Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Our Two Party System - II

There is a central rule of political science that is called Duverger's Law.


Essentially, in a first-past-the-post system - a system which requires a plurality of the vote for an election; the most common and simple form of election - the natural and inevitable tendency is to become a two-party system.

Third parties can be successful but only in the sense that they supplant an existing party. In other words, they rise to become one of two parties in the two party system. The best example of this is, as you well know, dear Reader, the Republican party in the 19th century.

The greatest implication of this is that for any potential third party, there is an enormous uphill battle to overcome the perception that a vote for a third party, however proper and justified, is counterproductive. Consider the US Presidential election of 1992. Indeed, many otherwise Republican voters who chose Ross Perot were faced with the election of their last choice, William Jefferson Clinton (and we all know how that worked out).

A more recent primary election saw Republican "moderate" Judy Baar Topinka beat Jim Oberweis and Bill Bradley for the GOP nomination for Governor of Illinois. Judy won with a plurality of the vote at 38%. Oberweis and Bradley, both considered "conservative" candidates, finished with 32% and 19% of the votes, respectively. There is a perception - not without foundation - that a "splitting" of the vote occurs.

Now, factions within the major political parties may throw this into some degree of confusion. Indeed, there is a conservative wing of the Republican party (called "real Republicans"), just as certainly as there is a leftist side to the Democrat party. Should either party, assuming a two-party system continues, nominate a candidate either too liberal or too conservative for the respective parties, voter turnout may decrease or there may be cross-over to the other side (imagine a Zell Miller vs. John McCain race... there are significant conservatives who would consider voting for Miller or not voting for McCain).

The important conclusion to take away from this is that third parties must overcome their perception as a wasted vote and that there is an enormous PR battle to instill in the minds of voters that change is possible, and that as history shows us, change is necessary.

Many thanks to my dear friend Samuel for turning me on to Duverger's Law.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Our Two Party System

Of late, dear Reader, I have become fascinated with our two-party system. Of course, as you know, the last major third party was the GOP, which essentially displaced the Whig party.

There is an entire body of research out there on game theory and how it relates to political outcomes. I am Jack's raging curiosity (extra credit to those who get that movie reference).

So, give me some time and I'll do some looking into the topic.

Meanwhile, a few thoughts on Congressional elections...

Disenchanted as I have been with the GOP, I yet hope that they retain power in both houses of Congress. They are, at its most expedient, the lesser of two evils and probably not going to totally screw up the country. I say: probably.

I'll definitely have more to say on this topic, especially as it relates to game theory and our political system.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Happy Anniversary

One year ago today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of New London in the Kelo decision.

Such a wrong-headed decision invariably ignited citizens into action. Personally, this event triggered the collaborative activities of the three contributors to this blog, although we just recently got this space up and running.

Across the country, states exercised their rights by instituting their own restrictions on the taking of private property. Some, admittedly, were better than others.

I had mixed feelings about this day, but was mostly glad that things have happened as they have. DeTocqueville said that everything serves the Lord; even the willfully wicked serve him, albeit unknowingly. And then what should I hear on the ride home....?

President Bush, by Executive Order, sought to rectify the wrongs. The most important part is Section 1, Policy:

"It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken."

Bravo, Mr. President, and thanks for the anniversary present.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Conquest of America

"By the transgression of a land many are its princes, but by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures." -- Proverbs 28:2

For two hundred and thirty years, the United States of America has weathered numerous wars, droughts, and recessions. The Republic has managed to adjust to drastic changes in policy, geography, and demography over some ten generations. After all this time, in the midst of international calamities and threats to civilization itself, America looks stronger than ever.

There is an American embassy in nearly every sovereign nation around the globe, each of them bearing some semblance of an American military presence--a fully volunteer military presence. It is now absolutely impossible for anyone to launch an attack on the United States by sea, by land, or by air--it may even be impossible from space--without the United States knowing about it and dealing with it swiftly and decisively.

For at least the last two centuries, throngs upon throngs upon throngs of men and women have come to this nation's shores and ports of entry to seek liberty, wealth, education--simply put, a better life. They have found it all and more. In just the first dozen years or so since Independence Day, Philadelphia DOUBLED in size (don't forget, there was a war fought during that time, and the city changed hands more than once). The ingenuity, productivity, and creativity of the American people have been revealed in every generation through history; and this history is manifested today in the markets, the arts, the sciences, and the entertainments which, by and large, are taken worldwide as second to none.

Having said all that, there are signs that the foundations of the republic--the same republic which I have just finished illuminating in no uncertain terms for the reader--are crumbling, that the conquest of America is imminent. Some witty fellow a while back said, "A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy." (1) I cannot vouch for the reader, but I have seen almost my fair share of unprincipled and unmannerly among us in my time. The same chap goes on, "While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."

Kind reader, having eyes, what signs do you see of readiness to surrender or even surrender itself? And who, pray, is the conqueror? I put it to you, it is themselves: "When People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders." (2)

But what say you?

Samuel Adams

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

(1) The Writings of Samuel Adams, Cushing, ed., vol IV, (124)
(2) Our Sacred Honor, Bennett (261)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Father's Day 2006

Although I find myself almost constantly pressed for time lately, I'd be remiss if I didn't take a few moments and say a couple of things.

To you, dear reader, and to my brother Webster, Happy Father's Day. The importance of fathers has been getting some much-needed attention in the last week. Of course, this depends on where you get your news (I'd recommend talk radio and the internet).

Here's some startling statistics on the father-less (source: "Fathers linked to healthy families"

"According to the CDC, DoJ, DHHS and the Bureau of the Census, the 30 percent of children who live apart from their fathers will account for 63 percent of teen suicides, 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions, 71 percent of high-school dropouts, 75 percent of children in chemical-abuse centers, 80 percent of rapists, 85 percent of youths in prison, and 85 percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders. In addition, 90 percent of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. In fact, children born to unwed mothers are 10 times more likely to live in poverty as children with fathers in the home."

So, take a moment on Sunday and appreciate a dad. Better yet, when you hear people downplay the importance of them between today and Father's Day 2007, be aware of it, and the consequences of a society that doesn't value fatherhood.

Monday, June 12, 2006

No Hope in Guantanamo

Well, the MSM has me convinced!

In the wake of the suicides of the three "detainees" at GTMO, the left and their cohorts in the media are worked up into a lather about the conditions of the prisoners at our base in Guantanamo Bay. It appears that the suicides were committed using bed sheets and clothing, and procedures have since been changed so that sheets are given out just before bed.

The astute among you will note the use of derisive quotes in the first sentence of the above paragraph. It is a style that I have decided to adopt to illustrate how out of touch the MSM really is. Here's an example:

From Agence France-Presse: "MIAMI (AFP) - Pressure mounted within the United States and from abroad to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp following the suicides of three 'enemy combatant' detainees over the weekend."

(Note the term enemy combatant - correctly identifying the legal status of those imprisoned at GTMO - placed in derisive quotes).

I know what you're thinking, dear reader: hang on a second! Isn't The Monarchist's usage of derisive quotes around the word detainees actually the right way to do it? Terrorists or enemy combatants being called detainees belies the media's bias (why not call them captives, for instance?), so putting detainees in derisive quotes is proper usage. You, dear reader, would be right-o.

First, the 460 or so people being held in GTMO are terrorists or suspected of terrorist activities. They were picked up in Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or in any number of locations. Second, it is beyond reason or any form of logic to suggest that these enemy combatants should be released while we are still engaged in hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. This isn't a fishing tournament; we don't have to send the little ones back because to hang on to them would be "unfair" somehow. Until the fight is over, we have every right to detain the people we catch, no matter how big of a prison we have to build. Every terrorist in GTMO is one less terrorist who can kill a US Soldier or an innocent civilian.

Imagine the same conversation being held in 1943. Senator Clueless: We have an obligation to release these German and Japanese combatants, or try them in US Courts. What kind of a generation are we, that we let such nonsense into the national discourse? Would that Greatest Generation have tolerated such seditious sentiment? At the minimum, can't rational thinkers all agree that such views are at their best and most innocent a product of stupidity?

Secondly, why are we supposed to be concerned with the rights, let alone the treatment, of people who either have tried to kill us, supported those who have, or are possibly interested in doing so? How morally confused have we become as a society? At what point did political correctness trump the instinct of self-preservation?

All this notwithstanding, international human rights groups, Democrats, and the media all issue dire warnings about the pressure to close the prison at GTMO - which brings us back to the point. Three prisoners killed themselves on Saturday (and I thought the Religion of Peace had rules against this sort of thing). But I fancy myself a fair guy, so I'll tell you what. I'm an Internationalist at heart, that I am. Heck, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Multiculturalist. So, here's my proposition: we start following the lead of the Religion of Peace, and treat the prisoners we have with the same respect, dignity, and kindness that they have afforded the prisoners they've caught. By my estimation, this should earn us the respect of the Democrats, the UN, the US media and international human rights groups. Lord knows they've been too busy worrying about what enemy combatants have to eat at GTMO or if their Korans were desecrated to condemn the violence being perpetrated upon innocent Iraqi civilians and American soldiers (although if pressed, most would adamantly "support" the troops).

Thursday, June 08, 2006


As you've heard by now, dear reader, al-Zarqawi was killed in an airstrike just outside of Baghdad. Well, here's the link to the story on CNN if you haven't:

Needless to say, this is a great day in particular for US forces in Iraq. A cynic would say that in his place a half-dozen new guys will pop up, even more violent than him. I doubt it. That would mean that most Iraqis don't want freedom and liberty, and I think recent history there - in particular, the elections over the last couple of years - shows that they do embrace self-determination.

One of the most evil people on the planet - remember, this man beheaded civilians in the name of his god - has just been given his comeuppance. This is an enormous victory for the Iraqi people, for whom I am most happy today.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

On the Concept of Term Limits - No. II

To the Citizens of the United States of America:

We have begun to address the issue of term limits, and in our first installment committed to show that term limits conflict with Liberty; that they encourage apathy and laziness and are inconsistent with self-government; that they exist already today in their right and proper form, yet remain unused; and that they create an inappropriate balance of power in our federal republic. We will prove the above with an understanding of human nature and that most effective teacher, experience, and demonstrate that term-limits are incompatible with the concepts of Americanism and Federalism.

On Liberty
How does one endeavor to define Liberty? The most appropriate definition must include that freedom to both act and think as one wishes, unrestrained by an outside force; Liberty is that state of being that mankind reaches when free to physically act as one wants, but also to think and exercise one's will without restraint.

Yet there is a qualifier. Liberty becomes license when one acts in contravention to the laws of Nature or Nature's God. License is the abuse of freedom, the difference being that license speaks more toward permission, or leave to do whatever one pleases, even if contrary to law or accepted norms.

For such a complex object, our attention turns to the Father of American Education, Federalist Noah Webster. Says he:

"LIB'ERTY, n. [L. libertas, from liber, free.]
1. Freedom from restraint, in a general sense, and applicable to the body, or to the will or mind. The body is at liberty, when not confined; the will or mind is at liberty, when not checked or controlled. A man enjoys liberty, when no physical force operates to restrain his actions or volitions.

2. Natural liberty, consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It is a state of exemption from the control of others, and from positive laws and the institutions of social life. This liberty is abridged by the establishment of government.

3. Civil liberty, is the liberty of men in a state of society, or natural liberty, so far only abridged and restrained, as is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation. A restraint of natural liberty, not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression. Civil liberty is an exemption from the arbitrary will of others, which exemption is secured by established laws, which restrain every man from injuring or controlling another. Hence the restraints of law are essential to civil liberty.

The liberty of one depends not so much on the removal of all restraint from him, as on the due restraint upon the liberty of others.

In this sentence, the latter word liberty denotes natural liberty.

4. Political liberty, is sometimes used as synonymous with civil liberty. But it more properly designates the liberty of a nation, the freedom of a nation or state from all unjust abridgment of its rights and independence by another nation. Hence we often speak of the political liberties of Europe, or the nations of Europe.

5. Religious liberty, is the free right of adopting and enjoying opinions on religious subjects, and of worshiping the Supreme Being according to the dictates of conscience, without external control.

6. Liberty, in metaphysics, as opposed to necessity, is the power of an agent to do or forbear any particular action, according to the determination or thought of the mind, by which either is preferred to the other.
Freedom of the will; exemption from compulsion or restraint in willing or volition.

7. Privilege; exemption; immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant; with a plural. Thus we speak of the liberties of the commercial cities of Europe.

8. Leave; permission granted. The witness obtained liberty to leave the court.

9. A space in which one is permitted to pass without restraint, and beyond which he may not lawfully pass; with a plural; as the liberties of a prison.

10. Freedom of action or speech beyond the ordinary bounds of civility or decorum. Females should repel all improper liberties.

To take the liberty to do or say any thing, to use freedom not specially granted.

To set at liberty, to deliver from confinement; to release from restraint.

To be at liberty, to be free from restraint.

Liberty of the press, is freedom from any restriction on the power to publish books; the free power of publishing what one pleases, subject only to punishment for abusing the privilege, or publishing what is mischievous to the public or injurious to individuals." (Italicized emphasis mine. Source: Webster's 1828 Dictionary at

For our purposes, it is essential to focus in on Webster's third meaning of Liberty, and one particular phrase in specific: "A restraint of natural liberty, not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression."

Term Limits Destroy Civil Liberty
Term-limits are in substance inherently opposed to Liberty. By definition, a term limit provides a statutory mechanism by which a candidate is prohibited from seeking office. The criteria for prohibition is that he or she has already served in such a capacity for a defined period of time.

The best example for refuting the foolish nature of term limits is one from our own history. Franklin Roosevelt was the last President to serve more than two terms, and largely the public returned President Roosevelt to office to maintain a consistent course in prosecuting the war against the Axis in the second World War. In grave matters such as war and national security, a citizenry would properly choose to reelect the executive who is best equipped to chart a course to peace; he or she that understands the conflict and can apply every God-granted ability and skill to the successful completion of hostilities.

It is pure conjecture to theorize on how differently WWII might have ended had the public not been able to return FDR to office four times. However, our current struggle against terrorism and Islamofascism may yet show us the error of our ways. The 2008 Presidential election may see a victor who applies an entirely different approach to the War on Terror. It remains to be seen - God Bless and keep America safe! - how such a change will affect our standing in the world and influence the fortunes of this Republic or Her enemies.

Necessary or Expedient for the Public?
This is the grave question we must ask ourselves with respect to restricting Liberty - and term limits are no exception. Upon examination, no reasonable person can answer in the affirmative with respect to the subject at hand. Some artful dissenters might offer as an example a long-tenured Senator or Representative; and yet, such an example fails to invalidate the rule. For the liberty to choose one's representatives in a republic goes both ways. Good representatives and bad may both be chosen, or not. Such circumstances, as they are, offer no valid evidence that term limits are either necessary or expedient for the public.

A system such as ours was designed without term limits because our Founders knew the value that a self-governing citizenry places on Liberty in choosing our governors.