liberal Republican politicians, for example, or pro-life Democrats).

    Amid ferocious polarization and gridlock, Linz’s explanations for why America was less dysfunctional than other presidential systems no longer apply, even in the absence of a coup.

    For better or worse, the United States has the Constitution it does: We are not about to switch to a parliamentary model. So what lessons can we take from Linz that might help clarify the challenges we confront and the sorts of reforms that could help?

    The key flaw of a presidential system is that it promotes rigidity and intransigence rather than a search for a middle ground with one’s adversaries. So reforms should target such all-or-nothing confrontations and promote compromise.

    Reducing the stakes of controlling either the executive or legislative branch would be a step forward. As the judiciary’s power has expanded, for example, so have the consequences of nominating and confirming judges, particularly to the Supreme Court; this raises the premium that goes with winning the presidency, as well as controlling the Senate. The much-discussed proposal to limit justices to 18 years on the Supreme Court, staggered so that a vacancy occurs every second year, would reduce the stakes of high court appointments, cooling the attendant politics during elections and in the day-to-day operation of the Senate. Some of the proposals by congressional Democrats to strengthen oversight of the president — and punish executive-branch officials who participate in political activities — might also help rebalance the power arrangement between the two branches, reining in the imperial presidency.

    The way we elect our legislators also encourages them to adopt extreme views. This was not always the case, but a series of developments — from demographic sorting (we tend to live near people who think like we do), to technological advances in the software used to draw electoral districts (which can worsen gerrymandering), to the nationalization of campaign fundraising networks — have aligned to reward politicians who cater to the wings of their parties. In districts that lean heavily blue or red, victory in a low-turnout party primary all but guarantees winning the general election, so the views of extreme voters carry more weight.
    That might change if we shifted away from the system of single-winner districts, which are not constitutionally ordained. The statute requiring every member of Congress to be elected from a district represented by only one person dates only to 1967. Its repeal would allow (but not require) experimentation with larger districts that could elect multiple winners, with two benefits. First, the fewer districts that must be drawn, the less the district mapping process would drive results, lowering the stakes of gerrymandering. Second, if three or four members were elected from a given district, more moderates who are currently winnowed by their parties’ winner-take-all primary elections would get elected to Congress. Predominantly blue districts might send a Republican or two to Washington, and red districts would elect some Democrats. Overall, there would be more opportunities for coalitions that look to the center rather than only to the extremes.
    The 2020 election showed how profound the divisions of our presidential system really are. Still, pursuing multiple smaller-bore reforms that encourage compromise and electoral accountability is an achievable strategy. The nation stepped back from the brink last month (though “coup” is now part of our political discourse). But Trump’s presidency made clear that our system still encourages polarized clashes. Linz’s work provides a framework for understanding what has gone wrong in recent years — and offers clues for getting back on track.

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      • FYI, Juan José Linz, Ph. D. (24 December 1926 – 01 October 2013) was a German-born Spanish political sociologist and the (John W.) Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University in New Haven, CT. Dr. Linz’s landmark political treatise aptly titled ‘The Perils of Presidentialism’ thoroughly chronicled the inherent instability of the presidential-congressional system, which is utilized throughout Latin America. For the record, I am a devotee of the parliamentary system as opposed to the presidential-congressional system.

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