Philosophy, Law and Politics

Partisan Politics Be Damned!

I am no longer registered to vote in the United States. I formally resigned my registration in writing last year. I decided that I could no longer be silently accountable for the opinions of any one candidate or office holder for whom I may have voted.

My own political views are not of any one political party nor of any one political party platform. Last year, at 56 years of age; as a lifelong Democrat; as a former student President of the Wellesley College Democrat Club;  as an eldest child and only daughter of a retired History teacher who  “rubber stamps” the Democratic Party sample ballot at the polls, and who once served as a Democratic Ward Chairman; and as, myself, a former Democratic Precinct Executive who served by appointment in an unrepresented district in which I did not reside and, consequently, in which I could not stand for election, I formally switched parties and now pay national dues to the GOP (the “Grand Old Party” or the Republican National Committee).

I believe that the Republican Party in America professes and is held accountable for a belief in fundamental principles and the rule of law. Thus, their members must offer arguments and critiques based upon an assertion of fundamental principles and reasoning, supported by fact. My personal views and opinions will always differ in some respect from those of others, regardless of political party. Yet, neither candidates nor the rank and file members of any political party should deem themselves possessing a right to deny the necessity and merit of method, regimen, logic, and procedure, for without these guiding principles of democratic society and government, we will not have justice, equity or fairness, no less an equal right of participation.

American Democrats do profess these notions. Though, even with the Clintons, Obamas, and U.S. Attorneys General Reno, Holder, and Lynch, American Democrats expect to be believed and supported merely upon offering time honored liberal sermonizing, without reasoning, without a demonstration of fact, and without a suggestion of specific future action, conduct or policy reform proposals to support their time honored liberal sermonizing. For all the Democratic colleagues across the nation, one would imagine that every Democrat standing for election might easily obtain a great, new legislative proposal for his or her back pocket that could be brought before the public for discussion during the campaign season. The long honored Democratic Senator Robert C. Byrd carried a popularly available edition of the American Constitution in his breast pocket. Where is theirs? Most Republicans are not so flawed.

Lori Gayle Nuckolls, Esq.

Do Young People Understand the Creation of the Law?

When looking at our three branches of government in America this electoral season, the role, place and stature of the executive, legislative and judicial branches should be well studied, Federal, State and Local. All citizens and residents, of all ages, should know the names of our governing officials from all three branches and their role in our community.

In guiding our young people, we need to go beyond a mention or two of the name of our Congressperson or the name of the Mayor or a member of our City Council. Children in this the second decade of our 21st century are truly knowledgeable of current events in the modern era, more so than ever in America’s history. They have seen the most recent national elections and campaigns. The know by first name Barack, Bernie, Bill, Colin, Condoleezza, Eric, George Sr., George W., Hillary, Loretta, Madeleine, and Mitt. They know that the current President is Donald and that the next might be Joe III.

Yet, we must share with them more than this. Especially, our young people need an acknowledgment and appreciation of the scholarship of the judiciary.  Popular understanding of our judicial system and its stewards guarantees the freedom of thought of those who appear before them as well as of our nation. Judicial decision making in the public interest benefits from a knowledgeable public.

A truly fundamental common law subject as the creation of a contract may provide a basis for an objective discussion of how we learn from our Judges and so gain an equal understanding of the three branches of government in America. Contract law is of general interest, noncontroversial and permits discussion of the art of the judiciary.

An example is taken from a legal opinion written by Federal Magistrate Judge Michael Newman of the Southern District of Ohio. Judge Newman is the recent President of the Federal Bar Association. His term in private legal practice prior to the bench was as a law firm Partner in Cincinnati and was lengthy and well accomplished.

In Traton News LLC v. Traton Corp., No. 3:11-cv-435, 914 F. Supp. 2d 901, (S.D. Ohio 2012), Judge Newman expressly acknowledged that the case posed “an issue of first impression in [his] Court.” 914 F. Supp. 2d at 909. Namely, the question newly presented was whether a person using the Internet and who accesses a certain website, in doing so, agrees to the Terms and Conditions set forth in the website as specified by the Terms and Conditions. And, would this create a binding agreement that would support personal jurisdiction pursuant to the governing Terms and Conditions? Judge Newman found that this did not create a contract for want of consideration. In this instance, the Internet user accessing the website did not receive a benefit supporting the existence of a bilateral contractual obligation.

We must appreciate such judicial thought and show such appreciation with greater encouragement of participation in community and government discussion? Popular understanding that Judges impart wisdom when new questions arise is needed. Civil peace and understanding require that young people learn American government at a young age.

In Cincinnati, do young teenagers understand the theory of the judiciary and its role in fashioning our common law from our amorphous popular thinking? In theory, Judges turn custom into law, and in fashioning the law, they educate our customs. The scholars of William Blackstone argue that our customs may only become common law if their tenets conform to our sense of natural reason and justice. Do we teach this to our young people so that they may grow up to understand an increasingly more complex nation, with a far more applicable hierarchy of institutions of higher education in that all of us within the 50 states must defer to the established hierarchy of universities and colleges? The young in turn may guide their parents in an increased understanding of the modern world and a respect for the judiciary.

The American public must be taught to defer to the constitutional function of the judiciary: the administration of legal decision making as to residents, citizens and government. With the fragile delicacy of Marbury v. Madison in its creation of our doctrine of judicial review, all within our nation must respect the separate, equitable power of the American Judiciary as to the executive and legislative branches of government. Popular understanding of our popular self-interest, in a country whose government force and power are derived and ensured only as individuals understand our principles of government, will only be stronger.

Lori Gayle Nuckolls, Esq.

America Relies Upon a Learned and Informed Public

In the United States, as a country of a majority population that is not indigenous to its North American soil, how do we reconcile nationalism and democracy? As a community of diverse ethnic origins and heritages, diverse faiths, and diverse periods of time resident within the county, can an existence of a nation-state community ever be achieved? Does the theory of the “melting pot” of an immigrant nation undo properly existing cultural lines of identity that are distinct, have merit and are centuries old?

We should encourage a community diverse in cultural identity that lives under the governing principles of American democracy: equality, freedom, and justice. In America, its people have freely chosen to reside under America’s governing principles. Citizenship and the rights of noncitizen residents transcend the diverse cultural identities of national origin. America’s governing principles, constitutions and laws create an equal right to personhood and identity that transcends governmental decision making based upon stereotypes and, especially pejorative, presumptions. The rule of law does not look to one’s culture, ethnicity or religion.

The governing principles of America are created, respected and maintained by an academically learned intelligentsia that exercises a just governance of the majority. An educated public and deference to individual merit and ability are the foundations of a democracy. A state cannot survive without an educated public, whether possessing one or many national identities.

In our world, only representative democracies are viable forms of government. Direct democracies defy the economy of scale required for complex decision making and regulation in the modern age and are not even attempted. Dictatorships, with the veil of legislative and military decision-making especially during the post-colonial period the 1900’s, can neither demand nor evoke a legally compliant population of self-governing individuals.

Without a public that understands the principles of America as a country from a young age of early education between grades 4 to 6, with reaffirmation in between both grades 7 to 9 and grades 10 to 12, our public will not be able to participate as citizens and residents as they engage in specialized careers of science, business and nonpublic policy fields. Thus, all college students should have a required course in the fundamentals of American government.

All in America bear the responsibility of treating all among us as free and equal, with rights and privileges of fairness and justice. Our world is complex, and all Americans must be sufficiently learned to debate and understand America and their own place in the world.

Lori Gayle Nuckolls, Esq.

Are Our Politics Determined by Money or Self-Reflection?

As someone with a theoretical, rather than a practical understanding of our political system, I ask how we reconcile the popular view that money is ever present in the Republican party with the popular view that money dominates both the Democratic and Republican political parties? Some believe that only with the overturning of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), and the enactment of new Federal campaign contribution limits on individuals and corporate entities, will American government be accountable to the electorate. The influence of the wealthy does dominate and determine our elections. Yet, there are large donors on both sides who are benevolent and offer a view of the common good in which they sincerely believe. And, some on both sides are less sincere and more self-interested.

Journalists covering campaigns do bring controversies to the public regarding those who are influential by virtue of political power derived from financial assets and not a given expertise or experience. So, the public is aware that the views of the majority do not determine elections, and that voters defer to those with known views who they feel have a better vantage point from which to decide what is best for the country. Even in the American history of not long ago, the public conceded to the Railroad Tycoons and the FDRs with an appreciative deference, though a resentment resulting from socio-economic status. Since that time, the majority has sought to cast off the yoke of paternalism. Our society possesses a more equal sense of opportunity, as well as of access to information and knowledge.

In America today, there is a greater sense of adequate materialism and a secure safety net. Yet, are the American working and middle classes of today more familiar with the profound blessings and power of the highly educated who have an understanding and role in society which they will never achieve themselves? They do not truly have economic want and they possess opportunities for their children of which they could not dream. Is their resentment, though existing without want, producing a disrespect for hierarchies and authorities generally?

Do those of the working and middle classes now resent the very academic institutions which produced their individual freedoms and the ability to exercise them? Are they not voting because they feel truly unable to duly consider the issues of government for want of formal education in the very complex and specialized subject matters citizens consider when evaluating candidates and reaching decisions on issues of referendum? As they do not participate, they cease to have a vested interest in the growth and development of their communities, commerce suffers, new residents are sparse and the communities decline.

In “off-year” elections, when voters are not moved by the issues of a Presidential campaign, few vote. In 2014, 40% of those eligible to vote in Ohio voted. This is local government by an interested few. Would more have a sense of personal interest in government if we brought before them the ideals and lessons on the manner in which they can affect government and their communities? With a sense of personal efficacy, would they then appreciate what they have amassed, can amass and what their children can amass.?

Even if new campaign contribution regulations are elusive in the anticipated future, I think that perhaps a sense of the efficacy of individual participation in politics might be achieved if we look to the basics of the American philosophy of government and encourage people to ask those offering ideas and public policies to explain how their suggestions are premised upon and strive to achieve our fundamental principles. To do this, we must frequently discuss the ideology of American representative democracy and ensure that all citizens and residents of our country, regardless of age, may look within and develop a sense of self-governance that believes in America. This November, and in the interim days, will you vote and or express your views and opinions?

Lori Gayle Nuckolls

Featured

We Should Share Our Political Faith

This November, we determine our choices for government. And, we should look to the momentous advances in American society over the past few decades to guide the decisions we make as to our State, County, City, Town, and Village governments. In the minds of many, the great English philosopher John Locke expressed the concern that, without the ownership of property, a member of society does not live with justice and fairness. One would imagine that this would include both the due and proper definition of property, and its enforcement. Thus, justice and freedom require that one first have a government upon which one may rely in order to possess and own property.

Americans live in the hypothetical, as to our right, power, and privilege of self-governance. Our personal decisions and life choices are individual, yet based upon a common understanding about the world in which we live. We each possess a theme, an abstract view of ourselves, our family and our community. This theme guides our particular opinions, both negative and positive. It constitutes our political faith.

So, how do we achieve political faith? Our individual tenets of political faith are derived from our social customs, and our understanding of how we relate to society and our community. All of our governmental leaders: national, state and local, are empowered to invoke the authority of government. And, in doing so, they should look, collectively, to our individual tenets of political faith. Thereby, they enact the federal laws and regulations, state statutes, and local ordinances that create and enforce our rights of property. This might constitute a Lockean sense of justice, for our political beliefs and opinions create and provide the property we bequeath to our children, and how we participate generationally in our country.

In evaluating candidates and referenda this election season, we should ask certain questions. First, how do I view the relationship between the candidates offered for my political subdivision and our American governing officials? Second, in what manner do the offered candidates express a view on the ownership and development of my property rights? Third, do the offered candidates look to our nation’s reliance upon principles of capitalism and the marketplace to enhance and secure my property and prosperity, and that of my political subdivision? Fourth, which of the offered candidates for my political subdivision may best collaborate with the officials of our State and Federal governments to so revise and enforce definitions of property?

In asking these questions, so that we may participate and comment upon society and government, we must each individually have a sense of our own property. We could look to a sense of the traditional Anglo-American common law definition of property as derived from John Locke, namely, that individual property rights are created from our individual investment of labor in the act of property creation. In this sense, how is our labor to be defined and described, and what is the property it creates? Our property rights as individuals determine our political and social power.

We must each provide a description of our property, both to share amongst ourselves in the course of ordinary conversation, and in offering our comments to candidates and elected officials.  Our definition of our property is determined by what we know and how we know. As Locke might say, these rights are based upon each individual’s perfect control and dominion in right of ownership of property. As to property, this would be a tenet of political faith.

Lori Gayle Nuckolls

Featured

Are Our Politics Determined by Money or Self-Reflection?

As someone with a theoretical, rather than a practical understanding of our political system, I ask how we reconcile the popular view that money is ever present in the Republican party with the popular view that money dominates both the Democratic and Republican political parties? Some believe that only with the overturning of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), and the enactment of new Federal campaign contribution limits on individuals and corporate entities, will American government be accountable to the electorate. The influence of the wealthy does dominate and determine our elections. Yet, there are large donors on both sides who are benevolent and offer a view of the common good in which they sincerely believe. And, some on both sides are less sincere and more self-interested.

Journalists covering campaigns do bring controversies to the public regarding those who are influential by virtue of political power derived from financial assets and not a given expertise or experience. So, the public is aware that the views of the majority do not determine elections, and that voters defer to those with known views who they feel have a better vantage point from which to decide what is best for the country. Even in the American history of not long ago, the public conceded to the Railroad Tycoons and the FDRs with an appreciative deference, though a resentment resulting from socio-economic status. Since that time, the majority has sought to cast off the yoke of paternalism. Our society possesses a more equal sense of opportunity, as well as of access to information and knowledge.

In America today, there is a greater sense of adequate materialism and a secure safety net. Yet, are the American working and middle classes of today more familiar with the profound blessings and power of the highly educated who have an understanding and role in society which they will never achieve themselves? They do not truly have economic want and they possess opportunities for their children of which they could not dream. Is their resentment, though existing without want, producing a disrespect for hierarchies and authorities generally?

Do those of the working and middle classes now resent the very academic institutions which produced their individual freedoms and the ability to exercise them? Are they not voting because they feel truly unable to duly consider the issues of government for want of formal education in the very complex and specialized subject matters citizens consider when evaluating candidates and reaching decisions on issues of referendum? As they do not participate, they cease to have a vested interest in the growth and development of their communities, commerce suffers, new residents are sparse and the communities decline.

In “off-year” elections, when voters are not moved by the issues of a Presidential campaign, few vote. In 2014, 40% of those eligible to vote in Ohio voted. This is local government by an interested few. Would more have a sense of personal interest in government if we brought before them the ideals and lessons on the manner in which they can affect government and their communities? With a sense of personal efficacy, would they then appreciate what they have amassed, can amass and what their children can amass.?

Even if new campaign contribution regulations are elusive in the anticipated future, I think that perhaps a sense of the efficacy of individual participation in politics might be achieved if we look to the basics of the American philosophy of government and encourage people to ask those offering ideas and public policies to explain how their suggestions are premised upon and strive to achieve our fundamental principles. To do this, we must frequently discuss the ideology of American representative democracy and ensure that all citizens and residents of our country, regardless of age, may look within and develop a sense of self-governance that believes in America. This November, and in the interim days, will you vote and or express your views and opinions?

Lori Gayle Nuckolls

Philosophy, Law and Politics: an Introduction

         This Blog is devoted to a discussion of philosophy from ancient to modern times and how it might provide insight and guidance in today’s world. This first post appeared on Facebook and provided the inspiration for the creation of this Blog.

Lori Nuckolls

A Theory of the Development of American Law

          In light of current political controversy over reconciling public opinion and partisan ideology during this election season, perhaps we should give a look to ideas of many years ago. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a philosopher of the 19th century, offered a view of the manner in which society engages in self-governance over time. For Hegel, human history is an achievement of rationality and understanding. In an incremental process, society struggles to develop thought, reason and culture. Our pursuit of our own individual ethical order is expressed in our devotion to the universal principles arising to govern society at each stage in its development. In doing so, individuals must expend great effort to transform their personal, particular opinion by engaging in speculative inquiry as to what constitutes the laws and customs of government. Rights, ethics and justice are universally appreciated and incrementally progress and develop. The content of our own law is then, at various points in social history, our universal understanding. While truly presuming that this is not a scholarly presentation of Hegel’s thought, perhaps we as a community may begin to look within and share in productive discourse.