Visit HPL'S site of
Outstanding Poems

Asheville, NC, USA
Updated November 24, 2016

Blue Ridge Journal
"A Potpourri of Good Sense"
presented by H.Paul Lillebo

F-8 by Lou Drendel
Salute to the F-8 Crusader

Wikipedia supporter

  Education      International     Language  
  & Media
  Religion     Science     Society      U.S. Politics  
New Trix Quartet

All essays by topic

Recent essays:
Cancel the election
Mindless campaign and media
Presidential Candidates 2016
The Press in elections
The flap over voter ID
The Real population problem
Democrat President'l Candidates?
The Georgia Guidestones
Islamist terror & Islamic culture
Unconstitutional amendments
Nationhood & Multiculturalism
Good Friday
NSA, Snowden, national security
Nebulous cosmology
Another Washington disaster
Bye-bye privacy
U.S. states as power centers
Asteroids, meteors, and us
World peace - regional security
A New Year's wish list
Israel and Palestine
No Emancipation Celebration?
Presidential debates again!
The "Roberts trick"
The sins of The Fathers
NC vote on same-sex marriage
Updating the U.S. Constitution
Reforming a moribund Congress
A Civilization built on hot air
The "Occupy Wall St." protests
Arguing about God
The irrational stock exchange
The danger of belief
Obama's asteroid boondoggle
Presidential MQ's
"Don't ask, don't tell"
The Second Coming
Glob. Warm'g - western guilt?
Rot of campaign finance
Health care debacle
Cities in the sea
On human population
Education for democracy
Are 3 gods better than 1?
Stupid is as stupid does
A new economics
Immediate energy solution
A Public Stock Exchange
The Dawkins delusion
Viceroy of the carpenter?
Charisma and Democracy
US missile shield for Europe
Eve of Eden
A fable of fools
China's cheap labor
Memorial Day: an addition
Congress & representation
On doing stupid things
The Calendar & diplomacy
Science & Religion
The American President
The spark of life
Liberal & Conservative
Real campaign issues
Evolut'n/Creat'n conundrum
The toy kings of Europe
The disease of militarism
The Supreme Court...
Reps, Dems & coup d'état
On going to Heaven
"Creationism" in school
Mars Madness
Global warming
Free public transit
Lotto: a new poor tax
EU: the new imperialism

    Leave a comment

And just for fun:
Some odd tales

For your mental delectation:
(Click the puzzle to solve it)

The world's current top chess players:
(I'm left out again...) for more details and full list


Suggested Related Essays:
"Democratic presidential candidates?"   and   "The Rot of Campaign Financing."

Current essay:

The American Revolt of 2016

An opportunity to "make Congress great again"?

2016 was, surprisingly, a year of revolt. An apparently unruly character will be in the White House, and many are not sanguine about the upcoming term of President Trump. But for those who see corruption in Washington as destructive of our democracy, this may be a time of opportunity.

In the presidential election of 1828, the rabble-rousing retired General and popular war hero Andrew Jackson of Tennessee turned American politics on its ear. Four years earlier he had suffered a painful defeat in his first run for the presidency, where he had gained the most popular votes as well as the most electoral votes (but not a majority), only to be outmaneuvered when the election was thrown into the House of Representatives, where he lost to the candidate of "the establishment", John Quincy Adams – the son of our second president. This time he was determined to get revenge on Adams, whom he accused of electoral shenanigans, and occupy the White House.

Jackson was the very opposite of the gentile set that had ruled Washington from the beginning. They were educated at the best schools and raised in comfort; he had relatively little education and was raised in a hardscrabble homestead. Jackson swore, he drank, he brawled, he'd killed a man in a duel and many on the battlefield. He was in a way the ultimate backwoods hero.

The politicians of Washington were appalled at the thought of having this unpolished bumpkin as president. Their wives were even more appalled at Jackson's wife, who was accused of bigamy and adultery (which was technically true under the laws of the day). But Jackson's hole card was a nascent movement in the country to broaden suffrage beyond the elite. If more "ordinary" citizens could vote, Jackson's chances would improve.

Jackson invented the modern American personal campaign, spending two years traveling about the country, giving fiery speeches, talking to whoever would listen. It was the dirtiest campaign the country had seen, and as much mud was slung at Jackson as by him. (It was actually the only presidential campaign the country had seen – before Jackson, candidates thought it unseemly to be promoting themselves in public.) He got states to change their voting laws to give the right to vote to more ordinary citizens, and when the votes were counted in early 1829, Jackson had beat the establishment candidate and sitting president in a landslide. Basically, Quincy Adams got the elite vote, Jackson got most of the rest.

Today's Democratic party counts its origin from Jackson's victory. They framed themselves as the party of the common man, an appellation that was to a greater or lesser degree somewhat credible through the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. So what happened this year? Why did it turn out that the "working class" voted against the Democrats and for the rough-cut bumpkin that Washington feared? Pretty much for the same reasons as in 1828 and '32, and more recently in the Reagan landslides of 1976 and '80. The people sensed that the government had grown elitist, effete, and out of touch with the people. They felt they needed to remind the government of where the ultimate power is held in a democracy. It is not held in the elite classes, it's held by the people.

So the people, demonstrating their ultimate power again in 2016, voted in a direct-talking rabble-rouser as president, a man not objectively the best fit for the job, but where was the candidate who combined high qualifications with a believable pledge to return the priorities of the government to the priorities of the people? If the dominant parties have such a person, he or she didn't run for president this year. While I personally am far from satisfied with the election of Mr.Trump, I lay the responsibility for this unfortunate result on the political cartel that runs every aspect of American political life: the "duopoly" of the Republican and Democratic parties. These two private organizations have created essentially every rule and law at every political level in this country, and they have shaped election and financing laws intended to ensure that only candidates of these two parties will serve in state legislatures and Congress.

This year, the Democratic party bosses hand-picked their badly flawed candidate long before the faux public input process began. No one else needed to apply, and when Mr.Sanders did apply the party bosses used every known trick to ensure that their selectee would triumph. The Republicans used the opposite method, and actually allowed the democratic process to function. But as we know, the purpose of democracy – trumpeted to the world in our Declaration of Independence – is chiefly to allow the citizens of a nation to turn out the government and select a new one in its place. Democracy is not designed to select the best government, or choose the best policies. It's probably true that by the processes of mass democracy, which our founders were so fearful of, we are prevented from getting the best leadership the country might have. That's the price we pay for the right of peaceful revolt. And this was a year of revolt.

There has been, after the election, a lot of hand-wringing and hopelessness, mainly by Democrats and the mass media. A segment of Democrat voters appear to refuse to accept the result of the election. They are simply refusing to accept reality, which doesn't seem like a useful plan. What may be useful over the next four years is to take advantage of Trump's announced plan to "drain the swamp" of improper financial influence in Washington. The influence of lobbyists and large donors is making a mockery of our claim to be a democratic country. If all those of us who have worked for and contributed to the fight against the influence of money on Congress will act to hold Mr.Trump's feet to the fire on this issue, this may be an opportunity for progress, and even to "make Congress great again".

H. Paul Lillebo

Send a Comment


Previous essay: 
Cancel the presidential election

Supreme Court – Where are you when we need you?

Representing our two corrupt major political parties, our two most venal and mendacious politicians duke it out for the presidency of the US, while the nation weeps. $ 1 MILLION REWARD offered below.

Next previous essay: 
Mindless Campaign, Mindless Media

Where's the beef?

A presidential election campaign is the great quadrennial opportunity for a national conversation about our future – about how well we've done and where we've failed; about how we will improve our society as we go forward. The conversation is carried by the candidates for that high office, and is urged forward by "The Press", which is expected to remind the people of our failures and urge the candidates toward solutions. But our Press, print and electronic alike, is completely failing to fulfill its necessary role in a democracy.

All text © H. Paul Lillebo