To the Editor:
I may feel better about our Nation than you do and it has nothing to do with Biden or Trump. On Tuesday evening we heard from Republican and Democratic U.S. House members about how they have been working together as No Labels Problem Solvers. We heard stories of Republican and Democratic friendships, helping colleagues from the other party and losing committee positions for siding with principle over party. The House members were joined by Republican and Democratic U.S. Senate allies and other prominent bi-partisan leaders.
In these divided times, one would think knowing that Democrats and Republicans are traveling through the center to do what our country needs over what their political party wants would be leading news. Unfortunately, this does not capture advertising eyeballs like partisan tension and conflict do. Over the past decade, No Labels has now been working to get our U.S. Congress to function for the entire nation and the work they were elected to do and they would prefer doing.
If you want a better functioning democracy, you need to do more than vote. Go to nolabels.org to learn more. Also read up on N.H. non-partisan groups and activities under the CD Newsletter tab at consumegov.com.
While we admire your obvious commitment to a government that better serves the people, we have no faith in the mechanism you promote here. We feel it is doomed to failure, thanks to the ratchet effect. Bear with us a moment, please, because before we get into the ratchet effect, we must grapple with our lamentable two-party political system.
Our much-touted “one person, one vote” principle sounds perfectly reasonable—if you don’t give it too much thought. You can have any number of candidates for any given office, but each voter only gets to cast one vote; whichever candidate gets the most votes wins. It’s called “plurality” voting.
Lots of people talk about American exceptionalism. Except in the ironic sense, that talk is mostly hogwash. One thing that does makes us exceptional is our reliance on plurality voting. Virtually no other country relies on it the way that we do. The evidence suggests that it’s finally caught up with us.
When one party in a two-party system has become both insane and corrupt—sorry, but we just can’t work up the duplicity required to euphemize this situation—compromise, shall we say, begins to lose its luster.
It’s not just Trump. Democrats have been trying to compromise with Republicans since Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House. He threw out the pretense of rationality, and threatened to primary members of his own party who would not go along with his bonkers agenda.
Democrats moved to the right in a futile attempt to compromise, but to no avail. Mitch McConnell finally just threw out the rule book during the Obama administration. He’s backed up by the likes of Louis Gohmert.
We’re on our way to losing half a million American lives already—how much more insane corruption can we afford to accept?
Now, as to No Labels, we understand it just made Larry Hogan its new co-chair. He was the topic of a piece by Pete Tucker, headlined “Meet Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Trump,” which was posted at Counterpunch on October 30, 2018.
“Two years before Donald Trump rode the Tea Party wave into the White House, Larry Hogan captured the Maryland governor’s mansion with the help of this same energy.
“As the Tea Party was gaining strength—born of a distrust of government and media, and white backlash against the first black president—so was Change Maryland, the group Hogan created three years before his improbable 2014 run for governor. Change Maryland is ‘almost a Tea Party movement in [a] state that really doesn’t seem to be Tea Party friendly,’ political scientist Todd Eberly said in 2011. They’re ‘tapping into the same force.’
“Both the Tea Party and Hogan’s Change Maryland mastered the art of using anger to draw attention on social media—particularly on Facebook, which Hogan deftly used to raise his profile, and where angry voices are algorithmically favored. ‘It’s like Trump with the Twitter,’ Hogan said of his own Facebook use.”
Hogan is said to have a net worth of about $180 million, by the way. One wonders just how well he might understand the needs of a person working the checkout counter at the Pic ’n’ Pay.
None of this is exactly new, of course; and the vitriol isn’t so much the problem as the policies it serves. The elections of 1796 and 1800 were, shall we say, robust examples of calumny, slander, and a cavalier attitude towards the truth. Newspapers were, of course, the weapons of choice.
This paper tended towards the staid, Federalist side of the fray. In a piece headlined, “The Poison Pen Duels of William Duane and Peter Porcupine,” posted October 16, 2014 at historiaobscura.com by Pam Keyes, provides a vivid picture of the more, shall we say, energetic end of the spectrum.
“Some eight thousand times a day, six days a week, pressmen cranked the heavy wooden press of the Weekly Aurora newspaper of Philadelphia. They were printing platens of tiny type on the Aurora’s eight linen paper pages, much of it poison pen invective written by pro-Jeffersonian editor William Duane against mortal enemy Peter Porcupine (William Cobbett), the editor of the pro-Federalist paper The Porcupine’s Gazette, just a few blocks away. …
“The editors’ political battles began with the swearing in of President John Adams, whose Executive Mansion residence was just down the block from the Aurora’s press. Both Duane and his publisher, Benjamin Franklin Bache, despised Adams as a Federalist with British monarchist sympathies. The Aurora was a Jeffersonian Democrat political publication friendly toward the French, even during the U.S. Quasi-War with France. … Cobbett took up the prickly “nom de guerre” Peter Porcupine for his essays, and chiefly delighted in shredding the Aurora opinions with biting vitriol. …
“Like boxers in a ring, both editors were well-matched: Duane and Cobbett were equally gifted writers, both thrived on provoking controversy, and both likewise found themselves the targets of such unfriendly responses as broken office windows and libel suits from readers who didn’t appreciate being victimized in the press. Both also served stints in jails and prisons for their published opinions. Both were called ‘crazy.’ They thrived in testing the boundaries of a ‘free’ press.”