The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Free Government Experiment


Ponder this: What if “We the People” consented to follow a different government organized around the same Constitution–a fully functioning shadow government, with a Presidential Administration, Congress and Judiciary–located elsewhere outside of Washington but within all the parameters of the current US Code of Federal Regulation? What if this “free” government experiment was wiser, more unified, less corrupt, and more reasonable and effective at making and administering laws? Think of all branches, departments, agencies, etc. organized 501(c)3 “educational organization” and other non-profit legal entities (Hospitals? Social fraternities? Business leagues?).” What if this shadow or parallel “government” serves their constituency better–everything that a virtual and physical world allows it to do, including social security, medical insurance, etc.? How could it be wrong or found illegal if it followed the Declaration and the Constitution and all other applicable laws? How big could the constituency of this government be: 5000, 50,000, 5 million? Of course, it would be based on consent and a form of legal , including the “taxes,” the membership dues of “citizens?” Could it in fact grow to “government” scope, size and potential? If it worked, who would the people recognize, a shadow government that actually worked or the comedy in Washington, D.C.? If it was legal, and operated within its juridical parameters, how could the “real” government find it illegal or prosecute it without in turn exposing the fiction of itself and the moral vacuum of the real government?

The Shadow

I have always thought that a parliamentary system’s manner of the Opposition out of power forming a “shadow” cabinet a great idea. For example, Thatcher was the “shadow” prime minister of the Tories when she headed her party. The intent was to have a complete list of personnel, systems, and policies (all reviewed and adapted as if they WERE the actual government) ready to take over control upon winning an election. Hence, when Churchill and his party lost the election within two months of VE Day in 1945, in the middle of the Postdam Conference between the victorious allies of England, the US, and the Soviet Union, the new Labor Party prime minister, Clement Attlee immediately took Churchill’s seat at the Postdam table. Atlee, who was his predecessor’s deputy prime minister in the unity government formed in May 1940, was fully prepared, with his cabinet in place, to parley with Truman and Stalin as an equal.
The US political system makes it impossible to effectively implement such a “shadow” system of government within the “real” government. While still an educator and writer before he won the presidency, Woodrow Wilson did suggest in Congressional Government a more parliamentary form of administration under a titular “prime minister.” However, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. It is my own belief, and that of others, that the US Constitution is a pretty adequate (if not ingenious) charter for a democratic process within a representative republic. The effect of a “shadow” cabinet educates leaders and prepares leaders and processes to automatically assume the role of governing, since change in a parliamentary system comes so quickly. Upon winning a majority of a party in a parliament, or forming a coalition government behind a plurality, everyone instantly recognizes the new government.
Remember the key word in the passage: “recognized”

Within Limits

I had recently pondered how to bring a lawsuit against government actions of so broad a scope that the illegitimacy of the entire US government is proved in a court of law and with all the trappings of due process. Of course, it would never happen. I remember a movie starring Leonard Nemoy, I believe, (yes, Mr. Spock) from two or three decades ago when the plaintiff, Spock, who was a Jew, took an American neo-Nazi to court to prove under process of law that the Holocaust did indeed happen.
I’m not sure if it was a true story, but I do remember the ending statement of the movie that said it had never previously been proven in a US court, hence recognized by law, that the Holocaust happened. If a lawsuit against the US for breaking the Constitution is so far-fetched, then the only solution would be a “mock court.” While publicity could be gained for the movement of liberty and freedom IF such a fact were proven according to the law, under the jurisdiction of a serving or retired judge, the idea is impossible: The US Government would use ridicule, ad hominem, red herrings, etc. to minimize an admittedly flakey idea.
Remember the key word above: “jurisdiction.”

Fighting the Power; With Power

Following the battle of Lexington & Concord on April 19, 1775, the British colonies in North America (not including those known generally as Canada) sent their duly empowered representatives to Philadelphia to form the Second Continental Congress. The first congress had met briefly before and petitioned their sovereign ruler, George III, to save them from the tyranny of Parliament and guarantee their rights as British subjects on par to those exercised in the British Isles themselves.
Up until that time, the resistance to the British parliament was mostly peaceful, decentralized in committees of correspondence, and under the domination of the moderate position of staying within the British Empire but attaining “white-men-of-means” rights and voice in British government equal to the voting class of the Mother Country. The battle in April 1775, the “shot heard around the world,” began violent conflict, if by accident of overeager trigger fingers. Nonetheless, almost 100 American colonists had been killed.
The Second Continental Congress was charged with dealing with the crisis–to control the events on the side of the colonists–to a suitable resolution. In spring 1775, while agreeing to create the Continental Army and appointing George Washington as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces (such as they were, militia besieging the British in Boston), they had no immediate intention of breaking away from the empire.
Remember the key word above: “empowered.”

Source of Power

In summer 1776, the Second Continental Congress acting in the name of the United Provinces of America declared their independence from the British Empire and the English king, George III being the source of their sovereign power. Sovereignty is the state of independence free from outside control, but it is also the right to govern over the governed. Tonight, beginning the new posthumous Joseph Ellison book, the genesis for this whole essay/memo was found in a quote from a letter by Abigail Adams to her husband, John Adams, he at the time trying to coax the Congress into declaring the radical position on what was essentially a civil war: Independence of the colonies from any rule by Parliament and king.
The choice was clear for the radicals, since in the winter of 1776, King George III, whom the colonist had appealed for justice, had unequivocally declared the colonies in rebellion and subject to military force and military law. Abigail asked John, “If we separate from Great Britain, what code of laws will be established? How shall we be governed to retain our liberties? Can any government be free which is not administered by general stated laws? Who shall frame these laws? Who will give them force and energy? ‘Tis true your resolutions [in the Continental Congress], as a body, have hitherto had the force of laws; but will they continue to have?” (Brackets in original. Ellison, Joseph. American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies At The Founding Of The Republic. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007, pp. 45-46).
Abigail’s letter is about the key word in this passage: Who or what is the source of “sovereign” power to make and enforce law. In short, who or what governs the nation?

The People’s Voice

During the Revolution and until 1789, the Congress of the United States, the states themselves created by the Declaration of Independence issued by the Congress, was the recognized government, with sovereign authority to make and enforce laws within the jurisdiction of the US and for US interests abroad. (This IS also the final answer as to whether the government created the states or the states the government; more can be explained). The Congress, only officially empowered in the latter half of the War for Independence with the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, had failed to complete the circle of the political-social revolution begun at Lexington & Concord.
The Articles and the Congress in the eyes of the states and the people themselves lacked the legitimacy to rule over the country. The people and the states did not consent to be governed individually INSIDE the country by the Congress. The Congress could not regulate anything within or between the semi-independent states, could not collect taxes internally, could not pay the nation’s war debts, and struggled to suppress Shay’s Rebellion. The new charter for government was written in 1787, ratified by the minimum number of the states, and in 1789 the country was thenceforth run under the Constitution, today’s supposed “highest law of the land,” which has been arguably nullified by practice. But with the advent of the new government under the new charter, during which Washington served as the first President, the states and the people gave their consent to be ruled in the common interests of all.
The new governmental system was, in the key word: “legitimate.” And with each change of administration, each new Congress, and each new justice, the government has always been “recognized” within its “jurisdiction.”
The Constitution had done a very important thing. It placed in “We the people of the United States” the “sovereign” source of power that gives recognized legitimacy within the jurisdiction of its powers. Without going too far into the evolutionary process by which voting franchise was spread, and the flaws that have grown into the American system of government since, suffice to say that the people, or 50% of eligible voters + 1 regardless of religion, class, or race, are the power by which our representative republic stands or falls. If they give their consent, they can surely withdraw it. The means normal to our country for exercise of sovereignty come by casting ballot, loyal dissent, or civil disobedience (up to breaking a bad law to do so; i.e., not paying taxes).
The problems I have noticed in 16 years of third party political activism rest on two of the keywords: Recognition and Legitimacy. Voters do not recognize any third party or independent candidate as a viable option in elections, either for lack of visibility or experience. The government and the media does not confer status on any candidates other than front-running Democrats and Republicans, as legitimate candidates for office. This creates the whirlpool effect reinforcing the lack of visibility and experience in government in the eyes of the voter.

A Four Year Great Experiment?

The Free Government Experiment serves as a great tool for publicity and public relations for any of the individuals or political parties that participate. It also trains the participants in how to govern. In the first US election under the Constitution parties did not play a role but were present in what the Founding Fathers called “factions.” Washington won by nearly unanimous choice the electoral college. Adams became vice president and Washington picked individuals from opposing viewpoints, like Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, to form a true bi-partisan cabinet. All of these early members of the Federal Government did have experience (legitimacy) in politics, but had to create a whole new set of protocols and laws. The people automatically gave them legitimacy to make the attempt.
Establishing a new government that worked from thereon formed the commitment of the first Washington Administration. As akin to a “mock” UN or a student government in college, the Free Government Experiment as envisioned here serves as an educational exercise, both for those who fill the offices and those who adhere or merely observe it. As a public relations tool, it could show by doing what a true government of “We the People” can accomplish by maintaining the right spirit (“Spirit of ‘76"?). Political parties will form, or existing parties heretofore out of power (Libertarians and Greens, for example) can come into play. They do, however, learn to cooperate on a training ground by running a system of legal non-profit organizations. Imagine a Green Party speaker of the “free House of Representatives” and “free Senate) majority leader ” (a “free” Congress composing a legal board of directors with perhaps a Libertarian “ Free Presidential Administration” (a legal executive director).
To overcome the problem of recognition, the Free Government Experiment can webcast and post documents of all debates, hearings, sessions, of its “Congress.” Things could steam roll if the numbers of curious and interested public increased. The growth of “members” also could grow if people see some inherent gain for themselves or intrinsic value. If so, the people actually see a parallel between an organization “free” government that works and the “real” one in Washington D.C. that doesn’t. How many people after 2 or 3 years, certainly by the time of the 2012 elections, would wish to see the people and principles of the Free Government Experiment actually in power? That is recognition and legitimacy in the eyes of voters with several advantages. It ultimately becomes a matter of public relations.
The template for establishing such a parallel government is already defined in the Constitution. Who can be a “Representative,” or “Senator,” or “President,” or consenting
“free citizen?” Well, the Constitution with current amendments either defines those matters or empowers the “Congress” to do such things: Congress organizes itself, for example; the Congress, within the letter of the US Codes, defines a “naturalization” process for immigrants to become “citizen” members; the “free” President must be a natural-born citizen of at least 35 years of age; “free” state governments in convention set voting requirements and establish elections. The Declaration, the Constitution and the US Code have everything needed to make a parallel-mock-model “free government” that runs a legal non-profit organization.
What about “taxation,” akin to member dues? The original Constitution only had the indirect taxes. I’m sure the first thing a “free government” could do is to call upon its “members” in the several states to ratify a new amendment that nullifies the 16th Amendment (which legalizes the income tax). A government survives by serving its constituency with “purchases.” For example, if “citizen” members want the services or goods a “free government” can supply or fill, they have to pay dues, but by consent.
The system of taxation can be simple, legal, and solvent as we could have real lawyers, real accountants, and real economists running the “free” agencies and departments. If someone doesn’t pay the “taxes,” (such as a 1% “donation free and fair tax” on their purchases, in an honor system) a “free” court, mock in itself, can find the tax dodger delinquent. By a process of “law” in this parallel system, they are no longer part of the experiment. They lose the benefits provided. There is nothing in the US Code that says a non-profit organization has to serve a non-complying member if the “free” social contract or membership requirement is broken. Would someone risk not paying payroll tax to the “real” government if they needed their Social Security retirement benefits at some point? Would anyone not pay the “free” dues/ “tax” if they lost the benefits provided by the “free” government? They are free to do so. They are free to enter and leave. Those who enter or stay vested continue to be vested, and to benefit. Another advantage: “dues” are tax deductible in the eyes of the “real” government.
The main advantage about running a “Free Government Experiment” according to the law rest on, first, becoming so large as to be powerful in what it does and means that it stands on its own. What if 5000 people in four states (meaning eight “senators,” twenty “Congresspersons,” and so on) actually went through the process of organizing it? What if by the 2012 elections 5 million people participate in a system that works? Second, since it follows all the laws, if prosecuted as having broken any laws, it makes a mockery of the legal and justice system of the Federal Government itself. At once, the “free” system gets great publicity–recognition and legitimacy–and exposes the lies and moral illegitimacy of the Federal Government. This places the entire ruling class in Washington D.C. on the horns of a dilemma on which it cannot escape a goring, deadly wound. It either changes or loses the support of the sovereign power: We the People.
Finally, the “Free Government Experiment” can do everything from having a Department of Law, to accrediting “ambassadors,” etc. Part-time legislators in session on-line or at a “capital?” A paid “Office of the President of Free Government Experiment of America” (legally an executive director of the non-profit)? The potential is large for whatever can become of it. If based on the idea of “liberty, freedom, peace, and community” it could very well become more legitimate at serving its “virtual” nation in the eyes of its member “citizens.” Its ultimate purpose? To bring the “real” sovereign authority of our nation’s laws back to the sense, wisdom, and service of We the People. While admittedly a flakey idea, it should compel some thought of the possibilities a “Free Government [Educational, Social and Cultural] Experiment” has for the future of the American republic.


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