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Debates Forum

  1. Subscriberno1marauder
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    04 Jul '16 03:20
    The great Matt Taibbi has a typically hilarious and thought-provoking piece in Rolling Stone concerning those who have come to the conclusion that this democracy thing is getting a bit out of hand:

    These self-congratulating cognoscenti could have looked at the events of the last year and wondered why people were so angry with them, and what they could do to make government work better for the population.

    Instead, their first instinct is to dismiss voter concerns as baseless, neurotic bigotry and to assume that the solution is to give Washington bureaucrats even more leeway to blow off the public. In the absurdist comedy that is American political life, this is the ultimate anti-solution to the unrest of the last year, the mathematically perfect wrong ending.

    Trump is going to lose this election, then live on as the reason for an emboldened, even less-responsive oligarchy. And you thought this election season couldn't get any worse.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/in-response-to-trump-another-dangerous-movement-appears-20160630

    It seems like similar sentiments are playing out in the UK after the Brexit vote. Which, fortunately, Matt wrote an article about:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-reaction-to-brexit-is-the-reason-brexit-happened-20160627?

    Agree or disagree?
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    04 Jul '16 10:19
    This is a quote I can agree with.

    "We have periodic elections, which leave citizens with the feeling of self-rule. But in reality people are only allowed to choose between candidates carefully screened by wealthy donors."

    I can also agree that the general elections are essentially a lock and predetermined. Congress is now a retirement plan, not public service. The primary is really the only obstacle now, if at all.

    People are merely waking up to these facts.

    It says that Trump will simply ignore the laws, but we already have a POTUS that does just that. The real rub is that checks and balances are gone, so whoever the POTUS is can do as he or she pleases. It then has become more urgent to "get your guy in office" if you want things to happen your way.

    I assume there are plans in place to stop the wrong POTUS from ever reaching office. Maybe Marshall law or something, I don't know. But just so long as the media continues to have the public in a trance as they remain convinced that the same group of people in the establishment who ran up a $20 trillion debt and have wars waging across the globe are moderates and those who oppose them are extremist crazy people, then there will be no need for Marshall law.........just yet anyway.
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    04 Jul '16 11:14
    Originally posted by whodey
    I assume there are plans in place to stop the wrong POTUS from ever reaching office. Maybe Marshall law or something, I don't know.
    What's Marshall Law? Was it the policy for distributing funds under the Marshall Plan?
  4. Subscriberkmax87
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    04 Jul '16 13:14
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    The great Matt Taibbi has a typically hilarious and thought-provoking piece in Rolling Stone concerning those who have come to the conclusion that this democracy thing is getting a bit out of hand:

    These self-congratulating cognoscenti could have looked at the events of the last year and wondered why people were so angry with them, and what the ...[text shortened]... litics/news/the-reaction-to-brexit-is-the-reason-brexit-happened-20160627?

    Agree or disagree?
    I thought the founding father's constitution envisioned a democracy with a limited franchise with property ownership and education being the threshold. Given the original specifications built into the system, maybe the reason for America's democratic dysfunction is due to the fact that universal suffrage requires a page 1 rewrite.
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    04 Jul '16 13:471 edit
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    What's Marshall Law? Was it the policy for distributing funds under the Marshall Plan?
    Pretty sure he meant Martian Law.
    Mars is wild and untamed.
    YouTube
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    04 Jul '16 14:42
    Originally posted by kmax87
    I thought the founding father's constitution envisioned a democracy with a limited franchise with property ownership and education being the threshold. Given the original specifications built into the system, maybe the reason for America's democratic dysfunction is due to the fact that universal suffrage requires a page 1 rewrite.
    http://www.kqed.org/assets/pdf/education/digitalmedia/us-voting-rights-timeline.pdf

    worth a look to be in this discussion
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    04 Jul '16 18:09
    Originally posted by FishHead111
    Pretty sure he meant Martian Law.
    Mars is wild and untamed.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQAmic9m50Y
    Yes, that's it.

    Thanks for that
  8. Subscriberno1marauder
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    04 Jul '16 19:20
    Originally posted by kmax87
    I thought the founding father's constitution envisioned a democracy with a limited franchise with property ownership and education being the threshold. Given the original specifications built into the system, maybe the reason for America's democratic dysfunction is due to the fact that universal suffrage requires a page 1 rewrite.
    I know of no education requirements existing at the time of ratification of the Constitution.

    As to property restrictions:

    The American Revolution was fought in part over the issue of voting. The Revolutionaries rejected the British argument that representation in Parliament could be virtual (that is, that English members of Parliament could adequately represent the interests of the colonists). Instead, the Revolutionaries argued that government derived its legitimacy from the consent of the governed.

    This made many restrictions on voting seem to be a violation of fundamental rights. During the period immediately following the Revolution, some states replaced property qualifications with taxpaying requirements. This reflected the principle that there should be “no taxation without representation.” Other states allowed anyone who served in the army or militia to vote. Vermont was the first state to eliminate all property and taxpaying qualifications for voting.

    By 1790, all states had eliminated religious requirements for voting. As a result, approximately 60 to 70 percent of adult white men could vote. During this time, six states (Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Vermont) permitted free African Americans to vote.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    During the first half of the nineteenth century, the election process changed dramatically. Voting by voice was replaced by voting by written ballot. This was not the same thing as a secret ballot, which was instituted only in the late nineteenth century; parties printed ballots on colored paper, so that it was still possible to determine who had voted for which candidate.

    The most significant political innovation of the early nineteenth century was the abolition of property qualifications for voting and officeholding. Hard times resulting from the Panic of 1819 led many people to demand an end to property restrictions on voting and officeholding. In 1800, just three states (Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Vermont) had universal white manhood suffrage. By 1830, ten states permitted white manhood suffrage without qualification. Eight states restricted the vote to taxpayers, and six imposed a property qualification for suffrage. In 1860, just five states limited suffrage to taxpayers and only two still imposed property qualifications. And after 1840, a number of states, mainly in the Midwest, allowed immigrants who intended to become citizens to vote.

    http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/government-and-civics/essays/winning-vote-history-voting-rights

    If universal suffrage requires a p. 1 rewrite, then that rewrite was needed long ago unless the claim is that expanding the suffrage to blacks and women requires such.
  9. Subscriberkmax87
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    05 Jul '16 00:492 edits
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    I know of no education requirements existing at the time of ratification of the Constitution. ...........If universal suffrage requires a p. 1 rewrite, then that rewrite was needed long ago unless the claim is that expanding the suffrage to blacks and women requires such.
    Education requirements were a red herring, but you could say were implied by the property requirements laid down by the framers. And not just any education. An education in Christian virtue!

    I found an essay by this guy, Joey Lyons, a high school student who kind of sums up my understanding of it.


    The Founding Fathers’ Intent and the Formation of the Constitution

    By Joey Lyons, VI Form

    Throughout the country’s history, Americans have romanticized the nation-building work of the Founding Fathers. Since egalitarianism, liberty and democracy are central to the American mythos, Americans have often associated those ideals with the country’s founders. In making this association, Americans neglect the private interactions between the founders and, instead, focus on their public rhetoric. In public documents, most of the Founding Fathers expressed a desire to establish an inclusive democracy with majority rule. However, the founders, all of whom were in the economic elite, communicated different beliefs amongst themselves. Privately, the Founding Fathers wrote about their concerns over the possibility of oppressive majority rule by common people. As wealthy landowners, events, like the Rhode Island Currency Crisis and Shay’s Rebellion (both in 1786), convinced them that a new constitution had to replace the Articles of Confederation. This Constitution would protect the right to property and, as Benjamin Franklin put it, prevent the “rabble” from assuming control over the government (1). While the Founding Fathers publicly expressed a desire to expand democracy, in their private interactions, the founders revealed their intent to construct a government that restricted the power of majorities and, thus, limited democracy.

    Before drafting the Constitution, the Founding Fathers publicly advocated for a democratic system of government based on the principles of equality and majority rule. In American democracy, as George Mason described in his Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776, all power would be “derived from, the People” (2). Thomas Jefferson echoed this ideal in the Declaration of Independence, when he wrote that American government would derive its “powers from the consent of the governed” (3). Jefferson and Mason wrote these documents in 1776, when tensions between America and Britain were the highest. They wrote not only to express their grievances against oppressive British rule, but also to unify Americans behind a common struggle for freedom and political representation. In the buildup to and during the American Revolution, many of the Founding Fathers used rhetoric, including cries for democracy and majority rule, to garner public support for the war. However, as their private discussions during the formation of the Constitution revealed, the founders did not entrust the uneducated majority with the future of the nation and, thus, when they drafted the Constitution, aimed to limit the political power of the masses.

    When the Founding Fathers met at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, they discussed the federal government’s inability, under the Articles of Confederation, “to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority” (4). When the American government operated under the Articles of Confederation, the Founding Fathers witnessed potential dangers popular democracy posed not only to the stability of the nation, but also to their wealth and property. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, John Jay referenced Shay’s Rebellion, a popular uprising in Massachusetts that began in retaliation to the foreclosures of farms. He wrote “A spirit of Licentiousness has infected Massachusetts…” (5). The inability of a weak, federal government to respond to class conflicts worried Jay, who, as a member of the minority elite, was vulnerable to the commoner majority. In a letter to John Jay, George Washington wrote that preventing a majority from infringing on basic rights, such as the right to own property, required “the intervention of a coercive power” that could “pervade the whole union” (6). To provide this protective body, the Founding Fathers empowered the federal government with the ability to efficiently respond to middle-class majority transgressions. The founders also constructed the federal government in a way that afforded significant power to representatives and limited the power of the vote. In this way, the founders allocated a disproportionate amount of political power to educated, wealthy people and undermined the power of the middle-class majority.

    At the Constitutional Convention, the Founding Fathers outlined a political system that limited majority influence in politics. This system restricted direct, political participation and placed boundaries on democracy. As members of the elite, the Founding Fathers did not want the uneducated majority to control government. As Thomas Jefferson described in a letter to Edmund Pendleton, “a choice by the people themselves is not generally distinguished for its wisdom” (7). In order to undermine the political influence of majorities, the founders built a complex government with three branches that checked and balanced one another. This distribution of power reduced the possibility that a single faction, even a majority, might dominate all facets of government. With the Constitution, the founders also limited the number of direct elections. The people could only vote for members of the House of Representatives every second year (8). Until the states ratified the Seventeenth Amendment 1913, residents of a state could not even vote for their Senators. Instead, state legislatures voted on their Senate representative: a process Mercy Otis Warren ridiculed as “the exclusion of the voice of the people in the choice of their first magistrate” (9). The Constitution also excluded the people from the election of judges. According to the Federalist Number 78, this exclusion needed to exist in order to prevent “oppressions of the minor party” (10). With the Constitution, the Founding Fathers bounded the political influence of common people, crippled the power of majorities in dictating government action, and concentrated power in the hands of representatives.

    While the Founding Fathers publicly advocated for a government built on the principles of equality and majority rule, they drafted the Constitution in order to construct a representative democracy that granted an uneven amount of political power to the aristocratic elite. The founders believed that American government should entrust wealthy, educated people with political decisions. After witnessing political and social tumult in the years following the American Revolution, many of the Founding Fathers felt that a new Constitution needed to restrict the political influence of the uneducated masses in order to preserve the nation’s stability. While the Founding Fathers retreated from their public promises to extend American democracy, their Constitution outlined a far more stable and efficient form of government than that that had existed under the Articles of Confederation.

    Bibliography:
    1. Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin : an American life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. Print.
    2. Virginia Declaration of Rights, June 12, 1776
    3. Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
    4. James Madison, quoted in Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787 by Robert Yates
    5. John Jay, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 27, 1786
    6. George Washington, letter to John Jay, August 1, 1786
    7. Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edmund Pendleton, August 26, 1776
    8. United States Constitution, 1787
    9. Mercy Otis Warren, Observations on the New Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions by a Columbian Patriot, 1788
    10. Federalist Number 78, May 28, 1788
    https://smleo.com/2015/10/27/the-founding-fathers-intent-and-the-formation-of-the-constitution/


    I would not have thought that my understanding of the matter was controversial.To whit:-

    How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few his precepts!
    O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.

    Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1757

    Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.
    Benjamin Franklin

    Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants.
    Benjamin Franklin

    It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.
    Patrick Henry

    Bad men cannot make good citizens. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience are incompatible with freedom.
    Patrick Henry


    The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Where, some say, is the king of America? I’ll tell you, friend, He reigns above.
    Thomas Paine

    If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
    Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816

    If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instruction and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.
    Daniel Webster

    I know Webster was not a founding father, but he's words are echoes of their understanding.
  10. SubscriberWajoma
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    05 Jul '16 10:39
    What is too much democracy?

    When you're a minority.
  11. Subscriberno1marauder
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    05 Jul '16 12:11
    Originally posted by kmax87
    Education requirements were a red herring, but you could say were implied by the property requirements laid down by the framers. And not just any education. An education in Christian virtue!

    I found an essay by this guy, Joey Lyons, a high school student who kind of sums up my understanding of it.
    [quote]

    [b]The Founding Fathers’ Intent and the Formati ...[text shortened]... ]

    I know Webster was not a founding father, but he's words are echoes of their understanding.
    Your HS student might want to explain why the Framers put forward a popularly elected House of Representatives when the Articles of Confederation had no democratically elected Federal officials. Indeed the Convention almost split on the issue of whether there should be a second House in Congress at all; the original Virginia Plan called for a unicameral legislature elected by the People and based solely on population. Because some of the small States vehemently objected to losing the equal representation they had in the Articles, the Great Compromise added the Senate was adopted but it is hard to reconcile the wishes of most of the Framers to have a solely democratically elected Congress with the undemocratic thesis advanced. The Constitution certainly advanced democracy even if it also put checks on it.

    I'm not sure what the quotes are supposed to prove, could you be more specific? Patrick Henry opposed the Constitution (which, BTW, was ratified by popularly elected delegates to State Conventions) and refused to attend the Constitutional Convention. If you think the Constitution was based on some type of "Christian" principles, Jefferson and Paine are rather poor support for such a claim; Jefferson wrote a New Testament deleting all the miracles of Jesus and Paine savaged Christian doctrine in his Age of Reason.
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    05 Jul '16 12:34
    Originally posted by Wajoma
    What is too much democracy?

    When you're a minority.
    But if there were no minority to oppress, then you would not have democracy.

    Don't be a kill joy. 😠
  13. Subscriberkmax87
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    05 Jul '16 13:371 edit
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    Your HS student might want to explain why the Framers put forward a popularly elected House of Representatives when the Articles of Confederation had no democratically elected Federal officials. Indeed the Convention almost split on the issue of whether there should be a second House in Congress at all; the original Virginia Plan called for a unicameral ...[text shortened]... ting all the miracles of Jesus and Paine savaged Christian doctrine in his Age of Reason.
    My understanding of it was that the framers largely abhorred the concept of democracy and often spoke pejoratively about it. Of the four power centres of government only the House was to be directly elected. The framers were by and large an aristocratic bunch and democracy for many meant being ruled by the mob.

    The whole electoral college idea seems a perfect mechanism to limit direct participation by the people in who would be popularly elected. That the system they founded would devolve ultimately into a popularity contest was probably not foreseen, nor their intention. They sought to establish a system where men of virtue could be identified and promoted into office. The default position in operation seems to have been, anyone actively seeking office should be denied.

    As to the quotes, the Jefferson one struck me as most germaine to my argument.

    If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
    Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816

    Here are a few more targeted quotes, that for the very least suggest that education of the masses may have been identified early as being the only insurance policy required to safeguard the system.

    An amendment of our constitution must here come in aid of the public education. The influence over government must be shared among all the people. If every individual which composes their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the government will be safe; because the corrupting the whole mass will exceed any private resources of wealth: and public ones cannot be provided but by levies on the people...
    Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, 1782:


    If a man empties his purse into his head no man can take it from him. An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
    Ben Franklin, as quoted in Exercises in English Grammar (1909) by M. A. Morse

    Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.
    John Adams from his 1776 Papers

    It is an object of vast magnitude that systems of education should be adopted and pursued which may not only diffuse a knowledge of the sciences but may implant in the minds of the American youth the principles of virtue and of liberty and inspire them with just and liberal ideas of government and with an inviolable attachment to their own country.
    Noah Webster in On the Education of Youth in America
  14. Subscriberno1marauder
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    05 Jul '16 14:06
    Originally posted by kmax87
    My understanding of it was that the framers largely abhorred the concept of democracy and often spoke pejoratively about it. Of the four power centres of government only the House was to be directly elected. The framers were by and large an aristocratic bunch and democracy for many meant being ruled by the mob.

    The whole electoral college idea seems a perf ...[text shortened]... ttachment to their own country.[/i]
    [b]Noah Webster in On the Education of Youth in America
    [/b]
    If you have ever read the actual debates at the Constitutional Convention, you'd know that the Electoral College system was created only because the delegates could not agree on any other system. It seems to have been largely assumed that, in most cases, the EC would fail to give any candidate a majority and that the President would wind up being elected by the House:

    The Constitutional Convention of 1787 considered several methods of electing the President, including selection by Congress, by the governors of the states, by the state legislatures, by a special group of Members of Congress chosen by lot, and by direct popular election. Late in the convention, the matter was referred to the Committee of Eleven on Postponed Matters, which devised the electoral college system in its original form.

    http://www.history.com/topics/electoral-college

    In fact, the Electoral College plan was only approved on September 6, 1787 only 11 days before the end of the Convention.

    UMM, yeah they thought that education was a "good" thing. Americans may well have been the most literate people on the planet at the time the Constitution was ratified:

    Historical records are incomplete so the information that has been studied on literacy in our country's past is estimated, but educational historians assert that New England in the late 18th century had the highest literacy rate in the world at the time, nearly 100% in Boston. Literacy was higher in New England and the mid-Atlantic colonies than in the South. Literacy was also higher in cities than in more rural areas. In New England the literacy rate was 60% between 1650-1670, 85% between 1758- 1762, and 90% between 1787 - 1795. In Virginia it was between 54% & 60% in the late 18th century. Literacy in early New York and Pennsylvania was high, owing much to their Dutch and German immigrants. While the average literacy rate was about 70% it was higher than in England, although when taking into account the illiteracy among Indians and African Americans this would place literacy for the total population slightly lower than in England. Immigrants to the American colonies were also more literate than the general population of the countries they left, although Scotland and Wales also had high literacy levels. There were varying levels of literacy among New England women in the eighteenth century - between 45% - 67% during 1731-1800, though some estimates found female literacy to be 90% by the Revolutionary period.

    http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/2011/06/literacy-in-colonial-america.html
  15. Subscriberkmax87
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    05 Jul '16 14:31
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    If you have ever read the actual debates at the Constitutional Convention, you'd know that the Electoral College system was created only because the delegates could not agree on any other system. It seems to have been largely assumed that, in most cases, the EC would fail to give any candidate a majority and that the President would wind up being elected ...[text shortened]... tionary period.

    http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/2011/06/literacy-in-colonial-america.html
    Well then given the extent to which the public education system has floundered due to deliberate defunding and given the extent to which ignorance masquerading as populism holds sway, mesmerizing the citizenry, entrancing them with selfish anti-civilized attitudes, can you still argue that the American system has not outlived its usefullness and that for it to regain its agency it requires a pg1 rewrite?
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