07 September 2008

3 Loopholes

James Madison is to me the hero of heroes among our founding fathers. He wanted to achieve a single objective; align the interests of the ruling policy makers with the interests of the general citizenry. His intended solution was to make the citizenry the ruling policy makers.

Given the communication limitations of his time, implementation of his plan had the citizens democratically elect a representative. Madison required the representatives to then be subject to frequent re-elections so that if the citizens believed their representative was not accurately representing their interests, he or she would be replaced by another candidate.

Madison wrote our constitution trying to ensure citizens interests would always be represented in the policy decisions. The antagonist of this objective was any group that might achieve power and then exercise it to retain power so that they could influence policy decisions for their own interest.

Madison called these groups factions, realized they were always circling the peoples' government looking for an opening, and therefore he had to make the Constitution, the foundation of our government, ironclad to their devices. For a more in-depth description of Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay's attempts to make our government impenetrable to factions and protect our policy from manipulation by a ruling minority, see The Federalist Papers.

The great news is that the resulting Constitution is the longest-running basis-of-power document for any standing government. Equally impressive, it is also the shortest in length. Our Constitution has stood the test of time, the challenges of a large, growing, and diversified nation all while providing its citizens unprecedented liberties. It has had to be amended, but remember, it grants power to amend itself in a peaceful method.

Now, 219 years later, if we look closely at its hull, there are at least 3 fissures; loopholes that have begun to allow the entry and proliferation of destructive factions. These vulnerabilities are known about, but are not necessarily easy to solve, especially by a governing body suffering from their effects.

These Constitutional loopholes that allow for culmination and abuse of power to effect policy for private interest are 1) Campaign Finance, 2) Gerrymandering of electoral districts, and 3) Committee-member ranking incentives.

I will attempt to explain each of these Constitutional fissures in turn in following posts.

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