The Case Against Term Limits

One common lament of voters this election cycle—especially Republican voters—is that Congressmen are not subject to term limits.  Many candidates for president, in fact, have made congressional term limits a part of their campaign promises.  Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, has said that there needs to be term limits for Congress, and a ban on lobbying.  Newt Gingrich made it a part of the 1994 Contract with America which swept the Republicans into power, and made Gingrich Speaker of the House.

term-limits

The desire for term limits in Congress is driven by several different things:

  1. The perception of corruption in politics (and of politicians)
  2. The 95+% average re-election rate of incumbents in Washington (with the exception of years like 1994 and 2010)
  3. People don’t want “career politicians” in Washington; they want “citizen legislators”
  4. People distrust special interest groups in Washington, and believe that they have undue influence over elected officials.

Proponents of term limits think that, if voters elect a bad apple to represent them, then they’ll only have to deal with the bad apple for 6 years until they’re term-limited out of Congress.  They also think that having term limits will infuse our national legislature with fresh talent and ideas in each election cycle.

When polled, Americans consistently rank Congress at the bottom of institutions that they respect.  Most recently, according to RealClearPolitics, Congress has an approval rating of 12%.  However, when asked about their own Congressperson, they are much more likely to be satisfied with his/her performance.  So, Americans don’t like Congress as a whole, but they tend to like their own Congressman.

Term Limits Exclude Good Talent

Proponents of term limits downplay the economics of term limits.  Economics is about properly allocating scarce resources to their best use.  In the political realm, the scarce resource is people.  Sure, you have a lot of people that want to run for political office.  However, not all of them would be good legislators.  Of those that would be good legislators, term limit advocates would rule them out after six or twelve years.  This leads to a dearth of good talent, and a decrease in competition.

“But others will rise up and take their place,” one might contend.  “That’s the whole point of the citizen legislator.”  Yes, it is, but my contention is that you’ll more often be stuck with a bad legislator than a good one under a term limited Congress.  Voters should be free to stick with a good legislator when they find one.

Term Limits Empower Civil Servants and Lobbyists

As it is today, long-term Congressmen act as a check on those who work behind the scenes writing legislation—the committee staff and lobbyists.  It may be true that lobbyists buy Congressmen, and steer funds toward them, and in that sense there are some corrupt Congressmen.  However, if term limits were enacted, lobbyists would merely change tactics.  Instead of buying off Congressmen, they would buy off congressional staffers… the ones that have no accountability in the form of elections or term limits.

Influence will always be wielded in Washington, and there will always be corrupt politicians.  The question you need to ask is this: do you want the influence to be wielded by someone you can fire (i.e. your Congressman), or by some unelected bureaucrat?

“But elected Congressmen bring their own staffs with them to Washington, people that they trust,” one might say.  However, the research does not bear this out.  While a newly-elected Congressman may bring some staff with them, they are likely to hire quite a few veteran staffers when they get to Washington.  According to a report released in 2004 of the effectiveness of hiring veteran staffers,

The hiring decisions of freshmen are important in several ways. First, experienced staff may allow new members to more effectively advance their legislative agendas, the interests of their district, and their own standing within the institution. In recent decades, freshmen have been less willing to defer to their party or leadership, while constituents expect new representatives to play an active role. The study of staff might have been less important in an era when freshmen had time to accumulate institutional wisdom and expertise. In the past few decades, however, new members have “expected a full share of responsibility from the beginning.”

Furthermore, there has been an uptick in the hiring of former lobbyists as staffers in Washington, especially among freshman lawmakers, according to a report by the Center for Responsive Politics:

The Center finds that the number of lobbyists employed in these positions is rising. In all, the number of lobbyists in Congress has increased more than two-fold between the 111th and 112th Congress, these lobbyists representing a variety of industrial sectors and special interest areas. There’s also a partisan nature to the increase in lobbyists, with an influx of lobbyists working for freshman Republican representatives. Furthermore, several major companies’ former hired guns now work for the very congressional committees they used to lobby.

After the 2010 midterm elections, incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor mailed each new Republican freshman a 144-page book called “Hit the Ground Running,” which was meant to help the new members get set up in their congressional offices, and in it suggested, “Hill experience is important for some positions, such as the LD [Legislative Director] or LA [Legislative Assistant] who handle committee work, but it isn’t necessary for every position.”

Term Limits Deal with a Symptom, Not the Root, of the Problem

At a very basic level, I don’t think that people think that the majority of the problem is bad members of Congress.  The root of the problem is that there isn’t sufficient competition in politics.  The answer to the competitionproblem is not to remove some of the competitors; rather, the answer is to make competition easier.

If states increase the level of competition, you will not only get a higher turnover rate in Congress, but you will get more representatives that are dedicated to excellence in government (this is similar to what competition does in the private marketplace).  You will get politicians who are radically in tune with what their constituents want, instead of what their party wants.

A lack of competition in the election environment is the problem, and term limits on legislators will not solve that underlying problem.

Better Solutions

Instead of forcing term limits on Congress and the American people, I think there are two better solutions that I think deal with the root of the problem.  First, redistricting reform.  One of the reasons incumbents keep getting re-elected is that they essentially draw their own district every ten years.  Incumbent congressmen are actively involved in the drawing of state congressional maps.  However, in states where redistricting is done by a commission (rather than the state legislature), the congressional districts are often more competitive (just look at the new California map).

Reforming the redistricting process at the state level will ensure more competitive districts, which will ensure a greater turnover in Congress (and in the state legislatures).  However, it will not have the negative side effect of throwing out good legislators with the bad ones.

Second, increase ballot access in all elections.  Many states have election rules which make it extremely hard for a candidate to get on a ballot, which favors incumbents.  If state laws were changed so that it were easier for many candidates to get on the ballot, then there would be increased competition in elections, which would lead to a greater turnover in Congress.  It would probably also lead to a greater diversity of views in Congress, and probably more third-party incumbents.

Discussion Questions: Do you think that redistricting reform and ballot access reform would take care of the turnover problem in Congress?  You can leave your comments by clicking here.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    Bob,

     

    I agree with your proposed solution regarding redistricting,
    that shouldn’t even be a debate.  A
    non-partisan third party should always oversee the redistricting, the only
    objections to this will come from people who do not want to let go of power or
    an electorate advantage.  The current
    redistricting system which allows elected officials to draw their own districts
    is yet another reason why we have such political gridlock in Congress.  It allows elected officials to stay as a
    hardline Republican or Democrat and stay elected because they have created an ideological
    constituent base to represent that does not reflect in any way the diversity of
    America as a whole. This hurts the governing body of congress and the
    nation.  Democracy and representative government
    must compromise for progress to be made, and the brinksmanship and partisan
    bickering gets us nowhere.    

     

    However I don’t see how increased ballot access will help
    America or too many candidates since a vast number of Americans couldn’t even
    tell you right now who is in the Republican field for president and they have
    had 14 televised debates. You hear the numbers all the time about how few
    Americans can name the Vice President or Secretary of Defense. So I sincerely doubt
    how “Joe-6 pack” is going to make an informed decision regarding his local
    House of Representative election or senate seat that may have 4 or 5 candidates.
    If porn stars can make it to the ballots (i.e. California) then I don’t think
    we need to expand our ballot access any more than we already have.

     

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Ballot access laws vary from state to state. Here’s an excerpt from ballot-access.org:

      “In Florida, one of the more restrictive states, a party is defined as one that has persuaded 5% of the state’s voters to register with the new party. This may seem like an easy task, but not since the early 1900s has a third party in any state ever managed to register 5% of the voters. Even when people vote for a third party, they don’t want to register with it. The Conservative Party of New York elected a U.S. Senator, James Buckley, in 1970, but they only persuaded 1.5% of the voters to register as Conservatives. Similarly, the Connecticut Party won the office of Governor in 1990, but registered only 0.1% of the voters.

      Florida does offer third parties an alternative: if the new party cannot register 5% of the voters, then it can get its statewide nominees on the ballot by submitting 196,000 valid signatures on a petition (a figure that is equal to 3% of all registered voters). Once again, this task is harder than it appears. With a single exception (in California in 1948), no third party has ever met a signature requirement greater than 110,000 signatures. In fact, Florida’s laws are so stringent that no third party or independent candidate for Governor has been on its ballot since 1920.

      Admittedly, ballot-access laws are harsher for third-party congressional candidates than they are for third-party Presidential candidates. No third
      party has managed to run candidates for the U.S. House in over half of the
      nation’s districts since 1920. By contrast, third-party Presidential
      candidates get on the ballots in all 50 states every so often, which
      probably misleads the public into thinking that there is no significant
      ballot-access problem for third parties.

      In reality, America’s ballot-access laws are so stringent, and third
      parties are repressed to such a degree, that the U.S. is probably in
      violation of the Copenhagen Meeting Document, an international agreement
      the U.S. signed in 1990 that requires nations to:

      “Respect the right of individuals and groups to establish, in full freedom,
      their own political organizations and provide such political parties and
      organizations with the necessary legal guarantees to enable them to compete
      with each other on the basis of equal treatment before the law and the
      authorities.”
      On Sun, Nov 27, 2011 at 7:15 PM, Disqus <

      • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

        I don’t really see a valid defense for changing our current because getting another party formed “is too hard”.  If you can’t get 5%, 5 tiny percent, of your states voters to support you then you have no business in the election anyways. Get the message out to the voters if it makes sense it will gain steam and lead to that magically 5% required.   However, just to show that it isn’t impossible to establish a third party in some situations take a look at Vermont’s  Progressive Party http://www.progressiveparty.org/. 

        • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton
          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I didn’t see the entire CNN special, but that clip was excellent.  I totally agree that something needs to be done about the redistricting process.  I also agree with you that it’s more important than the ballot access problem.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          There’s a difference between getting 5% of the people to support you (i.e. vote for you), and getting 5% of the people to register as part of your party. Part of the quote that I quoted said that the Conservative party elected a U.S. Senator, even though they only had 1.5% of people registered as members of their party.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          I agree that it’s not impossible to establish third parties in some cases.  There are some states in which it is quite easy to start a third party, or run as a third party.  There are others, though, that it’s next to impossible to do this.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            I know there are differences when  you go from state to state but isn’t that the way Republicans want it, you know “states rights” and all that?  

            What is the solution?  If the federal government tried to establish a nation wide set of standards for creating a third party Republican’s (and Tea Partier’s) heads would explode.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Barney Frank: Victim of Redistricting check it out http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/28/politics/barney-frank/index.html

  • Rosemary

    Hi Bob. You have a very nice site. I agree (now) that term limits are a mistake. I do, however, disagree that judges or any other group of ppl will do much good. Why not? Because we all have our biases, and I’ve seen too much go on here in California. Holy cow, they might even allow illegals be on the committee! They’ve done this before…I’m leaving this state. It belongs to Mexico, and I am an American.

    Please do not misunderstand. I love all ppl. It’s just that I try not to break the laws, and it isn’t fair that others can just because we don’t want to offend them. I am offended by this nonsense! Nope. No help for me. 😉

    I hope your Thanksgiving was blessed with family, great memories, really good food, and football. God bless.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Rosemary, thanks for the kind comment. I agree that things will never be perfect. However, redistricting reform will go a long way to impose accountability on the electoral process. If politicians no longer have the ability to draw their own districts, I believe that there will be some additional competition. I think that California’s Prop 11 was a good start. I will be interested to see how it affects the competition in the state. So far, from my perspective, it looks like it’s done some good.

    • Anonymous

      Question for Rosemary: 

      If, in the hypothetical situation, you were walking past an elementary school in your town and you just happened to look up to see what appeared to be two human heads on the school fence, and upon closer inspection, you recognized one of the heads to be your neighbor’s child, would you stay in that neighborhood? Would moving to another neighborhood 20 miles away make you feel “safer”? How about 50 miles away? 75? The point I’m trying to make, is that, if breaking “a law” would make me and my loved ones safer, when nothing else seemed to provide peace of mind?… I would do so in a heartbeat, even if it meant crossing a border illegally. Maybe you’re different, though.

      • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

        boom, I get your point, but I think it’s flawed in two ways:

        1. We have asylum laws in the U.S. that allow for someone to flee to the United States to allow for people to seek safety here in the U.S. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asylum_in_the_United_States)
        2. Why not move south, instead of north, to keep from breaking a law? If this were happening to me, and someone was putting childrens’ heads on school fences in Chicago, I’d probably move to Indiana or Washington before I would illegally move to Canada.

        • Anonymous

          a) my question wasn’t to you; it was to Rosemary.

          b) “move south”? Where?..the flippin’ South Pole? If you pay attention to the news, then you know that the further one goes “south”(from Mexico) the worse it gets..i.e..drug lords in gangs, now actually recruiting school kids as “decoys” and “look-outs”, and this extends all the way to Argentina.  Those kids who refuse these “offers” could easily end up decapitated with their pretty little heads on fence-posts. And for what reason? To simply to drive a message home. 

          For me(notice italics), I’m simply saying that if the safest way to go was to move across a border—north, south, east, west— I’d do it in a heart-beat, even if it was “illegal”. If this “asylum” process took weeks/months(or if I was denied, for whatever reason), is that going to make me feel safer?  Again, I’m me; you’re you. Theists and non-theists clearly handle problems different ways.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Boom,
            A.       I personally don’t care who you directed you question to, its Bob’s blog I am pretty sure he can comment whenever he wishes
             
            B.       Do you have any comment on the actual blog post?
             
            C.       To your scenario,  I think we can all agree that illegal immigration, and how to deal with the problem of illegal immigration, is a hugely complex issue that doesn’t lend itself to simple answers.  However the difficulty of where an illegal immigrant comes from does not erase the fact that America has immigration laws which are broken when a person CHOOSES to come to America illegally.  Justifications, extenuating circumstances, reasons, excuses, you can call it whatever you want but it doesn’t exempt them from following America’s immigration laws.  There are horror stories from all over the world and people with reasons for needing to leave their current surroundings but they too must follow the immigration laws or be subject to punishment including being sent back to whatever country they came from. 
             
            Is immigration reform need, YES of course.  However I said it before and I will say it again, any plans for dealing with illegal immigration MUST start with securing the border. It doesn’t matter what else happens if you can not control the flow the people in and out of America any other plans you make will be undermined and doom to failure. 
             
            Also I fail to see how this subject applies to “theist and non-theist”…maybe you accidently clicked the wrong blog post?

          • Anonymous

            “Boom,  A.   I personally don’t care who you directed you question to, its Bob’s blog I am pretty sure he can comment whenever he wishes” ~ Broc

            So true…it’s his blog and he can, yes, “comment whenever he wishes”. If you care to take the time, notice  that I didn’t say he couldn’t respond; I merely said that my post/question was aimed at Rosemary, hence, why you see, “in reply to Rosemary”, on said reply. I was interested in her take on it. Notice that on “b”, I responded to the blog’s owner/operator, despite that I wanted another Christian’s take on it, in this case, Rosemary. It seems that you have read into my words, and I’m wondering if there’s any way to avoid this.

            “B.  Do you have any comment on the actual blog post?”

            No. But I have a comment/had a comment on one reader’s response to the actual blog post. She brought “Mexico” into this, and to my knowledge, the actual blog post wasn’t about Mexicans taking over California.

            “C.  To your scenario,  I think we can all agree that illegal immigration, and how to deal with the problem of illegal immigration, is a hugely complex issue that doesn’t lend itself to simple answers.”

            Wow. A bit of common ground. Astonishing. Let’s see how long it lasts.

             “However the difficulty of where an illegal immigrant comes from does not erase the fact that America has immigration laws which are broken when a person CHOOSES to come to America illegally.”

            And I reiterate—if it means CHOOSING between breaking a law, and finding my child’s head on a fence-post, I CHOOSE breaking the law. But again, that’s just me. This is far from a cut ‘n’ dried/black ‘n’ white issue. 

            “Is immigration reform need, YES of course.  However I said it before and I will say it again, any plans for dealing with illegal immigration MUST start with securing the border. It doesn’t matter what else happens if you can not control the flow the people in and out of America any other plans you make will be undermined and doom to failure.”

            If this great nation of ours cannot do two things at once, then maybe it’s not that great, after all. I’m quite sure we can, both secure the borders, and deal with amnesty/citizenship for the ones who have been here the longest, at the same time. 

            “Also I fail to see how this subject applies to ‘theist and non-theist’…maybe you accidently clicked the wrong blog post?”

            No, I didn’t accidentally click anything. Just stating a fact.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Boom,
             
            A.      Your statement of “my question wasn’t to you” was dripping with your normal condescension.  You can walk it back now all you want but it’s not at all believable that your intention was anything else.
             
            B.      Fair enough
             
            C.      You state that would break the law to protect your child, I have no issue with that.  However wouldn’t you expect to be held responsible for the choices you made in breaking those laws, or should America’s immigration laws be ignored for every hardship in the world?  I am not saying that immigrant parents who have had to make the tough choice to come to America illegally were wrong, not at all, its a hard thing to do.  However I am saying that despite the reasons the law still must be upheld.   Now to your point about America being able to “chew gum and walk at the same time” (not quoting you just using that saying).  Considering the federal governments absolute failure at securing the border or getting comprehensive immigration reform accomplished in the last 20 years, I would say NO it can not do two things at once regarding THIS matter.  So instead a singular focus should be adopted.  One single issue, SECURING THE BORDER, should be undertaking.  Once America has its border secure we then have all the time required to find appropriate solutions, but considering past failures and that all future solutions will have to secure the border anyway it is the best place to start. 
             
            D.      Just stating a fact…not sure “fact” applies here.  I think what you are actually making note of some antidotal, more likely coincidental statements. 

          • Anonymous

            A.  ‘Couldn’t care less what you read into it.  Fact: I never said the owner of the blog wasn’t the owner, nor did I say he can’t reply where he sees fit. Moreover, that I took the time to address HIS response is reasonable evidence of the truth in this.

            B.

            C.  “You state that would break the law to protect your child, I have no issue with that.” 

            Good, then the rest is moot..e.g….

            “However wouldn’t you expect to be held responsible for the choices you made in breaking those laws, or should America’s immigration laws be ignored for every hardship in the world?”

            No, the laws shouldn’t be ignored, and I haven’t suggested otherwise. And yes, I’d expect to be held accountable. I’m saying…I’D TAKE MY CHANCES(and I’m suggesting that many(NOT all) would do the same.  Hopefully my point has penetrated.

            D. Whatever. ‘Not that crucial to my point, above.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Boom,
             
            A.      Yep, keep walking it back…who called that? 
            B.      Settled
            C.      Your statement about saving your child is accepted and undisputed, no need to repeat that point and ignore the rest of my response unless of course you have nothing else of substance to say. 
            D.      Settled

          • Anonymous

            “A.  Yep, keep walking it back…who called that?”

            I’m not “walking” anything “back”. I’ll say it again: I merely said that I don’t particularly care if you read “condescension” into my words. ‘Get it? In fact, if I were to admit that the whole point of my telling Mr. Ewoldt that I wasn’t addressing him was intended “condescension”, would that satisfy you?…would you shut up about it? I mean, in the end, it would be a red herring, anyway, since Atheists could be the most condescending group of people you’ve ever encountered, and that doesn’t make “Christianity” true, nor Atheism false. And for sure, it says nothing about whether terms should be limited, or not. So? Whatcha wanna do? Do you want to keep blathering on about it? I guess we’ll see, if you should decide to respond.

             B. 

             C.  Your statement about saving your child is accepted and undisputed, no need to repeat that point and ignore the rest of my response unless of course you have nothing else of substance to say.”

            Here’s what you evidently aren’t grasping: the rest of your response is immaterial to my one and only point, a point that YOU AGREE WITH.  I’m ignoring the rest of your response because it is pertinent to nothing concerning my point. That means, that if you keep ballyhooing about anything but what we agree on, then you are the pot calling the kettle black when you lecture me about “substance”.

               D.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    Getting back to discussing policy…
     
    Bob:  “I agree that it’s not impossible to establish third parties in some cases.  There are some states in which it is quite easy to start a third party, or run as a third party.  There are others, though, that it’s next to impossible to do this.”
     
    Me:  “I know there are differences when you go from state to state but isn’t that the way Republicans want it, you know “states rights” and all that?   What is the solution?  If the federal government tried to establish a nation wide set of standards for creating a third party Republican’s (and Tea Partier’s) heads would explode. “
     
    Also on a side note: Long time Congressman Barney Frank will NOT seek reelection after his long tenure and sited REDISTRICTING as one of the factors.
     
     
    Barney Frank quote: “I will miss this job, (but) the district is very substantially changed,” with roughly 325,000 new constituents” http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/28/politics/barney-frank/index.html  
     
     

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      I don’t think that there should be a federal solution to either redistricting or ballot access laws. I think that each state should come up with their own solution, because some solutions will work better than others, and then the better solutions will eventually be adopted by most states.

      The reason why conservatives are all for states’ rights is twofold: (1) federal solutions often don’t fit regional problems (i.e. one state’s solution might not be the best solution for another state), and (2) federal solutions are oftentimes NOT the best solution (they’re most likely a horrific compromise that work for very individual states). If each state, with its own unique interests, didn’t have to compromise with another state in order to implement a federal solution, but instead was able to implement a solution that was optimized for their state’s interests, they would come up with the best solution for that state.

      The problem with the Left’s thinking is that they think that all people are the same in every situation, which is incorrect. There are regional interests, and people in different regions have different wants/needs.

      • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

        Bob,
         
        I understand Republicans don’t like “big government” telling the states what to do or how to do, and I understand their argument for it, however redistricting doesn’t just effect the states, its not an issue that stays within the borders of that state. The impact of these redistricting laws effect the nation, they are for federal congressional seats in the House of Representatives. Why shouldn’t the federal government lay out some general guidelines or minimum standards for the redistricting regulation? 

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          I disagree with your premise. Yes, they are federal seats in Congress, but they are the state’s representation. Each state is allowed to set up rules about how they are represented. Those people are sent to Congress to represent the interests of the people of their state.

          The only way that you can say that those seats affect the rest of the nation is through a partisan argument. In other words, because the state allows redistricting to be done a certain way, the Republicans gain control of the House, or the Democrats gain control of the House. The partisan argument is what is the root problem of redistricting in the first place. If the federal government were to come up with “guidelines” for redistricting, you can be sure that those guidelines would be partisan, and would not necessarily fit the needs of every state.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Bob,
             
            Yes congress-people are sent to represent their districts however they are not voting on strictly district issues or just local problems. The vote cast by a representative from Wyoming absolutely affects Americans all across the country, which makes how that Wyoming Representative got to their position in Congress an interest of the federal government.
             
            To your second point, that any solution to come out of the federal level would be partisan and not serve the needs of every state. I believe this is incorrect.   This is why I stated the federal government should only provide “general guidelines or minimum standards”…example why shouldn’t the federal government establish that all redistricting be done nonpartisan (or bipartisan) bodies.  This does not micromanage the states or trample on the states ability to problem solve with individual state solutions however it does create a starting point for conducting reform nationwide. 

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Wyoming only has 1 representative, which is elected on an at-large basis, so the point is moot for Wyoming. They don’t do redistricting for their congressional seats.

            Furthermore, the Constitution specifically gives the states the right to determine the “time, place and manner” of electing Senators and Representatives. So, in order for the federal government to give minimum guidelines, we would have to change the Constitution.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Also, the states already do redistricting by bipartisan bodies (i.e. the legislatures). I think you meant that the bipartisan bodies should have equal representation by both major parties, right?

            What if a state doesn’t want to do that? What if the people of a state are happy with the way redistricting is done in their state? Do we want to force the people of Minnesota to do something not because they want to, but because the people of New York think it’s a better way of doing things? Or because the people of Illinois think that theirs is an unfair way of doing things? I think the people of Minnesota should be free to find their own solution (or to keep the way that things are), even if it’s not the exact solution I think is best.
            On Thu, Dec 1, 2011 at 11:48 AM, Disqus <

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Bob,
             
            Sorry, I was only using Wyoming as a “for instance” you can use any states Representatives…but thanks for the run down of Wyoming. Did you look that stuff up or did you actually know that junk off the top of your head? 
             
            Now as to the “bipartisan” way that redistricting is currently done let’s get real, the majority (party in power) makes the map and the minority tries to save seats where they can.  A quote from you…“One of the reasons incumbents keep getting re-elected is that they essentially draw their own district every ten years.  Incumbent congressmen are actively involved in the drawing of state congressional maps…”   
             
            Also your question about people of their state being happy with the way redistricting is being done…really? You think people are paying attention to the redistricting process? Come on get real Bob.  They aren’t paying attention, which is why the same people who benefit from the way maps are drawn are doing the drawing as well.  You think that if a poll was conduct regarding the redistricting policy and rules people would have a clue, come on man?
             
            I have no problem with federal government telling states, IN SOME CASES (NOT ALL), how to handle things.  If the government didn’t step in when would schools have desegregated, where would women’s right be?  Just because there might be a majority of morons in a state doesn’t mean that “stupid” should be allowed to run the state.  So I guess I am saying that if the federal government has to “force” people to have a fair and honest process when conducting redistricting every 10 years then so be it, strap them down and make them eat their peas.   

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I know some of those kinds of things off the top of my head, like the Wyoming thing.

            Something did not know… states don’t have to create districts for congressional representation. They could have all of their representatives elected at large, getting rid of districts altogether, or they could have a ranking system in which voters rank the candidates in order of preference. This is done in several jurisdictions in the U.S., and other places around the world. There’s actually quite a few different ways of electing someone, some that don’t involve redistricting at all ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system).

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I agree with you that most people aren’t paying attention to redistricting. However, there are people in each state that ARE paying attention, and they are the people that should be driving the reform, not the federal government.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            I wouldn’t have any problem with local people driving the reform but it seems to be a slower process.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            It is a slower process, but it preserves the people’s freedom.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Whether it comes from the federal government from the state level. I am for reform, to a fair and honest redistricting system.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    Bob,
     
    I do not agree with your assessment… “It is a slower process, but it preserves the people’s freedom.”
    It may preserve the STATES freedom but that is separate from “people’s freedom”.  States can, and often do, infringe of the freedoms of its people just as the federal government does.  Yes the federal government has a much larger group of to try and fit legislation around but its not impossible, and yes states would have an easier time tailoring laws fit their citizens BUT states trample the rights of people in the same way the federal government does.  Tell me how are states which are trying to enact state constitutional amendments to BAN gay marriage protecting “people’s freedom”?  How are states which are trying to adopt “personhood amendments” protecting “people’s freedom”?  Regardless of how you feel about those particular issues, they are not protecting the “people’s freedom”.  Don’t argue with me that if the people of a state choose to have certain laws they should be allowed to pass them, that is their freedom to choose. That is not freedom that is tyranny of the majority.   This is the United States of America, emphasis on UNITED there are issues which are so impactful, so important, so central to our culture that it shouldn’t vary from state to state what rights you have.  Every American has the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. A ban on gay marriage, based on what? The religious belief of one group bans the opportunity for equality for another group?  Does this allow them to pursue happiness?  The Personhood Amendment (which thankfully did not pass…YET) had no stipulations for rape, incest, or EVEN LIFE OF THE MOTHER.  Under the Personhood Amendment, which is being sought by STATES, even forms of “the pill” birth control may be subject to being banned because it doesn’t prevent the sperm and egg from meeting it stops the egg from implanting after it has been fertilized. If a fetus is considered a person from conception, what kind of Pandora’s box does that open? 
    Sorry for the rant but lets not confuse a states freedom and individual freedom.   They are very different things and your comment in the context of our discussion made them one and the same. 
     

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Broc, I’m going to quibble with a bunch of the stuff that you said.

      First, about states’ rights vs. people’s freedom. Freedom is something that people have, and that the government maintains. States don’t have freedom persay. They have rights, which is what conservatives want. The term “states rights” as we use it refers to the issues that are to be governed by the states rather than the federal government. When something is dealt with at the state level, it preserves individual freedoms because state law is easier to alter than federal law, and state officials are more accountable to the people they represent.

      You say that states infringe on people’s freedoms just as the federal government does. That’s not really true. When the federal government infringes on someone’s rights, there’s very little chance that that infringement will be undone. Not so with state law or process. This is the reason why I advocate for redistricting change on the state level, rather than the federal level. If each state takes its own approach, we find out what really works, and what doesn’t. Then, the states that didn’t have the best reforms can alter their processes (if they want) to match the better reforms. If we were to do it at the federal level, we’d have “experts” that come up with the “best” way to do redistricting, then impose that on all the states. If it ends up not being the best way, too bad. Federal laws/programs are rarely changed.

      Secondly, you raised two issues: gay marriage and abortion. You said

      You ask, “How are states which are trying ot adopt ‘personhood amendments’ protecting ‘people’s freedom’?” That’s a really easy one. It falls under the first of the freedoms you mentioned: life. Personhood amendments are intended to protect the life that an unborn baby has. Now, you may disagree as to when life begins, and therefore is worthy of the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but that’s what those amendments are purporting to protect.

      The abortion issue is the moral choice between two priorities: which is more important, a woman’s right to choose, or a baby’s right to life? One party says that the proper hierarchy of rights is life first, then choice. The other party chooses the other way.

      You ask, “If a fetus is considered a person from conception, what kind of Pandora’s box does that open?” Well, it first gives those fetuses the right to life, and protections under our society’s laws. Second, it would outlaw certain forms of birth control (though not all) in that state. Third, it makes birth control quite hard to police. Fourth, it probably creates fairly little impact on nationwide laws, because the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade overrides any state law that might be in place, so I wouldn’t imagine that abortions would cease in any state that adopted that law.

      I don’t think the Personhood Amendments are as big a deal practically as MSNBC would make it out to be. Practically, there would be some contraceptives that would not be sold in that state (since the states have the right to control commerce in their state), but I doubt that abortions in the state would cease.

      The whole abortion issue is a huge issue, and this string is not necessarily the right place to debate it, but I’d love to have that conversation sometime.

      The gay marriage issue is also a hard one. I guess the ultimate question is this: is marriage a right? If marriage is a fundamental right for everyone, then everyone should have the option to be married. If marriage is a right, then it is, as you suggest, foundational to a person’s freedom. I would suggest, however, that marriage is not a right.

      Our society can allow people the freedom to pursue happiness in the practice of homosexuality without allowing them to marry.

      Let me say one more thing about these rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or life, liberty and property, as it was earlier stated). These are not absolute rights. We, as a society, reserve the right to take one’s freedom away from them. We can lock them up in prison (i.e. take away their liberties), or even take their life in some circumstances. The limits on these basic rights are moral determinations.

      If someone does something that is immoral in our society, then we limit their basic rights.

      Even if you define marriage as a basic right, which I don’t, society can still take it away if someone is acting immorally. There have been states that have said that homosexuality is immoral, or have defined marriage as between a man and a woman, because of the view that homosexuality is immoral.

      So, in order to make the case that gay marriage should be implemented, you must first make the case that (a) marriage is a fundamental right, and (b) marriage shouldn’t be limited according to moral guidelines. Are you prepared to do that?

      • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

        Bob,
         
        Federal vs. State Level
        First, yes people only have those freedoms and rights which government defends and protects, I didn’t think that required explanation.   Secondly your contention that state laws are easily undone while federal laws are not, I disagree with.  Small things sure change some property tax rates or tobacco tax whatever, but major issues immigration, gay marriage, abortion these are not issues to be dealt with at the state level, where states can experiment. These are real people lives, and everyone should have the highest standards and shouldn’t be forced to tolerate less because the state is stuck ideologically in the 1950’s. 
         
         
        Abortion
        Also coming from someone who was close to being put in the position to choose the life of the mother or the baby, I say adamantly these are not laws which should fundamentally change when you cross state lines.   But I agree, the full on abortion debate should wait for a better time. 
         
         
        Gay marriage
        However to your stance on gay marriage… In a country which protest to have separation of church and state, your basis for treating groups differently based on sexual orientation is UNCONSTITIONAL.  You are taking a moral stance based on your own religious beliefs and imposing those values on another group of people. This should not be acceptable in a “free” society.  Murder, rape, theft, yes society removes the rights of individuals who commit these acts not just because they were immoral but because they removed the rights of other in society.  This standard does hold up when looking at same sex marriage.  They are not removing another individual’s freedom when they get married. So while someone may morally object to their life choices, in a FREE society that should not affect the law.                 
        Quick side note: I do not think prostitution should be illegal.  In America we sell sperm, eggs, hair, you name it.  You can sell movies of people have sex, you can buy time with a real person online and watch them sex but for some reason if two people want to exchange goods (money and sex) that is illegal based on the “immorality” of it….really? We live in a “free” country and if people want to buy sex they should be able to, despite my own moral objections to it. 

        • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

          Why do I sound like the “libertarian” now? 

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          It’s interesting that you’re pivoting to issues like abortion, gay marriage, and immigration when talking about states’ rights, but you don’t mention redistricting, which I think was the original question that led to the discussion about states’ rights.

          Secondly, in regards to gay marriage… you are still saying that marriage is a “right” which should be protected in a free society. I disagree with you that marriage is a right. You have done nothing to support your argument that marriage is a fundamental right. I also disagree with you that it is necessary to the pursuit of happiness. Conservatives are not removing freedom from homosexuals by advocating for a definition of marriage. They are not discriminating against people. Everyone is treated equally under the law. Everyone is free to act as they please.

          Also, if we are not to place moral restrictions on marriage, why do we place an age limit on who can get married (limiting 8-year-olds from marrying), or an age-range limitation (limiting a 40-year-old from marrying a 12-year-old), or a species limit (limiting a human from marrying a cat), or a numerical limit (limiting bigamy)? Are you saying that all of these things should be allowed? If so, why? If not, why not? They are all moral objections that are based on religious convictions, which you say shouldn’t be taken into account.

          Lastly, in regards to abortion… I believe that the life of the mother is
          something to take into account in birth, but it doesn’t have to be part of
          the abortion debate. It is, and has always been, a natural occurance for
          some babies to die in childbirth, as well as some mothers. If abortion
          were to be made illegal, that would not change the fact that some babies
          die during or shortly after birth. Doctors have always had to make those
          decisions, and will always have to make those decisions. A change in
          abortion law won’t change that fact of life. A change in abortion law will
          not make it so that it will be illegal for doctors to save the life of the
          mother in those cases. The “life of the mother” argument is a fallacious
          attack that has been invented by liberals to draw sympathy in the abortion
          debate.

          • Anonymous

            ” You have done nothing to support your argument that marriage is a fundamental right.” – Bob

            Perhaps you would enjoy reading this article.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia

            Here is a relevant excerpt from the aforementioned article.  This quote was attributed to the US Supreme Court majority opinion re. the court case described in the article:  

            “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. ”

            Bob, you reside in the US.  Therefore, you are subject to its laws.  The US Supreme Court majority opinion declared that marriage is a basic civil right of man.  If you disagree, take up your case with them.

          • Anonymous

            ” You have done nothing to support your argument that marriage is a fundamental right.” – Bob

            Perhaps you would enjoy reading this article.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia

            Here is a relevant excerpt from the aforementioned article.  This quote was attributed to the US Supreme Court majority opinion re. the court case described in the article:  

            “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. ”

            Bob, you reside in the US.  Therefore, you are subject to its laws.  The US Supreme Court majority opinion declared that marriage is a basic civil right of man.  If you disagree, take up your case with them.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, the Loving v. Virginia ruling contains language that says that the State can regulate marriage, and who can marry, just not based on racial grounds.

          • Anonymous

            Bob,

            I am well aware of the facts of the case.  I posted the link.

            You pressed the issue with Broc re. whether or not marriage was a fundamental right.  The US Supreme Court plainly and emphatically declared in a unanimous decision that marriage is a basic civil right in the US.  End of discussion.  

          • Anonymous

            “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man’, fundamental to our very existence and survival…. ”

            I’m curious—which are you saying is “fundamental to our very existence and survival”, civil rights?..or being married? Please do elaborate.

          • Anonymous

            “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man’, fundamental to our very existence and survival…. ”

            I’m curious—which are you saying is “fundamental to our very existence and survival”, civil rights?..or being married? Please do elaborate. – boomSLANG

            I didn’t make that quote.  The US Supreme Court unanimous decision did re. a court case re. an interracial marriage.  I posted that article and quote because Bob posed the question whether or not marriage was a fundamental right.  Well, the US Supreme Court said it is in the US.

          • Anonymous

            ‘Sorry, my bad. 

            Oh, and please feel free to point out my errors. I’d much rather correct them than defend them in perpetuity  ; )

          • Anonymous

            No problems.

            “Oh, and please feel free to point out my errors. As you probably know, I’d much rather correct them than defend them in perpetuity ; )” – boom

            Yes, you are honest and aboveboard.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Please keep the discussion to matters of politics and policy… there are other threads to discuss your theology issues.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Bob,
             
            Sorry, I shifted away from the redistricting debate because I thought we had settled each of our positions.  You feel each state should fix its redistricting (or not address it) on their own terms.  I feel the federal government should at minimum require a non-partisan panel to conduct redistricting, since there is NO creditable argument for the very same elected officials who would benefit from the redistricting to be in a leadership role when redistricting is done.  It is simply a way for elected officials to manipulate and control the elective process which is completely UNDEMOCRATIC.  If I was in error by assuming that our debate about redistricting was finished I am open to hear any further ideas you have on the subject. 
             
            Gay Marriage

            No I have not said marriage was a right, YOU framed the debate around the point that marriage was NOT a right so in your eyes so there is no problem with denying marriage to people based on sexual orientation and your own moral standards.  I said that your basis for denying EQUALITY under the law was unconstitutional.  You state incorrectly that everyone is equal under the law.  You believe that the law treats everyone equally because everyone can choose to be with whomever they want to be,  but there is NOT equality in the law because heterosexual couples are given benefits and legal rights which same sex couples are not. This is NOT equality.  Equality would be if married couples regardless of sexual orientation were receiving the same legal rights and benefits.  Marriage being a right to all and receiving the legal rights and benefits which come from marriage are different things.
             
            To your ridiculous example of 8 years olds and animals, beside the creepiness of having this discussion, there are of course other factors besides the morality of it; the major one being “consent”.  Children and animals are not able to consent for obvious reasons. Without both parties being able to understand and consent, marriage can not be sought.  I don’t think we need to spend much more time equating same sex marriage to children and animals…(I hope not).  Now to polygamy, I can honestly say that I haven’t made up my own mind about this particular issue.  So I guess I am open to being influenced.  Apart of me wants to say that marriage is between two people but your point is correct if I am willing to support same sex couples why wouldn’t 3 or 4 or 5 people be able to get married if they are all consenting adults.  Who are they harming?  Are they infringing on the freedoms or rights of others by getting married?  The problem most people run into in regards to polygamy is the circumstances which normally surround it when we read about it or hear it on the news.  Polygamy is in these reclusive and secretive societies, where abuses of women occur or allegedly occurred.  Young women are forced to marry or are raped by their “husbands”.  I don’t think we have many examples of healthy relationships that are polygamy based.  Please understand that my personal feelings about this are polar opposite from what I advocate but  in America where all people are supposedly allowed to have freedom from religion, I strongly support individuals rights to choice their own lifestyles and the law should be equal to all, and the FACT is our law is not currently equal. 
             
            Abortion:
            Making abortion illegal would absolutely affect how life and death situations are handled, especially in the circumstance if a personhood amendment was passed.  You said “…Doctor have always had to make those decision…” this is not accurate.  Doctors do not make those decisions unless forced to by time critical circumstances; otherwise they must allow the mother or family member make that choice.  Should the doctor proceed in saving the fetus if it is a long shot and put the mother’s life at risk in the process? 10% Ok to risk the mother’s life, 25% chance OK?  Should the fetus’ life and the mother’s life be treated equally?  Should the doctor save the mother first and after the mother is safe attempt to save the child?  These are REAL decisions that mothers and husbands and family members have to make.  If abortion was made illegal, if the law stated life began at conception.  The mother could not exercise her right to live over that of the fetus.  You are not acknowledging the impact on a women’s right to exercise their own right to life in this case.  This isn’t even discussing rape victims who wouldn’t be allowed access to the morning after pill.  I am against abortions in many, almost all cases however the law must recognize these cases which are not many but do occur and a ban of all abortions or a “personhood amendment” does not do that which is why they should not become law. 

          • Anonymous

            Broc,

            “No I have not said marriage was a right, YOU framed the debate around the point that marriage was NOT a right so in your eyes so there is no problem with denying marriage to people based on sexual orientation and your own moral standards. ” – Broc

            The US Supreme Court delivered a unanimous decision that marriage IS a basic civil right in the US.  I posted a link to the court case above in a separate post.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Regarding redistricting: You and I agree on the outcome of redistricting that’s wanted (more fair, more competitive, etc.) I understand your position that the federal government should provide guidelines, but I guess I don’t know why they have to provide guidelines to the States. It’s either for uniformity (to which I would ask, why is uniformity needed in this case?), or perhaps you don’t think that states can come up with any good solutions (to which I would ask the questions, Why? and Do you think Congress can do better?).

            Regarding gay marriage: the “consent” argument really can’t be used in the marriage debate, because “consent” is typically only used in regards to sexual relations, and marriage doesn’t necessarily include a sexual component. We talk about the “age of consent” in regards to sexual relationships, not in regards to marriage agreements.

            But, going with your “consent” argument for a moment…

            Argument #1
            An 8-year-old can give consent to marriage, but we typically don’t allow them to because of a moral conviction that children aren’t able to do that.

            Argument #2
            The law’s assertion that an animal cannot give consent to either sex or
            marriage is based upon moral conviction as well.

            Argument #3
            You could argue that an 8-year-old can’t give consent for some moral
            reason, but why not a 14- or 16-year old? Surely they can give their
            consent to a marriage and know what it means. Throughout history young
            people have been getting married at very early ages. Why do we prohibit
            it? For moral reasons, of course.

            Bottom line: restrictions on marriage, whether they be age or gender or
            number, are all made based upon moral determinations. Even the
            restriction not to let an 8- or 12-year-old marry.

            Regarding abortion: further in pursuit of the practical applications of a
            ban on abortion relating to the life of the mother… if a fetus were
            considered a person from the moment of conception, then the doctor would
            have to treat the baby equally with the mother. But that doesn’t mean that
            the mother will be sacrificed to save the baby. Here’s a similar situation
            that doctors have to face every day. Two people, a 12-year-old and a
            40-year-old, are delivered to the ER five minutes apart, both with
            life-threatening injuries from a car crash. Who does the doctor save?
            Both of them, if possible. If it’s not possible to save both people, then
            the doctor triages the situation, determine which one is more likely to
            live based upon their injuries, and saves one of them.

            In the birth situation, the doctor is required to try to save both lives,
            but if that is not possible, he/she saves the life that is easier to save,
            because both lives are “worth” the same. That’s the way it is under
            current law. That’s the way it was under the law before 1970. That’s the
            way it was under the law in 1920. That’s the way it would be if
            abortion were banned.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    Bob,
     
    Redistricting:
    The purpose for the redistricting guidelines to be mandated from the federal government would be to address that point which you raised, that states could choose NOT to reform their redistricting rules.  Congressmen could choose to fight reform, slow down the process of change,  so they could hold on to their seat or power or influence for another election cycle or two.  So since I have stated, and I am not sure you agreed that there is NO credible argument to be made for allowing the same elected officials to draw the district lines that they then in turn would benefit from, I see a the federal regulation as a way to get a more fair, and competitive system faster.  You can say the same result COULD be reached by just allowing the system to work itself because voters will not support a corrupt system but lets be honest redistricting reform isn’t a “hot issue” on the trail. So since there is no debate about the policy change, but just how we get there I prefer the method which gets the same goal accomplished faster.
     
    Gay marriage:
     
    Although “consent” is normally referred to when discussing sex, it is not the only time when “consent” is questioned.  To address you arguments
    1.       No an 8 year old can NOT “consent” to marriage because scientifically their brains are not developed enough to understand what they are “consenting” to.  So since understand the question is a major part of “consent” NO a child in no way can “consent”. 

    2.       An animal not being able to consent is based on a complete failure of understanding and ability.  Animals do not have the brain function required to comprehend the idea of marriage…seriously debating man-animal marriage?????

    3.       See response 1. No the brain of a 14-16 year old are also not fully developed, especially in the area of impulse control and decision making.  This science is apart of the reason why the age of “adulthood” has not until 18 however that isn’t exactly without debate either as I have issues with that as well. At 18 you can vote, have sex, get married, enlist in the military, deploy overseas, get shot at then come home and STILL not be able to buy a beer at the local bar. WTF?  However back to the issue at hand, yes there are a lot things we “used to do” that we don’t anymore that is called “progressive”.  The fact that we used to do something is not an argument that it is in anyway acceptable.  Husbands used to be able to legally beat there wives. Children used to work in factories and mines, that doesn’t mean it was OK or a good idea.

    Your “bottom line”: If you only argument is that of a moral one and not a legal one that is great, I am a patient man.  Recent polls have shown a MAJORITY of American support legal equality for same sex couples, so the country is slowly coming around to the acceptance of gay marriage.  Its time will come.

    Abortion:
    First, sorry I am going to ignore analogy about how doctors triage situations because lets admit it analogies suck and I would pick out problem which you didn’t feel applied and I would….ugh.  However, I believe are we both discussing a situation in which the fetus can survive outside the womb, BUT there is a great deal of time from conception till the fetus can sustain itself outside the womb.  If a fetus was consider a life which is equal to that of the mother from conception there a long list of problems with that because the fetus up to a certain point cannot survive outside the womb.  The fetus is completely dependant on the mother to sustain life. So should a father be able to legally sue or file an legal injunction to prevent medical treatment for the mother if that treatment would endanger or terminate the fetus? If the lives are treated equally under that law, a women’s control over her own body would be lost and subject to outside influence.  You are simply not looking at the whole picture, either on purpose or not.  You are attempting to frame the debate in a way which women’s rights to control there own bodies would not be affected….this is simply not the case in reality. 

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Regarding redistricting: we agree that we don’t want the elected officials to draw the lines. But what you’re advocating (and correct me if I’m wrong) is that the elected officials in Washington pass guidelines for new redistricting rules for the entire country, including how their districts will be drawn, and you’re saying that they’ll do that? If they’re not OK with their state coming up with new redistricting rules/guidelines, what makes you think that they’ll do it when they’re in Washington?

      Regarding gay marriage: explain to me why the age of consent for sexual activity varies from state to state if there is hard science to prove the age at which a brain matures? There are many studies that have been done recently that show that a child’s brain doesn’t fully develop until their mid- to late-twenties. Yet we continue to have the age of consent at 15-18 in most states. I would say that the “consent” laws (a) are not based upon the science that you say they are, and (b) they are based primarily on moral grounds.

      Also, could you clarify something for me? Your last paragraph on gay marriage was unclear: would you say that homosexuality is morally wrong, but you advocate for them to have the right to marry anyways? Or do you believe that homosexuality is morally right?

      Regarding abortion: you say, “You are attempting to frame the debate in a way which women’s rights to control there own bodies would not be affected.” I’m not trying to do that at all. I readily admit that the woman’s control over her own body would be affected if abortion were made illegal. That’s the point! Morally, the baby is a person even when it’s
      in the mother’s body. Legally, she has the right today to kill that person. In no other arena in our society today does anyone have the right to take another’s life without due process. A father shouldn’t have the right to “file and injuction” to prevent medical care. A mother shouldn’t have the right to choose to kill her baby, another person.

      Here’s our fundamental disagreement: you believe that the right of the mother to choose what goes on in her body is the paramount right. I believe that the right to life is the paramount right. It’s “pro-choice” vs. “pro-life.” That’s the argument.

      The only way out of this argument for liberals is to say “Well, it’s not a life until the baby’s born.” Then the argument becomes, “When does life begin?” There’s a lot of scientific evidence out there about this, and a lot of different choices. Does life begin at birth? Then we should allow partial-birth abortions, but that’s unpalatable even to the liberal left. Does life begin at viability (outside the womb)? Viability is a moving target, and it is around 21 weeks right now, I believe, which is toward the end of the second trimester. If life begins at viability, then abortions get rarer as medical technology improves, and the law needs to keep up. Does life begin at the first movement? Does life begin at implantation? Does life begin at conception? Everything definition of life before the second trimester is fairly arbitrary, and scientifically and morally fluid.

      You cannot say “I am pro-choice because I want women to have the right to control her own body” without dealing with when life begins. Well, I guess you can, technically. You could put your fingers in your ears and yell, “La, la, la, la” and refuse to even think about the issue. If you don’t deal with the issue of when life begins, then you really haven’t dealt with
      the science and morality of the abortion issue. If you don’t deal with the issue of when life begins, then you’ve only bought into the liberal marketing on the issue.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Let me take this “consent” thing a little bit further… let me do this in the form of a conversation:

      Bob: All the restrictions on marriage are moral.
      Broc: Not the age restriction; that’s based upon science.
      Bob: No, it’s not.
      Broc: There is scientific evidence to show that an 8-year-old’s brain hasn’t fully developed yet, so they can’t give consent.
      Bob: Why not?
      Broc: Because they just can’t.
      Bob: They can say the words, “Yes, I want to be married”
      Broc: But they’re too young! They don’t know what they’re saying. They don’t know the implications.
      Bob: So!?!
      Broc: It would be wrong to force them to marry if they don’t know what they’re saying!
      Bob: Exactly. When you say, “It would be wrong,” that’s a moral judgment, not a scientific one.

      Yes, I put words in your mouth, and I’m sorry if it’s not exactly what you’re saying, but that’s the argument that I’m hearing you make, and it leads directly to the moral conclusion that I’m advocating. Yes, a child’s brain hasn’t developed by age 8, but the conclusion that we shouldn’t allow them to marry is a moral conclusion, not a scientific one.

      • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

        Bob, Bob, Bob…..
         
        Redistricting:
         
        Hold on, let me get this straight, we have the debate about redistricting.  We agree that reform should happen however you disagree with the federal government creating guidelines for that reform even at a minimum level of simply ensuring more competitiveness and fairness in the districts. So you ask WHY? I answer why, and then you ask HOW will that ever happen?  I suppose the same way it would on the state level except it would not have to happen 50 different times, it would only have to get passed ONCE.  I am not advocating that the federal government in detail mandate all of the reform, just a basic framework, a general set of principals such as having a non-partisan panel or an independent group.  Your problem is not with the solution or the result; you simply have a fundamental resistance to the federal government mandating policy to the states, because you lack faith that the federal government could it get done right.  Sorry but for this case the federal government route is the most efficient way to effect changes.  Is it more difficult to ensure that policies are applicable nation wide?  Yes, but just because it is harder doesn’t mean its not possible or we shouldn’t do it.  Man I really want you to read Bill Clinton’s book “Back to Work” because I feel like when he is talking about the “antigovernment movement”, 99 % of the time it could apply to you and I am interested to hear what your opinion would be after reading his book. 
         
        “The idea that the government would mess up a two- car parade has shaped the framework in which we debate the issues and colored the way the media report on them. “ Quote from Back to Work by Bill Clinton. 
         
         
        Gay Marriage:
        Inconsistency in the law: I cannot explain the inconsistency in the law and nor do I agree with it, hence my rant about what you are legally allowed to do at 18 versus 21.  I feel the law should pick one 18, 21 or another age at which you are truly an adult not this piece meal half an adult stuff.  ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: This is also why I appose trying minors as adults in trails, these are kids.  Are some kids evil little demons, YES but trying them as minors, put them in juvenile facilities and evaluate their rehabilitation.  If they continue to pose a danger to society then they should move to an adult facility after 18.  HOWEVER again back to the issue of different ages where “adult” stuff seems to be legal, I don’t know.  Perhaps it’s a gradually process of allowing more freedoms till adult hood.  Driving at 16, smoking, voting, enlisting at 18, drinking at 21, I don’t know, I don’t understand , and I don’t agree with it. 
         
        Clarification for you: Yes I personally believe homosexually is wrong, and yes I advocate for them to be able to marry.  Why? That seems like a blatant contradiction, you might say.  No it is not, because of the ideals that America is founded on.  America is a nation of religious FREEDOM, meaning you are free to believe in god or not.  You can worship Buddha, Jesus, Thor, Zeus, Satan, Baal, Ying Yang, Zen, whatever you want, or worship nothing as long as your beliefs do not infringe on the rights of others you should be able to practice whatever you want.  That is why I advocate for gay marriage, their beliefs, their marriage does not infringe on my freedom to believe what I believe or practice my religion however I want. So in turn I believe that my own religious beliefs should not infringe on their freedom.  Its that simple. 
         
        Abortion:
         
        Yes you are correct; you can not debate abortion without first address when “life” begins. So I will just state what my views are. I believe that the fetus becomes a person, and has rights to its own life, when it becomes viable outside the womb.  Before that point the fetus is totally and completely dependent on the mother to sustain its existence. I do not feel a fetus, which can not live without the mother, can have a right to its own life if that life cannot be sustained.   Yes abortions will decrease as medical treatments improve with technology, that a good thing. I don’t hear any sane people advocating for more abortions in any political party or sect. Yes you are also correct when you say in no other arena in our society does anyone have the right to take another’s life without due process.  I agree in that there is no other arena of our society which remotely parallels the arena of “pro-life v. pro-choice”, it is a totally unique and endlessly complex issue. 
         
        You state that a husband SHOULDN’T have the right to file an injunction to stop a medical treatment but I have not seen any legislation in reality that would provide the legal protections you are seeking for life at conception without allowing that legal problems of other people controlling the mothers freedom and independence in regards to medical decisions with her own body.  Its cause and effect, if you state that life starts at conception and has every legal right as the mother then you remove the freedom from mother to make decision regarding their own bodies even in cases of rape or incest.  Sorry that just doesn’t fly. 
         
         
        Consent issue:
         
        Bob I heard your “everything is a morality” debate before I didn’t buy then and I am not buying it now.  Just because you can play “seven degrees to Kevin Bacon” and cycle everything back to a question of morality doesn’t make so.  Yes, does an 8 year old have the ability to say the words “I want to get married” or “I do” sure they do. But since they have no comprehension of what they are stating its not valid as consent.  Just as consent wouldn’t be valid for someone is hammered drunk or so high on drugs they don’t know there own name but can mutter “I do”.  So, as I said before if your only objection to gay marriage is a moral one and not a legal one that is fine, the tides of freedom are slowly turning. 

        • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

          What happened to us not talking abortion becuase it wasn’t the right forum…if I pressed the issue, I am sorry. 

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Broc, I’m just going to ignore the gay marriage and abortion debates for another time, and return to the original question about redistricting.
          You said it right… I have both an ideological problem with doing redistricting at a federal level (the WHY), and a procedural/practical problem with doing redistricting at the federal level (the HOW).

          Ideologically, here’s my problem: it further removes power from the people. Different regions/groups have different needs, and doing things at a federal level imposes solutions that aren’t always good for all regions/people of the country. Trying to do redistricting reform at the federal level means that you have a Republican from California (in this case, Darrell Issa), the chairman of the Government Oversight Committee in the House, determining for the entire country what the redistricting rules will be. Now, as a conservative, you would think that I would be happy that a Republican will write the rules on redistricting, but I’m not. He’s going to write the law so that it benefits Republican incumbents, however slightly. He doesn’t know what’s best for the people of Rhode Island, or the people of Georgia, or the people of Illinois. I don’t want him writing the law. I want the people writing the law in this situation, because it affects his job.

          Practically/Procedurally, here’s my problem: at the federal level, you’re asking the people who have the most to lose by using non-partisan or
          bi-partisan commissions
          to draw up and pass federal guidelines for
          redistricting. My contention is that they will do what they do at the
          state level… they will draw up guidelines that further intrench
          themselves into their offices, and their friends into the other offices.
          They might trumpet it as a “new non-partisan process of redistricting,” but
          it will never really be non-partisan, nor will it increase competition in
          the electoral process. My guess is that it will never happen at the
          federal level.

          At the state level, every time it’s been done, it’s been done through the
          state constitutional referendum process, which means that the
          citizens are voting for it, not the legislators. This is the very
          essence of democracy. Doing redistricting reform at the state level
          preserves and protects the rights of the people to determine their
          own representation.

          Another procedural objection that I have is this: we’ve been talking about
          the redistricting for federal seats. But redistricting is not limited to
          federal seats. Every state legislature seat is redistricted as well.
          Congress doesn’t have control over those guidelines. Each state gets to
          decide that. So, having Congress pass a [half-baked] law about
          redistricting only does half the job anyways.

          So, to sum up… redistricting at the state level keeps the people’s
          freedom intact, it allows for the people to draw up the actual law (instead
          of congressmen that have a conflict of interest), and it allows the
          resulting legislation to affect change at both the federal level AND state
          levels.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          I would be interested in at least starting to read Clinton’s new book… do you have a copy I could borrow?

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Yes you can borrow my copy, if you don’t mind my notes written in the margins?

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Why don’t you and the wife come over to the Bell’s tomorrow we are doing Adam’s 6th birthday party. 

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    Bob,
     
    Ideological –First, all of congress are elected officials so “the people’s rights” are not that far removed from the process, but yes local government is closer to people in that less votes contribute to elections so each vote counts more so you point is taken.  Secondly, your argument of different regions have different needs is the exact reason why I would ONLY advocate a general regulation stating a non-partisan or independent body conduct the redistricting.  The regulation from the federal government would NOT remove the ability of local governments to tailor legislation to their individual needs, it would only require the minimum step of removing the obvious conflict of interest for elected officials to draw their own district maps.  Third, it is extremely UNLIKELY that a piece of legislation as impactful as redistricting reform would be authored by one person, but even if that UNLIKELY circumstance were to occur, and one person was to write the redistricting reform legislation, the legislation would still have to be voted on and last time I checked were have a power split in government and I don’t see Democrats allowing a “Republican leaning” redistricting bill through the Senate.  I understand your position about limited government, however in this case your ideological problems with a federal regulation regarding redistricting reform are easily avoidable.  So I see no reason why they federal government should NOT do this. 
     
     
    Practically/Procedurally – Yes of course people in congress would be forced to actually act with some integrity and not simply call if “non-partisan” or “independent” redistricting reform, but this is where divided government, transparency and accountability come into play, and while those two adjective aren’t very prevalent in Washington DC they aren’t extinct either and the American people still can recognize true reform efforts when they come along. Especially now with Congressional approval ratings so low, a regulation to help ensure a more fair and competitive electoral process would draw bipartisan support.  To your point of referendums, I am normally in favor of just letting the people decide however as I stated in the ideological section, this federal regulation would NOT stop local governments from tailoring redistricting reforms to their regional needs so this could still be apart of the process. However the only draw back to just leaving it up to a vote is that there are groups of citizens (Latin Americans, African Americans, the LGBT community) which are in FAVOR of drawing district lines “unfairly” or to ensure a certain candidate a seat.  They rationalize this idea by saying that the LGBT community or Latin American community or whatever group should have their own representative in Congress fighting for them.  In these limited cases, the vote of the people may actually hurt competiveness the broken system. 
     
     
    Lastly, yes states still have their own representative governments and the federal regulation wouldn’t cover everything but it would help, as you put it, “half the problem” which is a good thing.  It would also put fourth a great example for state governments to do the same thing in taking on redistricting reform. 
     
     
     
    In conclusion, the federal regulation I am proposing would NOT remove the states abilities to tailor redistricting reform around regional needs or remove the opportunity for people to have a vote if that is how states decide to handle it.  The federal regulation of requiring a non-partisan or independent body to conduct redistricting would ensure a more competitive and fair process more quickly than having each state tackle the issue individually.   This federal regulation would not finish the job but it would “get the ball rolling” in a more efficient way than ONLY having the states work the issue alone. 

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      I think you missed the point of my practical objection. Practically, redistricting reform is not going to happen at the federal level, because the elected officials at the federal level have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. They will not act because the system (the way it is now) protects their job. You may have a few people in the federal government who have said, “I want the system to be reformed,” but the vast majority of elected officials will not allow this type of reform to happen. That’s why it MUST be done at the state level, through the people, through the referendum process.

      Also, one note… you mentioned how some groups (Latin Americans, African Americans, the LGBT community) don’t want change at the state level, because it would stop them from getting the representation they want. This is inaccurate. Even if redistricting is changed to be done by independent or bi-partisan commissions, they still have to follow the Voting Rights Act, which requires majority-minority districts to be drawn when possible. This means that there will always be Hispanic and African American districts when the population demands it (not LGBT, because they are not a protected race). So minorities do not have a reason to oppose redistricting reform at the state level.

      • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

        Bob,
         
        You don’t think redistricting reform will EVER happen? Where is your sense of populism?  If redistricting reform is made an issue by the public then it will be done.  Is it currently a “hot issue”? No, right now the hot issue is tax reform and deficit reduction but each election cycle has its own set of key big issues and they can be quite unpredictable.  Who is to say that redistricting reform won’t be made an issue during the next mid-terms, especially when folks such as us are discussing the issue and putting it out to the public, as Justin Bieber says “never say never”…that’s right I just worked in a JUSTIN BIEBER reference!!!
         
        I wasn’t sure how to explain exactly what I want to say, but during that CNN special on redistricting which I believe I posted in a link much earlier in our discussion, there was a House Representative who seem to advocating for “stacking” in his district, a practice in which a disproportionate amount of minorities were placed in one district on purpose.  Now from what I read on this website (http://www.publicmapping.org/what-is-redistricting/redistricting-criteria-the-voting-rights-act) the Voters Rights Act was supposed to stop this practice because…
         
        ” Stacking is when the minority community is concentrated into a small number of districts so that their votes are wasted in a district that their preferred candidate will win by an overwhelming margin. The packing strategy in Gerryland might look something like this, where the minority community is concentrated into one district.”
         
        Strangely this particular House Representative seemed to be arguing for “stacking” because he was apart of that minority community and it would help his reelection chances. 
         
        http://cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/showbiz/2010/10/12/wynter.gerrymandering.movie.cnn.html
         
        I think redistricting reform will be an issue soon because so many people are unhappy with congress that Americans will start asking the question of HOW bad Congress-people keep getting reelected and that will lead them to the solution of redistricting reform.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          No, I’m not saying it will NEVER happen. What I’m saying is this: it’s far more likely that redistricting reform will happen through state referendum, rather than through the federal legislature, for the very fact that federal legislators have a conflict of interest in the outcome.

          Side issue: can you realistically see redistricting reform becoming a national issue?? I can’t, truthfully.

          In regards to majority-minority districts, the Voting Rights Act prohibits gerrymandering from happening in order to dilute the influence of minority voters. What would happen before this law was passed was that legislators would put small pockets of minorities in each district in order to dilute their influence, so that white legislators would continue to be elected. Now, they are prohibited from doing this. This prohibition would continue under redistricting commissions. If there are enough minorities living in a state, then the redistricting commission would be required to put enough of them in a district to preserve their influence in the state.
          Here’s a link that describes further what I’m talking about: http://www.redrawingthelines.org/legalrequirements

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          OK, I wasn’t sure what you meant by “stacking,” but I read down further in the link you provided, and understand now.

          There’s a difference between stacking and majority-minority districts. Majority-minority districts mean that you have maybe 51% of a district being African American. Stacking would be if you made a district that was 90% African American. In that case, you’re packing all the African American voters into one district to avoid giving them 2 representatives.
          Or, look at what the Democrats did in Illinois for their new map. They have one majority-Hispanic district (#4), which they made 65.92% Hispanic (this could be considered packing/stacking). Then, they diluted the other Hispanics in other districts… they made one district 24.6% Hispanic, one district 22.14% Hispanic, one district 21.8% Hispanic, one district 18% Hispanic. This is the reason for the lawsuit that’s going on right now over the Illinois map. The Republicans are arguing that the Democrats diluted the voting power of Hispanics by packing Hispanics into one district, then diluting them in other districts. They are arguing that they should have made two majority-Hispanic districts.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Good example… This is EXACTLY why restricting reform is NOT a partisan issue.  Both sides abuse the system to their own gain.  Listen we can disagree on HOW we get reform, but would you be against true reform it came in the form of what I am proposing?  I know I won’t be opposing reform whatever level it comes from…local, state, or federal.   Don’t let your ideology get in the way of progressive if it happens to come in packaging you like. 

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            …packaging you DONT** like.