Author Archives: Rick Hubbard

A Conversation About the State of Our Democracy

WHEN:        Wed., April 4th, 6-8pm
WHERE:      Tracy Memorial Library — 304 Main Street, New London, NH 03257

 

Participate, collaborate and analyze: It’s important to all, regardless of ideology.

Our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, fought a war, and founded our country, largely over the issue of improper representation. Subsequently, they drafted our Constitution to better provide this representation. So how are we doing today?

We’ll discuss why large numbers of Americans feel we have major, well documented, problems with the structure and financing of our political system that combine to result in improper representation of broad citizen interests by Congress.

You’ll each be loaned iClicker devices to record and present collective audience responses about the following and more:

  • How serious are powerful threats to diminish or lose our form of democracy?
  • What current practices prevent proper representation?
  • Is real reform most likely to come from Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, from citizens and state legislatures, or through Article V as provided by our Founders?
  • Is effective reform by statute or by constitutional amendment more likely?
  • Is it fixable without collaboration across all ideologies?
  • What must effective reform include?

We all have an interest in getting this right, so please come and participate.

                    

Questions and Answers about My Book

THE DEMOCRACY AMENDMENTS

 

  1. Should the U.S. Constitution be amended to make changes to the process by which we select our elected leaders and to give our representatives more incentive to properly represent us?

Answer: Yes. Voters are upset! Americans of all ideologies have lost confidence in our election process, and Congress’ and the federal government’s ability to properly serve its citizens. We founded our country over this very issue of improper representation.

 

  1. Why did you write The Democracy Amendments?

Answer: Other proposals are too narrowly focused to correct the multiple problems that exist.

 

  1. Couldn’t Congress enact many of these proposals by passing new laws?

Answer: Theoretically, but it hasn’t happened for the 40+ years I’ve been watching, and that’s for good reason. It’s not in Congress’ interest to reform our political process to give all citizens more choice and control over how our political process serves us. Members of Congress and their benefactors benefit from prioritizing their interests above ours.

 

  1. Couldn’t citizens get Congress to propose such a comprehensive 28th Amendment to our U.S. Constitution and send it to the states for ratification?

Answer: Not likely. Again, it’s not in Congress’ interest. If they do anything, they’d most likely propose certain less critical changes that, if enacted, would benefit their interests, but not our broad citizen interests. Doing so would allow them to say: okay, we’ve now dealt with that. Let’s move on, thus putting off real reform efforts for perhaps another decade or two.

 

  1. Why did our founding fathers provide a second way to amend the U.S. Constitution when Congress won’t?

Answer: Because they were convinced that some day, if Congress was the problem, and it was collectively acting to prioritize its interests above the interests of all American citizens, Congress would never act to properly reform itself.

 

  1. If the institution of Congress is corrupted, does that mean each of our Senators and Representatives are also corrupt?

Answer: No. With few exceptions, we elect good people to go to Washington to represent us. But once there, they exist within a political system that provides them with strong incentive to prioritize the interests of others above our own. It’s a system problem.

 

  1. If Congress won’t act, how is it possible for we citizens to amend our Constitution?

Answer: Our Founding Fathers provided a second way, in Article V of the U.S. Constitution, for us to act when Congress won’t. Through our state legislatures, we citizens can initiate a constitutional convention to propose needed amendments that will go into effect once ratified by 38 states.

 

  1. Aren’t there risks in convening an Article V convention?

Answer: Sure, there are both risks and rewards. We must weigh the risks against the rewards we all receive from correcting our broken political system.

 

  1. Wouldn’t overturning Citizens United and chasing the “big money” out of politics solve the problem?

 

Answer: No. The problems addressed by The Democracy Amendments have existed for decades, long before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2010 made these problems even worse.

 

  1. How would senators, representatives, political parties, and broadcasters view enacting The Democracy Amendments?

Answer: They will resist it. It’s not in their interest to have The Democracy Amendments enacted. The present system benefits them and their interests, but not ours. But it’s very much is in our citizen interests to enact them. Whose interests should our political system benefit, their narrower interests, or our broad interests?

 

  1. What can I do as just one individual?

Answer: Plenty. Don’t wait for others. Here are some suggestions.

  • Press your political representatives to fix the entire problem, not just a part.
  • Press for state legislatures to call for a constitutional convention to propose The Democracy Amendments, or something similarly broad.
  • Question why organizations you belong to are trying to get Congress to fix the problem when it’s not in Congress’ interest to fix a process that currently benefits them.
  • Press your advocacy organizations to instead work with state legislatures to call for a constitutional convention where much broader constitutional repair is likely.
  • Call out organizations you belong to that are trying to fix only a part of the problem, i.e. “big money,” without more broadly fixing the underlying problem of improper representation.
  • Find and support organizations advocating to broadly fix the problem.
  • Withdraw, or threaten to withdraw, your support from organizations focusing only on a piece or two of the problem.
  • Reach out to others with different ideological views. Work to identify solutions that serve interests you have in common.

 

 

Amend VT Constitution to Select VT Representatives by Majority Vote

Vermont Public Radio Commentary

INTRO:  Commentator Rick Hubbard considers the question: If we amend our Vermont State Constitution so we, not the legislature, elect our next governor; should we elect with only a plurality, or with a majority of voters in support?

 

COMMENTATOR

The practice of allowing our legislature, rather than Vermont voters, to resolve an inconclusive gubernatorial election is a vestige of power originally reserved to our Legislature, then largely white, male property owners, when our state was formed. I think it’s time to amend our State Constitution to always have Vermont voters complete the process.

But if we do this, we’ll have to choose whether to ensure that our next governor is backed by at least half of all voters casting ballots, a majority – or whether it’s better to select whichever candidate gets the most votes, a plurality?

We’ll have to decide which approach best strengthens our political process to serve the interests of all Vermonters?

We normally have multiple candidates running for governor, and this past November we had seven. Typically, with votes split among multiple candidates, if becomes difficult for any one candidate to secure a majority of votes on a first ballot.

Our recent November election provides a good example of this. Continue reading

Hiking Mt. Mansfield

Vermont Public Radio Commentary

INTRO: For 25 years, commentator Rick Hubbard has spent most Tuesday mornings hiking Mt. Mansfield with a group of friends.

COMMENTARY

Shortly before 7am most Tuesday mornings, my life-partner Sally and I meet a small group of friends in the parking lot at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort.

We come to hike Mt. Mansfield, as many of us have been regularly doing for more than 25 years. Most Tuesdays, our goal is the top of the quad ski lift, high on the mountain.

Throughout the year we experience all kinds of weather, and dress accordingly. At various times in winter we climb with Micro-spikes, or snowshoes, or skis with climbing skins. But on warm and sunny days in the late summer or fall, we climb in trail shoes or hiking boots.

Often we head diagonally up along the Crossover trail at a conversational pace, passing several of Stowe’s famous downhill runs. But when we get to the North Slope trail, conversation stops and it gets more serious. Each of us then heads uphill as rapidly as we can, and slowly we drift further apart according to our various abilities.

At the top, we regroup, snap a picture, and head down together, when it’s time for conversation again.

I’m 72 now and most of us are in our 60’s or 70’s. We’re all clearly in, or approaching, what we might call “use it or lose it territory” and I’m sure we all share the same preference to keep our fitness up as long as we can. Continue reading