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bd2999 

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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008


I was hesitant to post this with all of the music threads providing a nice break from what the boards can be but with the upcoming SCOTUS decision (presuming the leaks are correct) and general track record of the court I had been thinking.

Courts within the U.S. have enormous power. When the country was founded it was not really even specified within the Constitution what sort of power they had, as Judicial Review came later. And it has a mixed history at best, like any government institution I guess. Mostly it has reinforced the status quo or helped keep those rich and powerful rich and powerful. There have been breaks from that but they are the exception and not the norm.

Which leads to my pondering. I heard this somewhere along the line and it is for sure not a new thought.

Why not change the process of passing Constitutional Amendments?

Right now it is very hard to change the Federal Constitution. An amendment may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress, or, if two-thirds of the States request one, by a convention called for that purpose. The amendment must then be ratified by three-fourths of the State legislatures, or three-fourths of conventions called in each State for ratification. And the reasoning is to make the process require major consensus.

However, the current world we find ourselves in, or rather the world in which the country has existed for a century and more, is that effectively the Courts can hamstring things, create rights, take them away and reinterpret them based on whims more or less. The legal reasoning around the arguments in either direction may be valid or not depending on a specific example.

This leads to the impression of courts holding the fate of the country in their hands. Issues of marriage, medical , workplace and environmental policy all more or less set by these groups.

Alot of this has to do with the country being divided so the normal channels have failed since folks cannot agree on the problems facing the world, what should be priority and what should be done to fix them at all.

Should it be something less difficult, like a majority of Congress or states to propose and Amendment and then 2/3 of state legislatures instead of 3/4? It would still be challenging to do but less so. And given the makeup of states at the present I am sure I would disagree with most, but seems better to me to at least have it based on that in the end.

On another tangent that undermines my point above it is possible that SCOTUS rules that state legislatures can gerrymander and stay in power by officially ruling in 2019 that federal courts have no say and then that state courts cannot contest state legislatures on election issues. This has not happened, but is for sure possible. Which would be bad in general for our system of representative democracy.






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Late Great Donald Blake 

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bd2999 

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008


Previously I would have been hesitant to that sort of approach but I think this highlights the problems with the current system.

It also is an oddity that presidents that did not even win the popular vote consistently nominated the majority of the Court. So, it is rewarding bad faith actions in the Senate in the first place.

A court is needed, but the courts goal should be to protect the citizens at large under the law. Not to interpret the laws to favor regressive policies or when convenient the very rich to rule as oligarchs while undermining programs that may do some good.

I am honestly not sure what the solution is in the end, just my thoughts on the Amendment process, although court packing is another.




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The Mandarin


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,102


The problem with almost any solution to the current system is that it requires the people who benefit from the current system to allow it.




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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021



    Quote:
    The problem with almost any solution to the current system is that it requires the people who benefit from the current system to allow it.



Exactly. We'd be asking the fox to install better security on the henhouse.




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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021



    Quote:
    I was hesitant to post this with all of the music threads providing a nice break from what the boards can be but with the upcoming SCOTUS decision (presuming the leaks are correct) and general track record of the court I had been thinking.



    Quote:
    Courts within the U.S. have enormous power. When the country was founded it was not really even specified within the Constitution what sort of power they had, as Judicial Review came later. And it has a mixed history at best, like any government institution I guess. Mostly it has reinforced the status quo or helped keep those rich and powerful rich and powerful. There have been breaks from that but they are the exception and not the norm.



    Quote:
    Which leads to my pondering. I heard this somewhere along the line and it is for sure not a new thought.



    Quote:
    Why not change the process of passing Constitutional Amendments?



I don't think we'd like living in a world where the Constitution was easily amended. It's not a perfect document, but measured by longevity, it's humanity's most successful constitution, and not by accident. The Framers weren't perfect, but they sincerely tried to establish something good on the earth, and much good has come out of their effort. Amending it sounds great until the amendment in question turns out to be something we dread.

We shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.



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bd2999 

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008



    Quote:

      Quote:
      I was hesitant to post this with all of the music threads providing a nice break from what the boards can be but with the upcoming SCOTUS decision (presuming the leaks are correct) and general track record of the court I had been thinking.

      Quote:

        Quote:
        Courts within the U.S. have enormous power. When the country was founded it was not really even specified within the Constitution what sort of power they had, as Judicial Review came later. And it has a mixed history at best, like any government institution I guess. Mostly it has reinforced the status quo or helped keep those rich and powerful rich and powerful. There have been breaks from that but they are the exception and not the norm.

        Quote:

          Quote:
          Which leads to my pondering. I heard this somewhere along the line and it is for sure not a new thought.

          Quote:

            Quote:
            Why not change the process of passing Constitutional Amendments?



    Quote:

    I don't think we'd like living in a world where the Constitution was easily amended. It's not a perfect document, but measured by longevity, it's humanity's most successful constitution, and not by accident. The Framers weren't perfect, but they sincerely tried to establish something good on the earth, and much good has come out of their effort. Amending it sounds great until the amendment in question turns out to be something we dread.


I am not sure I would argue good as such as trying to develop what they saw as the best form of government that was functional as opposed to the Articles of Confederacy that was an utter failure in nearly every respect to build a country. If that is good than sure, but otherwise they just wanted something that worked. They left it vague and short on purpose.

There are also quite a number of things in it that are totally unclear, even with the Bill of Rights and the core document. I mean the Second Amendment alone is a headache to try and figure out what they meant exactly and depending on what side of the fence you are on with the issue you can fall multiple ways.

Anyway, I think it is too difficult to adjust. They made the document with the idea of adding Amendments do adjust the document for the times but the last Amendment was ratified in 1992. Seems like there are numerous issues that need to be clarified because the Courts have not been consistent.

To me, I would rather have them change more often than Courts potentially use a moving target to redefine issues based on ideology and who appointed them.


    Quote:
    We shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


I am not sure I follow your definition of good.

The system is in place to modify the document and it should be based on the times it is in as opposed to having to read between the lines and leave large swaths unknown and at best to a patchwork system that ends up not working very well.

The system is imperfect, but any system with humans involved will be so but should be modified in order to try and improve the lives of the people within the country itself as opposed to being used as a reason at times to apparently hamper it or to cut off conversations.

But that is just my two cents.

Even the Founders had very different views of the document after they wrote it. With Hamilton and Jefferson being the poster boys for that.






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bd2999 

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008


Very true, although packing the courts is not really that hard to do in practice but the will is not there at all.

Really, I think the public at large does not realize some odd things with the Court. Like how dependent they are on the other branches. There are no real rules over composition other than the approval process and even their role was something the court figured out and gave power to itself.

The Constitution itself is not that clear on the matter but it is now accepted that judicial review is what the court does but prior to Madison it was not at all clear.




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Late Great Donald Blake 

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Incriptus


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Late Great Donald Blake 

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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,518


Or is this one of those conservative things where you pretend the suffering of poor people is just sort of made up for some reason? So like I'd say the 40,000 or so people that die because of a lack of access to sufficient healthcare would be a good place to start, right?



cheers,
---the late great Donald Blake


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The Mandarin


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,102






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Incriptus


Location: Incriptus
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,735


Of course if you include fetuses as poor people you can add several hundred thousand per year




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Late Great Donald Blake 

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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021


To make sense out of why you said the above at this point in the conversation, I have to assume you anticipate that most proposed amendments would help the poor. There is no reason at all that such would be the case. Amendments that hurt the poor would be much more likely. The majority of Americans aren't poor, and legislating is a majoritarian exercise.

Many people wish the Constitution was more malleable because then their idealistic wish list could be enacted. Yet it's much more likely that the wish lists of the most cynical manipulators of majority opinion would be enacted.

Donald Trump was elected once and was almost elected again. What sort of amendments do you think Donald Trump would propose if amending the Constitution was easier? How willingly would his cultlike following support his propositions? How hard would it be for him to swing some independents his way if he played upon their baser instincts?



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Late Great Donald Blake 

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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,518


Yeah I think this is basically a flawed premise. It's generally the working class (and to be honest anyone left of center) who needs the gears of government to work and move. Most of the institutional barriers in place that tend towards gridlock are antidemocratoc in their inception. They're meant to protect the wealthy minoroty from the popular will. The party in power is supposed to be able to govern, and if they should win then if they do something irresponsible or extreme then all the more likely they'll lose political favor with most Americans. But the point is that there an asymmetry between the left and the right with respect to this arrangement: if you make it such that legislation is difficult to pass or changes are difficult to make in the name of protecting us from conservative overreach you're actually playing into their hands. The more difficult it is for the public sector to function, the more the right's political agenda is fulfilled. This is why we've come to such a crushing defeat for the Democratic Party that we find outselves at now, I think.

cheers,
--- the late great Donald Blake




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Late Great Donald Blake 

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but the point is you have to want to in the first place. IF we did have the votes many if not most liberals still wouldn't approve of the tactic. In my view it's a basically conservative, even reactionary impulse. They think they're protecting some kind of hallowed institution or something, but it's just a "West Wing" fantasy, and it only serves to act as a bulwark against democratic pressure. And now they find themselves in an almost laughable paradox, because the whole purpose of preserving the pristine SCOTUS was to avoid Republicans taking control and doing something like overturning Roe. Yeah... it'd be a real shame if that happened, huh?

cheers,
--- the late great Donald Blake


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bd2999 

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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008


Agreed, I do think that one great irony of the Democratic party is they are usually pretty poor in doing much when they have power that is that lasting. Republicans at minimum take actions to ensure that they keep power and hold onto it while rewarding the most powerful in the process.

Often at the expense of most voters. Dems are hardly better, but they have been out of power in many states for most practical senses for a while and it seems to be that they are not often in control of the federal government in a real way. And when they are they accomplish the bare minimum if much at all to actually improve things. At best they are a stop gap to the tides of even worse.




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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021



    Quote:
    Yeah I think this is basically a flawed premise. It's generally the working class (and to be honest anyone left of center) who needs the gears of government to work and move.



The working class elected Trump. The working class would outlaw Islam if it could, and probably any non-Christian religion, certainly witchcraft, probably atheism. The working class would permanently close the southern border. The working class is Republican. (With individual exceptions, of course, but not enough to net out differently.)



    Quote:
    Most of the institutional barriers in place that tend towards gridlock are antidemocratic in their inception.



By design, yes.



    Quote:
    They're meant to protect the wealthy minority from the popular will.



Yes. But not only the wealthy minority. Any minority at all. All minorities need to be protected from the majority. That's the entire reason a Constitutional Bill of Rights is needed. If the majority was virtuous, a Bill of Rights would be superfluous. But no majority in the history of the world has ever been virtuous.



    Quote:
    The party in power is supposed to be able to govern, and if they should win then if they do something irresponsible or extreme then all the more likely they'll lose political favor with most Americans.



That's the European paradigm and some of its modalities would improve things here in the USA, I agree. For example, a two-round election process, as in France, would be better than the USA's first past the post model, I think. Also, the Senate's ridiculous filibuster has no analogue in Europe, and ought to be abolished here, in my opinion. But easily and readily amending the Constitution is a different kettle of fish.



    Quote:
    But the point is that there an asymmetry between the left and the right with respect to this arrangement: if you make it such that legislation is difficult to pass or changes are difficult to make in the name of protecting us from conservative overreach you're actually playing into their hands. The more difficult it is for the public sector to function, the more the right's political agenda is fulfilled. This is why we've come to such a crushing defeat for the Democratic Party that we find outselves at now, I think.



We need a third option. Yes, you're right, the status quo favors Republicans, so keeping it hard to alter the status quo can only favor Republicans. Nevertheless, throwing open the flood gates (as far as Constitutional amendments go) would favor Republicans sometimes, and whenever it did, the result would be very bad for the poor, the brown, the queer, and the pagan. I'm unsure what the third option should be. I'm thinking about it. We need an option that would never allow Republicans to unilaterally pass amendments, because any amendment they unilaterally passed would be a disaster for millions of people.

EDIT: Here's a thought. We amend the Constitution to make future amendments easier to pass, but in this amendment we also (1) establish a general right of the peaceful and honest individual to be left alone by the government; (2) stipulate that neither the federal nor any state legislature may pass a law that diminishes that general right; and (3) stipulate that any amendment to the Constitution that would diminish the general right must be ratified by unanimous votes of all 50 state legislatures, and then, unanimous votes of both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate.





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Late Great Donald Blake 

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Posts: 7,518


I assume by working class then you mean the WHITE working class, am I right?



Anyway... where is this information coming from? For that matter the idea that Trump was elected by the working class seems pretty suspect as a generalization. A good third of people eligible in, say, the last election didn't vote. Would you like to take a swing at what class the majority of those folks belong to?


Where'd you get all these half baked, unevidence ideas about what the working class would do anyway? Are you thinking of a set of studies or is this more your general impressions and shooting from the hip about human nature?


Finally (for now) you seem pretty cynical about the concept of democracy generally. When we talk about the working class, of a necessity were talking about the majority of people in the country. If they shouldn't have power, then who should? Philosopher kings? If what you'd prefer is an elite minority, well credentialed and high born to run things, rest assured that's what we have now and have for quite some time. And it led to Trump regardless.


Also, I should say I'm interested in in the underlying political theory in principle. I don't think the idea of preserving, amending, or massaging the Constitution is a particularly relevant or significant political question. We'd probably have better results if we burned it and started over from scratch.


cheers,
--- the late great Donald Blake




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The Silver Surfer


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008



    Quote:
    he working class would outlaw Islam if it could, and probably any non-Christian religion, certainly witchcraft, probably atheism


WOW that is not true.

As someone who grew up in not only a working class neighborhood, but a Midwestern Working class neighborhood, I can tell you that view is not only wrong, but shows a shockingly out of touch with the world.

Working Class Muslims are not are not uncommon, and atheists... those are not exactly rare.

I was a (half) Jew living in that neighborhood, who knew Muslims and atheists, and still do, and in the case of the middle, that included directly after 9/11.

You do know that cities, and the surrounding areas have working classes, right? They also tend to be pretty not only ethnically, but religiously diverse.

I am going to go out on a limb here... you do not now, nor likely have ever known many working class people have you?

I can't believe anyone who has, at least in any place within a spitting distance of a city... where the majority of people live... could be that ignorant of things. This is the kind of thing people hear from talking heads and assume most be a universal truth.

You think this hate us tied to economics based on what? deindustrialization?

You won't get any argument from me that it is bad for America, but as some one who grew up less than five mikes from a transmission plant, where people of multiple religions worked, and sent their kids to the same school as me, I can tell you it is not true.

I remember my senior year of high school, many of those same kids sweat bullets for weeks because they did not know if their parents would have jobs the next month, and some didn't I am familiar with what it does to people, and the desperation it can breed, and can tell you from actual experience, that your assumption is ridiculous.

The more likely scenario is to disillusioned with both major political parties. The hatred is willing to go more towards the system... which both Trump did feed off, but so did Sanders. Sanders got a hell of a lot of that working class vote in the 2016 primaries.

As someone who had to work a lot of working class jobs... or lower... until I got a job in what my degree was for, I can tell you that trend grew. In cities at least. Also, plenty of atheists, and nobody gives a shit.






I know, you have some response to why the framers is not a good argument, and I will read it, I promise, but that was too ridiculous to not point out the foolishness.


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The Silver Surfer


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008



    Quote:
    Anyway... where is this information coming from? For that matter the idea that Trump was elected by the working class seems pretty suspect as a generalization. A good third of people eligible in, say, the last election didn't vote. Would you like to take a swing at what class the majority of those folks belong to?

Most research on the subject finds the working class is less likely to vote, either from feeling disconnected from either party, or because.. and this is probably not shocking... can't get the time to from work.

From personal experience, I can tell you there is a lot of truth to that.

There is a reason why half the country did not vote in 2016, and there was an unusually large number of third party votes in many states.



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Late Great Donald Blake 

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,518


I'm glad you mentioned the issue of working class voters often literally struggling to find time to vote.  And I think that point about being  disconnected makes sense given the recent history.  To your point, I think at a level of experience, if you're below a certain point in the economy, your life doesn't necessarily change much between Republican and Democrat administrations.

cheers,
---the late great Donald Blake



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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021



    Quote:

      Quote:
      he working class would outlaw Islam if it could, and probably any non-Christian religion, certainly witchcraft, probably atheism



    Quote:
    WOW that is not true.



    Quote:
    As someone who grew up in not only a working class neighborhood, but a Midwestern Working class neighborhood, I can tell you that view is not only wrong, but shows a shockingly out of touch with the world.



I should have said white working class. Sorry.

Here's an article:
https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/04/politics/republicans-white-working-class-education/index.html




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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021



    Quote:
    I assume by working class then you mean the WHITE working class, am I right?



Yes. I should have said white working class. Sorry.

Here's an article:
https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/04/politics/republicans-white-working-class-education/index.html



    Quote:
    Anyway... where is this information coming from? For that matter the idea that Trump was elected by the working class seems pretty suspect as a generalization. A good third of people eligible in, say, the last election didn't vote. Would you like to take a swing at what class the majority of those folks belong to?



Obviously, if I say the white working class elected Trump, I'm talking about the white working class who voted. The ones who didn't vote made a choice not to be counted.



    Quote:

    Where'd you get all these half baked, unevidence ideas about what the working class would do anyway? Are you thinking of a set of studies or is this more your general impressions and shooting from the hip about human nature?



Another article:
https://theconversation.com/who-exactly-is-trumps-base-why-white-working-class-voters-could-be-key-to-the-us-election-147267

Another:
https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class?referral=00134

Another:
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/10/upshot/why-trump-won-working-class-whites.html



    Quote:

    Finally (for now) you seem pretty cynical about the concept of democracy generally. When we talk about the working class, of a necessity were talking about the majority of people in the country. If they shouldn't have power, then who should? Philosopher kings? If what you'd prefer is an elite minority, well credentialed and high born to run things, rest assured that's what we have now and have for quite some time. And it led to Trump regardless.



Constitutional democracy is a balancing act between rule by the majority and protection of the minority. It is true that the majority should rule, but it is equally true that the minority must be protected. The first of these priorities is fulfilled through democratic voting; the second, by Constitutional rights.



    Quote:

    Also, I should say I'm interested in in the underlying political theory in principle. I don't think the idea of preserving, amending, or massaging the Constitution is a particularly relevant or significant political question. We'd probably have better results if we burned it and started over from scratch.



That is precisely what we mustn't do. If we start from scratch, there's no telling what we could end up with. It could be far worse than what we have. Start from scratch and we could end up with no Constitutional rights at all.




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Late Great Donald Blake 

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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,518


I mean I think it'd be a pretty useless tactic for the two of us to just keep assigning each other reading, don't you think? I suppose for later perhaps we can trade reading lists, but I don't think appropriate for us to start giving each other Alvaro homework assignments. Suffice to say the Harvard Business Review may not have their finger on the pulse of the working class. I can go line by line if you like, but are there just going to be another article and an article after that?

And to your point about this balancing act I think this point isn't seriously engaged with the political reality. It's an abstract truism. The truth is right now the minority isn't "being protected", they're dominating the vast majority of political institutions, and have control of the vast majority of the material resources of society. And that's THE specific minority of the hyper affluent. All those other identitarian minorities you'd like to gesture towards are also NOT protected under this kind of paradigm. Because while black, queer, non Christian so on might be hypothetically protected INSOFAR as they are of those identities... the VAST majority of POCs, queer people, etc are (again) working class of a necessity. So, they're not ACTUALLY protected in any existential sense.


And the point is those Constitutional rights we are finding are only good as the political constitution of those in power. It's apparently done nothing to prevent the Federalist society from slowly installing 6 justice who have no compunction against perverting the "rights" enumerated in the document. The Constitution without actual institutions and mechanisms which actually empower it to be justly engaged with--which could only mean democratically engaged with--protects your rights about as well a crucifix around your neck will protect your soul.

cheers,
---the late great Donald Blake



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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021



    Quote:
    I mean I think it'd be a pretty useless tactic for the two of us to just keep assigning each other reading, don't you think? I suppose for later perhaps we can trade reading lists, but I don't think appropriate for us to start giving each other Alvaro homework assignments.



You specifically asked me to provide my sources, so I did. Some of them, anyway. Articles about white working class voters tending to vote for Trump are numerous and easy to find.



    Quote:
    Suffice to say the Harvard Business Review may not have their finger on the pulse of the working class.



I could cite more and more articles. Do you honestly contest the fact that white working class voters tended to vote for Trump?



    Quote:
    I can go line by line if you like, but are there just going to be another article and an article after that?



It's weird that you ask me for sources, I provide them, and then you have a problem with the fact that I provided them.



    Quote:
    And to your point about this balancing act I think this point isn't seriously engaged with the political reality. It's an abstract truism. The truth is right now the minority isn't "being protected", they're dominating the vast majority of political institutions, and have control of the vast majority of the material resources of society. And that's THE specific minority of the hyper affluent. All those other identitarian minorities you'd like to gesture towards are also NOT protected under this kind of paradigm. Because while black, queer, non Christian so on might be hypothetically protected INSOFAR as they are of those identities... the VAST majority of POCs, queer people, etc are (again) working class of a necessity. So, they're not ACTUALLY protected in any existential sense.



Sounds like you lean Marxist.



    Quote:

    And the point is those Constitutional rights we are finding are only good as the political constitution of those in power. It's apparently done nothing to prevent the Federalist society from slowly installing 6 justice who have no compunction against perverting the "rights" enumerated in the document. The Constitution without actual institutions and mechanisms which actually empower it to be justly engaged with--which could only mean democratically engaged with--protects your rights about as well a crucifix around your neck will protect your soul.



In a Marxist context, you make a good point. Institutional democratization could work pretty well if the only concern anybody has is distribution of wealth. The majority would pretty reliably vote to distribute profits to everyone on an equal basis. Of course, distribution of wealth and maximization of wealth are two different things, so you'd need some sort of mechanism to incent innovation and extraordinary effort. But assuming you solved that problem, the exploitation of the non-rich by the rich would evaporate, because there wouldn't be any rich, and the standard of living would be pretty high, because innovation and extraordinary effort could still be relied upon to occur.

Could the majority be counted on to protect freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and religion? That's doubtful.



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Late Great Donald Blake 

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,518


It's weird that you ask me for sources, I provide them, and then you have a problem with the fact that I provided them.


LGDB: Yes, I asked for sources, because you said the working class, not the white working class. I wasn't disputing the latter. And because these article are heavily editorialized which is a lot like just asking someone to have the argument for you lol


Sounds like you lean Marxist.


LGDB: OH I do more than lean, pal! lol




Could the majority be counted on to protect freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and religion? That's doubtful.



LGDB: I'm not sure, but the rich minority CERTAINLY can't


cheers,
---the late great Donald Blake


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bd2999 

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008


Yeah, it is a great reason to expand the voting by mail, early voting or make election day a holiday. 

Although those help but I doubt they are a cure all. One of the things that is depressing to many people, I imagine, is that you have two choices that are varying degrees of bad. 

And on top of that with power entrenchment your vote matters less and less all of the time. And now you have folks denying results for elections that do not go there way, making things even worse. 





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