Monday, November 20, 2006

On the Role of Courts in Foreign Affairs

Throughout American history, disputes between the executive and legislative branch, in regard to foreign affairs, have often been arbitrated by the federal court system. The established role of the courts in foreign affairs has been rather transient, where the majority opinion has often been determined by the prevailing ideology of that particular court. It is without question that the function of the courts is to determine the validity of the foreign action taking place by either the President or the Congress. The Framers did not textually outline the appropriate role of the courts in foreign affairs within the Constitution; the sole reason was because they were more focused on the proper relationship between the federal government and the state governments with respect to the individual.

The Constitution does not apportion all foreign policy power into only the executive or only the legislative. Furthermore, there is no constraint on the role of courts within the Constitution. When the courts are called upon to adjudicate America’s constitutional role abroad, there is no established precedent in our founding document as to how the courts should react to these controversies. Hence, the role of the courts in foreign relations must be permitted to deviate from any and all precedent and they should be considered on a case by case basis. It seems that more often than not, judicial deference should have been ruled by court system. For when Congress and the President are in collaboration with the policy that is being pursued, it seems as though the role of the court should only be minimal. Judicial deference is pertinent to the American polity because it sustains the natural balance in the Constitution that the President and Congress are the sole proprietors of foreign relations. Yet, the one instance where judicial deference may never be applicable is when fundamental liberties of citizens are at stake.

It is interesting to note that while the Framers may have wanted to create a system of governance intended to limit the role of the President’s authority, the courts have for the most part, decidedly acted in the President’s favor in foreign decision-making. Perhaps the Founding Fathers had intended for this when they scrapped the Articles of Confederation and instead adopted a Constitution which gave the executive branch a stronger role. The Constitution details the President’s clout as having “executive Power” and that “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

The Prize Cases, decided in 1862, illustrates how the President first began to accumulate power in foreign affairs in the eyes of the Supreme Court. In April of 1861, President Lincoln ordered a blockade on the southern ports of states that had seceded, even though Congress had not yet issued a formal declaration of war. Four ships were then seized before July 13th, the day Congress formally recognized a state of war. The owners of the ships sued for redress claiming that in the absence of war, the President had no authority to issue a blockade. Justice Grier wrote for the majority opinion, “Whether the President in fulfilling his duties, as Commander-in-chief, in suppressing an insurrection…will compel him to accord them the character of belligerents, is a question to be decided by him.”

The courts simply decided that the President ultimately has the final authority when it comes to the security of our nation. Even when Congress has not formally recognized the state of war between enemy belligerents, the Grier ruled that “The President was bound to meet it in the shape it presented itself, without waiting for Congress to baptize it with a name.” Here is evidence that the early decisions regarding the courts role in foreign affairs is one which abdicates most of the authority into the hands of the executive branch. In my estimation, the verdict was appropriate because Congress had authorized the President the authority to suppress insurrection in 1795 and in 1807. However, I would also go so far to say that the court had no jurisdiction in hearing this case. The ships seized were found with an enemy and belligerent insurrection of the state. The court should have issued judicial deference in this case and established a precedent that challenging the validity of a proclamation from a belligerency that attacked gives to much credence to those who have attacked. The dearth of a declaration of war from Congress was not relevant in this case because the President had an Act of Congress which allowed him jurisdiction in seizing the ships.

In U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. (1936), the Supreme Court again ruled not only in the President’s favor, but also in the Congress’s as well. The defendants of the case, Curtiss-Wright Export Corp, sold arms to the Bolivian government after Congress passed a Joint Resolution which stated “it shall be unlawful to sell any arms or munitions of war to the countries now engaged in that armed conflict…if the [President] makes a proclamation to that effect…” The armed conflict in question was between that of Bolivia and Paraguay. President Roosevelt issued a proclamation supporting the Congressional Resolution therefore making the sale illegal. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. claimed that Congress had unconstitutionally delegated legislative authority to the executive branch. Justice Sutherland argued the majority opinion and claimed “It results that the investment of the federal government with the powers of external sovereignty did not depend upon the affirmative grants of the Constitution” In other words, the federal government has inherent or implied power in the realm of foreign affairs which is not expressly written in the Constitution. Indeed, I not only hold the belief that this decision was appropriate, but I also believe that judicial deference would have been in fact more fitting for this case. Under the circumstances prescribed, whereby the Congress has passed a Joint Resolution and the President, pursuant to the Resolution, issued a proclamation affirming it, the Supreme Court should have deferred the case and not have granted it certiorari.

A comparable case to Curtiss was Hirabayashi v. U.S. (1943). After the United States entered World War II in 1941, President Roosevelt issued an executive order which authorized military commanders to have authority over particular military areas around the United States. Congress then passed legislation making it a crime to violate any order issued by the military commanders. Subsequently, General DeWitt issued a “curfew order” for all “alien Japanese, alien Germans, …” After this order, a University of Washington student, Kiyoshi Hirabayashi, was found to have violated the curfew law and was then convicted of a criminal offense. Here is an instance where the President and Congress have once again acted in joint cooperation to determine the rule of law within the United States.

Applying the measures I have stated in the Curtiss case, it may seem that judicial deference would be the adequate role of the court in this situation. However, this case has two distinctive variables. First and foremost, Hirabayashi is an individual citizen that is arguing for fundamental liberties which our Framers intended us to have not restricted from the government. Second, the case in question revolves solely on the basis of national security during a time of war. Considering the weight of these two factors, the Supreme Court is obligated to hear the case in question. Even if this instance does affirm the government to lawfully convict this man, it is crucial to the sustenance of our republic that all personal liberties be processed accordingly through all three branches of government. Checks and balances are essential here so that not one branch may exert power and influence over the populace. The role of the courts is to not abstain, but to legitimize the other two branches of government by ruling in their favor. If the judicial branch were to defer in the controversy of restricting personal liberties during war, then the precedent set will inevitably expand the power and clout to within the executive and even legislative branches of government.

Although the courts have ruled in favor of the federal government the vast majority of instances, particularly the President, there is the occasion where the President has lost some authority. In Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v Sawyer the Supreme Court ruled that President Truman could not seize the steel mills for national security purposes in the midst of the Korean War. In 1950, North Korea invaded the Republic of Korea. President Truman, without a declaration of war, authorized the deployment of troops and air strikes on North Korea for these actions, and received some support from the United Nations. At this time, a crisis and strike was fermenting amongst the steel workers in America. Truman, realizing a strike could hamper the war efforts, issued a seizure of all steel mills into the government’s directives under the guise of national security.

Justice Black wrote the majority opinion and decided that what President Truman authorized was not stated in the Constitution or expressly granted from Congress. Therefore, Truman was unable to take control of the steel mills. Justice Black says in the majority, “The President’s power, if any, to issue the order must stem either from an act of Congress of from the Constitution itself.” Clearly, there is no act of Congress which permits the president to authorize these actions and there is also no provision in the Constitution which allocates this power to the President. While this case is not one which should be decided by judicial deference, it is one which should grant Truman the power to seize the steel mills.

As Justice Vinson noted in his dissent, “But neither did [the Framers] create an automaton impotent to exercise the powers of Government at a time when the survival of the Republic itself may be at stake.” In short, the role of the court is to allow certain prudence into legal thought when our nation is at war. To rely on the text and statute alone would be to handcuff the President in defending this nation at all costs. The court needs to realize that the Framers could not have foreseen the extraconstitutional powers needed for the executive branch in a growing global world of interconnectedness. Thus, the Supreme Court ruled improperly in this decision, and was liable for the inadequate supplies abroad if our troops were fighting without the necessary components to survive.

A well-thought out concurring opinion was delivered by Justice Jackson. He broke the authority of the President down into three categories: 1) Congress is in agreement, 2) Congress is silent, and 3) Congress is opposed. He believed that this case belonged in the third category. Justice Jackson says, “[The Fifth Amendment signifies] about all there is of the principle that ours is a government of laws, not of men, and that we submit ourselves to rulers only if under rules.” Jackson is correct in determining that the role of the court in foreign affairs is to adjudicate under existing rule of law, yet this absolutist viewpoint, as stated earlier, restricts even the most bizarre circumstances which can never be foreseen. It is in this regard that I disagree with Jackson and argue that the courts should allow for leniency and prudence when ruling on the President’s authority during wartime or national security crises.

In Dellums v Bush the District Court under Harold H. Greene’s opinion made the correct decision in judicial deference. Fifty three members from Congress and one Senator requested that the court issue them an injunction forbidding President Bush to authorize an offensive attack on Iraq. Greene did not issue the injunction and argued that, “In short, unless Congress as a whole, or by a majority, is heard from, the controversy here cannot be deemed ripe; it is only if the majority of the Congress seeks relief from an infringement on its constitutional war-declaration power that it may be entitled to receive it.” By all accounts, this was not only the proper decision to make regarding the case, but it was a necessary one as well. Had the court issued the injunction, the legitimacy of the whole of Congress and the President’s authority to be “Commander-in-Chief” of the Armed Forces would be in jeopardy. In fact, roughly one month after the judge denied the injunction, Congress authorized the use of force in Iraq in conjunction with the UN Resolution. This authorization is exactly why Judge Greene did not usurp Congressional authority and deem it relevant when only 53 House Representatives and one Senator had come forth with the request. The judicial deference in this case was appropriate to the responsibilities of the court and upheld what the Framers had intended.

In the instances where the government detains an enemy combatant during a time of war, the Supreme Court has the inherent right to determine the legality of the detainment. During the Civil War, Lambdin Milligan and four other individuals were accused of planning to steal Union weapons and free Confederate prisoners of war in Indiana. They were sentenced to hang from a military court but were able to bring their case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court basically ruled that the suspension of ‘habeas corpus’ was legal, yet if there were civilian courts operating upon his detainment he could not be tried by a military tribunal. The role of the court in this case was intriguing. It seems as though they overstepped their boundary and authority by ruling that the suspension of habeas corpus was legal, considering Congress and the President had authorized it together.

The Supreme Court was in fact in its proper jurisdiction when rendering the decision upon where Milligan was to be tried at. Justice Davis argues for the majority, “One of the plainest constitutional provisions was, therefore, infringed when Milligan was tried by a court not ordained and established by Congress, and not composed of judges appointed during good behavior.” Justice Davis is making the argument that a military tribunal is not apt for trial of a citizen when civilian courts are operating. This decision was exactly appropriate for the courts to decide as there was no statue given by Congress and there was no Constitutional provision for it giving the President the enumerated power.

In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the role of the court was accurate in its decision to rule and negate judicial deference. Hamdi was a US citizen before being picked up in the battlefield in Afghanistan fighting for the terrorists. President Bush deemed Hamdi an “unlawful enemy combatant” and sought to detain him indefinitely. The Supreme Court held that Hamdi as a U.S. citizen could be held as an unlawful enemy combatant in indefinite detention. However, they also ruled that Hamdi be allowed to challenge the factual basis of his classification as an enemy combatant. Justice O’Connor argues, “Our opinion finds legislative authority to detain under the AUMF once it is sufficiently clear that the enemy is, in fact, an enemy combatant.” The Supreme Court could not have been more correct in its verdict. Establishing the authority for the president to suspend habeas corpus using an interpretive Congressional Resolution (a Resolution which could or could not be relevant to President Bush’s case) was in fact in the perfect jurisdiction for the court to rule a verdict upon. Judicial deference is impossible in this situation because of the differences of opinion in the actual legislative goal of the AUMF, as it was considered irrelevant by four other justices.

The Supreme Court was also correct in establishing its presence in regard to Hamdi being able to challenge the authority of the President in a court of law. It is only solely up to the President when Congress has in fact ruled by statue that citizens’ cannot challenge the validity of their status as unlawful enemy combatants. Since this is not the case, the jurisdiction and role of the federal court system is to determine whether or not the President has the inherent authority to deny Hamdi a chance to refute his charge as an enemy combatant.

Justice Thomas, a dissenter, argues “That is, although it is appropriate for the Court to determine the judicial question whether the President has the asserted authority, we lack the information and expertise to question whether Hamdi is actually an enemy combatant, a question the resolution of which is committed to other branches.” It seems as though Thomas is circumventing the outcome of the decision in which Justice O’Connor prescribed. The courts role is not whether to determine if Hamdi is in fact an enemy combatant, but rather to determine upon whether Hamdi can challenge this essential opinion of the federal government. It is a dangerous path to embark upon when the Supreme Court uses judicial deference in determining the outcome of civil liberties for US citizens. The other branches will still be determining Hamdi’s status, only they will be doing so in a court of law where Hamdi is to mount a defense for his actions. The idea of judicial deference in the Hamdi case is absurd and the Supreme Court acted with precise and accurate rulings.

In conclusion, the role of the federal court system should be one based upon some restraint. While it is important to adjudicate controversies to maintain the checks and balances, the court should not assert its role as a foreign affairs dictator when Congress and the President have both granted the policy in collaboration. The Framers did not intend for the judicial branch to exert major foreign affairs decisions, and that is why the roles are distributed between the executive and legislative branch respectively. Judicial deference should play a bigger role in the realm of the judicial system, unless it is of extenuating circumstances of civil liberties that permit the court to mandate a decision and not abstain from granting it certiorari. Judicial deference is vital to preserve the Framers intention on government, and to allow the executive and legislative deal with foreign matters which affect our national security.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Marxism According to Stalin

Historical Context:

With the abdication of Nicholas II and the successful Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, a new, radical government was emerging in Russia. Influenced on Marxian principles and led by a radical revolutionary named Vladimir Lenin, this vast empire would soon be known as the Soviet Union. Lenin’s brilliance was acknowledged by all who came in contact with him and he soon would reach the highest stature of integrity a leader could achieve with his fellow Russian people. Yet, his tenure as a leading figure in the creation of a communist state was short-lived, and just seven years after he instigated the revolution, he died of a stroke in the early part of 1924. This led to a series of political infighting in the Bolshevik Party, where ultimately one man emerged as victorious and sole leader of the party: Josef Stalin.

Stalin’s ‘Revolution From Above’: Perversion of Marxism

Although Stalin claimed to be a Marxist, and indeed studied and wrote about Marxism in the years prior to the revolution, Stalin was anything but one. Through his programs and policies Stalin had managed to go against many of the aspects which contributed to the heart and soul of Marxist theory. Stalin’s Marxism consisted of a literal, somewhat distorted realization of this ideological philosophy in which his treacherous ambition clouded all rational judgment.

The persona of Stalin portrays an interesting psychological component to Stalin’s interpretation and execution of his version of Marxism. Early on in Stalin’s life, Stalin had developed an idealized image of himself, an image which displayed his search for glory and his need to triumph over his enemies.[1] Stalin envisioned himself as the next Lenin, and even adopted the name “Stalin” because of its meaning “steel one.”[2] For Marxist theory, the characteristic of a selfish hero amongst the proletariats was to its contrary. Indeed, Stalin’s vision for a new Russia came from his mentality of trying to “outdo” or “emulate” an exalted Russian hero of the past, whether it be Lenin or Peter the Great.[3] And as Stalin so notably makes clear to all, where Peter the Great had failed in his “revolution from above” Stalin would succeed. Stalin’s pretentious attitude and his own altercation of Marxism led him on a new project. This grandiose project which would ensue under Stalin’s self-idolatry reign was his “revolution from above.”

When Stalin rose to power after Lenin’s death, Stalin quickly parted into the Right camp of the Communist Party. The main difference within the two camps in the Communist Party was the belief in the world revolution was the only way to bring about a successful socialistic state. The Left of the party, where Stalin’s archenemy Leon Trotsky ideologically lay, believed that future Communist revolutions were a “precondition for building a completely socialist society in Russia.”[4] Yet Stalin offered a plan contrary to the Left of the Party. Stalin had believed that national modernization, not international revolution, was the primary objective of the Soviet Communist Party. He firmly believed that the Bolsheviks did not need European countries to ignite revolutions in order for Russia to have a successful proletariat revolution.[5] Trotsky and many in the Communist Party felt this was a betrayal of strict Marxist interpretation. In essence, Trotsky thought that the Old Bolsheviks were internationalists, and he began criticizing Stalin for having a dangerous sense of national chauvinism in Russia.[6] To almost any strict reader of Marx or Engel, Trotsky’ position seems to be most precise. In the Principles of Communism, Friedrich Engels proclaims “the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries – that is to say, at least in England, America, France, and Germany. It will develop in each of these countries more or less rapidly…”[7] Here is evidence which suggests that even before Stalin was to come to power, his notion of “socialism in one country” was already contradictory of Marxist teachings.

So it followed that in 1927, Stalin utilized his slogan of “socialism in one country” to enact his Five-Year Plan. This plan essentially sped up the industrialization and development of heavy industry, and also the collectivization of the agricultural sector of the economy. The prevailing justifications given by Stalin were to help the Soviet Union become self-sufficient; to help the Soviet Union to become adequately prepared to defend itself; and to help the Soviet Union straighten out its own backwardness.[8] According to Stalin, ridding the farms of the semi-private commercial economy under the New Economic Policy (NEP) enacted by Lenin was vital to the socialistic state which Marxists had soon hoped to achieve.[9] Yet, the strict interpretation of Marxist-Leninist theory falls directly contrary to this notion of fast industrialization and collectivization. From this Marxist perspective, the mass collectivization of farms came entirely too early. Lenin had envisioned a state which was much more advanced in its technological output capacity and a state that had transpired culturally through a theoretical “cultural revolution” of socialism and even further, communism.[10] Stalin defended his position against the Old Bolsheviks by taking a Lenin quote out of context, and began criticizing his opponents, such as Trotsky, saying they cared less about Russia than about Europe.[11]

The drive and rationalization for heavy industrialization could only silence the dissenting and opposing masses if Stalin instilled fear within the Russian people. This fear was based on Stalin’s fabricated theory of a looming global war, for which the Soviet Union must be prepared at all times to protect its people. In his 1928 Central Committee speech, Stalin asserted that it would be “impossible to uphold the independence of our country without having an adequate industrial base for defense.”[12] The “war card” was only being used to exploit a political advantage over his foe Trotsky, and Stalin amplified this war scare over and over to all the people of the Soviet Union.
Again, we see a direct contradiction between the actions of Stalin and the writings of Marx. Besides the fact that Marx believed in no one man attaining absolute political power of the state, as Stalin was attempting to achieve, but Marx also was against the psychological manipulative part in which Stalin placed over the people. Marx pictured a state where there would be absent a ruler who seeks prey upon the masses only to place them under his control. Stalin completely threw Marxism out the window with his clever exploitation of the people for his personal gain and power. The exploitation was not one of labor, but of intelligence. The frame of reference for which Stalin sought to rule from existed only because of his ability to regulate his people to adhere to his word; this was the exploitation of the mind and heart of the people.

The other aspect of Stalin’s Five-Year Plan was the collectivization of all farms. While this decision proved to be disastrous for the Russian peasants, the most interesting factor surrounding his rationale is his actual interpretation of Marxist theory. Stalin had believed that expropriating the land of the peasants must be done so by a use of coercion from the state itself. He had taken what Marx said literally, and many in the Party believed, including Trotsky and Lenin, that this was not true Marxist teaching.[13] If we observe what Marx actually wrote on the subject, Stalin’s decision to collectivize the farms was indeed an aspect of Marxist teachings.
In the Communist Manifesto Marx proclaims “Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property…”[14] Marx goes on further and says “The proletariat will use its political supremacy…to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State…and to increase the total of productive forces rapidly.”[15] At first glance, it would seem that what Stalin actually did was exactly what Marx was preaching; that is, taking away private property which the NEP had given them and to centralize the production in the hands of the state, all the while attempting to rapidly overproduce heavy industry. However, if one were to take Stalin’s interpretation, it would mean one would have to ignore the foundation Marx had laid for this process to even come about. Prior to Marx declaring these statements above, he set the pre-requisite for this change to occur, which included the proletariat already in the position of the ruling class. Marx says “…the first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of the ruling class, to win the battle for democracy.”[16] Not only had the Soviet Union not had a proletariat revolution, but the Soviet Union lacked the essential component in having one; they lacked an actual proletariat. For Stalin to being to collectivize and force the peasants off their private land, without the first step having been achieved in the transformation to a socialistic state, would mean disaster to any strict Marxist follower. Hence, it follows that Stalin had taken what Marx had said in the Communist Manifesto completely out of context; proof again that Stalin exploited the words and philosophy of Karl Marx.

In conclusion, Stalin warped Marxist philosophy in many ways which proved detriment to the existence of the Soviet state. His lust for power and his idealized image of himself made Stalin believe that he was above the proletariat revolutionary state, and this would play out in his authoritarian tactics of deceit and ruthlessness. With his “socialism in one country” mantra, Stalin enacted his Five-Year Plan to bring about a better Soviet Russia with heavy industrialization and farm collectivization. The coercion used to kick peasants off their farms was premature for Marxist –Leninist teachings, and he misinterpreted Marxist writings for the purpose of his own personal gain. Exploiting the masses in his need to stabilize a war defense mechanism for the Soviet Union, Stalin manipulated the Russian people to adhere to his despotic principles, something Marx only referred to as a transitional process against the bourgeois. In the end, Stalin took no part in true Marxist teaching, and for that the Soviet Union began its path toward authoritarianism and repression for the people under Stalin. Stalin’s Marxism was anything but true Marxism and for that, the people suffered.

[1] Robert C. Tucker, Stalin In Power: The Revolution From Above, 1928-1941 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990) 4.
[2] Robert C. Tucker, Stalin In Power: The Revolution From Above, 1928-1941 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990) 4.
[3] Robert C. Tucker, Stalin In Power: The Revolution From Above, 1928-1941 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990) 60.
[4] Robert C. Tucker, Stalin in Power: The Revolution From Above, 1928-1941 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990) 45.
[5] Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994) 114.
[6] Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994) 114-115.
[7] Friedrich Engels, “The Principles of Communism” Selected Works, Volume One, November 1847 (ACCESSED: October 26th, 2006)

[8] Robert C. Tucker, Stalin in Power: The Revolution From Above, 1928-1941 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990) 70.
[9] Robert C. Tucker, Stalin In Power: The Revolution From Above, 1928-1941 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990) 73.
[10] Robert C. Tucker, Stalin In Power: The Revolution From Above, 1928-1941(New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990) 73.
[11] Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994) 114-115.
[12] Robert C. Tucker, Stalin In Power: The Revolution From Above, 1928-1941 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990) 74.
[13] Robert C. Tucker, Stalin In Power: The Revolution From Above, 1928-1941 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990) 57.
[14] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “Communist Manifesto” (1848) Marx-Engels Reader (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978) 490.
[15] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “Communist Manifesto” (1848) Marx-Engels Reader (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978) 490.
[16] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “Communist Manifesto” (1848) Marx-Engels Reader (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978) 490.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democrats Win Defensive Victory

Democrats win the House. Democrats are going to win the Senate. To many Republicans, defeat and sorrow has overcome the core of their well-being, and to many Democrats, victory and hope saturate their once disheartening mentality of continuing loss over the last 12 years. It doesn’t take an expert to understand that the voting public overwhelmingly voted for change on November 7th; a seemingly subconscious national referendum on Dubya, where voters gathered inspiration from their frustration of Bush to oust his Republican cohorts. Oddly enough, the credence granted to the Democrats in the House, and possibly the Senate, was only a defensive victory.

The robust republic our Founders created made sure that a system of ‘checks and balances’ precluded any one branch from exerting too much power in the arena of federal government. Indeed, while the Democrats may have made major gains in both Houses, the Republicans should still be holding their heads up high. The presidential mandate given to Bush two years ago was not up for election, therefore the Democratic victory was marred by the fact that the Republicans still maintain the executive branch. Therefore, the only victory the Democrats inherited was a meager defensive victory; that is to say, a victory which simply disables the Republicans from passing legislation which adhered to their party principles (or what’s left of them). The offensive triumph for the Democrats can only be determined in the ’08 election where the executive branch will be up for grabs, presumably for Obama or McCain to seize.

With Bush still at the helm of government, it is safe to say that the use of his veto power will without a doubt be much greater in these next two years of office. Democrats will not have near enough voting power to overturn any of their legislative goals in the Senate, therefore the Democrats will ultimately achieve nothing for the next two years. That is the nature of representative democracy. Divided government ensures nothing will ever get done, or if something does get done, there is a cosmic compromise made between parties. This is not necessarily a negative attribute of our American polity, but rather an inevitable one which ensures our political system is working. As Madison so brilliantly noted in “Notes on Confederacy,” division in government promulgates a healthy balance and sustenance for liberty and individual freedom to be upheld. That was one of the primary reasons Madison chose a republic over the ‘mobocracy’ tendencies of direct democracy.

All in all this election established a definitive tone to the prevailing disposition of this country: change. The Democrats may very well deserve a mandate in legislating change, however this is not practical. The presence of Bush assures a Republican check on legislation coming from Congress and subsequently will obstruct the “new direction” Democrats so aspired to take America upon. Blocking the Republicans from putting through legislation is essentially all the Democrats got out of this election. This win is one which should come with some dissatisfaction, but don’t tell them that.

So to sum up, cheer up Republicans, and go easy on the celebrations Democrats, the direction of the country is not going to change with a subtle defensive victory, no matter how big.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Prediction

My Prediction for the 2006 midterms:

House: Democrats pick up 18 seats.

Senate: Democrats pick up 5 seats.

All in all, Democrats retake the House and just miss taking back the Senate.