A few days ago, mariner was reading a piece by Clare Malone who writes for fivethirtyeight.com. She was trying to describe the subtleties of this modern era of politics. She cited statistics that suggested US citizens have doubled in number when it comes to those who pay attention to politics on a daily basis; yet the number of citizens that actually participate physically in some manner, even if attending a school board meeting, remained at the same low level (about 12%). Claire also cited statistics that show the citizenry has very low levels of trust toward their government and is unhappy with the whole phenomenon. She alluded to the separation of politics and morality.
Mariner uses an allegory of a beloved automobile that was bought many, many years ago and has performed through wind and rain, hail, children and dogs, long trips, over stuffed during a number of house moves, two accidents, and still plods on. Today it looks rusty here and there; there are scratches and a dent or two; the driver’s window doesn’t open, the gearshift isn’t trustworthy and the steering wheel is way too loose – turns are a gamble. The vehicle still moves and provides transportation but it is clear the automobile is on borrowed time. It is time to restore it.
The government is like this automobile. As a democracy, it has survived civil war, several depressions and recessions, backroom politics and today it suffers mightily from the influence of money in all its forms – from job security for elected officials, to bribery, to pay to play financing, to dollar-controlled campaigning. The dollar has replaced morality not only in government but in business, classism and day-to-day life. In other words, morality has fallen by the wayside and the wellbeing of the state and its citizens is irrelevant. As Cuba Gooding said, “Show me the money!”
Fortunately, the US Constitution has established democracy as the repair garage. In fact, as social issues get tough – slavery, women’s suffrage, international wars and political diseases like Joe McCarthy and Donald Trump – it is the vote of the citizenry that fixes things.
Consider the following repairs:
Term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court
Elimination of the Electoral College
Independent assignment of districts based on the census
Restructure the Senate to represent the population
Federally controlled/funding of US elections including caps and contributions only from related jurisdictions
Use technology to allow voting at convenient places and times
Automatic registration at age 18
Create a national referendum that, among many issues, will let the citizenry decide policy on guns
Is the voter’s mechanic (candidate) willing to fix these parts?
֎ [Science Magazine] The United States is experiencing a public health epidemic of mass shootings and other forms of gun violence. A convenient response seems to be blaming mental illness; after all, “who in their right mind would do this?” This is utterly wrong. Mental illnesses, certainly severe mental illnesses, are not the major cause of mass shootings. It also is dangerously stigmatizing to people who suffer from these devastating disorders and can subject them to inappropriate restrictions.
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, the best estimates are that individuals with mental illnesses are responsible for less than 4% of all violent crimes in the United States, and less than a third of people who commit mass shootings are diagnosably mentally ill. Moreover, a large majority of individuals with mental illnesses are not at high risk for committing violent acts. Continuing to blame mental illness distracts from finding the real causes of mass shootings and addressing them directly.
֎ [Politico] RUSSIA SANCTION VOTE UNDER SCRUTINY — Earlier this year as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell helped kill an effort to keep painful U.S. sanctions on a Russian aluminum giant, a business deal was brewing in his home state that needed those sanctions gone. A key businessman in Kentucky was courting a Russian investor — Rusal, the Russian aluminum producer — at the same time McConnell was blocking a Democratic-led attempt to maintain those sanctions, the Washington Post reports. Three months later, Rusal and the Kentucky company unveiled plans for a major new partnership.
֎ [USA Today] 300 MILES AWAY – Following wildfires there last month, rare lightning has also recently struck the Arctic. Thunderstorms require air that’s, like, warm. Yet multiple lightning strikes were detected “within 300 miles of the North Pole,” according to the National Weather Service. “This is one of the furthest north lightning strikes in Alaska forecaster memory,” the NWS said.