Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rigged Elections: The death of democracy and civility?

Democracy is commonly believed to a positive concept.  Unfortunately, a government of ‘we the people’, has at least four inherently damaging flaws.
The first, identified by our nation’s Founding Fathers is fear of a ‘tyranny of the majority’ style of government.  They believed a ‘bill of rights’ ensuring ‘liberty and justice for all’ and a government with limited power was a sufficient antidote to that.  Awkwardly, our original “Bill of Rights” didn’t fully incorporate the fundamental principle (‘liberty and justice for all’ and it cost more American lives than both modern World Wars combined. An we still live with the festering consequences of racial injustice today.
The second flaw is electoral greed.  Once voters understand that those on the ballot can channel a nation’s wealth their way the hazard of economic injustice an/or fiscal national bankruptcy increases.  Today, few people believe our $20 trillion dollar (and rising by the minute) US debt is sustainable. A crash will not be kind. Some national security experts believe it is a fundamental threat to our nation’s security.  
Third, loss of trust in the government is corrosive to government stability and civility.  Combining the capture of government economic favor above with the monstrous and widening gap of income inequality between the extreme rich and the rest (national or global) and people’s fundamental trust in democratic government itself is weakened.

Last but not least, citizen trust in government is the glue that holds our Union together. Loss of trust in the voting process itself undermines one of the three fundamental principles of the ‘rule of law’ that our national identity and lasting cohesion is based on. Even conspiracy beliefs without proof of a rigged election can dissolve it. In the last 2016 Presidential debate one of the leading candidates openly declared that his loss in the election would mean the system was rigged.  His previous leanings toward conspiracy theories combined with similar beliefs of both his supporters and even some detractors undermines any firm belief in our nation’s democratic process for nearly a third of our nation’s voters.   

The glue is the belief that under the ‘rule of law’ where we can rely on just laws treating everyone equally and fairly, that we can sustain our cherished freedoms and security for ourselves and our family.  Blaming a corrupted government cabal kills public confidence in a valid electoral system. There is a small possibility this election could result in blood and chaos.  From the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement to the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 trust in our government is essential to future civility.

Is our current “throw all the bums out…and start over” sentiment really that surprising?  It might even be essential if we want to change the inherent flaws in our current systems and structures if we want to remain united.  Can we continue with a two party system? A winner takes all Electoral College?  Gerrymandering?

Independent federal agencies incapacity to resolve interdependent problems?  Urgent and functional change is needed.  Sufficient political will to transform the flaws in our democratic system does not yet exist. Is our cyber era, bureaucratically heavy, and issue divided nation based on an election system designed for a pre-industrial age sustainable without significant change?

It’s highly probable that the upcoming election won’t be rigged.  The unfortunate news is that there will be no way of proving it.  And, with a majority of Americans mental capacity to believe anything.  ANYTHING!!! Can we be confident that proof of an unrigged election would even be accepted?   This road bump pales in comparison to the possibility that our any level of computerization of elections and political party organizing systems can be tampered with.   A realistic potential exists for any nation-state hacker group or talented lone-wolf hacker could rig an election.  I didn’t believe this possible given the size of our nation with 50 relatively ‘independent’ states, each with its own election systems and voting machines. I believed our non-centralized system would be difficult to hack.  It appears this was hopeful thinking. Experts from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (heard on CSpan recently – I’m still looking for the program web site…it may have got hacked?) schooled my ignorance.  Cyber security is not just an oxymoron.  It’s an illusion. The 2016 Presidential election could be rigged.

Our system of democracy we rely on (and favor for the rest of the world) for forming a ‘more perfect union’ (a government of the people, for the people, and by the people) has serious problems.

There is yet one more lethal vulnerability to our vital but ultimately flawed concept of democracy.  A dictatorship, monarchy, kingdom or aristocracy based government anywhere in the world is a threat to democracy everywhere.  Why?  Because under those governing systems it is the people’s role to serve the needs, interests and desires of the government.  And those foreign government decisions are unlikely to have our freedom and security, or that of the rest of humanity in mind.  

There continues to be a global struggle in the world between what ‘we the people’ want (freedom and security) and what governments want (to stay in power). Because of our failure to properly organize the world to make the protection of human freedom and security the highest priority, governments around the world are increasingly ignoring the inalienable rights of all people.

Even the US fails to consistently apply this most fundamental principle of ‘life, liberty and justice for all’ at home or abroad.  To the degree we fail on this principle is the degree to which we will suffer the slings, arrows and cyber hacks of others.

Systems, structures and principles are like Donald Trump and atoms.  They make up everything!.  And, until ‘we the people’ of the world design a government with systems and structures that encompass everyone and every nation on this planet, employing demonstrated principles that we all agree on, no one should expect a future for themselves or their offspring where humanity together can enjoy the fruits of maximum freedoms, security and civility   --including civil and trusted elections.  
It won’t be heaven on earth.  But it won’t be going to hell like it is now.  Humanity will still have problems. But for the first time in history, problems between nations will have a resolution mechanism that does not include war, concentration camps, genocide, ineffective diplomacy, the threat of force, crushing sanctions or cyber hacks.  It’s called the ‘rule of law’.  A principled system where the laws are created and enforced by a democratic process, which are applied equally to all regardless of skin color, religion, nationality or wealth. And, most importantly, the laws are created to protect the most fundamental inalienable human rights.  The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – for all.
Seventy years ago after the horrors of World War II an American First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt led an effort among nations to agree upon a set of human rights principles that was unanimously accepted by all nations at that time.  They believed the protection of the list of rights spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights could spare future generations of war and other forms of preventable human suffering.  “We the People” was only a phrase inserted into the preamble of the UN Charter.  The rest of the charter however, only enforced the flawed principle of nation states having the right to dictate what human rights they wanted to follow.  That single flawed grand principle is still enforce today.  And it is directly responsible for most of the seemingly irresolvable and currently increasingly dangerous trends in our world now. 
Our nation’s Founding Fathers made catastrophic mistakes in creating our nation’s Constitution by not heading fundamentally sound principles.  We need not make the same mistake in transforming the UN Charter’s systems and structures.   Thomas Jefferson once said "A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse."
 Things change.  Can we? 


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