Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Future of American Politics

We all have heard about how the Republicans are so opposed to deficit spending. Where were all the hard-core Republicans in Congress when Bush turned a surplus into a $400 billion deficit?

We all have heard about how Democrats are doves, where were the Democrats when the Iraq War got almost unanimous approval in 2002?

We all like to hope that Democrats will defend our freedom of speech, where were they when the Patriot Act was passed?

We all like to think how the Republicans put the deficit first as our most pressing national priority... but why do they seem to think that cutting only the $414 billion that the Department of Health and Human Services spends on everything except Medicare (which they want to keep) will balance a $900 billion budget?

We all like to think that the Republicans want a small federal government, but why then did almost all of them support the No Child Left Behind Act, bank bailouts, and PATRIOT ACT which expanded the role of the Federal government?

We like to think the Republicans are the party that supports America's future, but why do they keep cutting funds for schools?

We like to think that Democrats are in favor of expanding access to inexpensive high-quality college, but why have there been a total of 0 major college-education bills over the past 4 years providing more assistance been in the spotlight?

We like to think that Democrats are in favor of helping the poor, then why did Clinton pass the reform for TANF with the Republican-led congress which made it mostly a state-run program with 56 bureaucracies instead of 1?

We hope Democrats will stand up for what has to happen, but why did they not go to the Supreme Court when the Republican-led governments of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida gerrymandered their congresssional districts in ways that are very clearly designed to give Republicans an edge in both the maps and the votes?

This is because neither party truly represents America. If the Democrats represented America they would be a very different party. They would be pushing very hard to bring back the Work Progress Administration, and would have started pushing for an increase in the minimum wage a decade ago. The Democrats would have signed the Kyoto Agreement in 2009 when they had a chance. They would push for serious election reform to make it so that every vote counts, and gerrymandering will have almost no power. I am glad Obama is trying to push his party left on voting reform, climate change, and serious economic policy, and I hope he succeeds. I hope he pushes for making the border with Canada easier to cross, not harder. I hope he will seriously balance the budget by taxing capital gains as regular income, because that is all it will take. I hope he roots out waste in every agency, including the Department of Defense, and shortens the deadline for that agency to audit themselves. It shouldn't take years for an audit to be finished.

Why does this happen? Within both parties are large caucuses. We saw the Republican factions very clearly during last year's primary:

  • Santorum with his Christian Democracy platform and soft opposition to the secular state. (I’ll call them Christian Republicans)
  • Ron Paul with his libertarian small government ideology in everything except abortion (Libertarian Republicans)
  • Mitt Romney with his beliefs between the two, believing in more social policy controls yet not to the point of Santorum. (I’ll call him Republican National Convention)

This is a really uneasy alliance between the three wings. I expect it will someday split.

The Democratic Party also has some uneasy disagreements which to those of us who were involved in Occupy are starting to become apparent on the ground. While I am not and do not wish to be a registered Democrat when it comes to my beliefs I fit into one of these camps. I expect we will start to see it during future Presidential election years like we saw it during last year's Republican primaries.
  • Although unorganized, a large number of Democrats fit under the ideology of the Progressive Party (aka Bull Moose) of Theodore Roosevelt. These people are pro-globalization (which alienates them from the Libertarians and Greens), favor nothing less than Universal Health Care (which the Democratic Leadership Council and Libertarian Democrats fail to support and many oppose), and are pro-free trade with nations that have similar economic and political statuses yet oppose free trade for non-business practices (alienating them from everyone else) and are unlikely to support free trade to support American businesses alone, they are also likely to support free travel. They support regulation of the worst aspects of the financial industry. Some will favor a strong military to be used only when necessary. Elizabeth Warren is the epitome of the Progressives.
  • You see the more traditional Democrats who want less government involvement in social lives and more governmental regulation in banking and the stock market along with pro-globalization leanings (Democrat Leadership Council). These people do not favor Universal Health Care but favor more centrist approaches. These people favor compromise to hard policy. Obama is the epitome of this party.
  • You see people more in Ron Paul’s libertarian camp who avoid the current Republican Party like the plague due to their social policies (Libertarian Democrats).
  • You see more isolationist Democrats, the anti-WTO protesters of the 90s who continue to take an anti-military, pro-visa, pro-tariff, and are shifty on immigration in terms of foreign policy along with some more mainstream Democratic policies (Progressive Democrats, merge with Green Party). Whether they will gain seats remains to be seen, but they are a powerful force of solid left wing Democrats and should not be underestimated.
  • Some Democrats will join the left-wingers of the Republican Party (Blue Dogs). These people oppose universal health care and when it comes to free trade do not focus on fair trade as a prerequisite.

It would be quite possible to divide the Democratic party on these five lines. It is becoming a very uneasy alliance when you get into it. With so many different ideologies it makes for politics constrained in political beliefs by regional tendencies giving people in different parts of the country fewer choices once the general election comes because the Democratic candidate will be able to outspend the Greens and Socialist Workers. If the Democratic Party split into 4 or 5 factions than we will see more debate.

The Tea Party will be split between the Libertarians and Christian Republicans.
So, I predict that in the next 30 years we will see a reorganization of the American political spectrum as the parties change and we get a more diverse mix of parties. From left to right on the economic scale.
  1. Progressive Democrats/Greens (PD)
  2. Progressive Party/Bull Mooses (PP)
  3. Democratic Leadership Council (DP)
  4. Republican National Convention (GOP)
  5. Christian Republicans (CR)
  6. Libertarian Democrats/Libertarians (LP)

Here is the list of parties by social scale from smallest to largest involvement in personal affairs:
  1. Progressive Party/Bull Mooses (PP)
  2. Progressive Democrats/Greens (PD)
  3. Democratic Leadership Council (DP)
  4. Libertarian Party (LP)
  5. Republican National Convention (GOP)
  6. Christian Republicans (CR)

Here is a table for comparison. Vertical is economic, horizontal is social. Top-left is left-wing. Small vs. Big is the comparative size of involvement of the government.
Small SocialMedium smallMedium bigBig Social
Small Econ(Anarchy)LP
Medium smallPDDP (status quo)GOP (status quo)CR
Medium bigPP (W. Europe)(NAZI)
Big Econ(Soviet Union)

There is one more dimension that must be accounted for which is foreign policy: Here is a list of parties, isolationist on top, involvement on bottom:
  1. Libertarian Party (LP)
  2. Progressive Democrats/Greens (PD)
  3. Progressive Party/Bull Mooses/Congressional Progressive Caucus (PP)
  4. Democratic Leadership council (DP)
  5. Republican National Convention (GOP)
  6. Christian Republicans (CR)

I am expecting that the modern Bull Mooses will be more inclined to cooperate with other countries as opposed to the interventionism of Theodore Roosevelt which with the modern politics of America would not fit with their other policies. The Christian Republicans’ policy towards the Middle East puts them on the bottom.

This will be a much healthier system for American politics and we will need a new election system, which I have already talked about. Without using ranked voting we will find that there will be major spoilers which as we saw in 2000 dissuade people from breaking party line in the future. Changing will make every vote count and make it possible for strong political minorities to form their own parties. People will be able to vote their conscious and issues that currently get swept under the rug, like drone bombings (which I will hopefully blog about soon) or our relations with Israel, or issues that aren't even brought up, like our Relations with Canada or Progressive Capital Gains that could receive wide support if discussed, which neither party wants to talk about. This will be good for America.

Another thing that we have seen throughout history is that what happens in America doesn't stay in America. The very idea of democracy which developed here is now used in almost every country. By changing our election system it will be front page news around the world which will make countries like Canada and Britain more seriously consider changing their election systems. It will be a great step for mankind across the world.

I know the factions will continue to disagree in the major parties, and I hope that we can adopt an election system soon before people feel the same way we felt about how Ralph Nader spoiled the election and then go back to voting party-line. The differences in the parties are growing and I think we will.

Open The Border

Over the past decade the United States government has been making coming into and out of this country harder. So much harder that I have found coming home from Canada is sometimes harder than leaving America going over to Canada for a weekend. The US-Canadian border is the longest shared border between any two countries in the world. It stretches across oceans (in Alaska, Washington, and Maine), cities divided (in Washington, Michigan, New York, and Vermont), buildings such as the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, making it one of the most unique borders in the world given its history and what lies across it. People's houses can stand in two countries at the same time across this continent. Most of the border is undefended and without fences. In some places there are roads that lie on the border. With this very lax security there are other places, like travelling by ferry or plane between the United States and Canada where travelers need to go through American customs twice when entering. In some places, like St. Regis, Quebec the border is completely open due to an old treaty with the Iroquois nation that allows people to move back and forth freely, and with no customs there is no way to know if the person crossing the border is Iroquois or not, and non-tribal members can and frequently do enter the reservation. Also, to keep the border secure ferry and air passengers go through American customs twice to come back to America. In other words, the border security between the US and Canada is spotty, and doomed to be ineffective.

To think that such a long border could possibly be secured, or even might need to be secured, given the relationship and history between our nations, and the treaty we have signed with the Iroquois to allow them to cross the border freely in their reservation seems ludicrous to me. It seems like a waste of money because no matter how much you spend to defend it there will always be a way around it. Any attempt to block smuggling is futile, because it is so easy to cross the border.

Because of these facts, I propose a different solution, open the border. How far? All the way. Eliminate customs on the American/Canadian border to save some money and increase trade between our two countries. There is no benefit to us by attempting to secure such a border and it is undefended at some points. It doesn't take a lot of research to learn this and despite the attempt to appear secure at places like  the Victoria ferry terminal, it is in fact about as defended against illicit trade as the German/Polish border, the only people who are actually inconvenienced are the honest ones.

We should do this soon. The only major concern I can see is drug policy, but the border customs are not effective for controlling drug control anyways. The best policy for drugs is that if you are caught with an illicit drug in America you will be arrested or fined. With guns the best policy would be that if caught with a handgun or other illicit weapon will be arrested or fined. We should arrange a treaty with Canada that if someone is arrested in either one of our nations we will respect their laws and let them hold the other nation's citizen for the legal amount of time and respect all other fines and punishments for breaking each other's laws.

With tourism into the United States and Canada, we will need to synchronize our policies and set up a commission of the United States Department of State and Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that before any policy is adopted the United States and Canadian governments need to agree. We will need to synchronize the countries that can enter our countries visa-free, and which ones will need a visa-on-arrival. Fortunately, the United States and Canada have extremely similar visa requirements, the only differences are regarding people from the Czech Republic, Papua New Guinea, Croatia, Samoa, Pitcairn Islands, Barbados, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, and Vatican City. I don't see any difficulty in getting over this hurdle, if the American and Canadian governments cooperate. We can then make a process for entering our new union, that can be agreed on by both governments, with the following proposed tenants with my reasons for having them:
  1. A machine readable or biometric passport. This is to make them harder to forge and make a strong electronic record of what passports have entered to prevent forgeries.
  2. A return or onward ticket if entering by air. This is to make it easier so the government will know if you have overstayed your planned time.
  3. Must not have committed a crime that would be considered a felony in the United States or Canada. There will be a way for people to rehabilitate after a certain amount of years for some crimes like drunk driving (a felony in Canada).
Canada and the United States will continue to have full sovereignty, their own currencies, their own governments, and their own traditions. The only thing I think should change is the amount of control on the borders, which is something that can be done.