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Problems With Our Representative Republic

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posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 09:33 AM
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Contrary to popular belief, the United States of America is not a democracy. It is a representative republic. In a Democracy, majority or mob rule prevails. A Representative Republic protects the rights of all citizens, not just the majority, and is founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people.

The authors of the federalist papers stated:


It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.


I believe the Founding Fathers were brilliant, setting up a Government with protections and restraints, foreseeing many of the issues we would run into in the future. The Bill of Rights almost didn't make it into the constitution and not because they did not believe in the rights:


The defenders of the Constitution argued that a bill of rights would undermine the idea of a government with limited powers. A bill of rights might betray the central principle of a written constitution as the product of a social compact, which affirms that all authority originally resides in the people and that the people create a government of limited and enumerated powers in a written constitution

To suggest, for example, that the liberty of the press is not to be infringed upon might imply that, without such a provision, the federal government would possess that power. The Founders feared that we might infer that they created a government with unlimited power and that the specific provisions in the Bill of Rights denote particular reservations of power from an otherwise unlimited government.”.


Our right to speak freely is frequently under attack, the right to keep and bear arms is a favorite of the left to attack, our rights to be spared unreasonable searches and seizures and to have a public trial have all been challenged in the past

“I am constrained by a system which our founders put in place,” President Obama once said. THANK YOU FOUNDERS!!!

With all the brilliant foresight the Founders had and the many problems they averted, there are a few problems they did not avert. Like a president being elected over and over again. Franklin D Roosevelt was elected to 4 terms as president (though he died 3 months into his 4th term). 6 years later the twenty second amendment to the constitution was passed limiting presidential terms to 2

One of the biggest problems with our representative republic is that there are no term limits on congress. Congress was never meant to be a career for people. The Founders felt it unnecessary to mandate term limits for congressmen in the Constitution. They fully expected that congressmen would serve only six months, then return home to their professions. They were not meant to live off of what they made. Rather, they were meant to serve out of love for country.

Once people figured out they can vote themselves raises and get more money and influence by holding elected office, that thought went out the window. Screw patriotism and civic duty!

A congressional salary is $174,00 per year
Basic Senators (no leadership position) $174,000
Majority and Minority Leaders $193,400

Some of our representatives go to Washington broke, spend 30+ years there and leave as millionaires. As Congress has voted themselves higher salaries Congressional approval ratings are the lowest in history. Even though Congress has maintained a 90 percent incumbency rate.


For the first time in history, the majority of America's elected officials in Washington, D.C. are millionaires. At the same time, 50 percent of Americans cannot afford to spend $5,000 in an emergency.The median American citizen saw his or her household net worth decrease from 2004 to 2012 by an annual rate of -0.94 percent, while members of Congress experienced a median annual increase of 1.55 percent. Congress saw a total increase of $316.5 million in assets held by all members in the study.
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Now to be fair not ALL of these politicians made their money because of their position. Some were wealthy before they got there, but their position helps them to maintain influence with their money and where other people invest their money

Lets explore one Harry Reid:


Harry Reid grew up in poverty, and only worked two years in the private sector his whole life. He served as NV Lt Governor from 1971-1975, Chairman of NV gaming commission from 1977-1981, member of congress 1983-1987, and Senator 1987 - 2017. His net worth (any / all assets owned minus any debt owed) in 1983 was just under 1 million dollars. Now it is over 10 million dollars.

How did Reid manage to grow his net worth so significantly while raising a large family, on a public official’s salary and incurring the expenses associated with maintaining two residences on opposite sides of the country?


O’Neal’s answers illustrate just how much influence Nevada’s senior senator has among his donors, who are only too happy to invite him to participate in their ventures. For example, in 1998, Reid joined partner Jay Brown in investing $400,000 in some dirt located on the outskirts of Las Vegas. By 2004, the property just happened to be rezoned for a shopping center and Reid cashed in for $1.1 million.

In 2002, Reid put $10,000 into an investment fund of another good friend, Clair Haycock. The fund bought some land in Bullhead City, Arizona, for which, according to the Los Angeles Times, it paid just 10 percent of its estimated value. Reid sponsored an $18-million earmark for a bridge that would — again, conveniently — connect Bullhead City with Laughlin, Nevada, greatly increasing the value of his land. Reid now carries that investment on his financial statement as worth between $250,000 and $500,000.

He’s also used his insider knowledge to great personal benefit. In 2005, he invested between $50,000 and $100,000 in the Dow Jones U.S. Energy Sector Fund, paying $29 a share. Three years later he sold out at $42 a share. Two months later, according to O’Neal, Reid supported legislation that would cost energy companies millions in new taxes and regulatory fees. The fund dropped to half its value, but by then Reid was long gone.

O’Neal’s report is only the latest in a series of juicy exposures of Reid’s corruption. The Los Angeles Times ran a series of articles between 2003 and 2006 outlining in great detail how Reid managed to spread the wealth around among his family and friends. Wrote the Times: So pervasive are the ties that Reid, members of his family [his four sons are attorneys] and Nevada’s leading industries and institutions that it’s difficult to find a significant field in which such a relationship does not exist.

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Judicial Watch has had Reid on its “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” list for years.

This type of corruption isn't exclusive to one side of the aisle. It is one reason many people see republicans and democrats as two sides of the same coin.




posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 09:33 AM
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Visionaries such as George Mason, Thomas Jefferson and Mercy Warren recognized this flaw and predicted its effect.

“Nothing is so essential to the preservation of a Republican government as a periodic rotation,” said Mason when speaking on term limits. Warren elaborated, saying, “there is no provision for a rotation, nor anything to prevent the perpetuity of office in the same hands for life; which by a little well-timed bribery, will probably be done.”

And that is exactly what has happened. I wish they would have put these things into the constitution.

The “people’s branch” has become “a few people’s branch,” wherein the same 90 percent of politicians are continuously elected. The longer running a Congressman’s career, the easier it is for him to skate by to reelection. Not only do these careerists create relationships with lobbyists, allowing them more funds for reelection, but they benefit from name recognition and other valuable perks of office. Link

In order for a more perfect system to work though, Government needs to be better taught in school.


The Nation’s Report Card (NAEP) has consistently revealed that students, K-12, are not proficient in civics and government. As of 2006, only 27% of 12th graders were proficient in civics and government. The statistics for adults doesn't get any better. A study conducted by the American Bar Association (2005) revealed that less than half of American adults could identify the three branches of government and only 57% could identify even one Supreme Court justice even though two-thirds of Americans could name an American Idol judge.
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If the citizens of this country don't even understand how our government works then we are destined to be forever ruled by people who can easily take advantage of such ignorance. In order for something like term limits for congress to work, then the majority of people must be able step in and take a temporary role in Government if needed.

Lobbyist



The average senator has to pull in more than $14,000 dollars every single day, just to stay in office. One of the easiest ways to raise that kind of cash is to turn to lobbyists, who make big donations and organize swanky fundraisers for elected officials in order to buy influence for their clients.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re a big bank. You want to buy influence with a senator on the banking committee so he’ll vote your way on an upcoming bill. The easiest way would be to just give $100,000 directly to the senator’s reelection campaign. But alas, that would be illegal — federal law prohibits companies from making direct donations to candidates. So instead, you hire a lobbying firm.

Here’s where things get corrupt. That lobbying firm can legally organize a swanky fundraiser that brings in $100,000 for the senator’s reelection campaign. At the fundraiser, your lobbyist just happens to have a friendly chat about your feelings on banking policy with the senator’s staff.

At the end of the day, the senator is still up $100,000, he still knows exactly where the money came from, and he knows which way to vote if he wants the money to keep flowing. But this time, nobody’s broken any laws!

This strategy works ridiculously well: one recent study found that a company receives $220 in tax savings for every dollar spent lobbying. That’s a 22,000% return on investment. And it works on both sides of the aisle — top lobbying firms raise big money for Republicans and Democrats at the same time.


“You can’t take a congressman to lunch for $25 and buy him a steak. But you can take him to a fundraising lunch and not only buy him that steak, but give him $25,000 extra and call it a fundraiser.” – Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff


In many cases, lobbyists write our laws — literally. For an example, look at the 2014 omnibus budget deal. Congress used the deal to secretly put taxpayers back on the hook for bank bailouts. That’s right – in 2014, our representatives repealed a law that prevented the American people from bailing out big banks that engage in risky derivatives trading. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

The New York Times reports that 70 of the 85 lines in the language that killed the derivatives bill came from a piece of model legislation drafted by Citigroup lobbyists. Yes, that Citigroup – the bank that played a major role in the 2008 crisis and also received billions of federal stimulus dollars. The same report also revealed that “two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word.”

Lobbyists routinely offer members of Congress and their staffers lucrative jobs at their firms or their clients’ companies. These negotiations often take place while our representatives are still in office and, ostensibly, working for us, the American people. With multi-million-dollar future salaries on the line, most members of Congress are more than willing to protect the best interests of the lobbyists who will one day be their employers.


I would say to the Member, ‘When you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.’ The moment I said that, we owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do.” – Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff


Thanks to loopholes in how federal law defines lobbyists, many elected officials go on to take what are effectively revolving door lobbying jobs without ever having to officially register as lobbyists. These “shadow lobbyists,” like former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA), are lobbyists in everything but name, and they’re certainly paid just as well as the real thing. Researchers estimate that there’s actually twice as much lobbying as what’s publicly disclosed — making the business of influencing politicians a $7 billion industry.
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Now we cant ban lobbying and we shouldn't. Anyone should be able to lobby their representatives. But we should prevent money from being a part of that lobbying.

Here are my suggestions of what could be done:

1. Tie congressional pay to the average US income for the prior year. So instead of $174,00 they would be making $72,824
2. Limit Congressional terms to 4. (keep the current 2 years each)
3. Limit a Senate to 2 terms (reduce the current 6 years to 4 years)
4. Reforms to ban lobbyists from coordinating fundraising,
5. close the revolving door between lobbying firms and congress and end “shadow lobbying”
6. Require Students to be at / above the proficient level in Civics to graduate from High School (currently the average is at the basic level)

Even at the above limits, one would still be able to spend 16 years as a congressman and senator. If that isn't enough for you to get things done then you shouldn't be there in the first place. This also means that there will still be people with "experience". This is by no means an exhaustive list on how to fix these issues but I think it would be a great start. This should be a bipartisan issue, something everyone could get behind. The corruption is not just one party.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 09:36 AM
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a reply to: FauxMulder

Applause. It's sad that our Senate is senescent.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 09:40 AM
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a reply to: FauxMulder

It would be nice if we could keep elections from being a cash cow for the media. Much as I hate infringing the First Amendment, perhaps campaigns could be limited to structured debates, with negative ads specifically banned.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 09:42 AM
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It is also sad that our Senate, which was supposed to be the voice of the individual States, never the people, has become another voice of the people.

The day the 17th Amendment was passed was another nail in the coffin of the Republic.

The people are represented in the House, and these days, we could go back to apportioning the House by number as we used to. It would give some states very large numerical advantages (Cali and New York for example), but then again, we could also have votes via Go to Meeting and those people could stay in their districts meeting with their constituents ... you know, like they should be doing and that might help drain the swamp.

I don't know what we would do with EC because it would have big impacts there too. But that might even make the left happy.

But the Senators are supposed to be chosen by State governments to represent those governments, NOT by direct vote of the people.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 09:59 AM
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a reply to: DJW001

I had an idea that in elections, anyone who wanted to run and was eligible would have to put up $10 thousand of their own money (verified like with a mortgage) and a government fund of $100 thousand each would be given for election purposes. No more money than that could be spent, so there would be no super pacs funding "their choice".

This would offer anyone with the willingness to run, have a voice and it would be equal to all. Then, perhaps we could have a better choice than what we have had in the past several decades.

And lobbyist should be legal to hunt like deer.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:02 AM
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a reply to: ketsuko

So... you place the State before the people? Would you prefer to live in a place where your "representatives" are appointed without your permission?



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:03 AM
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a reply to: network dude

I agree with everything but the blood sports.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:03 AM
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originally posted by: ketsuko
The people are represented in the House, and these days, we could go back to apportioning the House by number as we used to.


What do you mean? The House seats are currently apportioned by state population, same as always.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:05 AM
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originally posted by: ketsuko
It is also sad that our Senate, which was supposed to be the voice of the individual States, never the people, has become another voice of the people.

The day the 17th Amendment was passed was another nail in the coffin of the Republic.


I've often thought that the senate should still be picked by the states. There are many reasons why it was that way. And besides, the people elect the state Governments who then choose the senators.

I just don't think there is enough support in our country to get that one back.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:10 AM
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a reply to: FauxMulder

If the elected state representatives were to vote on the senators that would be fine. On the other hand, having a governor appoint them would be asking for trouble.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:11 AM
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originally posted by: DJW001
a reply to: ketsuko

So... you place the State before the people? Would you prefer to live in a place where your "representatives" are appointed without your permission?


The peoples representatives are in the house and the house holds a lot of power in our government. The senate was meant for the state governments to have representatives at the federal level.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:12 AM
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originally posted by: DJW001
a reply to: FauxMulder

If the elected state representatives were to vote on the senators that would be fine. On the other hand, having a governor appoint them would be asking for trouble.


Yes that's how it worked, they were chosen by the states legislatures.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:13 AM
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originally posted by: DJW001
a reply to: ketsuko

So... you place the State before the people? Would you prefer to live in a place where your "representatives" are appointed without your permission?


In a truly Federalist system, your state government should be more important to the day-to-day outlook of your life than your Federal government. And then you would have had your say in that process by being involved at the state level. Senate picks to the Fed would be a voting point like SCOTUS justices are to the president now.

The Fed was solely to make sure the states played nice with each other and to stand as an intermediary between the states and the other countries both diplomatically and militarily. Most of the functions our current version of the Fed has grabbed to itself were never the original intent and were instead supposed to be functions of the state governments as the states saw fit or not to run them.

Yeah, that does mean that one state might have a version of socialized care while another state might be very libertarian, but the idea was that people would move to where they wanted to live. And states would look at things that worked in one state and decide if they wanted it and could make those things work in their state.

It was felt that different state government laboratories would come up with better systems than one overarching one and that on the flip side, if one government catastrophically failed, the damage and pain to the people of the nation would be minimized and people could flee to places that were more amenable to a better life.
edit on 15-1-2017 by ketsuko because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:28 AM
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Ted Cruz has proposed legislation for term limits. Per this article, a Democrat has been working this as well since 2013. Maybe now something can be accomplished with someone from both sides working on it. Not sure why nothing has come of the 2013 initiative but hopefully it can be accomplished now.

www.dallasnews.com...



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:29 AM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Very well stated.

The whole argument for a federal government during the federalist papers, was that it would be VERY limited. And it should be. For many reasons. One being that as a citizen of modest means has much more ability to influence and have a say in local politics rather than having to spend $500,000 to eat at a fundraising dinner just to talk to a candidate.

It is much easier for citizens to gather and make meaningful change at a local level rather than a federal level. Also people in different states want different things. The people of Montana want a much different style of government than the people of New York.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:34 AM
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a reply to: TXTriker

I hope so too. The problem is the people that need to approve it are the same people who it would affect.
edit on 15-1-2017 by FauxMulder because: (no reason given)

edit on 15-1-2017 by FauxMulder because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:35 AM
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a reply to: FauxMulder

Yep.

Local politicians are much more accessible to the people they serve.

And the more local the politician is, the harder it is for him or her to become isolated and removed from the population too. So it really is better for that politician to have more power than some person off in a ivory tower in Washington who complains about how the tourists in the elevator smell. If the local Jim Bob does that, he's likely got some re-election trouble on his hands because the local gossip column will take care of that.

Conversely, if Jim Bob is like Boss Hogg and has his little empire of terror going ... well it's only likely about 20 to 40 miles around and the locals have an easier telling him where to stick it as they move out.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 10:38 AM
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originally posted by: FauxMulder
a reply to: TXTriker

I hope so to. The problem is the people that need to approve it are the same people who it would affect.


That's true. But more than ever now they are being watched by the voters and they know it. I think they will be hard pressed to explain why they wouldn't vote for it when the general populace wants it.

Will be interesting to watch and see what affect it will have on the next election.



posted on Jan, 15 2017 @ 01:23 PM
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a reply to: FauxMulder

Great OP. My wife and I were discussing this very topic this AM.

I've read through the comments and yes, term limits need be looked into.

All in all however, I strongly suspect the Republic is doomed to fall to a popular vote Democracy. The result will be that the voters in the largest cities will eventually rule the country. When the Dems take back control, the very first thing they will focus on is eliminating the Electoral College and changing the way Presidents elected. Ultimately, they will prevail because they have far more voters in support of their party and ideas than the Republicans ever will.

Enjoy your Republic while you have it; its short lived. And, I suspect the Founders knew it would not endure.




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