Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Regressive Agenda

I find myself in the unique position today of working in an office that serves Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity’s shows – making me a raging liberal in the belly of the Regressive beast.  While the temptation to slip some hardcore LSD into their coffee is intense, I’ve decided to put my time to more productive use and, as I did initially with the Tea Party, examine what it is Regressives are after, based on the policies they pursue.


  Republicans should be the sole party in power.

Let’s start with Karl Rove’s publicly stated goal of a permanent one-party state in the USA under the GOP banner.  If ever there was an idea entirely at odds with the American system of democratic process, the idea of a one-party state is tantamount to Totalitarianism.  Our country is currently going through massive cultural, economic and political spasms of dysfunction on nearly every level as a direct result of Bush’s carte blanche in the aftermath of 9/11 and the party that is at the heart of that dysfunction wants to rewrite things even more.



The Rich should be above the law.

Whether we’re talking about “Too Big to Fail” or the ”affluenza” defense, across the board we’re already at the point where a double-standard exists between those who can afford to buy leniency from the justice system and those who can’t.   It’s one of the hallmarks of the old Feudal system of the aptly-named Dark Ages that the wealthy exist at a level of liberty that is deliberately denied to everybody else. Regressives not only think this is just fine, they want to expand it further.  Another GOP Presidential candidate, the hoping-for-inheritance Jeb Bush also claimed as a hero a policy writer who would rather a single wealthy person dictate policy rather than the entire electorate

It’s ironic that Regressive circles who claim to champion the rights of the average person almost always fail to put their money where their mouths are when this issue is concerned, particularly when it comes to the rights of employees vs the privileges of employers.  This by itself is an existential threat to our nation’s way of life.

Christian Fundamentalists are the only ones who can dictate policy.

Just take a look at this clip from GOP Presidential Front Runner Mike Huckabee.  This is what the Regressive party has endorsed.


Meanwhile, we’re also supposed to turn a blind eye to the rampant hypocrisy that these holier-than-thou Fundamentalists engage in on a daily basis.  This sort of privilege is, again, completely counter to everything this nation was Constitutionally set up to be.  Just one look at the wagon-circling Regressives have done around one of their high powered “family values” lobbyists who’s once again in court on rape and incest charges demonstrates my point.

War is the only business government should conduct.

I find it very telling that the one area that Regressives are unwilling to cut is our defense budget.  Despite the fact that we outspend every other country on Earth when it comes to the military, they’re always for upping it, even while in the same breath they decry our national spendthrift ways.  Also, the proof is in the pudding that when they had a monopoly on power in the early 2000’s, the so-called “fiscal responsibility” party acted like spoiled teenagers with a stolen credit card, putting not only one major war, but two on the books without a single provision to pay for it.

In every other sector of domestic spending, be it for public infrastructure, jobless relief, sick care or schools, the usual cry of the Regressives is “we can’t afford it”, yet when the Regressives shut down the Federal government, which branch do you think was least affected? 

Money and power are more important than people’s lives.

This goes right along with the idea that the Rich should be above the law.  It doesn’t matter what topic is being discussed:  Climate Change, Poverty or Unions, Regressives unfailingly take the position that profit margins should take priority over the necessary steps to preserve life.  Hell, they shut down the Constitutional government twice to try and take away Health Insurance from those who needed it the most.  One notices again that the military and intelligence branch was relatively unaffected.


Ethnic minorities should have no rights.

Again, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the inevitable Regressive “reverse-racism” call when it comes to police brutality or the endless attempts to disenfranchise legal voters or hatred of immigrants from Mexico, Regressive policies invariably take on some form of repression of ethnic minorities as a basis for white Christian male privilege.  No wonder they can’t stand Obama, only non-white President in our history.



Women shouldn’t be treated like people.

Between the constant and self-conflicting attacks on abortion and on contraceptive birth control, it’s pretty obvious that Regressives don’t want women to have any say over what happens to their own bodies.  Add in the endless attempt to justify paying women less in the workplace, and essentially you’ve got a party that wants to keep women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

After decades of women fighting for the right to vote, the right to work for equal pay and the right to be treated as people, this is nothing short of an attempt to turn back the clock.



The poor and downtrodden deserve less than what they get.


This goes right along with all the others, and is usually justified by an Ayn Rand quote.  “Right-to-work” laws invariably end up meaning “right to work for poverty wages”.  When combined with all the other attempts at gutting of public education, poverty relief and the rabid attacks when challenged, we’re left with a party that wants to crush the weakest among us underfoot.   Where the great statesman Solon once claimed that the most perfect popular government was “that where the least injury done to the meanest individual, is considered as an insult on the whole constitution”, the Regressives are absolutely out to ensure that popular government is anything but popular.

In the end, the entire Regressive agenda is bad for our nation, both materially and spiritually.  I can understand why the unelected powers of the economic engines to which our national security is so closely tied would support it – after all, they benefit the most from this agenda – but I find it sickening that so many people whose lives are directly and negatively impacted by this agenda are so easily duped into supporting it.  

Our very nation's existence hangs in balance -- we cannot let its enemies on the inside destroy it.







Thursday, May 7, 2015

Off of the Sidelines


I had the most enlightening experience this week with the NYCLU’s Lobby Day in my old hometown of Albany, NY.  We were going in to lobby support from State Assemblymen and Senators for a bill that would increase funding to Public Defenders across the State.

The bill was the result of a successful lawsuit by the ACLU against 5 counties in NYS, where those who couldn't ordinarily afford an attorney were given substandard defense in court.  In NYS, the individual counties are responsible for funding Constitutionally-guaranteed Public Defenders for those defendants who can’t afford an attorney otherwise.  The problem is that demand far outstrips supply when it comes to Public Defense, so these Public Defenders often have such a huge caseload on their desks that they barely have time to review the cases they’re defending, or even answer the messages on their overloaded voicemail, let alone to do the necessary investigation to mount an effective defense for their assigned clients.  They’re given the bare minimum of resources to pay for such investigations or to support a staff to do the necessary work.  So, the clients are often put into a position where they have to plead guilty to crimes they often didn't even commit.  Innocent people are sent to prison, or bankrupted by exorbitant fines.  Their lives are often ruined because they have no effective defense against a system that, instead of presuming their innocence, makes a large private profit off of assuming their guilt.  

ACLU's lawsuit established the idea that the State is mandated to make appropriate resources available to the individual counties, and while it has begun to do so for the 5 counties listed in the lawsuit, it has not done so for all 62.  We were there to push for a bill that would require it do so immediately.



After a strong rally in front of the State Capitol building, which featured speeches by several State Assembly members, we divided up into teams to start meeting.  I was assigned to go to one of the speakers, who listened very patiently to my fellow team-mates’ stories and happily signed the Pledge to support the bill that we were passing around.  He admitted that there was a lot of opposition to our bill -- particularly from the Republicans -- and that the system was so broken that no single bill would be adequate to fixing the problem by itself.  I got the feeling that we were preaching to the choir in his case, but was told by other teams that other members weren't nearly so easy a sell.

With the Honorable Luis R. Sepulveda of NYS District 87

I brought up my concerns to the NYCLU staff, who were running the event, and suggested that our time and resources would be better spent convincing the opposition rather than preaching to those already on our side of the issue.  Taking this initiative paid off.  

Since I had only been assigned to one Assemblyman and, because I’d made my own travel arrangements rather than join the throngs on the chartered bus (I had gone up the night before and stayed in my childhood home), I was invited to tag along on the NYCLU’s most important meeting of the day – with the staff of the Interim Speaker of the Assembly and Senate leadership.  The meeting was run by the top leaders of the NYCLU and I was presented as an NYCLU member.  I got to be a fly on the wall for the real nuts and bolts of State politics, as concerns of financial feasibility and rhetorical spin were haggled over.  We came away hopeful that we'd potentially gained an ally, or at very least had one or two fewer power-brokers against us.  

I got to see first-hand how complex even the simple matter of issuing a statement can be, and how, the further up the food-chain one goes in government, the more complex and delicate the process becomes.  It was a sharp lesson for me in the difference between philosophy and reality.

But the “eureka!” moment for me actually came earlier in the day, during the rally outside.  As our public employees addressed us, we were accosted by a homeless man.  This man illustrated perfectly how completely the system has failed as he, in his simple eloquence, called us out with the voice of the very desperation our system exacerbates and feeds upon.  Everybody instinctively avoided or ignored this man, not listening to what he was saying.  It’s a shame that happened, as he was highlighting the very issues we were there to address.   As the rally was wrapping up, I approached him alone and pointed out that the issues he was talking about were correct and that my group was at the Capitol that day specifically to address them.  I handed him a $20 bill and received a tearful hug in return.  It was a true moment of humanity, odor and all.

Speaking truth to power rarely works.  Leveraging power works most of the time.  Directing power towards the greater good is of utmost importance.  But at the end of the day, we who fight for real positive change can’t afford to lose sight of the human beings that we’re trying to help, the way entrenched power already has.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rights vs Privilege

Frequently in the last few weeks, I’ve been drawn into "special privilege" arguments about double-standards, as it pertains to race relations in this country.   The people I’ve discussed this with have been -- like me -- white men. 

They bemoaned the double-standard that they see in favor of women and minorities when it comes to speech.  There are certain words minorities are allowed to say, jokes women are allowed to make, that white men simply are not permitted to say or do without being attacked as “racist” or “sexist” or some other label.  Political correctness – or what I'd simply call common courtesy, for simplicity’s sake – has essentially left these men feeling like they lost some basic rights.  They feel cheated that they have no “white pride” parades, no “white history month” and no sanction to revel in their ethnicity the way they see minorities can. 

In short, these men feel that everybody else is getting special treatment and “free passes” that white men are being denied.  What they fail to realize is that, because the system’s already skewed in their favor, white men don’t need the compensatory legitimacy that such focused endeavors provide.

Sadly, what these men have done is confuse privileges with rights.  Our basic civil and human rights, as defined by the Constitution, its Amendments, and International Law, allow each of us our say, our day in court and our liberty to pursue whatever dreams we see fit, so long as nobody else is harmed in the pursuit.  At least, that’s how it looks on paper.  Traditionally, the reality is and has been very different.

For most of the history of the USA, oftentimes as much as half the population was denied those basic rights that the average white man took – and still takes – for granted.  This means that white men had a whole slew of privileges that others were denied.

Systemically, legally, physically and psychologically, this denial of other’s rights formed the basis for a double-standard of privilege, based largely, if not solely, on the pigmentation of a person’s skin.  White men could do many things that women or non-white people were legally barred from doing.  Things such as voting, working certain jobs, owning property, speaking one’s mind, even reading were solely in the white master’s domain for much of our history.  In fact, it’s pretty easy to argue that the sole basis for white men’s privilege in this country was the denial of black men their equally-due rights.  This skewed dis-equity affects our society to this day.



In time, that skewing of privilege has begun to balance out, which means that women and minorities have gained the opportunity to speak out and compensate for their long-standing second-class status with speech, if little else more material, thus far.  Affirmative action was implemented by law in the economic sphere to attempt to compensate for the artificial advantages that white men had for so long enjoyed, so that those who'd been left behind would have the opportunity to catch up.  This trend of equalization threatens the feeling of privilege that white men have so long taken for granted that now, many feel that they have lost rights long taken for granted, when in fact all they are losing are first-class privileges so that those around them could gain real rights at long last. 

The most visible response of “white pride” is violent, traditionally manifesting in and forever identifying itself with rampant murder and terrorism, most commonly wrapped in a white sheet.  To this day, such “White Pride” groups still advocate violent repression of women and minorities, closely emulating the style of groups this country is has been or is currently at war with (Nazi Germany and ISIS being the two best examples).  This is a defense of privilege, not right.

Yes, folks, the Nazis were and still are the ENEMY

What these men fail to consider is that while those skewed privileges have indeed in recent years been somewhat scaled back in many areas of our national life, they do still exist both subtly and overtly in force across the nation.

The numbers don't lie.

Today, white men occupy 75-85% of the positions of power in the economic, social and political spheres in this country as they have for 400 years by systemically-skewed extra-legal privileges across the board.  We make more than the women doing the same jobs beside us.  We have more political power than our minority counterparts and have much easier access to the levers of that political power.  When you factor in the rampant abuse of minorities by the justice system, the Eurocentric curriculum in public schools when it comes to teaching history and the various educational and economic disparities that continue to skew opportunities towards white men, affirmative action, realistically, is little more than a tiny band-aid on a gaping national wound. 

Every day is white men’s day.  Every month is white history month.  It has been this way for so long that it’s taken entirely for granted.

Now, before the usual detractors start freaking out about hating one’s ethnicity or “reverse-racism”, let me be absolutely clear – my point is not about hating white people.  I consider myself extremely fortunate that, by the sheer accident of the circumstances of my birth, I have directly benefitted from a skewed system.  All I’m saying is that all my fellow citizens, regardless of skin color, gender or country of origin deserve the same as I got.

It is never tantamount to calling white people “evil” to point out that a whole swath of my fellow citizens got massively short-ended by that same skewed system.  Nor is it “reverse-racist” to insist that such short-ending be curbed. It is a taking-on of the historical burden of responsibility that comes with my privileged position.

The so-called “White Pride Movement” would do well to remember that with the pride it seeks to revel comes an historical burden to bear. In this case, that burden manifests as putting up with a very minor "double-standard" when it comes to discourse.  This burden is the natural price of the privileges we currently enjoy.

Ultimately, it is the fear of being on the receiving end of the second-class status that is being a minority in this country is what scares so many white folks into the ranks of Regressivism.  As I’ve argued in a previous blog post , the era of white supremacy in this country based solely on demographic numbers is ending. The most recent Census data confirms this.  This means that for the first time since the end of the Indian Wars, white people will officially be a minority ethnicity on this continent.  If we are to avoid a repetition of history in the reverse, it’s incumbent on those of us who've benefitted from this skewed system to lay down our privileges gracefully and to support all efforts to balance the scales rather than deride those efforts.   If we don’t lead the way towards a more equitable system, we will in the end be squashed when it finally does come about.


If, at the end of the day, the only thing I can do is to make every effort to show common courtesy, and help rebalance things by enduring harmless jokes, or the occasional chip on another’s shoulder, or the occasional pride parade, the worst I’ve lost is the privilege of being a bully about it.  I don’t lose a single legal right by giving up that privilege.  I will not lose any rights if ALL of my fellow citizens finally are allowed to use theirs.  The worst I'll have to give up in the service of justice is the demand for extra-legal privileges denied to my fellow citizens.
 

I can live with that.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

2016 Actions for America



We’re all aware of the major problems facing our nation.  More than any other group or nation abroad, there is a trend which many -- including this author -- feel is the single biggest threat facing our nation, for it gives rise to many other problems that both Left and Right agree need addressing.  At the root of our national woes, we have the rise of Economic Feudalism.  


We've seen this with “too big to fail” attitudes on the part of elected government towards large corporations and we've now had several elections since the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases, where elections are bought and sold like any stock on Wall Street and where legislation against average workers’ right to act on their own behalf is now creeping onto the books of nearly every state.  If buying policy and forcing the majority of the populace to work harder and longer just to put food on the table isn't enough insurance to keep the citizenry in line with this New Order, the exponential militarization of police forces around the country and the increasingly free reign the police have in using excessive lethal force is.  This is the very definition of Imperial Fascism, as described by Mussolini as "the merger of state and corporate power."

To the completion of this end, there are several rhetorical tactics being used to justify the increasingly militaristic and fascistic methods being implemented across our nation.

Firstly, we have the increased reliance on a pseudo-philosophy that creates some “buzz-word” talking points designed to legitimize this Feudalistic trend.  Typically, these talking points can be found in the Right-Wing schools of thought, which tend to reject any attempt to check-and-balance economic disparity in the name of “individual free enterprise” and usually revert to a “blame-the-victim” approach when confronted with the negative results.  This tactic has been most evident when it comes to police abuse in their disproportionate targeting of minority communities.

Another classic tactic, by which Corporate Feudal interests maintain control, is through a focus, particularly in the mainstream network media, on divisive social issues.  The push for Theocracy by the religious right in this country, for instance, which, in seeking to remove the Constitutionally-guaranteed Freedom of Religion for all, and ironically, in mirroring fundamentalist talking points around the world, is a major contributor both to the push to divide the citizenry against itself as well as a force behind the degradation of our national education system, through the re-writing of our national history and the replacement of science with religious instruction in biology classrooms.  

This divisive tactic also manifests as a highly-xenophobic set of ideas which on the one hand divides the populace at home based on religion or ethnicity (usually directed at immigrants specifically, but also at social minorities in general) and on the other promotes a highly-militaristic imperial mindset when it comes to matters abroad.  The lies that were used to drag the US into the War in Iraq (and are now being used to promote the idea of another war with Iran) are the primary example.

While these talking points have great appeal to those souls who desperately hope for a good life without interference from those in power, in reality, these talking points empower those already on top at the expense of the powerless.  This ultimately interferes more with the average person’s well-being than any other force (ask yourself this – who really has more direct impact on your daily life:  the employer who pays your checks or the local council of your town, whose names you may not even know?).  We've seen everyone from political candidates to police captains use these very talking points in defense of the abuse of power time and time again.  Corruption in our case is literally trickling down from the top of the food chain, from the highest halls of government all the way down to your local police precinct, and it’s being justified on airwaves across the country on a daily basis.

Due to their simplistic appeal, these talking points have worked brilliantly, particularly in Social Media, to keep the population at each other’s proverbial throats.  By keeping the citizenry divided, frightened and ignorant, the unelected powers-that-be have an easier time of maintaining control.

“What can I do about this?” you may ask.  These are huge problems, well beyond the average person’s ability to confront.

Aside from political disobedience or outright armed rebellion (the latter of which has never worked in the history of our nation -- just ask the Confederates), the only tool at the disposal of the citizenry to address the root problem of Economic Feudalism is the Federal government itself on the national level and State governments on the local, both of which are still on paper accountable to the average person, but will soon be entirely in the hands of unelected moneyed interests rather than the citizenry’s if we don’t act.  To act, we have to unify and organize.  It is imperative that the citizenry retake the reigns of our own governance, and this will require measures that at first glance may be unpopular, especially among Right-Wingers.


The first step I’d advocate towards fixing the problem of economic feudalism is to steal a page from Teddy Roosevelt's playbook and push for the return of previously-successful governmental oversight and regulation of large-scale corporate business.  While admittedly at times inconvenient, regulation and taxation of large-scale corporate business quite successfully checked-and-balanced the forces of unaccountable corporate power for decades in this country.  That is, until the “neoliberal” forces of economic feudalism, originally championed in my lifetime by Ronald Reagan and continued by his successors, successfully pushed through campaigns to remove those impediments.  Like criminals freed from the fear of police, these interests literally got away with murder and very nearly ran our economy into the ground.  In the name of private profits, the public sector -- which serves us all -- is suffering.  Public infrastructure is crumbling, the criminal justice system has become a cash cow incentivizing the criminalization of the non-violent and bribery has become the modus operandi of elected government.  And as the impediments to economic feudal control over government are removed, the boldness with which these forces push forward increases.    By itself, reinstating a few pieces of proven, successful regulation and removing bribery from government will de-clog the mechanisms of our Constitutional government currently held hostage by gridlock.

But what can the average citizen do to make a positive difference?  There are a number of policies that we can push for – and many groups pushing for them that we can support:

FIRST, WE FORCIBLY SEPARATE CORPORATOCRACY FROM DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT

OPENSECRETS        The first step in mounting an effective citizen’s defense is in knowing who the real enemy is.  Perhaps the most important source of information on this list, this site tracks the donors and lobbyists’ ties to every elected official on the Federal level.  If you really want to find the people buying our government for their own interests, this is the place to start!

OVERTURN CITIZENS UNITED  Run by Credo Action, this citizens group is actively working to cut the ties of corruption between government and moneyed interests and is currently gaining ground in the fight to legally end the rampant bribery that has crippled our national governance.

OCCUPY WALL STREET   This group gained national notoriety for its correct identification of and initially-strong action against the root of governmental corruption -- unaccountable corporate power.  Though its organizational model is not the strongest, it has become an umbrella resource for numerous action groups seeking to empower the individual against forces ordinarily too powerful for a single individual to combat directly.

SECOND, WE CHECK THE ABUSE OF POWER BY POLICE AND MILITARY

ACLU             For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.  They know the system inside and out and are an ideal resource for training, information and legal defense, with chapters in every state in the Union.

SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER   Another experienced group, the SPLC is a non-profit legal advocacy group specializing in civil rights and legislation for the public -- rather than private -- interest.  If you're being victimized by police, these are the people to call!

STOP MASS INCARCERATION    This group is on the forefront of the fight against the commercialization of our criminal justice system.  Very much against the drug war, private prison complexes and the systemic targeting of minorities, their national network is a prime example of how to organize for our own defense.

THIRD, VOTE OUT THE INCUMBENTS AND REPLACE THEM WITH THIRD PARTY CANDIDATES

I SIDE WITH            A simple and fun way to figure out which party best represents your interests is to follow this link to a political quiz on the various issues facing the country.  The quiz takes about 20 minutes and delivers a comprehensive and often surprising result. 

Above all, though, the single most important thing we, as citizens, can do is to remain engaged in the process, rather than throw up our hands and give in.  At the bottom of this engagement is making sure that we use our power of the VOTE.

BALLETOPEDIA     The next step in informed voting is in knowing your options when it comes to political representation.  This site lists all recognized political parties in the USA.  Many of them have been recognized by most states and a simple Google search can direct you to the platforms of whichever party you feel most connected to.  If you’re as fed-up as I am with the same old lesser-of-two-evils choice that comes around every year, this site is ideal for finding someone better.

REMEMBER:  VOTING IS YOUR RIGHT AND DUTY AS A CITIZEN!  If you do NOTHING else, make sure you move heaven and earth to get your vote in.   Make sure you’re registered in your local town and have proper ID BEFORE you go to vote!

ALL of these groups and sites list actions that are happening every day around the country towards the return to true liberty for the average person.  Sign up for any one of them.  Even a day’s work can make all the difference in the world.

Stay as informed as you can on every issue, making sure you’re informed of the actual facts, not a biased narrative.  Avoid the mainstream network/ corporate news at all costs. 

News outlets such as NoPartySystem, Democracy Now!, the Associated Press, VICE and C-Span all have long-standing histories of sticking to the facts and reporting in a straightforward manner.  White-hat hacker groups like Anonymous and whistle-blower groups like WikiLeaks also have solid reputations for delving into sources of information usually censored by unaccountable interests.  When these journalism groups report an opinion, they make a point of reporting it as such, where corporate media sources often will deliberately confuse fact with interpretation in order to sell more advertising time.

It’s a traditional assumption among totalitarian governments that the people they rule are too dumb or too weak to be treated as anything other than cattle.  The best thing we can do as citizens – and in the truest American tradition – is to make sure we prove our home-grown totalitarians wrong.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Statement



I am an American first, of European descent, raised secular and educated as a Jew.  In my blood is every immigrant experience in this country since the first waves of settlers in the 1600's.  Blood remembers.

I believe that we are all created equal and endowed with the inalienable common rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  To this end, the first duty of government must be to protect the powerless from the powerful. People have the right to choose their government and the duty to choose wisely.

I believe in freedom of expression and freedom from harm.  I believe in freedom of religion in private and freedom from religion in public. I believe in the right to a speedy, public and unbiased trial by a jury of my peers with the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

I believe that human beings can rise above bestial nature.  Not only should we embrace our better angels for its own sake, but we must for our own survival.  Only by working together can we hope to live and let live as individuals.

I pledge allegiance to the Citizens of the World and to the Republics which stand for them, one Planet, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL.

This above all:  the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.  

I live my life by these principles.  I believe they have been used before to make this world a better place and that they must be used again.

Join me in this cause. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Divided, But Not Conquered

http://www.nopartysystem.com/featured/
In his Farewell Address, George Washington, our first President and Father of our country gave explicit warning against the creation of political parties.  In his view, the negative effect of party politics on the justice of our laws would:
Serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.
We all have a tendency to focus on the Office of the Presidency, because of its glamour and position as military authority, but both realistically and legally, the Presidency is an inherently limited office.  No President has been legally able stay in the Oval Office for longer than eight years since the 1940’s.  Not so with Congress, where House Representatives and Senators can return and return with no limits on the number of terms.  Executives come and go, but Congressional members often have more lasting impact due to their longer and more-readily repeated terms.  If we can be sure of anything in our current climate of party division, it’s that as a nation, we’ve long since forgotten Washington’s most prescient advice when it comes to Congress.  
The effects are out for all of us to see:  Congress has been notably inactive in its duty of governing the nation and is currently gridlocked at unprecedented levels.  The Constitutional heart of our Government, the Legislature, has been shut down over what amounts to political temper tantrums by the major parties and further shut-downs are now threatened as a regular negotiation tactic.  Elected Representatives spend more time focusing on re-election than they do on the business they were initially elected to pursue.   The election process itself has become more of a football game than a referendum on the state of the nation and has resulted in concerted efforts to rig election districts to suit party one-upmanship  rather than tailoring party actions to the empirical needs of local jurisdictions.
This football team mentality, fostered by our media-fueled political process, has the American citizenry at odds with itself at levels we haven’t seen since the 1850’s and the on-set of the Civil War.  One thing I've noticed in all this, though, is that the extreme Right and Left do in fact agree on certain problems in the country, if not on the solution.  One of those places of agreement is that our government has become so plagued by partisan jockeying that it’s stopped serving the interests of the average person.
Let’s ponder for a moment:  If a person is out to conquer a nation, the easiest way to do so is to divide it.  The question therefore becomes, who is directly benefiting from this division in our own nation?  Washington himself said :
However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
So we have to look at those who meet those criteria.  Within Congress and in the local governments on the State level, we can certainly find many viable candidates who, like the Machiavellian protagonist of House of Cards, have played the partisan game so effectively as to have remained in powerful office – both elected and appointed -- for decades with little fear of dislocation. But even they are beholden to other un-elected interests.  
So, how do we find the men behind the proverbial curtain?  How do we recognize those cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men who have usurped for themselves the reins of government?  Following the money is a very good place to start for nowhere in our society is there more absolute power than at the top of the economic food chain, where resources are divided on the scale of nations, and where those who control those resources are almost completely unaccountable to the citizenry.  Boards of Directors aren’t elected by the citizenry, but the policies they set in their companies often affect our daily lives more directly than any legislation.  No parliamentary line in your average 2000-page bill has a greater impact than the wages set by one’s employer or the environment of the workplace.  
Following the Citizens United and McCutcheon Cases, the door to the out-and-out bribing of public officials and the purchasing of legislation has been blown wide open.  While this has been sold to the public as a triumph of Libertarianism over Tyranny, the reality of the situation is that the very organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests has been directly infected with a cancer through which a small, unelected and powerful economic minority has usurped the power to directly control all of our lives.  In the situation we’re currently facing, where you have private corporate interests literally writing legislation passed by representatives paid up front for their service, you have to ask: who’s really regulating whom?
Consider this:  No public servant is going to listen to the needs of voters when their coffers are being filled to the tune of millions by nigh-aristocratic interests and when the system of re-election is rigged to make irrelevant the actual will of the voting public.  
As long as we allow ourselves to be goaded into attacking one another over petty and hyped-up differences that boil down to attempts to publicly legislate private taste, we will remain divided – and easily conquered by an enemy we have as yet chosen not to see.