Inching toward Democracy (and back again)
Many serious thinkers these days ask whether Trump’s America is still a democracy. But perhaps we need inquire whether we ever were.
Certainly we were never intended to be. The propertied white men who wrote the Constitution carefully safeguarded their privileged world from that possibility. They believed, “the wealthy and well-born” were best able to govern. Majoritarian “passions,” they thought, would lead to disorder.
Voting rights, for example, were left to the several states; and in most, only free men with property had that privilege. Females of any condition, slaves and the indentured and most white males were excluded. All but about 6 percent of Americans were barred from the most basic participation in self-government.
To further subdue the alleged passions of the many, members of the powerful upper house, the Senate, were chosen by state legislatures rather than directly by citizens until 1915 when the 17th Amendment ushered in our current process.
Similarly, presidential results were filtered through the Electoral College whereby state electors cast their allotted votes for the winning candidate en bloc, rather than proportionately. Under this formula, in the last election, the candidate with 3 million fewer votes won the presidency.
In reality, the Constitution’s framers were no different than any group intent on preserving its own class’s advantage. They also had the task of knitting together 13 “sovereign” states, each with its own elite to be satisfied if the document was to be ratified. The intent was to maintain the status quo, circa 1787.
But, as we all know, America’s political structure evolved. Through generations of fierce struggle and often bloodshed, voting rights enlarged to encompass all adult citizens. Ordinary people gained more control over their lives and a more equitable share of wealth.
Far more worthy of veneration than the Constitution’s authors are the many generations of agitators and activists whose struggles moved our nation closer to achieving genuine “consent of the governed.”
Today we face a return to the founders’ intent — rule by the rich and well-born. In part, the High Court has enabled the regression with partisan decisions — such as quashing campaign finance limits or refusing relief from voter suppression acts. The latest candidate to join the court looks likely to further entrench plutocracy.
Can America be made safe for democracy?
You a journalist?
“Without sounding negative”… huh?A horribly written review (A matter of convenience at Kiku, 7/5) of a truly crappy food court sushi “restaurant”? Why NOT sound negative when it’s obviously complete crap? You a journalist or what?
Do some good
“Last Resort” article Reporter July Thomas Fire refugees story
While I feel badly for the Gutierrez family that lost it all and ended up in a motorhome for the time being, the Reporter neglected to mention hundreds of homeless folks in Ventura County who did not lose their dwellings during the December 2017 Thomas fire, but lost it all years ago.
What I find most troubling about this story is lack of fact, that with over 45 “agencies” public and private agencies in Ventura and Santa Barbara combined, there was no reporting on the fact that 99 percent of the long-term homeless folks in Ventura County receive little or no help from paper pushers that do nothing but collect data for various government and private agencies. Yes, there are food pantries and a certain amount of health services, but then it stops there.
The folks that lost it all during the devastating December Thomas fire did collect a small amount of funding for RVs and trailers and a few found funds to replace their homes, but a large contingency of chronically homeless remain out on the streets — with little or no help at all.
What Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties needs is real and vital resuscitation for homeless vets, disabled and elderly folks who have not been lucky enough to gain from losses. The counties of Ventura and Santa Barbara alike have long ignored the plight and needs of people who are simply down on their luck. Plus if one is saying to themselves, “Why don’t these people just find a job?” Well, they can’t. Most are disabled one way or another and unable to work and in many cases cannot pay rent.
In a good “Christian society,” where the idea to help the poor the needy and oppressed, I ask “Where is the love?” not, “Where is the good politics?”
Last Resort? Do some good!
Confused? Does President Trump believe our intelligence community that the Russians “meddled” in our 2016 election or not?
It’s kind of like Melania’s jacket when she was sent to immigrant centers to do “damage control” after the cruel separation of children from their asylum-seeking parents: in transit, a message of “who cares” to the base but a show of concern at the site, having it both ways.
And now, to Putin’s face, a signal he might continue hacking and manufacturing bots by the hundred thousands, sowing dissension on our social media, then a “misspoke” denial to damp down the outcry from both domestic allies and adversaries.
After all there’s another election this November.
Has the president taken a single action to counteract the clear threat to our cybersecurity uncovered by our intelligence people?
Fireworks in Ojai
Fireworks — a privilege and greatly anticipated event, especially when you are a kid!
I remember growing up in Ojai when the fireworks were set off on the golf course at the Ojai Valley Inn. The community was welcome to come spread a blanket on the grass, and we kids had a memorable time out in the dark waiting for the fireworks to begin.
What I miss is the leisurely pace between the explosions of light, color and patterns in the sky. We need a moment for the mind’s eye to appreciate that display and a breath to express our delight. In the past, we had that moment in between events to ask, “What’s next?”
I risk being an old curmudgeon but need to say that the present-day pace is too fast for deep enjoyment. I feel overpowered by thoughts of the financial and environmental costs of the extreme number of fireworks and the frenzy at which they go. Associations of war spring into my mind, especially with the history of “shock and awe.” Those of us with pets in the area go to great lengths to keep them calm.
Could we not have a gentler Fourth and put the financial backing we save to use in our schools and public works?
Marion Rupp Leeman
President violates his oath daily
When he took the oath of office in January 2017 Donald Trump swore that he would “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He violates his oath virtually daily with caustic verbal attacks on individuals and organizations who are exercising their rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution. Sadly, Congressional leaders stay silent and many citizens publicly cheer this unacceptable conduct. We are at a new low point in the history of the U.S. presidency.
Sherman N. Mullin
Yet to reunite
For years, children and parents have been crossing the nation’s southern border into the United States. While many might see this is as “illegal” and an open invitation for people to continue to cross the border, the reality is that many are fleeing from countries plagued by gang violence and extreme poverty due to ruined economies.
To risk the long journey, and now the possibility of permanently being separated from their children, these parents are making the heart-rending decision that even separation or detention in the United States is better than the situation they find themselves in at home. These individuals are not criminals as painted by the media, these people are families with hopes of building better lives. For many, this means risking separation to guarantee their children can live past their teenage years without falling victims to the horrors of gang violence or starvation.
There is no question that these children, some younger than 5 years old, being separated from their loved ones will have emotional and psychological scars for the rest of their lives. Although the President issued an executive order to end the separations on June 20, the government has yet to reunite almost 2,000 children with their parents. Furthermore, the Trump administration will not reunite any of these migrant children with parents currently being held in in immigrant detention facilities unless the federal law is changed.
The only way these parents can quickly be reunited with their children once more is by dropping their claims for asylum in the United States and agreeing to be deported, rendering useless the sacrifices they have already made. If history has taught us anything, it is that separating families and using innocent human beings as pawns in a game where no one truly ends up winning only ends up in an apology many years later when the damage has been done. The scars of injustice never fade. Let us not repeat what is so evidently wrong; let us not continue letting this administration use and abuse these families.
It is for these reasons that the Ventura County Women’s Political Council (VCWPC) has taken the position to stand with these families and demand that children be reunited with their parents without delay.
Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios, President
VCWPC Executive Board
President Trump just used the Bible as an excuse to divide parents from infants and abduct and torture children at detention sites. Our President has now reached the lowest bar, repeating a similar program that Nazis once employed under Hitler. Trump is not only a horrific example for the Christian faith. He is a horrific example and disgrace for our country.
Brummm, Brummm, Brumm
If above reminds me of anything, its insanity!
While both coastal communities (Ventura & Santa Barbara) are busy finding ways to deter and outlaw (homeless folks), and while arresting people for camping on the streets, issue outrageous fines for parking RVs on the streets in both Ventura and Santa Barbara communities. But allow Brummm, Brummm, Brumm as the result of no mufflers on the motor cycles, trucks, and very noisy tail pipes of hot rods.
What happened to the law that says all vehicle driven in the state of CA must have adequate mufflers?
California law requires that all vehicles must be equipped with an adequate muffler to prevent excessive noise from the exhaust system. … The maximum decibel level applies only to those vehicles. Citations issued to other vehicles (motorcycles, trucks exceeding 5999 pounds GVWR) are not part of this program. California Vehicle Exhaust Noise Laws (2018)
Adequate muffler required. 27150. (a) Every motor vehicle subject to registration shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise, and no muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass, or similar device.
This world is full of insanity and this is just one more example. When the white man arrived to this continents boarders there was nothing but outdoor living, as things have progressed we are facing mass homelessness and continuation of lots of noise in our streets!
Arrests people that cannot afford housing, but ignore make believe “Hells Angles” even if they are breaking the law with outrageous noise. Buy the way dear reader, Ventura County Assembly just passed a new law to restrict RV parking in and near Ojai CA. Thanks guys!
No skin off their nose
My name is Susan Malloy and I have owned Rosie Lee Imports for 12 years. I arrived at my shop on Fourth of July, early, fully expecting to have a great day. BUT to my amazement there were no street vendors in my block, Main Street was barricaded at Fir and a Second new barricade was placed across Main Street from the library to the other side. And next to it the police crash vehicle leaving that whole area in front of my shop completely empty. If you were walking up Main Street to midtown it looked like the fair ended at the uninteresting crash car.
My business was down 50 percent over Independence Day last year. My block is part of Downtown Ventura, WHO made this decision?
I am sure whoever decided to do this still got his/her salary so no skin off their nose. I walked all along Main Street, beyond the Mission to see vendors everywhere. The vendors could have easily been spaced further apart.
Over the 12 years that I have been at 673 E Main Street I have seen a lot of changes but none as devastating to me as this one.
I would like to know that this is not the new norm and that next year something better will be considered for my block.
Rosie Lee Imports