Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jason Chaffetz and the Ten Percent Pollution

By Bob Ferris

Controversial Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Planned Parenthood fame wants to be Speaker of the House.  Jason Chaffetz is a so-called Tea Party Republican who holds views consistent with about twelve percent of the US population.  Let that sink in for a little bit—the views of twelve percent of the population forced on the eighty-eight percent of the rest of us.  Regardless of whether you think of the US as a democracy or a republic there is something patently wrong about this decidedly minority vision being the ruling force of the land.  Yet it could be so.

Although the US is a country that has historically tried—with some success and many failures—to be sensitive and protective of minority views, my sense is that the intention of the Founding Fathers was not to have minority views drive governance.  This is likely particularly true of conservative views which stood in the way of the formation of this country in the first place, then tried to rip it apart during the Civil War, and are continuing that track record with this present divisiveness.

If we are a Democracy, why are there twice as many conservatives in Congress than there are the general population?
I look at these things political the same way I look at pretty much any system.  That we have 12 percent conservatives in the general population and roughly 25 percent in Congress must have taken something un-natural such as what we are seeing in terms of an influx of biased media, gerrymandering, or disenfranchisement via monkey-business at polling places or in the registration process.  I suspect that "king-making" by the rich and famous plays a role as well.

We only have to look in the news and at internet resources to see obvious media biases, lawsuits in Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Texas and Virginia trying to overturn gerrymandering, and the current fight in Kansas for voter records along with the proposed closure of rural (red black) Department of Motor Vehicle offices (i.e., voter registration options) in Alabama to know these forces are clearly at work.  The news also points to undue influence from the rich and privileged driving us ever farther from a one-vote-one-person model (1,2,3).

I call this un-natural because it is illogical also.  Any political party wanting a larger share of the electorate should devise strategies targeting voters in the middle of the spectrum (see chart at beginning of piece) where there are more Americans rather than on the fringes where there are fewer. So-called big tent strategies that ultimately create political environments where very few are comfortable cannot last or do much. (Bring anything to mind?)

I am not certain whether or not I want Mr. Chaffetz as Speaker of the House or not.  If he gets the job my sense is that needed change and correction will come quicker and with McCarthy slower.  Now many might point to our current situation with our bumper crop of ridiculous candidates and all that is alluded to above as indications that the system is seriously broken and probably ill-designed.  I believe that those making these comments are mostly wrong and the dysfunction in Congress and these 50 Congressmen mentioned in the CNN piece (along with their allies) childishly digging in their conservative heels and blocking all but exactly what they want is only part of a corrective cycle in a purposely elastic system.   I trust that this condition will ultimately force Republicans concerned about maintaining political parity as well as moving their agenda along to work to correct.

I think I am like many who long for the days when it was a tough decision whether to vote for a Republican or Democrat and the only difference between the two basically being their particular pathway to optimize public good for all their constituents.  For this hopeful event to happen,however, we have to return to those "system doubters" and the three main areas where they are correct in their assessment.  Those three areas boil down to a need to: 1) return fairness in the media; 2) bring about campaign finance reform starting with a Constitution amendment or legislative fix to Citizen United; and 3) end to the idea and practice of trickle-down economics.

Mr. Chaffetz is a great symbol for the 10 percent Congressional pollution that is upsetting the legislative apple cart, because he is a prime example of the extra 10 percent conservatism, mainly via the Tea Party, that has been forced into Congress by external forces and energies wanting to game the system for their own monetary or political gain.

I wonder if the cot-surfing Congressman from Utah truly understands how many US citizens wish that he would drop support for witch hunts directed a Planned Parenthood and Benghazi (1,2,3) and look after the broader interests of all of us by investigating the impacts of the influx of politically biased media on our shared airwaves and bandwidths as well as the untoward political influence and perversion of science by a select few who have benefited far too much for far too long from the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the upper one percent.   If Mr. Chaffetz is that concerned about cancer (see video here), that is the "cancer" that is infecting America and we need some leaders to do something about it.

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