Welcome to the first full feature of Millennial Manifesto. Today’s featured topic is actually pretty basic, in fact when thinking of all the things I wanted to explore doing this, it’s something that was a basic layer of all of them. Today we’ll be talking about government. We’ll take some broad strokes at first and then narrow things down from there. As our guide we’ll answer four question that are key to understanding our current political state.
1. What is government and why do we need it in the modern age?
2. What forms of government work best, defining work best?
3. Is something wrong with American government or the people that are running it?
4. What can we do to make our government better?
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In what will certainly be an Oscar winning film, A Star is Born, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) sings a song called Maybe It’s Time. The song is about changing your ways and how hard that can be. It’s partially about how America has changed over time as well. Maybe it’s time we let the old ways die. That’s what we want to talk about in earnest today, what parts of the old ways we need and what parts can die.
1. What is government and why do we need it in the modern age?
The answer to this question is both relatively simple and remarkably complex. Government by definition is the governing of a nation or state. When most people think of government they think of the big things, the presidency, the Senate, Congress, and the Supreme Court. And all of that is right, government can be and is all of those things. But government is dozens of other things, it’s school boards, city councils, water and power districts, regulators of industry, police and fire, and many more. In fact, it would be nearly impossible to go a day without having some sort of relationship with a piece of the government.
This question is one of the main reasons I wanted our first topic to be about government. In todays world, where you can get pretty much anything in two days or less, while government seems like an antiquated, almost feeble means of progress. And that’s nearly true. Here’s the thing though, you have to have government. It isn’t a topic for debate or something to mulled over at a bar, anarchy is death.
Maybe, in the beginning anarchy wouldn’t be so bad, it would be ultimate freedom. However, anyone who’s ever played something like GTA 5 online knows that ultimate freedom might be a little too far. The defense to this would be that video games are separate from reality and people aren’t/wouldn’t be like that in a real situation. To that point I say, sure—not at first. Without government, civilization would completely fall in a matter of months, simple as that.
There would be such an insurmountable amount of problems to spring up in the first three days of anarchy that it would cause most people to either head for the hills or go on a GTA like rampage. Electricity, Water, Police and Fire, would be the first major concerns, all of these organizations would shutter completely on day one, because they would have no way to operate. Now, maybe some of the townspeople get together and get the stuff running while others do things, they’re good at. Maybe you and a neighbor go on watch for fire and murderers, maybe a handful of engineers figure out a way to get the city water going. Then maybe some other people take care of food and education. A couple of other people get together and start a road crew to fix the potholes. Things seem like they would work out that way, right? Sure, that’s because you just adopted communism and created the beginning working of, guess what, government.
So, as for, why do we need government in the modern world, the answer is pretty fucking simple. To keep it the modern world and not the middle ages. This point goes a bit farther too, and something that drives me up a fucking wall with people who don’t vote. Not wanting to be an active participant in political events is one thing, but not voting isn’t a middle finger to the system, it’s a middle finger to yourself. If you aren’t fighting for what you want and what you think is important that’s fine, especially for the people that want the opposite of you. Not voting only strengthens the opposition.
2. What forms of government work best, defining “work best”?
We’ll start with the first part of the question and go backwards from there. What is “best”? There can be a lot of answers for that, in America I think some of the first ideas that would pop-up would-be freedom. Freedom is pretty important, in many ways’ freedom is what ultimately makes people happy. Back in the days when white people were coming to steal land from natives, an interesting observation was made. Natives, better known as American Indians, were far happier than their white counterparts. They were also far freer. They were as free as you can possibly be in fact, they had the ability to do whatever they wanted. This caused some whites to go and live with Indians, while the reverse was almost never true. Indians did not come to live in the cities and take up jobs as laborers or tailors.
This factor is still true today, when looking a depression, more specifically suicide an interesting thing happens. The people that suffer most from those illnesses are smack dab in the middle of income earnings. Rich people have the money to do what they want, and the poor and desolate, while not having any money, lack virtually all responsibility. All that being said, freedom is still only a slice of what determines a governments effectiveness.
In my mind I look at government as a radar chart. For those unfamiliar with that strangely specific type of chart, it is a circle with points of interest on the far edges. You would make points as to how much of one category you have and then a line connecting them all together. In this particular chart the values would be co-dependent though, for example the more freedom you have it’s pretty verifiable that crime is higher, and education is lower. So, what would make up a radar chart that would effectively measure a governments ability to be ‘best’.
Firstly, you would have to have a measurement to define best, in this case, we’ll go with happiness amongst the population. After all, that’s what really matters in life, not here for a long time, but a good one. So, you would have freedom, mortality, crime, wealth, and education.
In theory, America’s radar graph would be pretty symmetrical. We’re relatively high in education, wealth, mortality, and freedom, while the crime points would be a negative value going inward, making the graph pretty even, which would produce a nice-looking graph. The perfect graph would almost form a circle with all the values at the extreme points.
The things that would stop American democracy from being number one, are probably in the most engrained, and for a lack of a better term American parts about it. Crime and Wealth being the main ones. While we are one of the wealthiest countries on earth, shear wealth wouldn’t be the proper way to measure for what we’re doing here. You better hang on to something for this, fifty one percent of Americans make $30,000 or less. That number can be debate, but a quick google will pound out the numbers and you’ll figure out I’m right. The source is some sort of blog, but hey, so is this. The brains that be took a look at the numbers and proved it factual.
Back to the point though. Wealth inequality is obviously one of the reasons the nation is so divided, mainly because we can see what rich people really do via Instagram. What I’m getting at here is because of free market capitalism, or whatever watered-down version of that we’re practicing nowadays, America wouldn’t be close to some other nations in the wealth graph.
As far as crime goes on the graph, we have pretty low rates of crime, especially for nation of our size, especially violent crime. The problem is again in the measurements, we couldn’t possibly proclaim to be an elite level criminal justice nation while having 1 in 110 people in jail and another 1 in 51 on probation or parole. We have a major criminal justice problem on our hands in this country and have for decades, the problem isn’t the crimes being committed it’s the adjudication.
All of that being said, Western government is considerably better than the alternative. China and Russia, the two most successful, semi-communist nations in the world are wonderful examples of the downfalls of anti-western principals. China’s mortality and freedom rankings are abysmal compared to even second-rate democracies. Russia on the other hand has all of the issues equally, freedom on what we would consider a just level is to the point of non-existence that is really isn’t something that’s thought of or talked about. Crime figures have grown to become the most powerful men in the country and it’s almost certain that the Russian mafia, please don’t kill me, controls all of the state’s resources. Meanwhile, education and wealth in the nation are about the same as they were seventy years ago.
We went through all of that explanation and the radar graphs to come to the point that I say, democracy works best. It might seem like I wasted your time, maybe I did. But, the point of doing that is something that I really want to emphasize while doing these, it’s crucial to think things out in life. Critical thinking in this country has nearly disappeared from the common everyday way of thinking. In order to know where you want to end up, you have to look at the whole picture and think about everything, then make a plan to get there, so that’s what we did with that question.
3. Is something wrong with American government or just the people that are running it?
There’s obviously something wrong with the people that are running it. In particular the president. Aside from the bigotry, racism, misogyny, and all the other things, the most glaringly obvious thing that’s wrong with him is he’s a dumbass, and a dangerous one at that. He’s the type that could launch nukes at Russia just to prove he isn’t in their pocket, which he is. But that’s enough about him.
Many of our current problems can be tied to the people that are running the government, aside from the president. For example, Mitch McConnell eliminated Senate filibusters in order to get through two Supreme Court justices. Paul Ryan refused to pass any sort of immigration laws because he couldn’t get enough people in his party, the ruling party mind you, to come up with something better than the democrats proposed. So yes, there is something wrong with the people running our government.
That does not liberate our government in it’s ideal form however. The biggest problem in our national and state governments are lack of legitimate representation. By legitimate representation, I mean, several things, proportional amount of women/minorities/non-white collar, equal representation by population, and of course the electoral college.
Let’s start with proportional representation by women, minorities, and blue-collar workers. The Senate contains 74 white men. That is ludicrous. Of the other 26 seats, 21 of them are held by women (some of them being minorities as well, but not Elizabeth Warren). Another staggering statistic involves wealth, the average Senator has a net worth of 13 million dollars. I’m fairly confident that I couldn’t trace my family tree back far enough to collectively amass 13 million dollars of earnings.
The Senate leads us to the next problem with representation. Every state gets two. That was fine and dandy when we were living in 1803 and trying to keep the nation together so that the overlord founding fathers could continue to amass wealth. But now, that’s simply fucking ridiculous. Here’s something that isn’t said enough, especially when talking about America first, some states just don’t matter. If Idaho became a sinkhole tomorrow the first person to know would be Joe Rogan when he went elk hunting there. Low population states simply shouldn’t get equal representation in Congress because of lines on a map.
Now you may think I’ve walked myself into a corner with that last sentence about not giving people equal representation. Think bigger. We should put America first, by having more voices from where more Americans live in the upper house of Congress. Montana can still have one Senator. The imbalance in the Senate is causing a lot of trouble in this country because roughly 40 senators live in rural, white worlds. A fair and unbiased look at potential Senate seat in the future would reveal that Republicans hold about 44 solid R seats, and that doesn’t count Doug Jones’ Alabama seat which I’m not even going to go through the trouble of pretending in winnable in 2020. But of course a large reason why these places remain so solidly republican has very little to do with the popularity of the republican platform and everything to do with the greatest dream ever sold.
The dream I’m speaking of is the American Dream. We all know it, it’s a hallmark of the education system in this country for some reason or another. Here’s the thing, it’s a load of bullshit. The people that wrote the constitution or the Declaration of Independence didn’t come here and make a vast fortune by working hard and all that jazz they try to sell us nowadays. Most of those men came to America because they were little more than second rate nobles in their ancestral homes. Most of those men made their fortune in one way or the other through the slave trade. The reason why they rebelled was for freedom, don’t get me wrong there, but it was for their freedom firstly and foremost. The idea of freedom for the masses was seen more as a means to an end than any great revolutionary idea.
They had to have people to fight the war, and they had to give the people something to fight for, so they sold them a nation. It isn’t drastically different than we we’re still doing today in one way or the other. They were even careful that to make sure that the people never had too much real power. Up until 1913 all Senators were appointed by state legislatures. That all came crashing down through a series of corruption, government deadlock, and lack of quality legislatures. While those men campaigned on the backs of the people for freedom, they carefully crafted a government that would bridle the ambition of the people. All the while, assuring that they would remain rich and powerful for their time on earth.
Perhaps not the most bridling, but certainly close, law they came up with lead us to our current state of affairs. What I’m speaking of, is the electoral fucking college. How is it possible that we still rely on such an outdated and flatly poor way of choosing the leader of our nation? It’s simple actually and goes back to what we were talking about earlier. To get rid of the electoral college you would have to make a constitutional amendment, to do that you would need either a 2/3 majority in both the house and the senate or 2/3 of all states to approve.
Crunching the numbers on that you arrive back at the place where the senate unfairly grants power to rural, white states. Such an amendment would never pass the senate or 2/3 of those states’ legislatures. Therefore the college remains, and election are decided by very precise groups of people that do not represent the needs and ideas of most Americans. A lot of the people in the rust belt thought that Trump would bring back their manufacturing jobs, and since they hadn’t come back under Obama, they figured they had nothing to lose. Well, they’re losing more jobs now, and do you know why? It’s because they believe in dead things.
Coal, manufacturing, farming on a small scale, wholesome communities that don’t sell alcohol or allow gambling, the burden of having to carry an unwanted fetus to term, and the American dream. Dead things. Things that aren’t and shouldn’t come back. Why? Well, that’s the best fucking part, they keep electing people that believe in capitalism, and the laws of capitalism has been ruling those things more and more irrelevant every election cycle. Rather than move on, grow up, and take responsibility for their own actions, they’ve chosen to double down, blame the poor, the immigrants, and the government. In continuing to vote for who they vote for and believing the things they believe they’ve created their own positive feedback loop.
The government’s bad, let’s send this guy that doesn’t believe in government and is a free market capitalist, maybe he’ll bring in some jobs. Less jobs, less opportunity, more debt, more failure. It’s the fucking government and all of these poor people that are taking my tax dollars and buying steak, it’s time to shake up the government and send someone else. Let’s send this good Christian conservative that’s a free market capitalist and doesn’t believe in government handouts. And repeat. For twenty fucking years.
4. What can we do to make our government better?
The ideas are out there folks. The problems is a lot of the ideas that are out there fucking stink. Any drastic change to the government would threaten a very shaky yet growing economy. Ideas like ending or editing the executive branch to have more leaders is one that’s frequently raved about on the internet. The practicality of it though doesn’t work. Getting rid of states in favor of something like federal districts would decimate many local economies that rely heavily on state- not federal- tax breaks. And as we’ve already talked about anarchy is a non-starter.
So what’s to be done. Well, I’m glad you asked. I humbly present to you my five-point plan to make the American government less shitty.
1. Open voter laws- this is one of the biggest issues in several key states that decide how the government functions from year to year. It’s an even bigger issue in the south where voter laws might be better than Jim Crow, but they’re still in the Crow family. The issue that’s always brought up is voter fraud, even though it’s been proven time and again that voter fraud isn’t a real thing. In 14 years from 2000 to 2014, the Brennan Center found that there were 31 cases of voter fraud in almost one billion samples. You would be three times more likely to be struck by lightning. The reason these voter laws exist is to ensure those in power stay there and their belief systems along with them. Any legal resident should be automatically registered to vote. It wouldn’t be very hard since we have a national service that literally has everyone’s home address already.
a. Some fleshing out of this idea: Notice I used the term legal resident and not citizen. That’s because American citizenship is hard to get and time consuming. It can take five to six years to fully go through the process. As long as these people are living in this country, they should have an opportunity to have a say. A counterpoint, a rather ridiculous one at that, would be that with such lax laws illegal immigrants would show up and vote. One, so what? Two, what does it say about the types of law your making and beliefs that you hold that the thought of illegal immigrants showing up to vote makes you shake in your boots? Lastly, I did say legal residents. Look, we’ll do a whole special about immigration and being “American” soon, but I do believe that you should have to be a legal resident to vote. Now should we be giving most central American’s fleeing desolate poverty and the highest crime rates in the world legal residency if they make it to our border? Absolutely.
2. Giving statehood to Washington DC and Puerto Rico. More people live in these place then some states. Yet they have zero voting members of congress. We fought a fucking war over that specific issue. Puerto Rico would be the 30th most populous state in the country. It’s a shame to the word democracy to limit their ability to participate in our government.
3. A representational Senate. This is another no brainer. Everyone should get at least one Senator and then go from there. Most places, well important ones, would end up with at least 3 or 4 Senators while the most populous could end up with 6 or 8 or 10 or even more, depending on what kind of ratio you would be going for. By keeping the Senate the way it is we are only limiting the expression of our people and the growth of our nation.
4. Ending the Electoral College. Some things live on forever, the electoral college should not be one of them. It’s an antiquated system that is rigged in one partys’ favor. You know how I know that? Since 1992, Democrats have won all but one popular vote for the Presidency. That’s 6 out of 7. And yet two Republicans became president. If twenty-five years of evidence isn’t enough to convince you that’s something is true then you should be reading Infowars or watching 9/11 was a hoax videos on Youtube. The person with the most votes should become President. That’s how we do all the other elections, and is in fact the purpose of election, so why continue to bang our heads against the wall trying the same dumbass thing over and over?
5. A constitutional amendment for constitutional amendments. This is something else that would drastically improve the function of the government and empower the will of the people. Instead of requiring those silly majorities, which are almost impossible, or the states handling it themselves, we should simply be able to vote on for amendments ourselves in presidential election years. Of course, there would need to be significant oversight for this one. Only sensible laws could ever make it to the ballot and in order to pass there would need to be a specific number in mind. But that’s not an impossible place to start. You could have a bi-partisan group of 12 member of congress, six from each party, drawn from a hat and form a committee that would oversee what laws make it and which ones are silly or dangerous. Then you would require the law to pass with a majority of all the votes cast, a 50 percent plus one vote rule.
And that’s all she wrote for this, our first, Millennial Manifesto special. Checkout our store and spend some money so we can improve our production values, spread our message to more platforms, and maintain our independence.
Sources for this piece include, but are not limited to:
The Brennan Center
The United States Constitution
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Tribe by Sebastian Junger
The Washington Post
The New York Times
The National Archives
The Half Was Never Told by Edward E. Baptist