The Tyranny of the Minority

The title of this piece is not my own, but it certainly reflects my views.  I understand that polls are often misleading.  Our recent election experience reinforces that.  But how is it that a significant majority of people want some elements of gun control for example, but nothing gets done.  Blatant discriminatory policies abound for substantial segments of our population, and nothing gets done.  The list is rather extensive.

I will highlight four examples that greatly contribute to this “tyranny”.

  1. “Smaller Red States” are Ripping off “Blue States”

It is well documented that some states, primarily in the Northeast, pay much more in federal taxes than they receive in federal expenditures.  In fact, NY, NJ, CT, and MA receive 90 cents on the dollar.  Their “surplus” sent to the federal government is around $50 billion.  In contrast, there are six states that receive more than $2 for every $1 in taxes (NM, MS, AL, KEN, WVA, and VA), and another six receiving between $1.75-2.00 for every $1 of taxes.  They are LA, OK, MO, SC, MD, ME.  VA and MD fall into these categories because of their proximity to DC.  With the exception of NM (blue) and ME (purple??), the rest are solidly “red”.  What do Senators McConnell and Graham have to say about this?  Nothing.  

Tyranny of the minority.

  1. The Electoral College

I will not dwell on this, but it is just absurd.  Trump lost the popular vote by over seven million votes.  Yet, if about 250,000 votes had shifted around in six states, he would have been reelected.  He should not have been elected in 2016.  Bush lost the popular vote to Gore.  Where would this country be if Bush had not decided to invade Iraq on the basis of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction?  We always refer to ourselves as the world’s greatest democracy.  But we do not have one person one vote for the president of the United States. 

Tyranny of the minority.

  1. The Supreme Court

When it came to being able to pack the court, Trump/McConnell hit a home run.  There are six conservatives and three liberals.  I am not a lawyer, but the conservatives generally apply the theory of “originalism” to their decision making.  Two problems stand out. 

The first is that two-thirds of the country are not conservative.  It is generally accepted that conservatives, progressives, and centrists each have roughly one-third of the electorate.  Yet, the Court is heavily biased to the conservatives. 

I am totally confused trying to determine what “originalism” represents.  Do these justices really think that they can interpret what the founders were thinking when the Constitution was written?  To me, that seems the same as believing that the Ten Commandments are all encompassing, and that the Gospel can be ignored.  Originalism just seems ridiculous. 

It is important to remember that this Supreme Court gave free rein for southern states to engage in voter suppression.  This has resulted in gerrymandering based on sophisticated statistical analysis, and the Republicans have benefitted across the board.  Finally, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations were able to spend unlimited amounts on campaigns and related PAC activities.

Tyranny of the minority.

  1. Elitist Control of Politics

In each of the graduate level classes that I teach, I start off the semester by asking the students whether or not the system is rigged and why.  At the end of the semester I ask them the same questions.  Typically, their views change markedly when they learn about some of my Wall Street experiences.

For both political parties, money talks.  PACs, in theory unaffiliated with a particular candidate, spent billions of dollars in the last election.  Honestly, the ads were such farces. I cannot believe that they changed anyone’s mind.  The PACs all had silly patriotic names, and you did not know who was doing what until it was played.  Of course, PACs, contributions to the national/state/local political parties, and to the candidates themselves are all channels for cash.  Let us not forget the lobbyists and their relationships with political cronies and regulators.  It does not depend on what party is in power, the revolving door is very real.

It is quite obvious that the economic elites, through their massive contributions, have access that enables them to sustain and expand their status.  Recent tax legislation and regulatory rollbacks are clear examples of that.  How often have Republicans tried to eviscerate social programs?  Remember, they are direct expenditures that are easy to identify and reduce.  How often have any politicians really tried to have the tax code enforced?  In a recent article, I referred to these as tax expenditures, and it is hard to identify the beneficiaries and make court cases of tax fraud.  It is much easier just to have the elites and dominant corporations pay a tax deductible fine.

Tyranny of the minority.

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