I was idly thinking, as opposed to busily thinking. Most of America's political disagreements about what the government should do about our problems could be worded as simply as "cut spending first" or "raise taxes first". Different people have different levels of veneration for these ideas, but in the short term, as far as what government actually can do. So why don't the two parties put their views thusly on the ballot in 2012?
You go into the booth, you check your choice for President and Veep, Congress and maybe Senate. You vote for Proposition 23 and get your "I Voted Today" sticker. And you decide if you agree with (or against) 'cut spending first' or 'raise taxes first'. So whoever wins the election, that's their mandate. No earmarks, no fact-finding tours. These hearings will be on f*cking C-Span, unlike Obama's campaign promise.
If they don't design and implement procedures to tax or cut, everybody resigns. Their successors take over within the guidelines of the Constitution. They are then charged with completing the task within a year (in time for the '14 elections), and drafting a Constitutional amendment to make whatever they have done legal.
I don't think it should then come to a nationwide vote in 2014 though. The populist in me says 'of course it should', but the kid in me loves the frosted side, I mean says 'populism isn't everything.' [I bet nobody out there got that pop culture reference]
One of the great things about our system is the specific duration of tenures and the way they vary between the branches. The House is up for election every two years no matter what. But it's only one-sixth of the federal governent. [Perhaps coincidentally, they also have repealed Obamacare, which nationalized one-sixth of the economy. More on this later. Maybe.]
The Senate has three times as long to deliberate, and the chief executive has the average, plus a completely different set of duties and skills. Supreme Court Justices are in office until they retire or die. I don't have any strong opinions for or against these term limits (except for the President, two terms tops). I like the irony of a lifetime tenure in a republic like ours, and think the judicial side is improved by it. If people want to keep voting for the same bozos in Congress for a half-century, they should have the right to do so.
This idea should be a populist vote that up to a point, and I think it would go a long way towards working the poisons out of the body politic. After that point however, the Republic part should take over. The '14 midterms should be treated as normally as possible. With the way much of the world order is eroding before our eyes, American citizens show up like they always do, fewer in the midterms.
The 'spend less first' and 'cut taxes first' ballot will spell this out as simply as possible - well, minus my own musing on terms in office anyway - that no similar vote will be on the ballot for '14. This will not be an opportunity for populism that will damage.
If the elected Congress fails to meet the one-year deadline and their successors fail to carry out the 'spend or cut' mission AND fail to draft an amendment, then I don't know what the repercussions would be.
It's been a while since I've read how amendments are made ("when a mommy and a daddy constitution love each other very much...") so I'm not sure where the movement would go from there.
Speaking of Obamacare, the administration has been issuing more waivers to the law for its buddies in the unions and other corporate buddies - even ones that pressed the administration to enact this health care law, strange - and just today they singled out GE to get out of some EPA regulations. As the President would say, "Winning The Future???" I prefer "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot", but that's just me.
It's not the hypocrisy that's annoying so much as how blatantly they know they'll get away with it. Their own supporters won't withold votes, and they're the ones crying about money being spent on political ads.
Also, over half the states are suing to repeal it, and a judge just threw it out as completely unconstitutional. Last November was a popular mandate, and I think more could be done along those lines. It should definitely have a specified mission and a limited period of time. When Obama mentioned Sputnik recently, someone point out that the mission to the government wasn't to get man into space, it was to do it in a short period of time. The only way to get it done in time was to bring in outside interests, private by definition. [This is also where Ike saw the military-industrial complex come into effect, but that's another train of thought.] It's government contracts for the companies, and can get better results for the space program.
[Many have noted the irony of the guy who finally cut funding for America's space program should refer to Sputnik when trying to inspire a nation. Give him a break. The man has spent his whole life rarely voting anything other than 'present' and he's not going to change now. Look at his reaction to North Korean missles and riots in Iran and Egypt.]
Speaking of Egypt, it's looking like the pro-democracy faction has spoken and is ready to finish speaking now. The Muslim Brotherhood, with roots back to the 1920's and were big fans of Hitler, is probably the most prepared organization in the country, except possibly the army.
Nothing's going to happen without the Brotherhood taking a role, or else outright fighting everybody else. I would like to believe that these protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and possibly elsewhere are inspired by western ideals of democratic freedom. And I think a lot of that is present.
But the Brotherhood, big fans of Hitler remember, have a large amount of support as well. I guess topical 90 year old German political theory is just what today's young Muslim male is into. Or maybe it's the jihad [or "struggle", as in "Mein Kampf"] and hatred of Jews.
I would like to think that the outbreaks of violence have been limited to individual thugs on either/any side singling out a specific opponent for short-range or long-range goals. Islam is experiencing a civil war which goes unnoticed because the right is called racist and Fox News-loving and the usual, and the left isn't interested in what *those* people do. Gulags and slaughterhouses in southeast Asia after the US departed Vietnam didn't bother them, and if we lose this war, dead Muslims won't either.
Now the people who want democracy are retreating. Hopefully the Brotherhood and the government thugs will shoot each other and destroy the worst of both sides. Reportedly, and I am not an expert on the Muslim Brotherhood, they actually practice more intellectual diversity in their various cells through the Middle East. If they can be infected with an anti-Shariat Stuxnet virus, we've got 'em. The Egyptian military is strong and effective - it rules the country of course - and reportedly respected by the people as well. They want change. One might even say they hope for it.
The danger is that the Brotherhood has too much popular support and get full license towards their judenhass. Egypt and Jordan are the two countries most immediately troubled by riots, and they're the only ones who've ever been able to make a peace with Israel. It could get real bad real quick.
A few plus sides. After initially supporting the demonstrators, Iran made calls for restraint from violence. Even China is now banning "Egypt" from search terms on China's internet. We may not be looking at an outbreak of Jefferson-style democracy any time soon, but there are encouraging signs. When al-Sadr returned to Iraq after several years in Iran, some of his supporters were noisy. He told them (in English) to shut up. He was only a simple cleric and was ashamed by their behavior. Today Iraqi citizens attacked an Iranian embassy. Most of the Middle East is ruled by despots who might be very willing to leave with their lives and a sizeable amount of loot.
A few down sides. They want shariat law and they hate Jews. In time, the distinctions will return between Arab, Kurd, Persian, black African, Sunni, Shi'ite and more. For the moment, they are as united as the Middle East has ever been since the time of the Prophet. If they do not choose freedom, or fail to choose it strongly enough, or fail to keep it, they will be united in open war.
Iraq and Afghanistan are notable successes we have to argue. Other states in the region which are out of oil also feel similar pressures to liberalize if the rulers want to keep their perks. A dozen years ago, when my parents married in the UAE they had to get government permission to serve wine at the wedding. Now Dubai is a hotspot for Americans in the Middle East to go party when on leave. Things do change.
For a decade now, what do you think Muslims from all over the world have been talking about when they meet on the hajj? Malcom X described meeting blue-eyed blondes and whites in plural when he made the pilgrimage 40 years ago, one doubts that the racial composition has become significantly less white since then.
It's not looking good for that optimistic scenario though. Still, when Obama was melting down and caving in on the tax cuts, he promised that he'd be eager to refight the battle in two years. [A temporary truce, what a... Muslim concept.] Like Nancy Pelosi comfortably expecting to be majority leader again in two years, I think they're using their access to highly classified information to bet on their political futures. They don't know or care how they'll look for doing so as long as it works. And we might be nearing a breakthrough in the war effort.
We're near some flashpoint on the home front as well. Let's hope we can win the future.