Democracy

To the Editor:
In a self-professed democracy, it would be presumed that voter suppression is a punishable, criminal act, yet the manipulation of voting rolls, rights, and access has become a vital campaign strategy for the Republican Party.  That it has racist elements is additionally shameful, particularly in light of the contrast of the eight years of dignity, grace, and family values of the Obamas in the White House and the rise of an angry white mob in just two years of Donald Trump’s stewardship there.  Swings in the political spectrum are to be expected but this feels like the pendulum has fallen off its pivot.  What is America’s true vision of itself?

RP

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The Politics of Race

To the Editor:
It is becoming clear that Donald Trump and the Republican Party are continuing to count on the White backlash to the Obama years to ensure their political majority in 2018 and 2020, that and gerrymandering and voter suppression   Mike Pence’s media stunt of abruptly leaving the Indianapolis Colts game could have not been more blatant to that end, and the NFL  seems now so afraid of losing its fan base that it has joined in on the platform.  One has to wonder how Black athletes feel about being thrown under the bus and how might they react.  Steve Bannon may no longer have a position in the White House, but he is still dominating both the political narrative and the Republican agenda.

Robert Porath

The QB Who Kicked the Hornets Nest

To the Editor:

As someone coming of age in the times of the Civil Rights struggle, Viet Nam, Kent State, and the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Robert Kennedy, I have frequently  wondered just what does it mean to be a “loyal American”?  What is it to “respect the Flag”?  What does “patriotism” entail?  In asking and addressing these same questions, Colin Kaepernick has become the Quarterback Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.  Any number of NFL teams could immediately use his skills, but the reason he is not playing is not a football decision.  It is a socio-political-economic decision based on the fear of teams and the league losing fan and advertising support.  Both Kaepernick and the owners have valid concerns, but the overriding question still is what does it mean to be an American? Or, for that matter, what is it to be a valid person in a still racially divided society?  In inserting himself into the fray, Donald Trump is that guy standing in a crowd surrounding what appears to be a fight about to break out who is yelling for the fighting to begin.  This is for his fan base, but it is utterly irresponsible behavior.

Robert Porath

Tierra Nueva

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Tierra Nueva

In this random pick-up-sticks, double helix

Melting pot amalgam and gene pool diaspora

Of multiracial physiognomy, skin color,

And multilingual saga, rhythm, and song

Of European, African, Asian, Semitic,

And Native Peoples world and voice

That is La Tierra Nueva, Las Americas,

What is it, here today, to be a person,

To be, certifiably, a human being,

And can we, that being, intervene

Upon our predisposed tribal fears,

Prejudice, and self judgement of value

And humanity based on heritage,

Wealth, gender, and skin tone?

Can or can’t we?  Are we, the People,

This mixed breed, capable or culpable?

Original Intent

To the Editor:
         Reduced to their basic elements, politics is concerned with the creation and distribution of power within a society, while economics delineates the creation and distribution of its wealth.  Democracy and capitalism are not automatically, or even necessarily, synonymous.  Socialist democracies exist, as do capitalist autocracies.  At the time of the writing of the U.S. Constitution, the idea of a democracy, of a government by the people of a nation rather than by an aristocratic elite, was an untried and unproven proposal.  If there was genius in the creation of this ground-breaking document, it was that, through argument and discussion and compromise, the Founding Fathers came upon an extensive system of checks and balances designed to prevent the abuse of power by any one sector of the many voices that make up the wide spectrum of interests that is “We the People”.  This balancing of powers is crucial to the survival of democracy.  No form of government will always be correct in its actions and America’s democracy is no exception, but it has had the capability and flexibility to correct  its mistakes along the way.
           Of equal importance to the maintenance of a democracy is a balance of wealth. This does not mean an equality of wealth, but rather a balanced distribution.  In human nature there will always be some who pursue wealth relentlessly while others may care little about its accumulation.  However, since the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, wealth has become increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands to the point that today we have 400 billionaires with more wealth than that held by nearly the entire rest of the population.  While some may wish to say this outcome is simply a result of “Social Darwinism”, that this is a natural process in capitalism, it has actually come to fruition through the halls of government, through a legislated tax structure that favors disproportionately the interests of the wealthy over those of the common citizen.  The influence of money in politics acts as both the carrot and the stick in driving the legislative process.
           Further, the five conservative Justices on the Supreme Court have consistently ruled that the interests of corporations supercede those of the individual and, in the Citizens United decision, have legitimatized money as integral to the right of free speech first granted in the Magna Carta in 1215.  In today’s world of commercial advertising on radio and television, a world the Founders, even in their wildest dreams, could never have imagined, money in political campaigning has immense power.  In these rulings, five men have radically tipped the scales of government in favor of the influence of wealth in the political system.  In the coming presidential election it is projected that the combined campaigns alone may spend nearly a billion dollars and unprecedented amounts are pouring into Congressional races as well.  To what end are the super rich funneling millions into Republican campaigns if not for the continuation of a favorable tax code and a lasting bias in the Supreme Court.
           How the Conservative Justices find “original intent” in any of this requires a leap of logic that is hard enough to fathom without recalling that this was the same group that decided that an accurate accounting of the votes in Florida was inconvenient and unnecessary and installed George Bush as President over Al Gore in 2000 and realizing just how much power the Court  has assumed for itself over the years.  It is impossible to imagine the writers of the Constitution not being shocked at the shambles their checks and balances are in today and that their dream of democracy is being supplanted by a wealthy ruling class.
RP