Monday, January 26, 2004

Rigging the System


In "America as a One-Party State", Robert Kuttner provides a thorough, interesting, and rather disturbing portrait of how our nation's democracy is being undermined by our elected representatives. And, although the party in control is the primary subject of discussion, and its excesses are (accurately) depicted as unprecedented in our natin's history - particularly the tactics to defeat debate and bipartisanship in Congress, as implemented by Tom Delay - Kuttner makes it abundantly clear that both parties contributed to the present, sad state of affairs.

The most obvious "cure", which might over time reverse some of the worst of the excesses, would be a reform of redistricting laws to prevent the type of gerrymandering that has become the norm. Does our Supreme Court have the backbone to enforce the obvious original intent that elections be both meaningful and contested? That's not clear, even at present. But it seems like a safe bet that if GW gets to appoint two or three justices over the course of his upcoming term, we can reasonably expect the Supreme Court to rubber stamp whatever excesses his party deems necessary to maintaining control of the government.
Benjamin Franklin, leaving the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, was asked by a bystander what kind of government the Founders had bestowed. "A republic," he famously replied, "if you can keep it."
Meanwhile, we will continue to feign an interest in exporting democracy to the rest of the world.

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