Little Suzi: Hi, Uncle John!
Uncle John: Hi, Little Suzi! How are you?
LS: Oh, I’m fine, thank you for asking. But I have a question for you.
UJ: Oh, really?
LS: Oh, yes. You know a lot of things, right?
UJ: Well, some people think so. At least 12 or 13 people. Ha ha.
LS: Ha ha. No, really. I don’t understand something. There’s an election coming. Why do we have such dumb choices to vote for?
UJ: What do you mean, Little Suzi?
LS: Well, aren’t we supposed to have smart men or women to vote for? These people don’t seem too smart. Why not? Who chooses the people for us to vote for?
UJ: Ah, that is a real question. Do you want the whole answer? Or the Reader’s Digest version?
LS: Oh, I want the whole answer.
UJ: Okay, but that might take a while. We have to go back in time a long way. Do you want to do that?
LS: Oh, yes!
UJ: Okay, why don’t you hop up on my lap, and I’ll tell you the whole story.
LS: Oh, Uncle John, we can’t do that, I’m not even there! We’re talking on our tablets!
UJ: Yes, I know. Everyone is staying home. In the meantime, though, we can pretend. So you sit back, get comfortable, and I’ll tell you the whole story.
Since you want the whole story, we have to go back almost 250 years, back to when the people were starting to get tired of being ruled buy a King who lived thousands of miles away, who never even saw North America. Who had no idea of the lives they were living, only that he wanted all their money, so he was taxing things that they made or bought, and kept on raising those taxes. The people thought that was very unfair, without being able to talk to the King about it first. Then, when the King learned that they were getting upset, he sent soldiers to make them give up their money.
LS: That was the Revolutionary War, wasn’t it, Uncle John.
UJ: Yes, it was, Little Suzi. A very sad time. But when the King sent his soldiers and they tried to arrest people and take their money and goods, they didn’t have much choice. The people gathered and talked about how they couldn’t stay ruled by that King, and eventually a bunch of very smart men got together and wrote a Declaration of Independence, and sent it to the King. And the King sent even more soldiers, and we fought them with the help of some friends from France and Prussia. And when it was all over, we beat them, and they went back to England.
Then those same really smart men got together with some more smart men, to form a new government for us. You know who some of them are, too. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Hancock, and Button Gwinnett, just to name a few.
So, they all got together in Philadelphia, and they started working on ideas for a new country. They sat around, drinking beer…
LS: Drinking beer?
UJ: Well, Samuel Adams was there, so there must have been beer.
Anyway, they talked about what kind of government to have. Somebody suggested that they make George Washington king. That guy wasn’t as smart as some of the others. But they listened to him, they let him talk. It was different back then, you know, people were actually polite and let other people finish their thought without calling them names and shouting at them so they wouldn’t talk anymore, like they do today.
So after he finished, the other smart men thought about it, and then very gently suggested to him that this was just what they fought a war over, and why would they want to have the same kind of government that they just got free from?
LS: Oh, that was very smart, Uncle John!
UJ: Yes, it was, Little Suzi. But they thought and talked some more, until somebody said “You know, since we need to make sure that everyone has a say in how things are run, we need to be a Democracy. Everyone has an equal say in what happens.” Now, that was a little bit smarter than the king idea, but one of the other smart guys there realized that there was a problem with that. And, as soon as he spoke up the others realized it, too.
LS: What was the problem? Isn’t having a Democracy a good thing? Don’t we live in a Democracy?
UJ: No, Little Suzi, we don’t, and we never have. The problem is that in a real Democracy, the majority rules. 51% decides what’s good for the other 49%. It’s like two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for lunch. That’s not very good for the lamb, now, is it?
LS: I don’t think so, Uncle John.
UJ: Another term for it is Mob Rule, and Mob Rule is never a good thing, because people can forget to think, and let their prejudices and biases overrule their common sense, get swept along in the current. So finally, someone who had probably read Plato and Socrates (who were very, very smart men) suggested that they form a Republic. A Republic takes the best of Democracy and helps insure that the rights of everyone are preserved and that it doesn’t become Mob Rule. Everyone loved the idea.
So then they wrote the Constitution. That set up the whole framework for our Republic, how the government would be in three parts, and all of the citizens’ rights would be preserved. We could talk for hours about how and why they did that, but that really doesn’t answer your original question. So we’ll just say that the smart men set things up so that we would not be ruled by a King, that everyone would have a say in how the country was run.
Now, Little Suzi, do you understand how the government is supposed to work?
LS: Yes, I learned it in school, Uncle John. The Legislative Branch is the House of Representatives and the Senate. They pass the laws. We elect people to go there to represent us in the government. The Admininstrative Branch has all the agencies and stuff to make the laws work. The Judy-stle Branch are the judges who make sure the laws and what the Admininstrative Branch does is OK with the Constitution.
UJ: Very good, Little Suzi!
LS: Thank you. But that doesn’t answer my question.
UJ: Well, to understand the answer to your question, you need to understand how it’s supposed to work. And I see you do.
LS: Okay, I understand that. But what about the election, and the dumb people?
UJ: OK. What’s been going on is true of most elections, but let’s talk about The President, since that election has been in the news so much lately. The President is a special position, it’s the person in charge of the Administrative Branch of government. So they decided that you had to meet special conditions to be President, including being a native-born American, being over the age of 35 (which was to make sure that you were a fully adult person – which doesn’t always work out they way they intended), etc. They also said that the president could only be president for 4 years.
UJ: Because they believed that since the president would be the most powerful individual in government, that it would be good to limit the amount of time that he could hold office. There’s an old saying, ” power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” They thought that if they didn’t put a limit on how long a president served, then the power would get to him and he’d become a King.
LS: Ohhhhh… that was very smart.
UJ: I think so, too. Now, people being people, they formed groups called “political parties.” These are like clubs, clubs that only let people who think alike join. And they gather together and offer up candidates for the offices like the President.
LS: I understand that. There are two of them. Republicans and Democrats. One is an elephant, the other is a donkey.
UJ: The cartoons are truer than you know, Little Suzi… But there are more political parties, lots more.
LS: There are?
UJ: Yes, there are – but the reason you don’t know about them is the same reason we’re getting dumb people to vote for in our elections.
You see, the people who run the political parties want all their people in all the offices, so they have the power to decide how the country is run, what the laws say, and how people must live their lives. It’s always been like this, but the way they wrote the Constitution makes it difficult for them to do so. So what the two biggest parties did was actually get together and change the rules of how to campaign, so they could limit the people’s choices to just their candidates.
LS: They did?
UJ: Yes, they did. They started telling the public that they shouldn’t vote for a candidate from a 3rd-party, because voting for one of them was really a vote for the other party’s candidate and that would be very bad. Even if the people liked the 3rd-party candidate. It was to scare them into voting for their person, see? Both parties started doing this. And then in 1987 they set up a commission – that’s like a committee – to set up the rules for debates between Presidential candidates, and they made the rules so that they could control who was in the debates and everything, so only their two candidates could be in them. That way, they could control who got covered in the media…
But you already know how I feel about the media…
LS: Yes. Mamma says you shouldn’t use that kind of language.
UJ: She’s probably right… Anyway, the people who run the two parties convinced most of the people that there were only two choices to be made, and most of the people believed them, bought into the lie. That’s why nobody talks about other candidates except the candidates from these two parties, even if they’re better than them.
And they also manipulated the process for nominating them – you know what that means, right? – so that the person they already picked beforehand gets to be the candidate. They close voting places or move them, take names off of lists, all sorts of underhanded things so that people who support another candidate can’t vote.
LS: That’s evil!
UJ: Yes, it is. And both parties do it, so don’t let anyone tell you differently.
And that’s why we get dumb people to vote for. It’s people the party owners can control, mostly. Now that they’ve convinced most people they only have two choices, they can control who those choices are and can control the whole country as a result.
LS: The people should stop that.
UJ: Yes, they should, but most of them have bought the lie as truth.
LS: In other words, we’re going to Hell in a handbasket.
UJ: Pretty much.
LS: Oh, well. It’s time for Spongebob, Uncle John. Talk to you later!
UJ: Bye-bye, Little Suzi!