Remedial Practical Civics 100, Lesson 3: “Let’s Party”

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 4



OK, class. We’ve covered what “law” in America is supposed to be. And the hard reality. Watching the news lately, it appears some os gigantus stultus examples among you have failed the first two lessons. But don’t pack your self-inflicted, clear plastic backpacks just yet.

This, and the next lesson are mandatory.

To passing life’s final exam.

So let’s party. Or not.

The subject is…

[Tarr, either a Tide Pod or a condom. One may kill you. Both will.]

The subject is political parties in America.

Assuming some of you got around to reading the Constitution, you have have noticed that there is no mention of political parties. OK; probably not, but now prompted you may realize that lack.

Please?

In fact, there should never have been political parties. Given a strict set of guidelines in the form of a constitution, a republic has no need of parties. The founders generally disapproved of the notion.

But rather quickly, politicians recognized that aligning themselves with easily recognizable slogans and simplistic policies saved time in explaining their own policies and positions to dubious voters.

Voters, busily trying to make a living, took the party shortcut of assuming that someone in Party A, which espouses predigested positions, will hold those positions. Thus, one needn’t take time out from subsistence farming to study the issues that one is expecting a paid professional to study for you.

Ladies, how many of you gave up your virginity to some guy who whispered sweet nothings, then dumped you when he got what he wanted? Congratulations. You understand the perils of parties.

The next problem with parties is party line voting. One party can band together to pass a law over the wishes of non-aligned legislators, or minority (that is, a party one person smaller than the majority party. One. This might not be a problem so long as they stick to the game rules in the Constitution, but what if they don’t?

Let’s pretend we get a President of one party, and his party has control of Congress. They pass a set of laws making legal immigration harder, and making it tougher for immigrants to becomes citizens. Toss in arresting and deporting undesirable — “illegal” — immigrants. Oh, hell. And say they put special emphasis on immigrants from shithole countries…

{“Trump is Hitler!”}

Shut up, Abdullah. This has nothing to with Trump. I’m talking about the first political party in American — the Federalists — and their Alien and Sedition Acts. In 1798. Take off your shoes and start counting; that was two-hundred nineteen years before President Trump.

What? You thought this was something new? Guess who repealed those acts: the Democratic-Republican Party.

You think the immigration part was bad? Look up the details on going to prison for “fake news” and criticizing the government.

Stop crying, David. These “Democratic Republican” weren’t the same party as the Republicans… who opposed slavery, and stuff like that. Confused? Don’t you wish the school had a real American History class?

{“Mr. Bussjaeger, I still don’t understand what these parties have to with raves.”}

-stares-

[ -whimpers quietly- Melisande, report to the school nurse and tell him I recommend a blood tox screen, as I suspect your piercings are lead and cadmium contaminated Chinese imports.]

{“What?”}

[Or possibly you just need to loosen that corset and get some oxygen to the brain. Get out. You have my permission to return when you can demonstrate rational thought.]

The only similarity is that fervent party members tend to be raving lunatics.

In the early days, parties came and went, and morphed. But by the mid-19th century we were stuck with today’s Democrat and Republican Parties. And that’s what screwed us.

I want each of you to do some self-study of the history of American parties. It’s complicated, and we simply don’t have time to more than hit the high points here. Start by looking up the parties I’ve already mentioned.

Those high points…

Big parties mean big fund raising. Big bucks. Thus, those with big bucks control big parties…

David, if you breathe “NRA,” I will assign you a twenty page writing assignment of the comparative spending of the NRA and NSSF versus PETA.

Big bucks and control of DC is power. Authoritarian personalities like to keep the power they’ve grabbed.

So we have ballot access laws that make it difficult to impossible for third parties to challenge the Democrats and Republicans. Convenient, eh? Once in power, you write laws — a true example of “bipartisanship” — to eliminate the competition.

In some states, it’s virtually impossible for a third party to get on the ballot unless they already got on the ballot. No, I didn’t not misspeak. Parse it out. Quietly.

That’s why we have politicians running as Republicans, for instance, who claim to be libertarians. Pretending to be Republicans (or sometimes Democrats) was the only practical way to get on the ballot.

Funny though… How do you trust a politician who openly lies about who he is just to get elected?

[Debbie, put your hand down. That was a rhetorical question.]

Of course, we also get “Libertarians” like anti-RKBA Johnson, who simply couldn’t hack it in the big party pond, and opted to be big frog in little L pond. -sigh-

Of course, once a party has been tasting power for a century and a half to nearly two centuries, maintaining power is a habit stronger than heroin. And they exercise that power to the benefit of favored cronies and “donors” instead of the Constitution they swore to uphold.

At this point, an informed class should be raising hands and clamoring, “Checks and balances!”

At which point I would laugh at the naivety.

Let’s say we have a President of one party in the White House. That’s one branch of government. Congress should be a check on his power, but both houses are held by the same party. That’s the second branch of checks and balances.

Right there, it makes it easy for that party to impose unconstitutional laws…

[Hands down, and be quiet. You should realize by now I’m not talking about the current Republican-controlled swamp.]

This is 1937 FDR DC. New Deal. The Constitution Shredder. And Incinerator. And composter.

Fiat money. Seizures of private property and money. Graft and bribery for “recovery” programs on a scale not seen since.

Enter the pinnacle of the third branch of government, The Supreme Court. They threatened to find New Deal deals unconstitutional. FDR threatened to appoint more SC justices to tip the… balance back in his favor. Lest their bit of power be diluted, the Supreme cross-dressers backed down. Check. And mate.

Think it couldn’t happen? The makeup of the Supreme Court is not set by the Constitution; the number of justices is set by mutable statutory law.

The Supremes might rule that such a change is unconstitutional in that it eliminates a “check and balance.” Or not.

Right now — present day — we have Republican control of the Executive and Legislative branches. They could pass such a law. The current Supreme Court bench is majority — theoretically — “conservative” (i.e.- Republican). The majority might chosose to cement that hold on the bench.

But if Democratic dreams of taking the White House and Congress come true in 2020, the “conservative” court might rule against the exact same Democrat proposal. Or they might simply fold again, as they did during the Depression.

“Supreme Court precedent?” I’m glad you mentioned that. Yes, the size of the Court has been changed through new laws. And it was accepted by the Court. You — thinking that precedent means something — could suppose that the Court would be bound by just one more law changing the size.

You’d be wrong. There is no binding precedent on the Supreme Court, or Little Emma and David would have been told be quiet and stop demanding unconstitutional laws.

When you go home, I want you to also research two SCOTUS decisions: Dred Scott and Miller. The TL;DR is that one ruled that all free men have a right to be armed. The other clarified that the government can regulate some firearms, but only those that are not suitable for military use. For instance, short-barrelled shotguns can be regulated because a lying lawyer convinced the Supremes that the Army never used those, therefore they were unsuitable for military use.

But now we have the NFA, GCA, and FOPA that effectively forbid military machineguns to honest, law abiding civilians. Maybe you like that, but it runs directly counter to a century and a half of Supreme Court precedent. Because justice’s personal biases and agendas… took precedence of precedent.

So much for the checks and balances of the branches of government. Back to parties.

In the sense that political parties with competing agendas might operate as checks upon one another, they could be a good thing. Personally, I subscribe to the notion “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session,” and cheer when the media reports a deadlocked, do-nothing Congress.

But the reality is that the Democrat and Republican parties hardly compete, other than to see who can restrict liberty fastest.

The Democrats scream for gun control, notably evil “bump-fire stocks.”

The Republicans say, “Hold my beer,” and give us an insane rulemaking proposal to make passive plastic stocks machineguns, and to make everyone owning one — twice defined by Democrat administrations as not only not machineguns, but not even guns — a machinegun-owning felon.

Democrat Pelosi calls that a fine start on the slippery slope to more gun control, while Republican Ryan shrugs and says, “Cool. Anything else we can do for you?”

You really want to know how much difference there is between the two heads of the Hydra Party? Look up the “Progressive Party” (Teddie Roosevelt’s “Bull Moose Party”), with special emphasis on how the Dems and Reps traded platforms.

If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.
― Emma Goldman

“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies… is a foolish idea. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.”
― Carroll Quigley

The checks and balances of federal government are, at best, an illusion. At worst, a deception. States, being republican governments with the same “two-party” system share the — as viewed by an honest citizen — flaws.

Our next lesson will address other checks.

Thus ends today’s lesson.

If you skip the rest of your homework, at least do this but of research in preparation the next class:

  • Whiskey Rebellion: causes, participants on both sides, and outcome
  • Civil War: ditto
  • Bonus Marchers: yep
  • Battle of Athens: you got it
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