Spring Cleaning

As usual, the calendar has passed me by. Most of us regard the end of spring as being Memorial Day, which has happened for this year. However, if you would indulge me, I’d like to propose some spring cleaning. None of these are ever going to happen, but it’s fun to picture what our republic (assume we can keep it) might be like if we could get at least some of this done.

Item Number 1: Abolish the Electoral College. This relic probably was created by the Founders having the masses-are-asses mind set. We would select well qualified folks to make this crucial choice. Well qualified, in those days meant property owning White males. It took the better part of a century to grant suffrage to females, and at least one of the political parties is actively engaged in trying to limit suffrage as far as possible. After all, shouldn’t the voters decide an election? Well, they did, until they didn’t. After all, twice in this young century the electoral choice was the candidate who won fewer popular votes, both Republicans (how ’bout that!). Is this a democracy, or what.

Item number 2: Repeal the Second Amendment. What does it mean, anyway? The Amendment mentions a “well regulated militia”. Well, we have the police, National Guard, Army and Marine Corps, or the Navy and Air Force – aren’t they “well regulated” enough? I can see the point of rural folk who need firearms to protect livestock from predators, but have we had wild Indian attacks lately?? No less an authority than Warren Burger, a retired Chief Justice opined in a televised interview that the Amendment is, at best, archaic, and should be repealed. State of the art weaponry in the 18th Century consisted of flintlock rifles; bullets weren’t even invented until the 19th. Can’t imagine AR-15’s in the calculus of that time.

Item number 3: Get rid of the U.S. Senate, or at least, eliminate the filibuster. In our zeal to give the minority a voice, we have all but strangled the majority. How democratic is it when Wyoming (population 0.76M) is equal to California (39M) or Texas (30M) in terms of representation. The Senate’s function would hardly be missed; it does nothing anyway.

Item Number 4: Sweep out NRA’s top management, starting with Wayne La Pierre. The organization is corrupt, and virtually out of business in New York, anyway. It used to stress training in firearm safety, which has been deemphasized in recent years. NRA seems to exist largely to support the munitions industry by lobbying against any and all attempts to minimize our epidemic of gun violence.

Perhaps if we did away with the 2nd Amendment we could look honestly at our nation’s preoccupation with guns. We could start with the fact that there are more guns than people in our republic. Do all of us need protection from Indians (pardon me: Native Americans)? Somehow, our fellow democracies get by with about 5% of our gun ownership per capita. Their crime rates are a small fraction of ours. I don’t think British, Canadian or Japanese school children need to practice live shooter drills as do increasing numbers of American kids.

If we must have a Senate, can’t we at least get rid of the filibuster? Or, how about (if we must have one) making it like it used to be, where one had to hold the floor until exhaustion set in, or death, or whatever. We make it too easy.

Perhaps we could solve more critical, existential problems if we went back to an earlier principle of democracy: let the majority rule, just like you were taught in grammar school. Elections do have consequences.

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