A political essay

Every week I get a thought-provoking question from Storyworth, a service my daughter signed me up for. The idea is that my collection of responses will be captured in a book format so that my descendants can have some idea of what I think and who I was. Pretty cool, actually. So I’ve been good about writing weekly essays in response to the questions.

This week’s essay question was “Jeff, what political issues do you consider the most important?”. I’ve spent more than a little time thinking about that, and my answer is republished here.

My goodness, it’s hard to know where to start. We have soooo many political problems here in 2021, it might take a while to discuss them all.

I’ll start with root causes, and first among them is term limits – or lack thereof. We need term limits on Representatives, Senators and Supreme Court Justices. And maybe all judges. Lifetime appointments are just a bad idea. The Supreme Court has become politicized because of the lifetime appointment – it makes the stakes very high for each appointment.

The second root cause is minority rule, which shows up in two places – the Electoral College and the Senate. It’s a complex subject, but in general both Senate seats and Electors are correlated with land area, not population. So fewer people living in vast empty lands can over-rule many more people living in cities. This is/was a flaw in our original governance and should be changed. North Dakota with a population of 762,000 gets the same two powerful Senators as California with a population of 40,000,000. That’s crazy. Each ND Senator has essentially 40 times as much power/constituent as each CA Senator.

Minority rule is also evident in the Electoral College, which again maps electoral votes to land area (states) instead of people. It’s not as bad as the Senate, but it has led to Presidents taking office with the least popular vote, more than once. The EC may have made sense in the 1800s, but no longer.

After the root causes, there are some other secondary effects (problems) worth listing as political issues.

First is Roe v Wade, and a woman’s right to choose what to do with and within her body. That just shouldn’t be a discussion – a person should have complete agency over his/her body. End of discussion – any other choice is a wrongheaded slippery slope.

Second is the misinterpretation of the Second Amendment. What we have in America is not a “well-regulated militia” – it’s wildly too many guns in the hands of often misguided people. We have more guns than citizens in America, for no good reason. Don’t label me “anti-gun-ownership” – I’m all for interested parties getting to own and use a gun if they wish – but gun owners should be registered, trained, occasionally evaluated, and part of a regulated population (a militia). This is one concept the Founders got right but we’ve perverted over the years.

The third notable secondary political issue is our out of control Defense spending. We hotly debate every dollar spent on the welfare of citizens (healthcare, infrastructure, education), but the trillion dollars per year that we spend on weapons and the military just goes through with no comment. We spend 100 times more on Defense than any other nation, for no good reason. I’m in favor of our having the best technology and military strength, but it doesn’t take a trillion dollars per year to achieve that. Maybe half – but there are very few champions of this idea.

I could go on, but this is plenty. Fix these five political issues and we’d have a more perfect Union.

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