by Jeff Nielson, Sprott Money:
The basic principle of democracy is “majority rule”. The reality is that because of people who refuse to vote, people not allowed to vote (because of age or other disqualification), and the plurality of political parties, very few elected governments ever receive a majority of the votes from their population. Further deviating from the theoretical concept of democracy, our societies (supposedly) have what is known as “representative democracy”.
In true democracy, the people are supposed to approve (by voting) all acts of government. In our complicated, fast-paced, modern societies, such a concept is completely impractical. So we elect representatives, and then (supposedly) those representatives act and vote according to the wishes of their constituents. Our nations are broken down into smaller electoral districts, and then the political party which wins the most districts becomes the government.
In theory, such representative democracy should approximate majority rule, and thus the will of the people. However, what happens if voting in these political districts is rigged, systemically, through altering the district boundaries in order to guarantee that one party always wins? Obviously we no longer have anything remotely resembling democracy (representative or otherwise), and such a crime against the people has been given the name of gerrymandering.
In legitimate democracies, gerrymandering is obviously not allowed. In the United States, however, not only is gerrymandering allowed, it is a national tradition, as alluded to in a recent Bloomberg article .
In a case that could eventually affect the balance of legislatures across the country, a federal court in Wisconsin has for the first time struck down a partisan gerrymander.
Yes, in the 240-year history of this nation, for the first time a U.S. court has struck down the crime of gerrymandering. Many will find it ironic that as the United States sends its military rampaging around the world to “bring democracy” to other nations that it never thought about bringing democracy to its own population.
This is why the U.S. Congress is filled with seat-stuffers who have been in office for 20, or 30, or 40 years. One of these political hacks was in power for nearly 60 years – John Dingell . In the Gerrymandered States of America, if you’ve still got a pulse, you’re fit for office.
Dingell, we are told, “won” 29 consecutive elections before choosing to leave office last month. John Dingell Jr. literally inherited his seat from John Dingell Sr., who died suddenly in office, after ‘only’ holding the seat for 22 more years. Right. Democracy. For more than 80 years; the only thing which ever changed in this Michigan district was going from John I to John II.
So why now? Why, after 240 years of looking the other way as Republican and Democratic regimes gerrymandered state and federal districts, has a U.S. court decided that maybe democracy might not be a bad idea for the U.S., too? It’s because for most of these 240 years, the two parties had been roughly equally successful in their district-rigging across the 50 states. It never remotely resembled democracy, but it was deemed to be fair. No harm; no foul.
But not any longer. One of the two parties has suddenly been getting more and more successful at rigging legislatures across the U.S. One of the two parties is known to be the party that “serves the Rich” (the Very Rich). By remarkable coincidence, we’re talking about the same party. That’s right; the Republican Party now has a choke-hold on roughly three quarters of all U.S. states.
Almost three-quarters of state legislatures are in Republican hands, which demonstrates how dangerous partisan gerrymandering is to the continued viability of two-party democracy.
Only in the U.S.A. are the words “democracy” and “gerrymandering” not considered to be mutually exclusive. Gerrymandering is “dangerous” to democracy like sugar is dangerous to our health. But there is no need to do anything about it until severe diabetes has set in.
Unlike diabetes, however, this political disease has a very decided slant to it, upward – way up. As reported by The Guardian , the top 0.1% of the population in the U.S. now hold as much wealth as the bottom 90% . Most Democrats (including Hillary Clinton) also serve this pseudo-aristocracy, but Republicans serve them better, hence the enormous tilt to the right in U.S. politics.
Campaign finance laws in the U.S. already allow this pseudo-aristocracy to buy the government (and representatives) of their choice. But then they also have to bribe the politicians themselves, in order to ensure that these lackeys continue to do their bidding. Much better to rig electoral boundaries, and then buying the government of their choice is much more cost-effective.
Obviously the top 0.1% of the U.S. population didn’t earn as much as the bottom 90%. They stole it, and Republicans help them steal more. Therefore (surprise! surprise!) the American people now see ¾ of their states dominated by the serve-the-Rich Republicans. The situation is little different at the federal level.
Republican president. Republican Congress. Republican Senate. A serve-the-Rich sweep. It’s not that Obama didn’t serve the oligarchs too – and well. But Barack Obama was all about serving large corporations (owned by the Very Rich), rather than directly catering to the whims of the rich-and-powerful as individuals. True, he did renege on his promise to kill the Bush tax-cuts. But what’s one more broken promise when you’re Barack Obama?
Now the U.S. has a new president, an “independent president”, Republican Donald Trump. Yes. In just a matter of days, he has managed to make the senior echelons of the U.S. government look like Goldman Sachs Inc. How much more “independent” can you get than that?
Donald Trump, the independent, tells the American people he wants to help them. That’s why he’s planning on cutting taxes, for the Rich, not to mention “deregulating” their large corporations even further, so that they can run amok with even greater impunity. Among the sectors he has pledged to deregulate is the banking sector, where the Big Banks of Wall Street are already committing crimes 1,000 times larger than any other crimes in human history, again and again , but are never punished . Yes, obviously these fraud factories need to be less regulated.
He has also pledged to tear-up trade agreements, which would mean re-regulating large corporations. But what’s one more contradiction when you’re Donald Trump?
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