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.