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Brandon Zicha

Brandon Zicha's activity stream


  • commented on The Loyal Opposition Revisited 2016-11-20 14:39:27 -0500
    If I may be so bold, I have been trying to start a Whig Journal for some time that could morph into an ‘American Conservative’ style online magazine. I think a discussion that is publicly available on the internet would also provide a rich resource of material that we could link to in our social media discussions to raise the profile of our movement in addition to local organizing.

    I also think it would help to create a national Whig political discussion which is right now very much absent.

    Please e-mail me if you are interested in contributing at bzicha1@gmail.com

    https://modernwhigjournal.wordpress.com/

  • commented on A Democratic Republic... 2016-11-21 08:07:11 -0500
    Michael,

    I very much appreciated your response. I hope I can give it the consideration it deserves.

    “Indeed. It’s the worst form of government—but still the best we’ve ever had. Hence the necessity of checks and balances amongst all organs of power in society. It’s the only way it can work.” Exactly… but this includes bicameralism. So if we are going to

    “On the other hand, we’ve had New England town meetings for almost 400 years now, and that seems to working out pretty well.”

    Indeed, but let us not forget the Salem witch trials! And as anyone who has lived in small towns knows, without proper protections those ‘small democratic gatherings’ can be oppressive and comformist in the extreme.

    This is why I believe it necessary for the Federal government has an obligation to protect the rights and blessings of Liberty such that each an every person may stand with dignity and their own sovereign mind without fear of reprisal that would render that person materially destroyed. Without protections humans became brutally hierarchical very quickly. We see this in our economic relations. For democratic republicanism to work it requires serious protections for the base-level well being and protections.

    “It may be that more direct forms of democracy just don’t really scale well.”

    I would say there are downsides of democracy at each level it is practiced, and it usually takes the form of majority tyranny. At each level some sort of check is needed.

    “Initiative is probably best at a community size no larger than a county. Referred measures may work fine up to the state level as long as it’s used mainly for constitutional amendments or as a sanity check for controversial legislation.”

    As to initiatives and referenda, I favor a civic body consider these. Ideally, I would like to see a ‘Citizens chamber’ that convenes composed of – say 30-200 (depending on the size of the community) randomly selected citizens of voting age, and a random selection of say half that number of legislators, policy experts, industry leaders, civic organizations… who deliberate, hear testimony, and select by supermajority vote to put forth a referendum or initiative. Anyone in the community could collect a sufficient number of signatures could submit a proposal to the chamber.

    This would provide a necessary check on random or dangerous proposals (like those that have seriously harmed the ability of California to govern itself) by citizens themselves able to hear a great deal of testimony and evidence and then render a verdict – just like a jury.

    “But on a national scale?
    shudder**”

    hear hear. I prefer to think of the Federal government as a union of peoples in states. I referendum at the level of the national government doesn’t even make sense to me in the U.S. context.

    “We’d wind up with a bunch of West Coast liberals voting to ban oil, or something equally ridiculous.”

    For instance.

    “Exactly right. We actually have a very good system in this country already. Sure it has a few flaws, but then so does everything invented by man.
    We should focus more on reforming the current system rather than thinking up ways to replace it:
    Fix the broken primary system. Use a proportional vote in the electoral college. Overturn /Citizen United/ and reform the campaign finance system. Enlarge the House of Representatives and/or introduce multi member districts. Stop gerrymandering.”

    I would argue for something similar but also different in certain key respects:
    1.) Stop publicly financing primaries. Political parties are private civic organizations that should compete evening. This legitimization and fusion of political parties with the constitutional apparatus of voting is a perversion on party democracy with more in common with Leninist political theory than Republican. “Party membership” should mean more in terms of civic participation than a trip to the voting both. It’s on parties to connect with and involve their members.

    2.) Either return the electoral college to it’s original function with each elector being one unbound person knowledgeable about our political system, constitutional tradition, and function of the apparatus of state who is tasked with preventing dangerous populistic and potentially constitutionally damaging political force from coming to power…

    or…

    Just use the darn popular vote.

    3.) Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, strip corporations of legal personhood and 14th amendment protections, amend 1st amendment clarifying that money and other social signals are not protected speech. Rather speech is protected, and pass the American Anti-Corruption Act. That should really move the political system to a one person one vote system that a democratic republican society should be.

    4.) 3 guts the campaign finance system, but I would favor a fixed public funding scheme, combined with a per-person limit on giving to party organizations. I would favor fixing the ‘campaign season’ to 4 months. This would be by statute rather than constitutionally. 3 is sufficient to ensure such reforms wouldn’t creep.

    5.) Enlarge the House! Ab-so-lutely.

    6.) Automated randomized district drawing after the census taking into account certain criteria, and then approved by a independent review board in each state. = end gerrymandering.

    I would also – to make common cause with GI Jack as well as some of your points -favor slightly more democratization in the states… even perhaps a unicameral legislature.

    “And most importantly: Particulate! Discuss issues. Vote. Educate yourself. I can’t say I’m as active as I should be (nowhere near), but you can’t really have a liberal democtratic republic without full participation of the citizenry. It’s a fundamental impossibility.”

    Exactly. And I think we have paid too little attention to making sure our civic organizations require or activity in order to function…. this is part of how politics got so distant from the people.

  • commented on The Loyal Opposition 2016-11-20 14:30:15 -0500
    Michale Wald. I fully agree.

    I have a number of ideas along these lines I would like to discuss. Contra Modern Whig Western Region I do not think there is nearly enough discussion or intellectual heft behind the WMP to help recruitment on the basis of ideas. The ‘moderate’ or ‘centrist’ movement is a total and complete hodgepodge dominated largely by 35+ white dudes. Indeed, the very notion of ‘centrist’ is center… of what? the Left-Right? This new far-right Populist, Quasi-Libertarianish conservatism, and cultural progressivism? How does one triangulate the center there?

    So, I think you are absolutely right that we need to take a position on something, and being in the loyal opposition to the Trumpist movement – which is hostile to pretty much every traditional American political institution that there is and is directly hostile to the Madisonian constitutions. Personally, I think that the MWP should be a neo-republican party, in the literal sense – strongly supporting deliberative democratic reform at the local level, and strong connections between public and government (flowing up, not down) (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/republicanism/#RepGov). The MWP should blend Federalists views, christian democratic views, republican views, and the abandoned elements of New-Dealism to form a strong limited government position that rests on specific ‘ideological’ commitments to element of political process but none but ‘methodlogical’ standards on the basis of specific policy choices.

    I think at its core this philosophy keeps us centered, and admits a wide variety of non-extreme perspectives. It connects to the Whig tradition of the original American Whigs, as well as the thought of the founders… all the while being explicitly modern and well tuned to our current toubles. Best of all it gives us a language and set of principles to keep us on similar pages without having to changes pretty much anything about our program.

  • commented on Ranked Choice Voting 2016-11-20 14:12:50 -0500
    Right now the MWP position is strickly for approval voting, which is a different method (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Approval_voting).

    Personally, I am would be thankful for a rank ordered Instant Runoff such as the one recently approved in Maine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting)
    , Borda Count (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borda_count)
    , or Approval Voting,

    I am not horribly opposed to the current system so long as ballot access is relaxed.. but the other three options are all better.

  • commented on November Surprises 2016-11-13 13:50:25 -0500
    I think that the strongest action Whigs can take is a coordinated action at the state level. But, overall, we would be idiots (I think) and betraying our historical tradition not to brand ourselves as anti-Trump just was we were Anti-Jackson. Thankfully, Democrat’s on attachment to far left socialism on their progressive fringe and cultural progressivism more widely would mean that we should be able to easily differentiate ourselves while holding to this position. We can both capitalize and stand by principles of Republican Liberty by standing up for long-term undocumented immigrants, African-Americans unfairly treated by our structurally biased police force, LGBTQ individuals, and other targets of the current administration.

    Strategically, this puts us in a higher profile position – able to capitalize on Trump’s attention seeking.

    I would be very careful with strong statements against the violence. I think it is right to repudiate it, but we must also keep in mind that we would be doing the same if it was our rights and our families that the victorious President had vowed to break apart. Indeed, that is one of the purposes of the 2nd Amendment… a point I just recently raised to a family member.

    Other than that, more broadly – this is the moment. David Brooks recently argued that we needed a centrist party that stands for the open ‘Globalist’ society, but also is focused on civic and community values and socio-cultural development. I think that could be the MWP. Many have argued (and I think that they are right) that the left and right are clearly fragmenting. To break through the noise I suggest putting the principle of Republican Liberty as non-domination at the center of our policy thinking. It’s an inspiring concept, speaks to and resolves much of the social left-right divide, and harkens back to Whig roots in Civic Republicanism.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/opinion/the-view-from-trump-tower.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fdavid-brooks&action=click&contentCollection=opinion®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/republicanism/#LibNonDom

  • commented on Why are Americans Searching for Third Parties 2016-11-01 07:07:24 -0400
    Jessica, I want to tell you that I am lock step with your analysis here. If you are interested I would love for you to contribute your thoughts on the Whiggism blog I am trying to get going. feel free to contact me over fb.

  • commented on A Declaration of Independents’: A Call to Excellence in Popular Sovereignty 2016-10-12 07:43:02 -0400
    We could start by governing ourselves…

  • commented on Focus on the Federal Budget 2016-11-04 06:58:53 -0400
    Michael Wald. All those things your are saying. I like all those things. If I could flag it as ‘totally awesome’I would.

  • commented on Lets "wright" this Republic! 2016-10-12 07:32:17 -0400
    We need a better way to get the word out. This is good stuff.

  • commented on Are the whigs isolationist/protectionist? 2016-10-12 07:30:45 -0400
    It’s worth noting that, compared to nearly any other political movement, ours is deeply impoverished in terms of theory. This makes it somehow difficult to answer a question like this. What our Whig goals when we talk about being ‘pragmatic’? When we ‘approach each issue on its own terms’ it suggests that there is some ‘natural and neutral’approach to issues (their isn’t). I think there is wisdom in our movement approaching issue methodologically rather than dogmatically, and ends oriented rather than means oriented… but what are our principles that guide us on approaching issues. I have no idea.

    So, I founded a blog/journal for whigs to figure it out and talk about it. I would certainly love some contributions. Feel free to e-mail me at bzicha1@gmail.com

  • commented on It's Time for Government That Works 2016-07-26 10:34:41 -0400
    I agree in large part and am so glad to see that you have joined the party. I have followed your work for some time.

    However, I would also point out how confusing your central thesis is – and for good reason.

    It simply isn’t true that Clay et. al. valued compromise above abstraction or principle. Compromise WAS a principle when put to specific issues for specific reasons. There were others over which there was no compromising for Whigs ever – which is why we see some of the most polarized votes in early American history then. The difference was – to get abstract but still analytical – is that the dimensional split was not left – vs – right liberalism, but Republican political philosophy vs. Liberal populist political philosophy of the Jacksonians.

    Principle and “abstraction” are necessary to motivate a movement, but for Whigs they need to be the correct principles. We can (and will) be great compromisers of principle by digging deep to those republican roots to find principles that gel almost entirely with ours but point out new solutions and reprioritize where compromise happens.

    Whigs should never compromise on expanding executive power, Whigs should never compromise on unnecessary adventurous wars. Whigs should never compromise on systematic stripping of human dignities protected by law as in the case of the Indian Removal Act. But, these matters of high principle are not what we talk about in American today politics because the Democrats and Republicans are both liberal parties (philosophically), where one favors a notion of freedom that is “freedom from” while the other is about “freedom to”. One is Committed in principle to more government action. One is committed to less government action. All along the same axis. Our principles should take us off that axis and the original Whigs commitment to classical republican conceptions of freedom and the role of government can give us the principles to do that AND inspire and motivate, while committing us to pragmatism, on the thorniest issues of the day.

    Whigs, in my mind, must not become centrist pragmatists for its own sake – pulled higher and yon by the bolt to the right of the GOP or the bolt to the left of the Democrats, nor the Linertarians, but be principled republicans who by virtue of these commitments are centrist pragmatists on most issues but also able to introduce entirely new (to our contemporary politics) ways of thinking and proposals to government.

    Alls me to give one real life example: Paul Ryan. Is there anyone who thinks that the compromises he has made over Trump for pragmatism’s sake constitute honorable practical leadership? When I watched Paul Ryan during the RNC I saw a man debased, as if he was watching a beloved family member be carted off to be tortured as a political prisoner. To but it bluntly, as one formerly GOP committeeman put it “there is no redemption in being one of the good Nazi’s”. This man (https://goplifer.com/2016/07/22/resignation-letter/) is a Whig through and through as far as I’m concerned, despite his uncompromising stance, and Paul Ryan is not.

    Your heros are my heros, but I never would call those hero’s devoid of abstraction, or principle. Or certainly not prone to abstract moralizing language (they gave us some of the best political rhetoric in American History), but it was the principles and abstraction that structured that compromise and that grounded as sacred the “quotidian principles of citizenship”, the importance of maintaining and expanding Liberty,

    Citizenship, reason, empirical methodology over theoretical faith to attain ever expanding Liberty and prosperity, the betterment of the happiness of peoples. These are whig principles. They have specific definitions that differed systematically from those of the Jacksonians (who eventually came to totally dominate both parties in spirit) and that differ from the parties that Jacksonian spirit has dominated.

    They are abstract, they just don’t make us beholden to a particular tax rate, or a particular degree or wealth distribution…. They commit us to moving in certain directions, in certain ways.

  • signed up on Action 2016-07-21 23:51:37 -0400

    Action

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  • signed Petition via 2016-07-21 23:46:51 -0400
    Best idea on this issue I have ever read.

    The_Modern_Whigs.jpg

    464 signatures

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    I endorse all efforts to reverse the Supreme Court's decisions in the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases, and pledge to do all I can as a citizen to return control of my government to the hands of The People.

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  • commented on Getting the word out, and joining the conversation 2016-07-21 19:41:52 -0400
    James – feel free to e-mail me. I had the same idea for the blog I just set up. I have about 7-8 posts on deck in some stage of development… plus what’s there. https://modernwhigjournal.wordpress.com/

    I’ll have a more involved reply for MW West Region in a bit.

  • commented on I am watching the GOP convention. 2016-07-19 19:46:11 -0400
    Purchasing Facebook ads with links to our website, assigning a reddit coordinator, more active use of the facebook account, releasing more frequent press releases regarding current events, putting out a call to Whigs to get engaged on social media or in their communities over this summer (conventions season) to drop things… developing alternative perspectives and commentary through blogs, etc.

  • commented on Platform Archive 2016-07-20 11:35:51 -0400
    Ah Ha! I had thought that the Platform on the website WAS the new platform because I thought I noticed some changes. For instance, I couldn’t find the plank on the 2nd Amendment and Guns that I remember being there a few months ago. I must be very confused.

    Do we have an internal newsletter or newspaper or blog responsible for communicating party matters to party members? If not, we really need one. I couldn’t get to the convention, and I have no clue what happened there :-/

  • commented on Public Libraries, the Patron Institute of the Modern Whig Party? 2016-07-14 08:29:27 -0400
    You know, I like the online medium (and due to my current address overseas I more or less must use that medium) but I think this is a stupendous idea. I agree with every word in spirit and in action. I also really liked your post generally for weaving history, principle, distinctiveness, and pragmatism in to a really well stated initiative. It almost made me think we need a white paper on promoting the libraries of the future! Though, next time, paragraphs, my man. That text wall was rough on the eyes ;-)

    - Prof Z

  • commented on Should the Modern Whig Party Endorse Garry Johnson for President? 2016-11-02 16:21:21 -0400
    Thanks for considering my question.

    Your first point is well established. However, the evidence suggests that political parties shift only in response to more substantive challenges.. not 4 or 5%. However, if that were to happen that would quite literally kill a chance for a viable center third party run… because they would co-opt the issues of a party you don’t support (it isn’t the Whig party) while moving to the center that the Whigs hope to dominate. How does that help? I don’t see how that is helpful.

    The second point is intuitive but not backed up by the evidence. Voting returns in plurality systems like ours do seem to jump not shift. Indeed, all cases of successful third party runs in first past the post election systems follow this trend. There are many reasons for this, but the data is sufficient to render your claim falsified.

    Indeed, our political system does not adjust smoothly much at all – not in terms of policy and not in terms of politics. If anything they are characterized by a punctuated equilibrium pattern with long periods of stability punctuated by rapid changes.

  • tagged Douglas Harvey's Should we shutter the VA Healthcare System? with someday 2016-04-04 03:32:12 -0400

    Should we shutter the VA Healthcare System?

    Today, as usual, I was perusing the news when I came across an article on Military.Com which asks the question: Should we end VA healthcare? The article references the commission recommendation to shutter VA healthcare facilities nation-wide and reduce the VA Healthcare Administration to the equivalent of a third party payor. The article does present some cogent arguments against such a move, and based on personal experience, I don’t think this is a good idea. After my last VA annual physical exam, I needed an orthopedic consult. Unlike previous consultation requests, which were handled in house, the VA decided to forward my appointment requirement to the new Veteran’s Choice Program. Veteran’s Choice is a program for veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA Healthcare Facility (Hospital) to be able to be approved for appointments with providers in their local community. I just happen to live in a State that does not have a VA healthcare facility. In Alaska, there is an outpatient surgical center in Anchorage, and some Community Based Outpatient Clinics, but no hospital. After three weeks of back and forth calling with no appointment in sight, I opted out of Veteran’s Choice (or more correctly, declined to opt in). I then went to integrated care who scheduled my appointment as usual and I got seen. The problems with Veteran’s Choice in Alaska stem from the fact that in many communities, there is no civilian provider for the required service. Further, for several years, I had been seen in-house at the VA orthopedic clinic in Anchorage, and all my images and records were there, so for continuity of care purposes, I preferred to stick with the (actually quite good) doctors I had been working with. At any rate, the proposal to shutter VA facilities nation-wide would leave everyone with the equivalent of Veteran’s Choice, and I just am not convinced that this is a good thing. Read the article at the web address which follows, and feel free to sound off in response to this post. http://militaryadvantage.military.com/2016/03/care-commission-shocker-the-push-to-end-va-healthcare/


  • commented on Should allowing discussion on this forum be a Whig concern? 2016-04-01 16:48:11 -0400
    And Douglas… I sincerely value your posts, I didn’t mean anything pejorative there… Merely pointing out optics :-)