Ending the Tyrannical Minority


America has always lived with a minority, although we haven’t always been at its whim. The bad news is that it has taken great acts of hypocrisy, reality denial and blatant power grabs to bring us to where we are now, at the whim of a tyrannical minority. The good news is that we can do something to make this a democracy, as in: self-governing majority rule. To make that happen, we’ll have to do something different, because if we don’t, we’ll just get more of the same. Here’s a plan.

Insanity in the Senate
1. Reform the Filibuster

The Founders envisioned the Senate as a “great deliberative body,” which, I suppose, it has been for short periods and from time to time. However, that entire concept became impossible when the filibuster became a phone-in exercise. The Senate immediately became brain dead because majority rule was exterminated. Nothing controversial can get done because the filibuster makes it necessary to have a super-majority (60 votes) to break a filibuster and then to at last vote on something – anything.

The result of that is that the majority of Americans most commonly do not get what we want.

Example: 90% of Americans want universal background checks prior to the sale or transfer of any firearm, as well as a ban on the sale and the ownership of military style assault rifles.

Example: The majority of us favor pro-choice, universal healthcare and no corporate money in our politics.

All of that and far more are things We The People want, but which we don’t get because of an intransigent minority in the Senate with its finger always on the filibuster trigger.

I don’t think we should eliminate the filibuster, because that would inevitably accomplish nothing more than switching from minority tyranny to majority tyranny. Plus, it would enable extremists to cram through Constitution crushing legislation. All we have to do is to make the filibuster more difficult to initiate and more painful to sustain.

2. Make the Senate Proportional to Our Population.

It makes next to no sense for Rhode Island to have the same representation and power in the Senate as does California. The way it is now gives Rhode Islanders about 36 times more power than Californians. If you can find fairness or even a smidgen of sense in that, be sure to spell it out in the Comments section below and teach something to the rest of us.

Otherwise, it’s time to balance senatorial power. Here’s how.

There are roughly 331 million of us and 100 Senate seats. Do the math: we establish the rule of one senator per 3.3 million Americans. In this plan the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming together will have 1 senator; California will have 13; Florida will have 9; Utah will have 1; Illinois will have 4; Kansas will have 1; Nebraska and Iowa together will have 2; Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont together will have 2. You get the picture.

You’ve seen the electoral map showing that the vast, non-coastal parts of this country are red. Those areas have far more head of livestock than people and entire counties that are home to just a few dozen citizens. The practical effect of that is that they punch way above their weight class in the Senate. Good for them. Not so good for high population states or our country as a whole. Change that to make representation fair to everyone by making Senate representation proportional.

Insanity in the House
1. End Gerrymandering

It’s just a legalized form of cheating. It’s power grabbing that is funded by disenfranchising citizens. It is a way to undermine the Constitution. It is a sleight of hand that permanently impoverishes millions. It is a slimy way to make sure that lots of us aren’t represented in Congress at all.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder has done some remarkable work on this as Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. He and the committee have clear, actionable plans to end this monstrously inequitable practice that empowers clever bad guys (the minority) and dis-empowers millions of us (the majority).

2. End Obstructions to Voting.

Yes, I’m talking about the practice of removing citizens from voting roles for idiotic reasons, like because they didn’t vote in the last two elections (Ohio and elsewhere) or because they’re Black and poor (North Carolina, Georgia and Florida) and more. The Constitution doesn’t say a thing about restricting such people from voting. In fact, it doesn’t suggest disenfranchising former felons, either. I’m looking at you, Florida Governor DeSantis.

Insanity in Campaigns and the Supreme Court
1. Reverse the 2010 Citizens United Decision

In an colossal act of larceny, the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case in 2010 by deciding that inanimate, non-sensate corporations have all the same rights that you have. All of them. It’s larceny because that decision gave corporations and big money individuals way more impact on our elections than you have. That decision effectively stole elective power from you and gave it to big money interests to elect members of Congress who would do their bidding.

And that’s what Congress does. Blame Chief Justice John Roberts for that.

Want to fix that and restore the system intended by the Founders?

  1. Write a law that allows money and money equivalents to be donated to any candidate or political party only by flesh-and-blood, actual human persons. To accomplish that,
  2. Establish by law that money is property, not speech.
  3. Establish by law that inanimate objects like corporations do not have all the same rights as human beings. Corporations are not people, Mitt Romney.
  4. Establish by law that corporations cannot do back door political influencing by means of Super PACs and the like.

This will be tricky and the process will be fraught with comically feigned and eagerly performed indignation and impassioned idiocy. Keep in mind, though, that our current system is a perfect machine to ensure sub-optimal results for We The People. It discourages good people from running for office. It ensures the continuing enrichment of already fabulously wealthy people and corporations and the impoverishing of everyone else. It underlines in blazing colors that we don’t care about the intent of the Founders or anything else other than power grabbing.

But we don’t have to be like that.

Clearly, if we want something better, we’ll have to do something better, like,

2. Reverse the 2012 McCutcheon v. FEC Decision

Prior to this case the McCain-Feingold bill limited the amount any individual could contribute to any candidate to $2,600 per-candidate, per-election, or $5,200 for a primary and general election. It also limited the aggregate any individual could contribute to all candidates in any one election to $123,200. Shaun McCutcheon sued to have those limits abolished.

The Supreme Court shot down his hope of eliminating the per-candidate limit, claiming that allowing more financial leverage would be seen as, or effectively would be legalized (gasp!) bribery.

But in a truly contorted and galactically illogical opinion the Court decided that eliminating the aggregate limit somehow didn’t amount to authorizing legalized bribery. The 5-4 “We don’ need no stinking stare decisis” conservatives struck it down, popping the top off the bribery equivalent.

Just image if Mr. McCutcheon were to give $5,200 to every Republican candidate in any one election cycle. Do you suppose that might give him oversized influence in our politics and amount to legalized (gasp!) bribery?

If we are to be a representative democracy, this decision has to be reversed by Congress.

The Point

The playing field must be level if We The People are to be in charge (as in: self-government majority rule). For that to happen we have to remove the unfair, inequitable influences on our politics. What’s above isn’t the complete medicine for what ails us, but it’s a start.

Are you feeling a glow of gratitude, what with Thanksgiving right over the horizon? That’s fine and that’s good, because in this country we still can do something to move us toward a more just nation, that more perfect union.

Wishing you a heartfelt Thanksgiving.

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Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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Thanks!

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JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
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2 Responses to Ending the Tyrannical Minority
  1. Bob Sharfman Reply

    Great ideas!! Now all we have to do is amend the constitution (and have Wyo, Mont, ND and SD vote to become a part of Minnesota and lose 8 senators.and seriously change human nature so people will think of others before themselves
    Maybe YOUR drug dealer has those drugs but mine never heard of them..

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      You’re right, of course, but the imperative is to move in that direction.

      This imperfect union is something of a farce of what it was intended to be and nobody with power ever willingly releases it, so the challenge is enormous. Yet continuing in hopelessness will yield yet more dysfunction and hopelessness.

      So, “Brick by brick, my fellow citizens, brick by brick.”
      – Emperor Hadrian

      I’ll stick with my drug of choice: hope.