Sunday, March 7, 2010

What Democracy Isn't

For a very long time, I have thought there was some deficiency within democracy. You see, I always believed a democracy is a form of government whereby the People are directly represented, and that the needs of the People represented would be met, or at least the needs of the majority. Nine or 10 years ago I realized that democracy is not the deficiency. Democracy works as long as the public representatives continue to represent the public that elected them.

When I first began questioning the deficiency within Democracy, I believed it lay with the professional politician. If there is one thing we all understand, once you have a job, you want to keep it. To keep a job you spend about 50% of your time trying to keep it, 25% justifying your position, and only 25% actually working. Three years ago, I had an epiphany – Human Behavior. Politicians are simply following their primordial programming

The problem with democracy is the natural human tendency to group according to personality, nationality, ethnicity, religion, or belief. Within Government, this is generally called a Political Party. The Party serves its purpose, makes us feel we belong, helps to organize funding and gross belief structures, etc…

The following is an excerpt of an Address originally presented some 250 years ago. Originally, read to a joint session of the Congress of the United States, where unbelievably it is read at the beginning of every session of the Senate to this day. It was published to every newspaper in the USA as an open letter to the American People. It was published to the Library of Congress, which is where I found the text and the information contained within this paragraph. When I first read this speech, I was absolutely astounded.

I have made some slight changes, I removed some hyphens which followed periods, I did not change any text and any misspellings are the part of the original author (250 years ago they were spelled correctly). Just before this quoted section (paragraph 19 – 25) the writer had spoken about the dangers of political parties based on geographical region. Full text of Address

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on Geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally.

This Spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of Party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the Government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country, are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the Administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose, and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched; it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres; avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the Guardian of the Public Weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.

This was written not by one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, but none other than George Washington in his farewell address to Congress and the American People when he declined to be nominated for a third term as President! Oddly he never spoke these words in public, he had them printed for all to see, then had it read to Congress. It is known that Alexandar Hamilton and James Madison assisted in either formulation and editing but these are George Washington’s words.

A year ago, I was sitting with my wife and I asked her, “So, When do you think ol’ George, Tom, Ted, Abe, and Mustafa will roll back over in their graves?” She not being an American said “Huh?” So I explained about Mount Rushmore and how America just was not working well which was resulting in a lot of American’s NOT WORKING, and how nothing was going to get better any time soon as long as we only had the filtered choices provided by the Republicans and Democrats. I also remembered the last Independent who had a significant run for President (Ross Perot) and how the press had repeatedly said, “a vote for Perot is a wasted vote.” This theme has been repeated at subsequent elections and no Independent has even had a decent result. I also made a quick comparison to what is happening in Turkey being so far afield from what I believe Mustafa Kemal talked about in Democracy.

The scene is quite similar to the US, one party has an overwhelming majority but the leader of that party spits the word democracy like a curse to the opposing parties. Parties are even challenged in the constitutional court. Last year the leading party won a very slight majority of the constitutional court challenge and got away with a hefty fine, this year one of the opposition parties was challenged and closed – they had good reason for illegalizing the party, I can’t argue with that, but it really is the rest of it.

Where Turkey is concerned, there are some ‘hot button’ issues that, from an outsiders perspective, are used by the leading party every time some controversy needs to quiet down. The questioned validity of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, wearing of the Turban, the role of the military constitutionally, and supposed governmental take-over by either terrorist, civilian or military coups. It never ceases to amaze me that every time one of these issues is brought up the same thing happens: Everyone drops everything they are doing to debate the hot button issue, while in the background the leading party passes a controversial law in the middle of the night, arrests someone they have no reason or right to, or changes something in the constitution. Any Journalist who dares research and write about a ‘no-no’ is shut down, sometimes publicly.

All the while the People are fooled into believing that the election is over and they have no recourse. The people believe if they stand up and say ‘You can’t do that!’ they could be arrested and jailed for up to two years without explanation or sued by the leader of the leading party which he has succeeded at repeatedly for multiple reasons usually citing Libel.

Why not look at the constitutionality of political parties in general. The father of modern democracy believed the Party “serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public administration.” Worse he referred to them resulting in “permanent evil”.

PEOPLE ! ! You have the power! Educate yourself about what is happening behind the closed doors of the ‘Party’ and vote your mind. Constitutional Court, you need to change your conversation. Stop shutting down individual political parties as a result of a single complaint.

The only way to do away with partisan politics is to do away with the parties, and mandate elected officials serve a reasonable term of public service and return to their lives.



Friday, January 15, 2010

What's With Israel?

What the heck is going on with the Israeli mentality?

The title link is the best summation I could find of the latest flap of the dying birds wings. Here's what I understand about this situation (I am trying to be objective and present both sides of this story):

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, SUMMONS the Turkish Ambassador to Israel to a meeting. (Meeting topic: Israeli displeasure with a privately produced Turkish TV drama that depicts Israel in a negative light)

Minister Ayalon then invites the Israeli Press to cover the beginning of the meeting

When the Turkish Ambassador arrives he is forced to wait in the hallway with the Press while Minister Ayalon did who knows what?

When the Turkish Ambassador is finally called into the room Minister Ayalon directs him to a very low sofa, refuses to shake his hand and points out the presence of only an Israeli flag on the table
(a blanked violation of international diplomatic protocol).

Apologies were made after the issue was brought to light by the international media, but the apologies were weak and indirect.

I see something bigger here than just a violation of international diplomatic protocol. It seems as though Israel (I am speaking of the government) believes they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, to whomever they want and no one is going to hold them accountable to it. I see a bigger picture with a very sour coloring.

When is Israel going to stop using the German Holocaust, and the global delay in stopping it as an excuse to do pretty much anything. When is Israel going to take the lessons they so directly learned about genocide to detect and prevent further genocide, i.e. Darfur, Somalia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. I have never heard anything of a warning or an opening of dialog like:

"You know, when the Germans did this they first restricted the movement of Jews, relieved them of all their property, divided families, concentrated the population in relatively small geographic areas and limited food rations before they started an extermination campaign. We can see the same thing happening in Darfur. Maybe we should stop it before this gets out of hand and millions more people die needlessly"

Actually there is a reason I believe they do not take the lead on matters of war crime prevention; they would have to take a look at what they are doing. HMMMMM think about the Palestinian issue for a moment. What has Israel done to these people who are different from them:

Restriction of movement - check
Relieved them of property - check
Divided families - check
Concentrate the population in small geographic areas - check
Starve that population - CHECK
Began an extermination campaign - ? (If you ask the people who live in Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank they would probably give a big check)

So the final question I have is this: When is the world going to start holding Israel accountable for the deeds they are perpetrating in the same fashion as the Holocaust they use as an excuse to perpetrate one of their own?

How many wrongs does it take to add up to a right?