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Sunday, January 20, 2013

What does Governor Brownback know about Democracy?

Our Governor Sam Brownback had a few things to say about Democracy during his State of the State address, January 15. As we can expect, Brownback said some rather incorrect and even disturbing things about how he sees democracy. From Kansas Office of the Governor, here are some of the comments he made and my responses to them;


“In the democratic system of checks and balances crafted by our Founding Fathers, the power to authorize spending public money was given exclusively to you, the Legislative branch.  This is a core principle.
The “power of the purse” is the primary power of the Legislature, not the Executive or the Judiciary.
For the last two years – you, the Legislature, have proven that you can increase state support for education while pursuing pro-growth economic policy.  Balancing a wide range of public priorities is one of the strengths of our representative system.
 And so I ask you to make it clear in law that defining what is “suitable provision” for public funding of education is a job for the people’s elected representatives – and no one else.”

Here Brownback overlooks that the judiciary exists to defend people’s rights. Just because people can vote does not mean they can vote away the rights that people already have. No matter whom the people of Kansas vote for they can’t vote away people’s civil rights. They can’t take away people’s right to vote based on their race. We can’t vote to set up concentration camps for Jews. We can’t vote away the rights of Native American Indians to be citizens of this country. Education is a public right that this country adopted years ago. After World War II, the US passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. From Wikipedia;
 “During this time, some began to believe that schools could no longer adequately provide for themselves. The Brown v. Board ruling aided this viewpoint in that the federal government had to get involved in making sure that all individuals were protected.”
In simple words the country as a whole decided that it was in our best interest for all people to have a proper education. This country adopted this policy as a human rights issue and decided to end illiteracy. After all these years, Brownback believes he and his supporters can simply vote away a national policy that this country adopted with good reasons, since the beginning of the 20th century. Universal education is a right and he can’t just find ways to vote it away. That is not democracy in any way shape or form.
Brownback can’t just vote to put an end national policies and rights just because he won an election. Brownback needs to realize that being elected does not make him a dictator.

“Kansans expect and are entitled to a government that is not beholden to any special interest group.”  

To make this statement shows Brownback’s disregard and ignorance of real democracy. When he said there is No “special interest groups,” who is he trying to fool? Several organizations have been deeply involved in financing candidates and working to get Brownback’s cronies elected.  
The right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC, has been providing funding as well as model legislation for candidates it wants elected.
According to According to John Nichols of the Nation;

“…. revealed by the joint Nation/Center  for Media & Democracy project “ALEC Exposed,” provides conservative legislators in the states with pre-approved bills and resolutions for attacks on collection bargaining in particular and organized labor in general. And the group has worked closely with (Arizona Governor Jan) Brewer and many Arizona legislators, including recently ousted Arizona Senate President Russell Pierce.
Indeed, Brewer began outlining the Arizona plan at an ALEC meeting in December, when she declared her intention to “reform the state’s personnel system” in order to make it easier to hire and fire public employees That inspired speculation about Brewer wanting to be “the Scott Walker of the West.”

So we see that ALEC is out to crush the rights of working people nation-wide. It is not the only corporate pact organization trying to control our legislators and trying to have total domination over the political system. The Koch Brothers and the Goldwater Institute come to mind immediately.
Let’s take a quick look at Kansas. The majority of Kansas voters will not vote Democrat because that party “will take their guns away” (sic) and they support gay rights. So what about a Republican primary? Those were done away with and replaced with caucus system that allows only active members of the Republican Party to vote or take part. That means that for the majority of voters, the Republican Party picks the candidate behind closed doors before the general election and after that, a Democrat can’t win. So what are we voting on? It is a pre-picked Republican that can’t be voted out. If that candidate is funded by ALEC (with thousands of dollars of campaign contributions) and parroting slogans they got directly from ALEC, we are voting for ALEC to run our political system. GET IT?
Worst of all, politicians from this state, who have few ideas of their own, actually present ALEC positions as if they had thought these issues through themselves. According to ALEC Exposed:

“Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.”
And did he mention the Koch Brothers, David and Charles? They are involved in ALEC, they are also involved in their own private “think Tanks,” such as Americans for Prosperity. The Koch Industries Political Action Committee, has spent $2.3 million in the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
They’ve spent more than $60 million lobbying Washington in the past decade and $13.6 million backing political candidates, usually Republicans, since 1990.

We’re going to participate effectively in the election, let’s just put it that way,” David Koch Told The Wichita Eagle.

“The guiding principle of our American democracy must be that every citizen stands equal before the law, be they governor or farmer, lawyer or teacher.” 

With so many special interests in the election, what Brownback said makes no sense at all. We are not all equal before the law. When it comes to Kansas elections, most of us are just pawns to a few big power brokers.  


“Unfortunately, our current system of selecting our appellate judges fails the democratic test.
Rather than giving an equal voice to all Kansans in the selection of our judges, Kansas is the only state that allows a special interest group to control the process of choosing who will be our appellate judges.  That is not as it should be.  Here, the people rule.”

But here the people do not rule and Brownback’s distaste for appellate judges is just sour grapes. The Governor seems to believe he runs a dictatorship now that he has control of the whole legislature. That is not surprising. Brownback has a lot of ideas, and unfortunately, most are wrong.
Brownback wouldn’t know democracy if it bit his ass.

-សតិវ អតុ

1 comment:

RealityZone said...

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