Last year’s election was rife was polarization. With bitter fights in states such as Texas, where incumbent Ted Cruz narrowly defeated challenger Beto O’Rourke, the country’s politicians seemed more divided than ever. Many Democrats ran on an anti-Trump line, whereas many Republicans did the opposite. But one thing about the election season was eerily unified: most of the Senate took money from Lockheed Martin and other military industrial complex companies. Continue reading “Have Your Senators Taken Money from Lockheed Martin?”
Jack Shields | United States
This week I got to participate in a program run throughout my school district where seniors get to go for a few days and work at a real job they are interested in. My friend and I were lucky enough to spend three days working in the office of the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. I learned a lot of things, but most importantly being there reaffirmed my beliefs that government ought to be limited, local, and that voters need to examine just what is important to them.
Nickolas Roberson | United States
As of now, the Democrats control the House, while the Republicans control the Senate. With both parties in power, political gridlock will only increase. However, the legislation these parties do pass will only increase the already gluttonous influence and power of the United States government. Clearly, this increased government overreach is detrimental to citizens.
For over a hundred years, the government has been willing to violate our natural rights and liberties. For example, we have lawmakers limiting our 2nd Amendment rights with the bump stock ban and warrantless surveillance of citizens. With established political gridlock growing, these infringements will only increase in frequency.
Why? In order for the established political parties to gain “true progress”, they must come to agreements and compromises and create bipartisan deals that work for both sides of the aisle. With their vastly varying beliefs, these parties will need to find common ground. After all, without this, nothing would get done in Washington.
To the average citizen, this may sound like a good thing. Yes, the wheels of politics are able to move once again. However, they are by no means moving in a positive direction; they are instead furthering government overreach. Both parties want to ensure that they get what they want, no matter the monetary cost.
A Vehicle for Government Overreach
For example, after having control of the House for just two months, members of the Democratic party have already proposed a bill to eliminate the Electoral College. Additionally, Democrats proposed a bill that would criminalize the private sale of firearms, a clear violation of our 2nd Amendment right. Due to a Republican-controlled Senate, these bills will most likely not pass.
However, if they propose similar bills that contain legislation pertaining to both parties’ agendas, government overreach will continue. For instance, a bill may set aside tax dollars to fund the border wall, but also provide taxpayer-funded healthcare to American citizens. Both parties fulfill their wants in this situation, pushing them to fulfill more extreme legislature that fits in their agendas. Thus, an ever-growing spiral of increasing government overreach and power will form. Our rights are at risk; compromise is not always beneficial.
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Craig Axford | Canada
Government shutdowns and flirtations with default by putting off raising the federal debt ceiling have become regular occurrences in Washington, D.C. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised given the number of representatives and senators regularly expressing disdain for the very institution they were elected to run, but still.
Americans like to believe their nation is exceptional, and it is: it’s the only developed nation on the planet that doesn’t guarantee all its citizens healthcare, higher education is more expensive there than just about anywhere else, it has the only government that it’s possible to shut down without having to resort to violence, and it’s the only nation that flirts with suicide by requiring votes on its debt ceiling.
That’s right. No other governments have even one, let alone two, kill switches built into their system. And why would they? What’s the point? Unless the intent is to erode public confidence in government it makes no sense for elected officials to even contemplate closing down popular national parks or giving all the people in charge of enforcing our public health and safety regulations an extended unpaid holiday?
The habit of shutting down the government now and then (as well as the continuing resolutions passed to avoid them) is an unintended bug in the American system rather than a feature of it. So too is the necessity to authorize more borrowing periodically once the national debt has reached a predetermined threshold. Both of these bugs are extremely dangerous but, unfortunately, they are likely to remain unfixed for the foreseeable future.
America’s founding fathers were revolutionaries. As such, they were no fans of the British government, which by the late 18th century was already well established and quite recognizable to any citizen of the 21st century. Though King George III was the titular head of state, like his contemporary successor Queen Elizabeth II, he had very little actual power to match the privileges that came with his hereditary title. Parliament was already very much in charge.
Nothing like what took place in Philadelphia following the American Revolution had ever been seriously considered, let alone attempted, in London. To intentionally sit down and craft rules for a new government quite literally being built from scratch was a radical idea if ever there was one. To call America an experiment is not an exaggeration. As with any experiment, the outcome is unknown until it has come to a close. The American experiment hasn’t ended, but so far it certainly has produced some unanticipated results.
In creating the modern world’s first republic, America’s victorious rebels were faced with the task of establishing rules for a country that no longer had centuries of tradition to fall back on. The norms of the mother country they had just abandoned had evolved over hundreds of years of power struggles between the aristocracy and the crown, with a nascent merchant middle class increasingly making its own demands over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries. The newly independent colonies wanted to distinguish themselves from the nation they had just liberated themselves from, but how?
The US Constitution settled for a president instead of a monarch, while the House of Representatives took the place of the House of Commons and the Senate stood in for the House of Lords. Each elected member of these respective branches is subject to regular fixed terms of office, with the power balanced more or less equally between them rather than resting largely in the representative branch (i.e., parliament) alone. With the exception of the extremely rare and difficult case of impeachment, the US Constitution provides no opportunity to hold any single officeholder accountable for failure during the period between elections, let alone the government as a whole. Federal judges receive lifetime appointments, something else not seen in any other developed representative democracy to this day.
In a parliamentary system, the failure to pass something as routine as an annual budget triggers a crisis. Under the Westminster parliamentary model followed in the UK, Canada and several other members of the Commonwealth, this crisis brings down the government and forces the monarch or her designated representative to dissolve the government and call an election. In unstable periods when minority governments are common, elections tend to be relatively more frequent, while in less turbulent political times a majority government can persist for five years or so before facing a vote.
Likewise, when a parliament authorizes spending beyond the government’s anticipated revenues, it is understood they have necessarily approved an increase in the national debt. Therefore, there is no need to consider raising the debt limit independently. From the perspective of citizens living in parliamentary countries, it makes no sense that the same Congress that approved deficit spending one month can spend time the next flirting with a refusal to allow any borrowing. It’s like having a government that doesn’t know its own mind.
Unfortunately, the kind of crises that bring down governments in parliamentary systems has become commonplace in the United States. Budgets go years without being approved, with Congress lurching from one continuing resolution to the next while various factions hold federal employees and the citizens dependent upon their services hostage until some pet project or favorite policy or another is approved in exchange for keeping things running for a while longer. A Prime Minister Donald Trump would either be facing a vote of the people at this point in the budget process or a leadership challenge by members of his own caucus. One year in office would be unlikely, but four would almost certainly be impossible.
I’ve been living in Canada for the better part of a decade now. On most days I find myself feeling pretty ambivalent about the monarchy if I even think about it at all. That’s not because I can see equal merit in both sides of the argument regarding having someone born into the role of head of state. It’s because I recognize all societies require a sense of continuity and for some countries that can take the shape of a monarchy that has existed in one form or another for centuries. A woman that appears on our money while playing an entirely ceremonial role is harmless, if not for the actual person forced into the job by an accident of birth then at least for the rest of us.
I’m not feeling so ambivalent about having a parliament, however. I have strong opinions about the two Canadian prime ministers I’ve lived under so far. But the extent of my approval or disapproval aside, at least I know that the nearby Pacific Rim National Park will, weather permitting, always be open and that with the exception of national holidays at the local Services Canada office the door will never be locked. Even the UK Brexit debacle hasn’t convinced me parliaments are less effective or ultimately less democratic than the divided governments that have become the norm in the US.
If for some reason, it turns out parliament can’t do its job there will be an election lasting a little over a month while the people try to vote one in with a sufficient mandate to do it. In the meantime, things will go on pretty much as before without any nightly news reports about government employees unable to pay the rent because someone got it into their head they wanted to build a wall. I know it’s incredibly unAmerican to say so, but if you were to put me in a time machine and send me back to 1776, I would tell the founding fathers to get rid of the monarchy if they must, but at least keep the parliament.
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Josh Hughes | United States
Opponents claim that voting is an act of aggression, and thus violates the NAP, or non-aggression principle, that libertarians abide by. They argue that because the state’s existence is made possible through coercion and violence, voting simply legitimizes it. Simply getting a choice on who your leader is, some claim, does not make you freer. A slave that picks his master is still a slave nonetheless, after all. In our Republic, it only takes a simple majority for a leader to be elected. Is it fair that just because 50.001% of voters feel one way that the other 49.999% shouldn’t get a say? These are just a few of many, many totally valid arguments against the institution of voting. However, does being an idealist in this sense truly accomplish anything?
To some, the answer is clear. Abstaining from aggression in every way possible is of utmost importance. However, the other side of the token needs to be examined. Voting in a libertarian candidate, even if he or she is imperfect and not totally in line with your principles, is important for the sake of advancing the cause of liberty.
The system favors a two-party process, meaning that the overwhelming majority of people will align with either a Republican or a Democrat, and their views will match those of their respective party for the most part. In fact, there are many who are unaware of other options such as the Libertarian Party. If enough people show up on election day, many libertarians nationwide have legitimate chances to win their elections. The best way to get voters informed about the LP is for it to grow. The “lesser of the evils” argument is a strong one, but in the world of politics, idealists rarely get anywhere.
Politics in America are becoming increasingly polarizing, and the future seems destined to either take a turn for radical neo-conservatism or liberal socialism. Both futures are ugly ones for those who support personal and economic liberty. However, this will become the reality. While a libertarian leader is still a person with power over individuals that will engage in aggression, it will be a stepping stone towards a society absent of authority.
The Democrats are increasingly advocating for higher taxes and more economic intervention on the part of the government, which are ultimately a threat to American finances. The Republicans are advocating for an expansion of the military and police state, a threat to the social tradition of America. While imperfect, the principles of the Libertarian Party are by far the least aggressive and would lead to less government interference across the board.
This November 6, if you are able, get out and vote for your local libertarian candidate. If there isn’t one, find other ways to support the party or a candidate of your choice. If a vote was hypothetically going to come down to a democratic-socialist, a neo-conservative, or a moderate libertarian, who would you choose?
Ideals are important to individuals. It is imperative to not sacrifice your principles and remain consistent with what you believe. However, the current system America has left little room for true ideals. The best way to advance the liberty movement is to deal with voting pragmatically and vote for your libertarian candidate.
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