Tales From The Drop Box Episode 122 is a legitimate exercise of free expression and protected by a Constitution. That Constitution was revealed this past week to be merely a piece of paper and not the touchstone of a democratic society. One observation that is obvious from the events surrounding the Kavanaugh appointment to the supreme court: our government is in free fall.
NB: This would be a good time to just skip to the bottom if you do not share the same political views as me or are just burnt out of a tumultuous political news environment …. Be assured that the podcast entitled Tales From The Drop Box is only about the music! We can respectfully disagree with one another as to how our government should operate but I think we can all agree that music should always matter!
Now for those of you who have not heeded the warning above and are still somewhat interested or perhaps curious in my humble opinion…
Our nation will survive this latest fall – a fall that began with the election of Trump – a vile creature that is pathological in his avoidance of the truth. I can also reassure you that at some point in the future the chaos will subside and order will be restored. However, as things stand right now, I think that we are in store for more difficult times ahead for our republican form of government.
Where does the blame lie? I think it squarely lies with us – you and me – and our inability to elect representatives “of and for” the people. This undemocratic situation would likely be easier medicine to swallow if it was the intent of the framers was to give control of the government to the citizens of the United States but, as we should all realize, the framers did not intend for the citizens to control the happenings in Washington. The framers of the Constitution envisioned a system of representative government that was, by design, created to prevent the voice of a large number of the people who elect those representatives from being heard. We are now free falling as a society because “we the people” have chosen, for more than 200 years, to ignore the obvious flaws in our system and fix the damned thing. Trump and Kavanaugh are the consequences of our collective failure.
The problem with our government is not the political party system. Although, after the sham Kavanaugh investigation controlled by the Republican party, you would tend to think that those morally bankrupt sycophants of Trump aka the Trump Party, are to blame for the state of the disunion – but they are not. The Republican party operates as the framers originally intended – to divest authority of government from the people and keep the wisdom in the hands of the “elite” few. Instead of draining the swamp, the swamp is thriving under Trump. I should probably note for you that I am not alone in this thinking. Someone actually took the time to gather empirical date to study the influence of the people on our elected representatives. Their conclusion confirms what we already know from observation that: “when the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” The authors then conclude that their findings  about democracy in America …
constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it. (See Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.)
The inescapable conclusion is that the fault with our present system of government lies with us and that the issues we are currently experiencing are not only systemic but also inherent in our form of government. If it is possible to somehow assign blame for the Kavanaugh debacle, then any aspersions for the result (i.e. the confirmation of a person so politically partisan that he delegitimizes the court as a check on the power of the other branches of government), should be cast upon an electoral system that is fundamentally flawed. I have pointed out some of those flaws in the past, but here is a brief list of the big ones that would suggest that our democratic republic is a sham (again, for the record, the U.S. is not a democracy):
- The person who receives the most votes from the people does not win the election for President (i.e. one person, one vote).
- The electoral college. Why the fuck would we vote for electors at this point in our history? 538 people vote for president – you do not. In 21 states, no matter who you voted for president, your elector can choose whomever they want to be president.
- A president who lost the popular vote by 2,864,974 nominated Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to serve lifetime appointments on the nation’s highest Court;
- The Senate treats residents of small states as more worthy of representation than residents of larger states i.e. it treats a person from California as 1/67th of a person from Wyoming.
None of the above makes sense to anyone who can think rationally. I know, you are going to double check me, but even a Canadian immigrant can figure out that there is something truly fucked up with a system where the people “vote” for a President and that vote is merely illusion. Why are we still doing this?
As Alexander Hamilton and James Madison made clear in the Federalist Papers, the essence of our republic would consist “IN THE TOTAL EXCLUSION OF THE PEOPLE, IN THEIR COLLECTIVE CAPACITY, from any share” in the government. Instead, popular views would be translated into public policy through the election of representatives “whose wisdom may,” in Madison’s words, “best discern the true interest of their country.” Over the years, the spin we are taught in our classrooms is that the “people” can influence the outcome of elections. However, as noted in prior rants from my window to the world, not everyone votes, not every citizen can vote, and given the gerrymandering, electoral college, and gerrymandering (again), the odds are slim that the intent of Hamilton and Madison is going to change. A good place to start the process of change would be with the way we appoint supreme court justices. Baby steps…
I started off today thinking I was going to write something about the Supreme Court and how the confirmation of Kavanaugh confirms the illegitimacy of the Court. I am still angry at the subterfuge of the Republican Party in orchestrating the clown show that took place. What is more troublesome is that the blame lies on both sides of the aisle. I am no longer confident that the U.S. Supreme Court is worthy of the respect of its citizens and that is deeply troubling. So, rather than write about the “confirmation” of the supreme court’s illegitimacy (note: capital letters are reserved for a legitimate body), what follows below is the source of that illegitimacy for you to consider as you ponder the outcome of the failed process from last week.
I am not the first one to note that the Supreme Court has lost the mantle of legitimacy as a check on the other branches of government. For example, see this interesting law review article from 2013: The Supreme Court’s New Source of Legitimacy which argues that legitimacy derives from either expertise or popularity and in the introduction makes this observation: “the idea that judges decide salient cases based on their political preferences has become part of the common perception and has eroded the Court’s image as an expert in the public mind.” Well, if the other source of legitimacy, as the author suggests, is popularity, I venture to say that the confirmation of Kavanaugh has sealed the court’s fate – doomed to be viewed by the public as an illegitimate body. This is troubling on many levels. Without a legitimate high court i.e. a body that is non-partisan, conscious of bias, and acting as a legitimate check on the power of the President, the U.S. Constitution is rendered meaningless as a corrupt court twists the constitution into what it desires for the master it serves and as a consequence the rule of law is no longer the dominant driver of our society. A country without respect for the rule of law is no longer a country. It is tyranny. The preamble to the Constitution recites the rationale for the form of government proposed by the framers of the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice . . .”
Establishing justice i.e. the rule of law, is a first principle established by the founders in order to form that more perfect union. It took the Supreme Court more than 25 years to find its place as the check on the power of the other branches of government i.e. as something more than a lackey to the President. As almost every high school student should know, this role of the Supreme Court was first established in Marbury v. Madison 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). Kavanaugh’s confirmation – an intemperate partisan – who is, as alleged by his own Yale classmates, also a liar, is the consequence of that flawed electoral system. That flawed system has also created our immediate situation – a situation where a single appointment to the supreme court effectively and perhaps permanently eviscerates the power of the court to prevent the tyranny of the presidency. The supreme court was the last remaining restraint on presidential power because the Senate no longer functions as a co-equal and Congress is irrelevant. No matter what kind of justice Kavanaugh ends up being while on the bench, it is simply not possible to turn lead into gold. Oops, that may be possible. Perhaps shit into shinola.
The Supreme Court should not be partisan. Tales from the Drop Box is partisan. . . . and will always be partisan in favor of free will, the rule of law, individual freedoms and diversity. Know the difference. Believe.
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #122:
- Gouge Away – “Hey Mercy” (Burnt Sugar)
- Bad Sounds – “Avalanche” (Get Better)
- Northern Faces – “Firecracker” (Fingers Crossed)
- Death Valley Girls – “Wear Black” (Darkness Rains)
- Palaye Royale – “Death Dance” (Boom Boom Room (Plan B))
- Tommy and the Commies – “Straight Jacket” (Here Come ….)
- Viagra Boys – “Slow Learner” (Street Worms)
- Save Face – “Plans” (Merci)
- She Drew The Gun – “Something For The Pain” (Revolution Of Mind)
- Engine Summer – “Basement” (Trophy Kids)
- Gen Pop – “It’s A Trap” (Start Again)
- The Goon Sax – “Love Lost” (We’re Not Talking)
- Night Birds – “My Dad Is The BTK” (Roll Credits)
- Buzzcocks – “Love Is Lies” (Love Bites)
- The Beths – “You Wouldn’t Like Me” (Future Me Hates Me)
Love is lies, love is eyes love is everything that’s nice love is not as cold as ice but that’s what that means to me . . . you were making plans, I was sleeping in. Bet you didn’t think I’d notice the bruises on your skin. Yeah, you were making plans. You were making plans, you were sleeping out.