The polity ended because the middle class was economically weakened beyond a key threshold after which it could no longer fulfill its role as moderator of the other classes.
The middle class is smaller; the poor poorer; the rich richer: this overall trend, which is long term and cyclical, threatens to capsize Western civilization and push the world into chaos. The oligarchy lacks the will, but more importantly the power, to stop it.
The Second American Revolution is a renaissance of the polity, but with more power for democracy, less for oligarchy. That renaissance is the only way to stop the impending disaster.
Part 1. The Despotism of An Oligarchy. Alexis deTocqueville observed that the American upper class is found in the judiciary. To depose the oligarchy requires starting at its head -- not Wall Street or Main Street, but the Supreme Court.
In 1803 (Marbury v. Madison) the Court awarded itself the power to determine if laws are constitutional -- a power not granted in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson warned that change would lead to “the despotism of an oligarchy.”
The Second American Revolution establishes a commission to determine constitutionality. The commission consists of members from all three branches, plus perhaps the public.
Part 2. The Remedy. The Second American Revolution amends the Constitution to provide for national referenda. Switzerland, Ecuador and France, among other nations, have them.
Binding referenda are an essential part of the solution Alexis de Tocqueville identified:
“The remedy is above all else, outside constitutions. In order for democracy to govern, there must be citizens, i.e., people who are interested in public affairs, who have the capacity and the desire to participate in them. One must always return to this fundamental point.” [i]
Tocqueville’s remedy is the heart of The Second American Revolution. An increase in the (i) capacity and (ii) desire to participate on the part of the people: may any political candidate, public employee, party, law, government agency or policy be judged accordingly.
National binding referenda in America will have firm but fair requirements and safeguards. They expand the power of the people, but not indefinitely.
Part 3. He Who Has The Money. “To politically weaken the oligarchy = reduce the political impact of money. To reduce the political impact of money = revolutionize political campaign funding.”
The Second American Revolution does not destroy the oligarchy. Successful entrepreneurs are vital to any economy; they are oligarchs. Rather, the objective is to reduce the political impact of money. Not eliminate it (which is impossible) -- reduce it.
The main gateway for money to acquire political influence is campaign financing. Campaign laws are written to be evaded, which is why requiring limits and public reporting will never reduce the political impact of money. The sine quo non of that reduction is to cut campaign expenses.
The core of soaring campaign costs is media advertizing. The Second American Revolution requires the media to broadcast campaign ads at little or no cost as part of their public programming responsibility to acquire and maintain Federal Communications Commission licenses. The time of day candidates’ ads are shown is set by a weekly rotation.
Part 4. The 40% Solution: Naura and Beyond. About 60% of registered voters in America vote in a presidential election. Of course, not all people qualified to vote are registered. End result: Bush and Obama were elected by 30% of the eligible population. Any claim by them -- in fact by any American elected official -- to represent the majority is false.
Democracy is not government by the minority. The Second American Revolution realizes majority rule by making voting mandatory. A validated voting card will be required to obtain government services, e.g., a passport and social security. As with national referenda (see above, Part 2), a variety of nations practice mandatory voting, e.g., Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Singapore, Naura, France, Chile, Fiji, and Liechtenstein,
Part 5. Suicide King. Any system that does not recognize the popular vote as final is not democratic. In the United States, the president is elected by the Electoral College, which on three occasions awarded the presidency to candidates who lost the popular vote.
The Electoral College is a holdover from slavery. In a concession to southern planters, the Constitution framers allowed slaves to be counted as 3/5 human in order to increase the population counts of slave-owning states without giving slaves the right to vote. Those higher counts gave those states more Electoral College votes.
The Second American Revolution abolishes the Electoral College.
Part 6. Good-bye, Tweedle Dum. In order to represent the rich and non-rich, the Founding Fathers created a bicameral legislature. The Fathers believed that because House members represented fewer people and had to run for election more frequently than senators, House members would be closer to the general populace.
Closer, it turned out, is not close, much less close enough. In 2008, the average net worth of a house member was $4,600,000. 240 out of 435 house representatives were millionaires -- 55%. In contrast, only 1% of Americans are millionaires.
The Second American Revolution abolishes the House of Representatives, thereby creating a unicameral legislature. Nebraska, most cities and counties, and approximately half of sovereign nations are unicameral.
Part 7. Reapportionment (1): In Search of The Silver Bullet. The Constitution provides a pillar of democracy: equal protection under the law.
Clearly, equal protection and hence democracy itself are hollow shells unless people’s votes legally have the same weight. In one crucial area, that equality does not exist in America.
Equality of votes is incarnated in the principle “One Person, One Vote.” Equal rights are unconstitutionally impaired when the weight of a vote “is in a substantial fashion diluted when compared with votes of citizens living in other parts of the state.” (Reynolds v. Sims, 1964).
In 1982, the Supreme Court let stand a ruling that ordered New Mexico to reapportion its House of Representatives solely on the basis of population. The legislature subsequently reapportioned, making warm body counts equal across districts. This was One Person, One Person reapportionment.
The results were disastrous. Some districts had more than double the votes of others. Conclusion: the court-ordered reapportionment significantly diluted the weight of votes cast in the higher vote districts. The fatal fallacy of One Person, One Person reapportionment is that it fails to recognize that districts vary widely in their numbers of people ineligible to vote, e.g., transients, prisons.[ii]
One Person, One Vote brings us face to face with a famous conundrum: how to mix apples (people) and oranges (votes).
Part 8. Reapportionment (2): A Formula to Achieve One Person, One Vote solves the conundrum presented in Part 7. Two different things, people and votes, are mixed so that each checks and balances the other.
Population According The Average of The Total
to The Last Census Votes Cast in A Precinct Derived
_________________ X in The Previous Two = Precinct
Congressional General Population
The Average of The Election Years
Total Vote Cast in The
in The Previous Two
General Election Years
Part 9. The Great American Illusion presents Aristotle’s analysis of the политей or polity (see General Summary above), why it is the best government and how it ends in oligarchy.
The American Founding Fathers never declared they were creating a polity. To openly admit that their proposed government had an oligarchic component would have antagonized the general populace; to have directly called it a democracy, on the other hand, would have antagonized the oligarchy. To solve the dilemma, the Fathers forged a double-edged sword: they (i) substituted the word republic for polity, and (ii) inferred that Polity = Democracy. The latter is the unsaid Great American Illusion. In politics it is the greatest ideological maneuver of all times.
The Great American Illusion is unraveling because the polity no longer exists. The consequence is an emerging crisis of legitimacy not only for the American government but also for families, schools, neighborhoods, and places of work.
Part 10. The Ultimate Taboo Question. No large middle class, no polity. No polity, no Second American Revolution.
Official statistics show that in 1992-93, the middle class fell below 50% of the population. It has yet to recover; in fact, it has slipped even farther. What is causing the decline?
Part 10 asks the ultimate taboo question: Is the destruction of the middle class caused by processes intrinsic to capitalism?
Small producers were once the core of the middle class. Their decline over the centuries is well documented. Small producers cannot compete with large ones, which practice economies of scale. The contention that the Internet has reversed the trend does not fit the facts.
The middle class was saved by the explosive growth of the service sector. In 2002, 80% of the American population was employed in services, versus only 60% in 1960.
Is that salvation permanent or merely a pause?
Adam Smith identified a fundamental process of capitalism: the specialization of labor. Complex tasks are simplified and routinized so that eventually machines can perform them. Overall, human work tends toward machine-tending.
Higher levels of education and training necessary to perform complex tasks are the economic foundation of the middle class in the service sector. By simplifying and standardizing those tasks, the division of labor erodes that foundation.
Part 11: The Oligarchy’s Solution: “Happiness House.” Rich richer, poor poor, middle class smaller. Faced with a catastrophe that could engulf the world in a second Dark Ages, the American oligarchy offers three solutions: (1) unleash the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith, i.e., cut taxes for the wealthy and remove all limits on capitalism. (2) The division of labor is a rational process to increase profits. In a rational/profits milieu, incompetence is counterproductive, therefore intolerable. Nevertheless, incompetence is tolerated -- in fact heavily subsidized publically and privately. The same acceptance of the unacceptable characterizes the third remedy offered by the oligarchy to keep the middle class afloat: (3) corruption.
Incompetence and corruption in their manifold manifestations -- bureaupathic behavior, inefficiency, waste, duplication of effort -- have an indisenable place in the Western world. That world talks and acts as if they were not necessary -- but they are. The preservation of the middle class is paramount, the vexations and traumas of individuals involved therein, incidental.
Incompetency and corruption are comingling to become inseparable, indivisible: incomcruption. That compound, together with an oligarchy that is out of control, create the prevailing feeling-tone of America today. Tocqueville predicted it, described it: a state of “permanent infancy” populated by “timid and hard-working animals of which the government is the Sheppard.” [iii]
Such is the rising Happiness House.
Part 12. The Arena of The Heart And Head . The triple edged sword lowering over America creates 5 fates. None excludes the other. (1) The middle class falls; a revolution occurs. (2) Growing absolute scarcities of absolute necessities (see below) create unprecedented world strife. The needs of warfare, both real and potential, require higher levels of education and training, aiding the middle class. (3) Once separate economic sectors and functions -- public versus private sectors, productive versus unproductive labor, and surplus versus non-surplus-financed activities -- are mixed. That confounding and the resulting confusion thwart the revolutionary potential of a middle class fall. (4) Major scientific and technological innovations, e.g., nuclear fusion, create new industries requiring higher levels of education and training; the middle class benefits. (5) Capitalism undergoes important changes, e.g., profit rates are capped except in certain areas such as new industries. In the uncapped sector, higher levels of education and training are required, reinforcing the middle class. In the older sector, the profit cap slows the division of labor, hence the erosion of the middle class.
Fate is what happens. It requires neither awareness nor conscious intervention -- unlike destiny. In addition to the five fates, there are two destinies. (1) There is an important change in the creation, maintenance and/or distribution of economic value. The development of a significant new service/s; of an entirely new economic sector (after extraction of raw materials, production, and services); or of a 4th source of economic wealth (after land, labor and capital): any such development could forestall the decline of the middle class.
None of the above, however, stops the cyclical, long-term disaster. The reason: as long as capitalism is capitalism, any new scientific invention, new economic sector, etc. will eventually undergo the division of labor and hence the decline of the middle class.
The only ultimate solution is (2) the second destiny: a post capitalist economic system.
All economies are founded on values. The world is about to enter a new epoch quite unlike anything before it: absolute scarcities of absolute necessities. Not rational discussions or moralistic entreaties, but new earthly realities will force a change in values. Those new values will allow for the creation of a post capitalist system.[iv] That which is impossible today because of prevailing values, thereby becomes possible tomorrow.
In 1945, when America still had a polity, Keynes predicted that “the economic problem” would soon be forced out of the driver’s seat, and “and the arena of the heart and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real problems…” His prediction remains unfulfilled. Keynes did not foresee the collapse of the polity. He did foresee, however, that no oligarchy will risk its immediate economic interests to solve the economic problem. That solution, therefore, awaits the solution of the political question of oligarchy versus polity.
The Second American Revolution is that solution.
[i] « Le remède est surtout en dehors des constitutions. Pour que la démocratie puisse gouverner il faut des citoyens, des gens qui prennent intérêt à la chose publique, aient la capacité de s’en mêler et le veuillent. Point capital auquel il faut toujours revenir. » Alexis de Tocqueville, Notes et variantes, in Alexis de Tocqueville, Œuvres, Volume II, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Gallimard, Paris, 1992, p. 1,019.
There is nothing idealistic, much less utopian, about Tocqueville’s remedy. In 2005, France had a glimpse of what could be during the months preceding the national referendum on the proposed constitution for the European Community. Several books debating the subject made the best-seller list; almost daily, I witnessed an on-going, exciting dialogue.
Because it does not allow national referenda,, America has never had a comparable experience.
[ii] The other side of the coin, One-Vote, One-Vote reapportionment, would reapportion solely on votes cast and ignore populations. It would even up votes cast, but create gigantic variations in populations across districts. Hence, One-Vote, One-Vote reapportionment would be unacceptable.
“I see an immense crowd of men all alike and equal who turn around themselves ceaselessly, in order to acquire small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill up their souls. Each one, marginalized, is a stranger to the destiny of all the others…, and although he may still have a family, it can be said that he has no country.
Above all of them is an immense, titular power, which designates itself to be the sole provider of their joys and to look over their fate. That power is absolute, detailed, regular, attentive, and soft. It would be like a paternal power if it had as a purpose the preparation of men to be adults; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them irrevocably in infancy. It wants its citizens to be joyful, as long as they dream only of being joyful. It works willingly for their happiness; but it wants to be the only agent and arbitrator of happiness. It provides for its citizens’ security, anticipates and takes care of their needs, facilitates their pleasures, takes in hand their major affairs, directs their industry, regulates their successions, divides their inheritances. Can it not take away entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?
Thus, with each day that passes, the titular power renders less useful and rarer the work of an independent arbitrator;…it does not break people’s wills, but it softens them, bends them, directs them. It rarely compels people to act, but it endlessly opposes their actions. It does not destroy, it stops from being born; it never tyrannizes, but it bothers, it upsets, it snuffs out, it creates problems, and it reduces in the end each nation to being a herd of timid and hardworking animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
I have always believed that sort of servitude, controlled, sweet and peaceful, which I have depicted, could combine itself better than is generally imagined with some of the exterior forms of liberty, and that it would not be impossible for it to establish itself in the very shadow of the sovereignty of the people.”[iii]
[Je veux imaginer sous quels traits nouveaux le despotisme pourrait se produire dans le monde. Je vois une foule innombrable d’hommes semblables et égaux qui tournent sans repos sur eux-mêmes pour se procurer de petits et vulgaires plaisirs, dont ils remplissent leur âme. Chacun d’eux, retiré à l’écart, est comme étranger à la destinée de tous les autres […] et, s’il lui reste encore une famille, on peut dire du moins qu’il n’a plus de patrie.
Au-dessus de [tous] s’élève un pouvoir immense et tutélaire, qui se charge seul d’assurer leur jouissance et de veiller sur leur sort. Il est absolu, détaillé, régulier, prévoyant et doux. Il ressemblerait à la puissance paternelle si, comme elle, il avait pour objet de préparer les hommes à l’âge viril ; mais il ne cherche, au contraire, qu’à les fixer irrévocablement dans l’enfance ; il aime que les citoyens se réjouissent, pourvu qu’ils ne songent qu’à se réjouir. Il travaille volontiers à leur bonheur ; mais il veut en être l’unique agent et le seul arbitre ; il pourvoit à leur sécurité, prévoit et assure leurs besoins, facilite leurs plaisirs, conduit leurs principales affaires, dirige leur industrie, règle leurs successions, divise leurs héritages ; que ne peut-il leur ôter entièrement le trouble de penser et la peine de vivre ?
C’est ainsi qu tous les jours il rend moins utile et plus rare l’emploi du libre arbitre ; […] il ne brise pas les volontés, mais il les amollit, les plie et les dirige ; il force rarement d’agir, mais il s’oppose sans cesse à ce qu’on agisse ; il ne détruit point, il empêche de naître; il ne tyrannise point, il gêne, il comprime, il énerve, il éteint, il hébète, et il réduit enfin chaque nation à n’être plus qu’un troupeau d’animaux timides et industrieux, dont le gouvernement est le berger.
J’ai toujours cru que cette sorte de servitude, réglée, douce et paisible, dont je viens de faire le tableau, pourrait se combiner mieux qu’on ne l’imagine avec quelques-unes des formes extérieures de la liberté, et qu’il ne lui serait pas impossible de s’établir à l’ombre même de la souveraineté du peuple.]
Alexis de Tocqueville, De La Démocratie en Amérique II, in Œuvres, op.cit., pp. 836-8. (IV, VI).
[iv] Allow for, nothing more. Just as the creation of a polity in 1789 was by no means preordained, there is no guarantee that a post capitalist system will be realized.