The Libertarian Party has never really achieved legislative force in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of adherents in the country to the principles of self determination and reduced governmental oversight. The intensity of expression of libertarian anger in the form of tea party advocacy in the recent election is expressed well in a self described rant from a friend of mine from Arizona and the comprehensive manifesto I decided deserves a viewing on the Ramparts. It is an important consideration of our recently elected government that they realize the presence of so many highly educated people and intellectually based arguments in the depth of the tea party movement. A Defender of the Ramparts passionately expressed by my fellow blogodier j. benjamin:
To say that most people are fed up with politics / campaigning right now would be a gross understatement. Most people wonder if our political process and politicians can behave any worse. It is difficult to believe anything they say about themselves or their opponents and it seems like they will say anything. The carefully edited sound bites of themselves and the competing candidates are good at depicting whatever point of view best suits the needs of the party with the biggest campaign budget. This translates to incumbent since they have had the opportunity to work at collecting as much money as possible from special interest groups and lobbyists during their tenure. Indeed the re-election rate for congressmen / women in this country is greater than 90%. This year our congress is scheduled to work 137 days, which translates into 45 3-day workweeks. On Mondays and Fridays we pay to fly them to and from Washington so they can spend weekends working hard for us in their home states. Or maybe lobbyists fly them places on “fact finding” trips.
In the 19th century essentially all government jobs were distributed to the winning political party workers. The best way to guarantee a well paying government job was to work in an election for the winning party and this ensured that there was no shortage of campaign workers.
The disgusting behavior of politicians is hardly a new development. In the presidential election of 1828 the behavior of the candidates (Andrew Jackson and john Quincy Adams) reach what many felt at the time a new low. Jackson was accused of adultery, murder, treason, drunkenness, theft and cockfighting and declared unfit for the presidency. Jackson’s campaign charged Adams with serving as a minister to Russia – supplying young women to a lust-crazed Czar. Adams was also portrayed as aristocrat who squandered taxpayer money to furnish his home.
So not much has changed with politics or politicians in the last 200 years. They will still say anything to get elected and the wheels of government are still greased by favors bestowed by the victorious to their loyal supporters. Luckily for politicians, the public has a very limited attention span and in a four-year election cycle can forget almost any transgression by their elected officials. The only apparent way a congressman can screw the pooch is by a particularly heinous transgression that lands them in jail. But if the mayor of DC (Marion Barry – Also convicted of tax evasion) can get re-elected after being videotaped buying and smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room, then maybe there is nothing politicians can do that wont be forgotten or forgiven.
Does this reflect on the quality of individual that enters the political arena? Surely there are some who pursue a career in politics that, at least initially, have altruistic intentions of service to their community / country. It would appear that whatever their initial intentions are, they quickly learn that the people who voted them into office are not what is important if they want to stay there.
Because I vote I am registered in a political party. We essentially have three choices in this country – Republican, Democrat and Independent. It is not that I have any allegiance to a particular party or its politics, in fact I could care less. My political motivation seems at times to be driven more by being peeved at one elected official or ruling party at a time. I think in reality I am a Libertarian. I believe that government should stay out of my private life as long as I am not hurting anyone – and “hurting” can be used in the broadest sense of interpretation. Government’s role should be to only help individuals defend themselves from force and fraud. I don’t feel this promotes a lawless society but should foster one that encourages people to respect others rights without shoving their own down someone’s throat.
I think anyone elected to a political office should be limited to a single term – maybe two at most. If they knew they couldn’t be re-elected then they may be less interested in taking money from special interest groups that ostensibly can only be used for their re-election. If they truly want to serve their constituents then they can run again after being out of office for a term.
The centralization of government power in the United States probably began in the early 19 century under the direction of Chief Justice John Marshall who was involved in numerous decisions that expanded the authority of the Supreme Court and congress while weakening the administrative power of individual states. This process has continued to the point that we now have an “elected” ruling class that is above the laws they pass and administrate. What happened to by the people and for the people?
Elected federal officials should be subject to the same laws as they people that they are imposed on. Currently a single term in congress gets you discounted health care for you and your family (not that crappy Medicare either). In 2009 taxpayers spent approx $15 billion to provide health care for 8.5 million federal workers and their dependents. And an annual retirement pension that averages $45K (Even the ones with lucrative jobs provided to them by the lobbyists they befriended while in office). Currently the retirement package for the 400 “retired” congressmen costs the US public about $20 million a year.
Why isn’t English our national language? When immigrants first came to this country they learned to speak English to function in public and in the workplace. At home they spoke whatever their “native” language was and the preservation of their cultural practices at home and in ethnic neighborhoods was gradually assimilated into the melting pot of our culture. ( I think preservation of one’s cultural heritage is important and a valuable thing and I am not suggesting that anyone has to embrace another’s cultural habits just to fit in) Why do we need to pay to provide public services in every language? If you are going to receive a free education, health care, social services in this country, is it too much to ask that you can at least learn to speak English? When I travel to another country I am always impressed that people are fluent in a language other than their own and I appreciate how it makes my life easier but I certainly wouldn’t expect their government to provide translators for my convenience.
The American constitution is a wonderful document that has been used to guide our country for almost 250 years (originally adopted in 1787). Our constitution has been amended twenty-seven times and the first ten amendments were the bill of rights. Amending the constitution at the present day is a daunting proposition requiring 3/4 of the states support. At the time the bill of rights was adapted there were 13 states all of which had ocean front property on the Atlantic Ocean. There were 12 amendments ratified in the 20th century the last being passed in 1992 that limits congressional pay raises. (Not sure how that ever came up or got passed). At the time the constitution and bill or rights was adapted I doubt our country’s leaders anticipated the citizenship and welfare issues that our country is struggling with at the present time and the financial burden that the rights of US citizenship imposes on its society. We have also blurred the line between civil rights and human rights in this country to the point that the laws that determine citizenship still constitute being born in this country – even under illegal circumstances. It is doubtful that we will be able to address this issue within the law until our society collapses under the strain of the many being supported by the few.
It seems that too many people feel they are entitled to the rights of a US citizen without the responsibilities of a US citizen
Constitutional devotion, term limits, equality in the rights and burdens of citizenship, immigration reform, American exceptionalism, self determination – hmmmm…sounds like a tea party leader has been discovered in the Copper State.