Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 18 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/6/19

Marianne Williamson is Right About American Elections

Author 76576
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Thomas Knapp

1900 New York polling place.
1900 New York polling place.
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org))
  Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

Self-help guru Marianne Williamson isn't likely to win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, despite having probably served the American public more ably than any of her opponents (among other things, her Project Angel Food delivers millions of meals to the seriously ill). Good works aside, she's a little too "New Age," spiritual, and individualist/voluntarist-oriented for a population increasingly viewing coercive government as its living and unquestionable God.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't listen to her, though, especially when she points out major flaws in the system. At a July 3 campaign event in New Hampshire, Williamson discussed the "illusion of choice" in American elections, comparing them to Iran's, where "you can vote for whoever you want, among the people that they tell you it's OK to vote for."

Afterward, Williamson backed off just a hair, calling her remarks "a cautionary tale, not a direct analogy." She shouldn't have.

- Advertisement -

Iran's parliament, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, includes 290 representatives. Of those seats, 216 are split between three political parties, 66 are held by independents, and five are reserved for religious minorities.

Of the 435 seats in the US House of Representatives, 434 are split between two political parties, with a lone independent holding the 435th. The US Senate is slightly more diverse -- 98 of its seats are split between the two "major" parties, with a whopping two independents.

Yes, "separation of church and state" is preferable to theocracy, but our two "major" parties, the Democrats and Republicans, exemplify an iron grip on rule by party establishments that even Iran can't match.

- Advertisement -

How do they do it? Why aren't there any current members of Congress from the Libertarian, Green, or other "third parties?" And why are independent and "third party" members of Congress a rarity since early in the 20th century? Two reasons.

One is that unlike the world's parliamentary democracies, which use "proportional representation" measures to accord smaller parties at least token representation, the US uses single-member districts and first-past-the-post voting. In each district there's one winner and everyone else loses.

The second is that, since the late 1800s, US states have used government-printed ballots and "ballot access" laws to make it increasingly expensive (and sometimes completely impossible) for "third party" candidates to even appear on voters' ballots.

According to Nicholas J. Sarwark, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, the Libertarian Party spent more than half a million dollars just getting on ballots for 2016 (not including state party and candidate spending) .

Not campaigning. Just getting their names in front of voters on election day. In some states, no amount of money is enough to get past Republican and Democratic election officials (or, in court, Republican and Democratic judges). Campaigning gets done with what's left over.

That's how every election cycle goes. The "major" parties don't want a fair fight, and they've structured American elections to ensure they never face one.

- Advertisement -

The only way to force a fair fight is for "third party" candidates to start winning the UN-fair fights. Your votes (and donations and party participation) can make that happen.

 

- Advertisement -

Well Said 1   Supported 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Thomas Knapp Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago

Finally, Evidence of Russian Election Meddling ... Oh, Wait

Chickenhawk Donald: A Complete and Total Disgrace

The Nunes Memo Only Partially "Vindicates" Trump, But it Fully Indicts the FBI and the FISA Court

Aircraft Carriers: Give Truman and Ford a Burial at Sea

Political Parties Should Say What They Mean. The Libertarian Party Does.

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

3 people are discussing this page, with 6 comments


June Genis

Become a Fan
Author 52919

(Member since Aug 31, 2010), 6 fans, 2 articles, 34 quicklinks, 909 comments
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

I have little faith that the two old parties will ever voluntarily make it easier for third party and independent candidates to get on the ballot unless they see it as also hurting their major opposition.

That happened recently in TX where a measure passed that would make it easier for the Green Party to get on the ballot. The Libertarian Party has been managing, sometimes barely as in 2016, to remain ballot qualified while the Greens have not. The Republicans who control the legislature see Libertarians as a threat so they want the Democrats to be equally threatened. Needless to say the measure passed on party lines and was signed by the Republican governor.

I think the only way we can win this fight is in the courts where the Libertarian Party, sometimes in conjunction with the Green and Constitution parties, has won a number of lawsuits against repressive ballot access laws. The LP has started a Legal Offense Fund for just this purpose. There is also some hope for states that allow initiative but not all states do and the process can be onerous.

Submitted on Saturday, Jul 6, 2019 at 9:33:24 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (3+)
Help
 
Indent

Thomas Knapp

Become a Fan
Author 76576
Follow Me on Twitter

(Member since Feb 15, 2012), 8 fans, 420 articles, 704 comments, 2 diaries
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to June Genis:   New Content

Yep. And even in states that "allow" initiative, the rulers don't always abide by the outcome.


For example, here in Florida, we clearly and unambiguously voted to restore the voting rights of former felons, but the Republicans are trying to nullify the outcome (for the obvious reason that of the 1.4 million potential new voters, a large majority fall into one or more typically Democratic-voting demographic groups).

Submitted on Saturday, Jul 6, 2019 at 10:54:01 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (2+)
Help
 
IndentIndent

Old Codger

Become a Fan
Author 23441

(Member since Oct 2, 2008), 9 fans, 37 articles, 1 quicklinks, 4916 comments, 4 diaries
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to Thomas Knapp:   New Content

The Republicans are correct in their efforts to nullify the outcome. They are simply closing a loophole that should have been closed when / before the amendment was placed on the ballot.


The intention of the amendment is to reward the felons who had completed their sentences. It stands to reason then that their sentence has not been completed if they still owe a fine or have unpaid court costs.


Florida doesn't need any laws that rewards "deadbeats". I realize that goes against the prevailing position of Democrats, but this reflects a belief that paying ones debts and obligations is responsible behavior.

Submitted on Sunday, Jul 7, 2019 at 3:53:24 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 
IndentIndentIndent

Thomas Knapp

Become a Fan
Author 76576
Follow Me on Twitter

(Member since Feb 15, 2012), 8 fans, 420 articles, 704 comments, 2 diaries
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to Old Codger:   New Content

There is no "loophole" to "close."


The Republican position is that if felons get to vote after completing their sentences, the legislature will just ex post facto modify their sentences.

Submitted on Sunday, Jul 7, 2019 at 4:22:58 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (1+)
Help
 
IndentIndentIndentIndent

Old Codger

Become a Fan
Author 23441

(Member since Oct 2, 2008), 9 fans, 37 articles, 1 quicklinks, 4916 comments, 4 diaries
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to Thomas Knapp:   New Content

The basic fact remains that an individual has not successfuly completed their sentence as long as there are unpaid fines and court costs.


There is no modification of a sentence involved. When a sentence is imposed, there is clear language in the sentencing order that fines and/or court costs must be paid. It is the responsibility of the legislature to prescribe an avenue for the state to recover those monies, in full through some operation of law. The legislature should also provide an affirmative defense for the defendant who is or may be unable to make the payments.


In short and in conclusion, this is not an effort to create a post conviction modification of a sentence. If the sentence required payment of fines or court costs, that requirement hasn't been changed.

Submitted on Monday, Jul 8, 2019 at 2:53:33 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 
IndentIndentIndentIndentIndent

Thomas Knapp

Become a Fan
Author 76576
Follow Me on Twitter

(Member since Feb 15, 2012), 8 fans, 420 articles, 704 comments, 2 diaries
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to Old Codger:   New Content

"When a sentence is imposed, there is clear language in the sentencing order that fines and/or court costs must be paid."


I know from experience that that's not always the case.


I had a court case in Missouri in 2004. The plea agreement and the judge's order did NOT assess court costs. Then a couple of years later, the court clerk sent me a letter demanding $X in court costs. I invited the clerk to show where in the agreement/order I had been ordered to pay them.


The interesting part of that is that even if they are included in the judge's order, they are not part of the sentence. They're a civil matter handled as a debt and sent to a collection agency. As are the absurd demands that inmates pay $X a day for their own confinement (I'm not sure where all that's done, but it is done in Florida).


Fines are part of a sentence. Court costs and demands that inmates pay for their own confinements aren't. Republicans are trying to re-define the latter two as parts of the sentences for the purpose of creating, as you call it, a "loophole" which allows them to ignore the clear and unambiguous command of the voters.

Submitted on Monday, Jul 8, 2019 at 3:34:28 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment