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  • Reform the Kakistocracy: an essay

Reform the Kakistocracy: an essay

William L. Kovacs

July 2019

Kakistocracy, a term describing what our government has become: a government controlled by “leaders” who are the least able or least principled citizens.

Over the last five-plus decades the kakistocracy transformed our federal government from one of limited powers to one of immense power. Most troubling, the transformation occurred without any changes to the Constitution. This decades-long transformation dramatically limited the powers of Congress, produced an extraordinarily powerful executive, and allowed the courts to become super-legislatures. These changes directly impact how each branch of government is able to fulfill its most essential role as a check on the powers of the other branches.

How did this transformation occur? First and foremost, Congress, our primary law-maker delegated massive amounts of authority to the Executive, which very gladly accepted all the powers delegated. The Executive using the bureaucracy and regulatory authority, implemented the delegated authorities to accumulate immense power over most aspects of society.

The courts not satisfied deciding just real disputes between adversaries; accumulated more powers than given them by the Constitution or Congress through rulings that extended their authority from the parties before the court to broad-based policy decisions and nationwide injunctions. The National Environmental Policy Act, (“NEPA”) is an excellent illustration of how the courts create legal rights never authorized by Congress.  This six-page statute requiring federal agencies to consider the environmental implications of their decisions was judicially expanded to provide environmental groups the right to bring lawsuits against any agency to force proposed environmental impact statements to be more and more comprehensive, sometimes thousands of pages.  NEPA alone can stop any project in the nation.

Another example is the transformation of the Clean Air Act, a law designed to regulate specific, powerful pollutants harmful to human health, into a law that governs almost any industrial activity in the country.

The result of the transformation of our government is decades of policy failures, harmful wealth inequality, a health care system costing two times more than in other industrialized nations, more than a few undeclared wars and the imposition of such massive amounts of debt that citizens will eventually live in involuntary servitude to the federal government. The share of the debt owed by every citizen of this country is approximately $64,000, and for every trillion dollars of new debt accumulated by our government, each of us will owe another $3000.

Reforming the kakistocracy will not be an easy undertaking in a politically divided nation. Presently most members of the kakistocracy give their loyalty to the political party that put them in office. Unfortunately, by them giving more loyalty to a political party than to the Constitution and the branch of government in which these individuals serve, they have destroyed the ability of the respective branches to be both a constitutional check on each other and reasonable adversaries working to find solutions to the problems of the nation.

Our Constitution does not even mention political parties which are nothing more than associations of individuals, organized to take control of our government. However, our Constitution clearly states the responsibilities of the three branches of government and requires every officer of the United States to take an oath to the Constitution. Taking such oath means every official must act as a fiduciary to the Constitution and the branch of government in which they serve and not to the political party that supported them.

The most fundamental change now needed to control the kakistocracy is for members of Congress to abandon their abiding loyalty to the two major political parties and work as fiduciaries to the Constitution, and the institution of Congress, in addressing the issues facing the nation. This approach requires conforming the actions taken by Congress with the constitutional limits imposed on it. By acting as fiduciaries and not as political parties, Congress will function as an institution to do the peoples’ business rather than as a political club doing the bidding of the special interests.  This change opens up ways for Congress: to address the federal deficit; reduce the massive regulatory structure created to manage the administrative state; ensure there are no more wars unless declared by Congress and to devolve to the states many of the powers taken from them, by the federal government, over the last fifty years.

As citizens, we must always be mindful of two facts. First, we elect individuals to run our country, not political parties. Political parties are special interests, not fiduciaries. Why do we trust them to run our government? The alternative is for individuals to seek election on the promise to serve as fiduciaries and we could elect them.

Second, it is the natural tendency of government and those who benefit the most from it, to continuously grow it. The more government grows, the more resources are available to those in control for redistribution to the beneficiaries of their choice. The only way to control government is to streamline it, a process that will have many positive benefits. Less government means it will need less of our money to function. When the government has less money, lobbyists and politicians will have less interest in government since there will be less to take from it.

Citizens cannot expect the government to control itself. In a democracy, it is only citizens who can control their government by determining who runs it. The brilliant part of our Constitution is that it allows us to participate in a legal, political revolution on a regular basis.  This legal process, called voting, makes it possible for us to completely replace the “leadership” of our government in a four to six-year period.  Its time citizens elect citizens who commit to serving as fiduciaries to the Constitution and the institution in which they serve; not politicians whose loyalty is to a political party.

This article was originally published in Reality News, June 2019

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  • Congressman Amash: A Trustee, Not A Politician

Congressman Amash: A Trustee, Not A Politician

William L. Kovacs

July 2019

Congressman Amash: A Trustee, Not A Politician

As the United States begins its 243rd year of independence, Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) has announced his independence from the Republican Party. Leaving one’s party is an act that both unlocks the chains that bind politicians to a political party and frees the politician to fight for the separation of powers between the branches of government.

Democrats may cheer the break in Republican unity in support of President Trump. Republicans may call it a political stunt since Amash’s future as a Republican is bleak. Cutting through the spin, the congressman has made it clear that he is acting as a trustee of the Constitution, not a handmaiden to a political party.

While the political commentary centers on the congressman’s call for impeachment of the president, the state of the nation he addressed in his announcement is more complex. The federal government cannot pass necessary appropriation bills, manage immigration, control its debt or even determine when it is appropriate to declare war. Congress has become a bystander to a law-making process run by the White House and the courts.

Rephrasing the question Delegate James Wilson asked at the Constitutional Convention—Can we forget for whom we are forming a government? Is it for citizens or for political parties?

Presently almost every major action taken by the people running our government is a Republican action or a Democrat action. David Davenport, writing in Forbes, estimates that around 90 percent congressional votes are party-line votes.

Our Constitution does not mention political parties. Our founders were blunt. In James Madison’s “The Federalist 10,” political parties were considered “factions,” a number of citizens united and actuated in a common interest, adverse to other citizens or the community. These parties inflamed partisan conflict with “mutual animosity, and rendered them more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.”

Rep. Amash’s declaration of independence is a first step toward forming a government that works for citizens, not politicians. In “The Federalist No. 46,” Madison suggests that  government should function as trustee of the people.

A government official’s duty as a trustee is created when that person voluntarily assumes a position in government. Each government position requires the official to freely take an oath to support the Constitution. We entrust these officials with our money, property, liberty and defense of our country. They must never act for personal benefit or the benefit of any political party.

All actions of the official must continuously ensure the separation of powers among the branches of government. A trustee’s duty merely reaffirms what the oath imposes. Loyalty must be to the Constitution and the institution in which one serves to defend against tyranny.

As Republicans or Democrats seek to achieve the interests of their political parties, each party blames the other for whatever failings occur. While both parties constantly rail against the massively increasing national debt, both parties blame the other for the increases. Factually however, both parties are to blame. Every president since 1980 has added substantially to the debt. The two parties find it more rewarding to blame the other than to run the nation for the benefit of citizens.

Since members of Congress function only as politicians, their conduct prevents the institution of Congress from being both the primary lawmaker and a check on the other branches. This failing allows the executive to rule by executive order, regulation, “pen and a phone” or tweet. Without a functioning Congress, policy is also made by courts, and judge shopping ensures that the court where the filing occurs agrees with the position of the political party filing the lawsuit.

Citizens need to continually remind themselves that political parties are nothing more than special interest groups created for one purpose—to control the U.S. government and its resources. The two main political parties have so successfully captured control of our government that the institutions of government are irrelevant.

Government officials cannot ultimately be loyal to a political party while also ensuring the separation of powers mandated by our Constitution. Such divided loyalty does not protect citizens as it would if the officials remained loyal to the institutions in which they serve and functioned as trustees of the people. Congressman Amash is now our first trustee!

This article was first published in The Hill on July 9.2019.