The Framers of the Constitution didn’t solve all our problems(slavery, etc) and they even made several mistakes (election of vice president and the appointment of senators) but they got most of the other big issues right. They quickly realized their mistake in the election of the President/Vice President, and it was correct in 1804. It took another 100 years to correct the way we choose Senators. The Framers compromised on slavery only to set the stage for the Civil War but if they hadn’t compromised, it’s doubtful if America would exist. Please don’t call me racist, I’m black.
Since the 17th Amendment (election of Senators, 1912), seven of the last ten amendments directly effect the election or terms of federal constitutional officers. From allowing women to vote, 18 years old to vote, prohibiting poll taxes, modifying the lane duck period, defining Presidential succession, limiting presidential terms, and providing for Washington D.C. electoral representation, all but presidential terms were enacted to enfranchise more Americans, prevent the disenfranchisement of Americans, or clarify the Framers’ constitutional principles. The 22nd Amendment(limiting presidential terms) was a political reaction to FDR. There was no constitutional justification or problem. Washington politicians didn’t want another President to become as powerful as FDR.
By limiting presidents to two terms, we defined in some regards a successful presidency. Before FDR, there were many one term presidents, several that promised to only run for one term. Now a president is by definition is a failure if he isn’t re-elected. We elect politicians that will do anything, sell-out anyone, and sell their office to anybody. The Framers had it right and there should be any limits to how many terms a president can serve. By limiting presidents to two terms, we have created a base line for determining a successful president that has nothing to do with the best interest of the country. Bill Clinton is considered by some to have been a success. In Clinton’s second term, he had oral sex scandal, lowered capital gains rates, and deregulated Wall Street. Many Conservatives believe GWB was a successful president but to get re-elected, GWB passed a Medicare prescription drug bill that may bankrupt the country. Yet, the Republicans pretend to care about deficits.
In addition to constitutional amendments, Congress has been busy changing the rules for Federal elections. Campaign finance and private political speech have been limited since the 1970′s. The idea is to limited the power of big money in politics. But every time they create a new law, it seems to work until the politicians and rich political donors figure out a work around. I’m starting to think the founders were correct. There shouldn’t be any limits to political speech, and yes, I believe giving money to a politician is speech. Please don’t call me a Republican, it’s worse than being called a racist.
Two years ago, a Right Wing Supreme Court set back 40 years of campaign finance rules. At first I took a purely partisan view of Citizens United, and I agreed with Obama that it was a Right Wing power grab. We may disagree about Citizens United but I doubt anyone disagrees that if the purpose of campaign finance laws were to limit the political power of the rich and powerful, they have failed. In the last 20 years, both Republican and Democrats have sold public policy to the highest bidder. From Clinton’s NAFTA, WTO, Free Trade, Cap Gains tax cuts, carried interest loop hole, and Wall Street deregulation to GWB’s tax cuts, prescription drug plan, military spending to Obama’s capitulations on the public option, individual mandate, HCR prescription drug “compromise”, Wall Street financial reform, and free trade policies, Washington D.C. is for sale. Perhaps the Framers were correct:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The question is did the Supreme Court fundamentally change American politics for the worse? Or did they change American political rules back to the fundamental principles of the Framers and the Constitution?
The GOP Primary battle between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney is starting to changed my opinion of Citizens United. The traditional political donor class chose their champions. I like to call them White and Black Mitt Romney or White and Black Barack Obama. It doesn’t really matter, they sold their political soul to the same people. The 1% who win regardless of who is elected in 2012. If Romney win they (the 1%) win, if Obama wins we (the 99%) lose. They (the 1%) made sure no one seriously challenged Black Romney but their plans were a little tougher in the Republican Party. The little people (99%) actual get to vote. Damn! They (1%) have done everything financially possible to insure White Obama’s nomination. Their (1%) comrades in the corporate media have played their role trying to convince Republican voters that only White Romney could defeat Black Romney.
However, when Gingrich and Romney stood toe to toe in GOP debates, Gingrich clearly and decisively demonstrated greater leadership, passion, believability, and connection with average Republicans( I know, you can’t make this shit up). But Romney has more money and the corporate media. Newt Gingrich was salvaged in the Iowa primary by Romney’s (White Obama) “independent and separate” Super PAC. Then Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino owner and longtime Gingrich friend gave Newt’s “independent and separate” Super PAC $5 million dollars. Without Citizens United, free political speech, Gingrich would have been destroyed. The common wisdom is if Gingrich wins the GOP nomination, then Obama wins re-election. The irony is unimaginable, especially after Obama chastised the Supreme Court for Citizens United.
No one has a crystal ball, and no one can predict the unintended consequences of any law especially campaign finance laws. I’m still unsure how I feel about Citizens United but given recent events, I’ll put my money of the brilliant Framers who lived 200 years ago. If some patriotic billionaire decides to give Rocky Anderson’s “independent and separate” Super PAC (assuming it exist) $5, $10, or $50 million, then I’ll have say Citizens United was absolutely the right decision.