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The Loyal Opposition

Given that Donald J. Trump is almost certainly our next president, I believe it's more important than ever for all moderates, centrists, reasonable liberals and sensible conservatives to join together in a loyal opposition. Because only by speaking with a loud and unified voice can we hope to blunt the damage this man--and I use the term loosely--could cause to our country and our world. To that end, I propose we start a discussion on the best way to build that opposition. I think at minimum we need a better communications platform to get our word out. We also need to work out some means for people to debate issues in a controlled fashion (like local debating societies or citizen assemblies) so that the people can find and build on common ground. I'm not sure blog posts are adequate for that purpose. This isn't about building a third party movement anymore. It's about the future of this Republic and its people. Trump cannot be allowed to govern unchallenged. With Congress in Republican hands, only an organized, active, and extremely vocal citizenry can provide that challenge.

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Ranked Choice Voting

It looks like Maine is going to adopt Question 5: Ranked Choice Voting Do you want to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate, and State Representative, and to have ballots counted at the state level in multiple rounds in which last-place candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by majority?

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Paid Membership

Now that we have a date and place for our next national convention, I'm wondering if it may be time to start requiring a paid membership for "voting membership."? I think that continuing to have the free membership for new members, to explore the party, is a good idea. I think that those who want to have more of a formal voice in the party should have a paid membership. I think $25 for annual national membership is very reasonable, and is consistent with what other parties charge for their general membership. State chapters can decide whether state membership should be required for themselves.

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Feel free to share...

I can't speak for the other authors on these forums, but you can feel free to share anything that I post here with anyone or on any social media outlet that you like. Just be sure to mention that you found it on www.modernwhig.org. Spreading the word, so to speak, via person-to-person contact, or via your own individual electronic networks is the most effective means of both continuing the discussion and getting the message across to a larger audience. --Doug Harvey, LTC, MS, AKARNG (RET), MWP Director of Veterans and Active Duty Affairs

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A Historical Consideration of Significant Eras in the Supreme Court of the United States

Throughout the history of the judicial system of the United States, different Supreme Court Justices have taken a different approach to the functions and abilities of our government. Over the 226 years of the Supreme Court’s existence there has been a multitude of different approaches to government which have been illustrated via their decisions on significant Supreme Court cases. These rulings can determine an immense amount about a justice’s political preferences, affiliation, and beliefs as a public officer in a critical office. One such example is our current Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts. In many respects, although Roberts is a Republican, he embodies many key attributes of a liberal and has, in the past, sided with many liberal policies. One example of Roberts more liberal side is his ruling in the case of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius in 2012. John Roberts’ decision in favor of the Affordable Care Act was absolutely pivotal in establishing his tendency and ability to side with pro-left and more liberal policy that have given him a more liberal appearance to many politicians over the last 4 years. Additionally, although Roberts has identified himself as a conservative Republican in the past, the modern Chief Justice has been approving plans that, by his fellow Republicans’ standards, have been relatively liberal. Although not all of Robert’ decisions have been liberal, his more pro-liberal stance in his conventional and expected rulings have lead many to hail him as a powerful moderate (and by some perceptions a possible emerging liberal). For example, Roberts’ ruling in the cases of Morse v. Frederick in 2007 and United States v. Stevens in 2010 were demonstrations of the moderate and liberal approach Roberts’ tends to take in his political rulings. This case specifically deals with the First Amendment and its applicability into messages that portray illegal activity or even violence. Contrary to Roberts’ claimed conservative stance, he makes a more moderate and liberal decision that such areas of speech are not conclusively protected by the First Amendment and this type of speech can be can be stopped and limited, a critical step in the evolution of jurisprudence of the modern Supreme Court. Another critical justice of the Supreme Court was Chief Justice Earl Warren. Warren was pivotal in implementing several levels of liberalism in the Supreme Court of the 1950’s through 1960’s. Specifically, Warren’s career was marked by massive reform in the United States including the transition of African-American Civil Rights which witnessed the desegregation of public schools. This institution of desegregation is critical to the history of the nation and the ke court case that illustrated the liberality of Warren and his fellow justices was the Gideon v. Wainwright of 1963 and the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education. Warren’s decision in the latter case was considered extremely liberal during its time and it encompassed the wider reforms made by the “Warren Court” under Warren’s office of Chief Justice. Another case that has made Warren a historically renowned liberal is his ruling in the case of Abington School District v. Schempp in 1963. This historically vital case centered around the constitutionality of bible readings in public schools, a common practice in america prior to the case. Warren’s decision, which concluded the case, made this action unconstitutional on the basis of its violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. In this specific case the clause was used to explain that have school-sponsored religious practices is tantamount to forcing a religious ideology on a child and that it is not in anyway the right or responsibility of the school system to make any form of prayer and have children recite it in the school. According to the Cornell University Law School’s account of the case, Chief Justice Warren declared that “the First Amendment, in its final form, did not simply bar a congressional enactment establishing a church; it forbade all laws respecting an establishment of religion. Thus, this Court has given the Amendment a broad interpretation . . . in the light of its history and the evils it was designed forever to suppress” The significance of Warren’s opinion in this case is the solidification of his liberal perspective on American law and the American judicial system. Moreover, Warren’s perspective on this religious topic reaffirms his predisposition to support secular liberalism, a position that believes in the firm separation of public affairs from the authority of spirituality and the church, during his time as Chief Justice. Along with Warren, another important and influential Chief Justice of the 20th century was William Rehnquist. Rehnquist was influential in his time for being a powerful Chief Justice and a conservative. Throughout his life as a Chief Justice, Rehnquist made several conservative and controversial rulings on cases along with holding relatively conservative views on religion and its necessity and implementation in the public. One of the most crucial examples of this was in Rehnquist’s fervent belief during his time as Justice in the constitutional division of authority between the states and the administrative national government, a concept also known as federalism. Throughout Rehnquist’s time as Associate then Chief Justice on the Supreme Court he advocated for politically pro-conservative policies. As a conservative Rehnquist fervently advocated, during his time on the Supreme Court, for the restitution of prayers in school after it had been taken away and revoked by his predecessor, Earl Warren. Rehnquist also made massive advocations and defences for the separation of government from certain issue; moreover, as a conservative Rehnquist fervently opposed overbearing national policies, and, as is typical of a conservative, advocated for less national regulation on many issues and comparatively smaller government. This sentiment was expressed in several landmark Supreme Court Cases. One such case was the 1973 landmark case of Roe v. Wade. In this case, Rehnquist then an associate justice dissented the majority decision of on abortion law and claimed in his dissent that the United States and its law simply had no business in determining the life or death of a mother’s unborn child. To the conservative Rehnquist this was a flagrant violation of U.S. Constitutional protocol. Another similar dilemma, dealt with in the 1997 case of City of Boerne v. Flores, which identified the role the Supreme Court would play in analyzing cases in the future. To briefly summarize the impact of the case, the case was able to set an example upon which future case decision were predicated. Specifically, Rehnquist’s conservative opinions about the limitations of Supreme Court jurisdiction over issues stayed true through his time in office as an Associate Justice to his time as a Chief Justice. Another crucial Rehnquist case was the 1981 case of Rostker v. Goldberg. This case showed Rehnquist's conservatism in greater depth that other cases. The case was specifically based on the Rehnquist’s interpretation of the Constitution in concern to the fifth amendment of the United States. Specifically, it dealt with the ethics of having only men apply for selective service, which, in 1981, was a significant dilemma for the Supreme Court. By Rehnquist's (and the court’s) decision the selective service’s policy of only including men for potential service was within its rightful constitutional guidelines. In Rehnquist’s own words, “The Constitution requires that Congress treat similarly situated persons similarly, not that it engage in gestures of superficial equality.” These words have resonated with the nation for over thirty years now and Rehnquist’s impact via his opinions and conservative predispositions has left an indelible precedent on the Supreme Court along with a lasting memory of Chief Justice Rehnquist. In the history of the U.S. Supreme Court there has also been a significant amount of strong and able Chief Justices during the 19th century as well. One prime example of this was Chief Justice John Marshall. Marshall, in his career on the Supreme Court, is often viewed as a conservative for the time in which he was a Chief Justice. A main point that supports this position is Marshall's strict and austere perspective on the use, utilization, and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. In his words, Marshall declared in 1803, when ruling on Marbury v. Madison that “A Law repugnant to the Constitution is void.” This perspective on the contents of the 1803 landmark Supreme Court case establishes the firm and relentless fervor of of John Marshall to uphold and interpret the Constitution in a strictly constructionist sense. Moreover, John Marshall’s ability to establish judicial review in the Supreme Court and uphold it throughout other court decisions was critical to the fledgling American judicial system. For example, Marshall’s court ruling in the 1824 case of Gibbons v. Ogden demonstrated the supremacy of the Constitution and the superiority of the Supreme Court in comparison to other laws established in lower courts. A similar assertion is made in the decision of the 1819 case of McCulloch v. Maryland. In this case specifically, the concept of legal superiority and state superiority in law was heavily scrutinized. Under Marshall’s court, the ruling was in favor of the nation entity, the Second Bank of the United States and the ultimate verdict cited the Necessary and Proper (Elastic) Clause of the Constitution, effectively reiterating the supremacy of the highest law in the land being interpreted and viewed by the highest court in the land. This view of jurisprudence was central to Marshall’s core conservative and constitutional beliefs as Chief Justice that established his policies of abiding by the Constitution. The concepts of judicial review, constitutional interpretation, and austere promotion of constitutional law instituted by Marshall was able to set a firm judicial and legal precedent that is crucial in the establishment of American jurisprudence to this day. In addition to the name of John Marshall, Chief Justice Roger Taney was also a critical force in the U.S. Supreme Court during the 19th century. Most of Taney’s decisions in office revolved around the institution of slavery, which became a highly controversial subject during Taney’s time in office. From the perspective of political alignment, Taney is widely considered to be a conservative. Although Taney was, by political affiliation, a Democrat, the party ideals of the time were very different than what they are now and there is a massive difference between modern “liberal” Democrats and the quite conservative Democrats of the early 19th Century. In Taney’s career, as previously mentioned, many of his decision revolved around the highly controversial institution of slavery and the legal ramifications and liberties a slave had in the U.S. One of Taney’s most famous and important cases, the 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford was a critical suit that was pivotal in lighting the flames that fomented a civil war. Moreover, this case demonstrated Taney’s conservatism, for like his predecessor Marshall, Taney based the majority of his controversial decisions off of the document that had been used consistently to guide American jurisprudence, the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, Taney ultimately sided against the case of Dred Scott and decided in 1863 that the black populace and their descendents in bondage possessed “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Many people in the modern-era of liberalism and freedom for the African-American race have referred to Taney as the “Leviathan of Slavery”, however, it was not his stubbornness to keep slavery, but rather his adherence to a constitution that did not disallow slavery or offer any equality to races that caused him to make such rulings as in the case of Dred Scott. Another important Taney decision made on the subject of slavery was the Prigg v. Pennsylvania of 1842. This case was extremely critical, firstly in its solidification and affirmation of the powers of the government over states and secondly, the ability of men to be taken from lands of freedom and returned to slavery and bondage. This case and issue specifically has fueled much historical debate over the ethics of the fugitive slave laws which were the main concern of the case.Similar, yet less known than the Dred Scott and Prigg cases was the 1837 case of Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge in which Taney analyzed a clause of Article I of the Constitution the Contract Clause. In the case the validity of a charter to build a bridge came under intense scrutiny by officials in the city of Boston. Taney, who ultimately ruled on the case, referred to the U.S. Constitution to formulate his verdict and took a textualized approach, citing direct information from the document to validate his court. Therefore, Taney as a Chief Justice was a relatively conservative justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who used an extremely textualized interpretation of the Constitution to decide his cases, essentially drawing conclusions “by the book”. Therefore, throughout U.S. history there has been many trends in liberalism and conservatism in the Supreme Court. Each individual preference and fluctuation in political alignment has fascinatingly left its own unique legacy, precedent, and impact on the nation.

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A View and Interpretation of Federalist Paper No. 10

Here is a link to Federalist Paper No. 10:http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed10.asp As presented by “Federalist Paper No. 10” James Madison views the matter of public opinion with many different attitude. From one perspective Madison acknowledges the necessity of division between people's’ beliefs and opinions and he also concedes that a society in which every citizen hold the same beliefs and views in truly impossible. Therefore, acknowledges the need for division that creates a healthy divide between parties which allow loyalty to be granted to citizens, allowing the average man to align with a party and faction that fits his perspective. However, Madison also acknowledges the fact that public opinion can often be extremely disparate leading to divides that are unhealthy for the unity of the nation and can undermine the power and control of the state. This often occurs, as Madison claims, when factionalism and partisanism occurs, dividing the nation along a line which can split the populace into two belligerent, opposing sides. Madison also presents the fact that when such division in public opinion occurs it can often tear apart the fabric of the newly established democratic systems often causing a division that can potentially mitigate the efficacy of the national government. This all originates from the fact that America was at the time very unique, for globally this experiment of a democratic government allowed the people's opinions to have a large stake in the running of the government, which can be extremely detrimental when the nation is divided and severely separated and can lead to problems in national administration. Similarly, Madison believed that the nation could potentially fall under an injurious rule of the people in which the people of the nation, who in many ways are the source of the nation’s sovereignty can become tyrannical and force the government to be hindered by their opinions and actions, mitigating the power held by “enlightened statesmen”. In many respects, Madison presents a blatant negative perspective towards the separation and destruction that could be made via the divisions of the public opinions and their predisposition to given factions. Additionally, Madison clearly concedes the fact that in a representative democracy such state divisions on public opinion are inevitable, regardless of the destruction and inefficacies Madison claimed they caused. Likewise, Madison presented the system of a republic as a way that the nation can attain a balance between control and/or hinderance by public opinion and can save the nation from the tyranny of a few despotic leaders. Madison also claimed that sovereignty should rest with the people however factions that create division were inherently damaging to the nation. Consequently, Madison established the idea that although the forces of public opinion may at times hinder (as Madison clearly stated that he perceived factionalism and division in public opinion to fetter the government) the unity and progress of the union, it is perpetually vital for the government to be able to set aside what is “popular” to do what they deem is right for the people of nation while supporting the spirit and underlying passion of a popular government.

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The Growth of Modern Executive Power in the U.S.

Throughout the history of presidents since the 1930’s a multitude of presidents have expanded and influenced their presidential executive powers. One of the initial and prominent examples was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. From the time of his election in 1933, Roosevelt was intent upon issuing plans with his executive power to lift the nation out of a crippling depression. His establishment of the New Deal in the 1930’s brought a new perspective to the powers of the president. The New Deal itself was a critical example of executive power because it demonstrated how the president could institute massive reforms to the nation created under executive orders. Some of these orders included the establishment of a plethora of agencies and actions that were often labeled by letters prompting criticism of the plans as “submerged in an alphabet soup”. Regardless of the criticism Roosevelt received, and the seemingly overbearing authority of the president, the plans Roosevelt instituted strengthened and confirmed his ability to carry out his executive powers on the nation. Since then executive orders have been used countless times in many different scenarios; however, the sweeping reforms achieved by Roosevelt have, undoubtedly, been a crowning executive achievement of the last century. As a whole, the actions, orders, and reforms promulgated by F.D.R. during his presidency were legal under my interpretation of the Constitution and although the creation of the New Deal agencies was believed to be unjust or unconstitutional, the reality is that many of the agencies formed during the New Deal were passed by Congress, and, under executive orders, they were necessary for sustaining the fiscal security of a nation in distress. Another president in this time period who utilized and strengthened his executive powers was president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower's major contribution to executive power was his use of executive privilege. The concept of executive privilege, a privilege used by many presidents after Eisenhower, outlines the right of the incumbent executives to resist and reject certain actions of intervention by the legislative and judicial branches into the actions of the executive. This privilege was used frequently and extensively during Eisenhower’s period in office. Specifically, the privilege was invoked during the infamous Army-McCarthy Hearings of 1954. In total, President Eisenhower used the executive privilege nearly fifty times from 1955 to 1960. The lasting effects these actions had on the executive power was in the president’s ability to use the executive privilege as a veritable shield from government scrutiny and judgement. Moreover, although the executive privilege is not explicitly outlined in the U.S. Constitution, its use and implementation by Eisenhower was pivotal in establishing executive powers in the 1950’s. In my perspective, Eisenhower’s use of executive privilege during his time in office was justified due to the intense political climate around him that, from a Constitutional perspective, was not legal because it was not included anywhere in the document; however, it is a reasonable protection that I believe should fall under the president’s authority as an executive. Harry S. Truman, the presidential predecessor to Eisenhower, was also a president that was able to expand executive powers while in office. During Truman's presidency, he was able to enact executive orders, that, unlike his predecessor Roosevelt, were not massive or expansive; instead, they were highly controversial at the time and affected a largely contentious area of U.S. politics. This contentious executive order was Executive Order 9981, which, at the time, was revolutionary. Order 9981 effectively ended racial discrimination in the armed forces in 1948. This order was a critical example of the president's ability to act and enact tradition-shattering laws outside of a time of national crisis. Before Truman’s presidency, most sweeping reforms to the national system made by presidential executive orders were, in the majority, mad in times of great imminent crisis, such as the World Wars or the Great Depression. This executive order was pivotal in establishing a firm precedent to which future executives could live up to, the ability to institute executive orders in times of peace and, more importantly, the ability to enact orders that deal directly with granting liberties to people who need them. Therefore, Truman’s executive order was monumental in shaping the roles and usage of executive orders. In my perspective, Truman’s actions were completely legal under the constitution because they were lawful in their enactment and they also effectively provided a means for minorities in the army to have essential access to liberty and equality in the armed forces. Another president who expanded executive authority was president Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson, throughout his career, in many different ways, sought to increase the executive power in the United States. One major example of this expansion was the response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which the president ordered an exponential increase of the number of personnel present in Vietnam, which, in turn, increased casualties in the Vietnam War. This clear use of overruling executive power to initiate this massive troop transfer into Vietnam was one of the pivotal events in which a U.S. president has initiated “war” in a military sense, without express backing from Congress. Moreover, the congressional establishment of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution granted Johnson the legal ability to take any course of action that he believed to be necessary in securing peace and safety in Southeast Asia. This action massively opened up the possibilities of Johnson’s power in Vietnam and granted him immense power and set a precedent for nations intervening in conflicts without the express need for a declaration of war, as was the case in Korea and Vietnam. From my own Constitutional interpretation I believe that it is (in the broadest sense) Constitutional because Section II of Article II of the Constitution states that the president is Commander in Chief of the United States and from a reasonable position, the Commander in Chief should have the ability to intervene on behalf of the safety of the nation and the world. Finally, one president who expanded executive powers was president Barack Obama. During Obama’s administration, the president has issued a wide variety of executive orders, (over 200 total) one of the most controversial and monumental ones being on the topic of immigration. The president has, in previous years issued a number of reforms on immigration policy that has changed the immigration climate of America dramatically. For example, Obama’s executives orders that have granted more leniency to immigrants in this nation, some of whom have come illegally, has come under intense disapproval from political critics for issuing too large of a change to allow immigrants when the nation is needing to accept less immigrants. However, Obama’s reforms have been completely legal under the president’s exercised and precedented right to executive order and the president also has made reforms that have benefitted the lives of many. Moreover, although these presidential reforms have not single-handedly solved immigration conflicts, the pushes, strides, and executive orders that Obama has issued demonstrates how a president in the 21st Century can institute policies that increase executive authorities by granting liberties to many, even if many in the nation disagree with his actions. Additionally, Obama's efforts to create economic sanctions to the Russian Federation over the previous year also illustrates Obama’s new positions as an executive, a national and international leader who has the ability to communicate and organize internationally recognized initiatives that over the past few decades have become more consolidated. From my perspective, the actions of president Obama are legal by the Constitution because over the course of these reforms the president has not broken any laws or codes of conduct for the executive during the time of these reforms. Moreover, the orders and reforms made by the president also illustrate the president's ability to conform to the Constitutional goal of providing the blessings of liberty and attempting to establish a safer and firmer union by using executive precedents set by other strong presidents before him.

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My Daily Read: November 15th, 2015

As usual, I was scanning through the news feeds this morning, and checking my email inbox.... Today most of the news was just a rehash of the Paris Terror Incident mixed in with Ronda Rousey's UFC defeat. However, in my inbox there was another political email from Dinesh D'Souza. D'Souza is an interesting character. He's pretty smart, a little naïve, and really, really charismatic. In the email was a link to a video of a speech he gave on October 17th, 2015. The link to the video will be at the end of this posting. Now I know it is just over 57 minutes in length, but this one is worth watching. You may not agree with his positions, but have a look at his tactics. I myself kind of like his description of American Politics using the "rope and ladder" examples. To understand this fully, you really must watch the video. Needless to say, the MWP approach is more of a ladder than a rope. However, in the last third of the video he describes a situation with COSTCO. The entire scenario bears close examination. Is this a tactic we as a Political Party can use? In what situations would it be appropriate? In the COSTCO case, it was a spontaneous reaction to a corporate action. Could this be used deliberately and strategically? At any rate, here is the link to the video, watch it, think about it, and comment freely here: http://www.dineshdsouza.com/news/video-dsousa-what-the-democrats-a gang-of criminals-have-in-common/ --Doug Harvey, LTC, MS, AKARNG (RET), MWP Director of Veterans and Active Duty Affairs

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An 11th amendment to the Bill of Rights?

The MWP has a great platform, but there is no plank that addresses individual liberties, except for the one that reaffirms the Second Amendment. You hear a lot of people talk these days about violations of a citizen's right to privacy. But how is the right to privacy defined legally? Some would say that the Fourth Amendment does that: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, ..., shall not be violated." Others would say that the sum of all legal precedents on the matter are used as guidance in legal cases. But is that enough? In the current age of electronic surveillance, computer hacking, identity theft, etc., it seems as though our right to privacy is eroding. Do we need a Constitutional amendment to spell what right to privacy means, and put limits on the government's ability to infringe on it?

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Whig Party Goals

I would love to see some discussion on goals for the party. I signed up and signed a petition, but I have no idea on where the party is going and what to do next. What am a volunteering to do if I sign up? How can I sell this party to those who think that the two party system is here to stay? Here are a few suggestion to provoke a conversation (I know eventually there will be a place to discuss strategy...). 1. Focus on recruiting well know moderate Republicans and Democrats to the Modern Whig Party and promising to fund them in their next election. 2. Increase the size of the Modern Whig party to 100,000 members. 3. Run advertising commercials in states that Presidential candidates are campaigning in. The narrative should be demonstrating that the Republicans and Democrats together have broken American. The right has pushed the financial deregulation on the right which led to the Saving and Loans crisis in the 80s and the crash in 2008. The left in turn pushed house ownership which helped lead to a bubble in the housing market. The left in turn has continually pushed the growth of entitlement programs etc. 4. Get Modern Whig hosting shows on talk radio. 5. Try to get five homegrown Modern Whigs elected each election cycle. 6. The strategy for the Whig party should be to be a powerful minority that can swing the vote on important issues. 7. Open up 100 Whig party clubs on college campuses in the next two years. 8. Have bumper stickers. 9. Try to attract a few household names to the party. 10. Connect to centrist think tanks.

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Focus on the Federal Budget

The federal debt is not being talked about much in this campaign for the presidency. Why not? Should there be more focus on it? How do we get to a balanced budget and pay down the debt? Right now, as of July 2016 the gross national debt is $19.48 trillion, about 104% of GDP. Here is a little history: In the 1930’s, during the height of the depression we ran deficits of between 0.1% and 5.8% of GDP; during WWII we had deficits as high as 29.6% of GDP, but we also had surpluses from 1947 thru 1949; in the 1950’s we had deficits that averaged 1.04% of GDP and the debt was 92% of GDP, but we also had surpluses from 0.7% to 1.9% of GDP; in the 1960’s we had deficits that ran an average of 1% of GDP and a debt that was 54.3% of GDP; in the 1970’s deficits ran an average of 2.1% the debt was 36.3% of GDP; in the 1980’s deficits ran an average of 3.8% the debt was 32.5% of GDP; in the 1990’s deficits ran an average of 2.88% of GDP with two years of 1.05% surplus and the debt was 54.5% of GDP; in 2000 and 2001 we had surpluses an average of 1.75% of GDP; from 2002 thru 2009 we had deficits that ran an average of 3.3% of GDP the debt was 55.5%; from 2010 thru 2015 we have had average deficits of 7.3% and debt was 91.4%, deficits have dropped back down to about 3% of GDP in 2014 and 2015 but debt was 102% of GDP. Numbers alone don’t give us a clear picture of the effects the economy has on the federal budget. For example, after WWII the economy grew very rapidly at around 10%, today it is a very anemic 1.2%. Tax rates are the other important part of the equation. For example, during WWII and the Korean War individual tax rates were as high as 91% with 24 tax brackets. Today the highest rate is 39.9% with seven tax brackets. The dilemma is, do you cut taxes or increase taxes in order to pay down the debt? It’s obvious that the high tax rates after WWII quickly brought down the debt and annual deficit, but there are two problems with trying to raise taxes today. One is, the economy is not growing as fast as it was after WWII. The second is that, after WWII the country was still pulling together as one, and people understood that the taxes were necessary. Today, businesses are demanding lower tax rates because the rates in most other countries are lower, and Democrats want to increase taxes to expand social services. That poses a political challenge. In the long run, lower rates eventually raise revenue, but would that raise enough revenue to lower the debt? Republicans want to slash taxes and regulations to get the economy moving, and eventually want to balance the budget; Democrats want more social spending and higher taxes but offer no plan for paying down the debt, that is clearly not practical. I think the real solution would be to raise taxes for a few years, make some spending cuts while increasing spending for the military and infrastructure along with cutting regulations. The problem is I don’t see the leadership needed to pull the country together to accomplish that.

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The Loyal Opposition Revisited

I'm a fan of Mr. Wald's idea of starting local debating/discussion societies. I am thinking of starting a Political Discussion Society in my home town and am interested in your input. The format would be a round-table style meeting at a local restaurant or public space. The MWP (or me in the name of the MWP) would pay for the rental space and/or refreshments. I would prepare a list of political topics to discuss. I would moderate any discussions to ensure civility and debate on behalf of the MWP. I would try to find the common ground between different ideologies and demonstrate how the MWP, through logic, evidence, and knowledge best supports the common ground. In order to promote free discussion and conserve privacy, I'm thinking of having the attendees use pseudonyms. The goal of the organization is to promote Whiggery political thinking and expand exposure of the MWP in an area of the country that really yearns for an alternative. I would take notes on the discussion to see what the local population thinks about various topics to help start a base of information for future growth of the MWP. I would not directly promote or proselytize for the MWP unless asked offline about it. What are your thoughts? What are your recommendations?

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A Declaration of Independents’: A Call to Excellence in Popular Sovereignty

On September 11th, 2001, our great Republic was attacked and the world stood still. Horror and disbelief quickly turned to anger and a lust for vengeance. The world didn’t just start spinning again; it spiraled out of control.

In the madness we sought to strike out fast and fierce, we took no thought towards the costs. We sacrificed freedom in the name of safety. We happily gave greater powers to fewer and fewer leaders who sent our armed forces halfway around the world to fight nameless enemies.

Then we saw an unprecedented economic recession. Life savings and investments were wiped out seemingly overnight. Our elders had to stay hard at work to compensate for eviscerated nest eggs. Our youth, having done all that had been asked of them now found that it was not enough. The employment pool was already full and experience was the new price of entry.

Again we turned to our leadership. We sought to punish any and all responsible, and give us reprieve from the consequences of our past decisions. Responsible parties were too big to fail and proposed solutions to our ailments were too long to read. We passed laws we did not fully understand and buoyed insolvent institutions on the backs of a drowning public. And even when called before judgment, our justices abdicated to the implied will of the masses.

How have we been rewarded for the confidence placed in our supposed leaders? We now have an instable Middle East, social safety nets we can hardly fund, a plague of underemployment, and income disparity all threatening our national and individual security. In our depravity we continually ask each parties strong-arming politicians to bully our neighbors according to our persuasions. For 2016, it may be too late, yet another missed opportunity to correct our course.

But this does not have to be the death knell for our great Republic. We do not have to devolve into the divisive tribalism of third-world nations. We are still a united people. Regardless of color or creed, we all seek security and opportunity. We want assurances that we won’t lose what we work so hard for every single day. We want to keep our homes. We want our children to be able to walk our neighborhoods without fear of harm. We want our schools to impart to our children the knowledge necessary to improve their station in life, just as we hope to improve our own. We want a fair chance of success for every citizen, not just the well-born and the fortunate few. These are the causes that make us one; E Pluribus Unum.

This is our declaration as independent minds: we will no longer remain silent. We will no longer stand idly by as political extremists ravish our country, pulling it towards the edges of obscurity and devastation. “We must engage life as we find it, we will do so boldly and courageously, with the conviction that if we and reason endure we shall surely succeed - and with the knowledge that the greatest sin is not to have fought at all.” The ‘fiery moderates’ are here, and we are here to stay.

This is our call to the rightly proud citizens of this great American Republic: take up our banner; use your voice and vote to fight for the future of our nation. It is time to heave off the burdens laid upon us by imperial pretenders. It is time for pragmatic solutions, implemented with careful forethought and well-reasoned means. It is time that the trustees of government powers be men and women that are worthy of our trust. It is time for the citizens of this nation to stand together once more and fight for our right to be a self-governed people. It is time for We the People.

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1. Rincon Society, “A Call to Excellence in Leadership”, edited

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Should rationalizing politics be a Whig concern?

Human cognitive science makes it clear - politics is subjective, intuitive and far more irrational than not. Should the Whigs care about that? Is reasoned politics not an important concern?

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What is the direction that the Party is going/wants to go?

I encourage anyone to respond. I've personally read the principles and platform, but it is the platform I feel that really states exactly what is to be done. Ultimately I feel the Party needs to expand the platform with identifiable policy recommendations and then juxtapose what we propose versus the Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, and Republicans (and how we differ or concur with those other major/minor parties which the public may be more familiar with). And, have an explicit link to candidates who have won elections under the Party banner with what they have implemented as an example of our folks' efficacy in government. To answer this question specifically though, I find it difficult to exactly say where we're going or want to go. I appreciate that we are moderates and have a decidedly centrist attitude towards any political polarization. However, I think that does create difficulty for the casual observer to know where we really stand. As an example I'll use the foreign policy section of the platform: We could offer an official response to what we feel is the use of NATO, operations in Afghanistan, the crisis in Syria, etc. I purposely use the foreign policy section because I feel this should be a little more "clear cut" to explain for moderates as opposed to the Affordable Care Act. Again, I understand the ambiguity for some domestic problems, but if there are areas where we can be more specific and the public can understand exactly what we mean then let's do that. On the other hand though, the education section of the platform has a greater amount of planks than almost any other, so I feel we should at least bring all others to that point. Ultimately both major parties have over 100 planks and I feel we can match and easily overtake that, with well researched and debated policy proposals (which have been voted on in a convention). The more we more offer people the better. And I hope this doesn't seem like rambling.

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An interesting article regarding income taxes from my daily reading.

I came across this article on the New York Times website during my daily review of national news. Use the link below to read the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/12/upshot/carly-fiorina-shows-us-just-how-weird-americas-tax-system-is.html?WT.mc_id=2015-JULY-OUTBRAIN-UPSHOT_AUD_DEV-0701-0731&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=AUDDEVREMARK&abt=0002&abg=1 Now I have long been a proponent of either modifying or abolishing Federal Income Tax to either simplify the system (like a flat tax) or turn the cost of government over to the states in proportion to their populations (using census data), but obviously, certain things need to be worked out. This article seems to support the idea that our tax system needs an overhaul. What are your views?

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Proposals for the Future of Public Health from a Modern Kansan Whig's Perspective.

Throughout the whole of human history one primary belief has remained true and especially dear to the hearts of people around the world; health is undoubtedly valuable and obtaining it is crucial to the existence of humanity. However, the modern American society has perpetuated one of the worst man-made health epidemics in human history. Although most Americans see the effects of obesity every day, society has severely neglected this fundamental public health problem for decades and the inevitable consequences of societies negligence must finally be confronted. Over the past decades experts from across the nation and around the world have started to become cognizant of the developing problem; consequently, many propositions have been made to combat obesity. Currently, one of the largest barriers to curing obesity in the United States today is the difficulty and lack of cohesion in addressing the problem that currently affects nearly two-thirds of all Americans. Therefore, the implementation of proven and effective obesity management plans, general public health mandates, and the taxation of the causes of obesity are steps of paramount importance in overcoming obesity in America today. One of the most highly esteemed and empirically proven methods of reducing the prevalence of obesity is the implementation of proven obesity management plans. Although this term might seem relatively vague, multiple components are critical in implementing obesity management plans. One central component to managing the problem of obesity that America faces today is the education of the populace about the issue of obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the amount of education a child receives about the issue of obesity from an early age undisputedly impacts their awareness of the effects of obesity and the necessity of proper dietary habits. After ensuring the foundation of awareness is established, it is imperative to ensure that the general public understands the repercussions of obesity and bad eating habits/lifestyles that directly correlate to higher rates of obesity among children and adults. These inexpensive and relatively simple forms of public education are crucial due to the ubiquitous qualities of the media. This ubiquity allows information to spread quickly to a large percentage of the population. In addition to utilizing the media to educate the public, allowing the public a free (or extremely cheap) opportunity to address their health concerns is another necessary step in providing a path to remission for those who suffer from severe obesity. Moreover, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) view medical support as the first pivotal step in achieving recovery from obesity, granting patients who suffer from obesity a chance to seek out professional advice on how to address their health problems on a case-by-case basis. Despite their empirical ability to urge the public to reform their diet and living habits, public education via the media and the opportunity for citizens to seek help in addressing their obesity problems will not be able to single-handedly solve the immense problem of obesity; therefore, it is critical for the community's focus to shift from passive actions to active forms of combatting obesity. Another vital part of the success of these new plans to limit obesity is the concept of implementing and enforcing public health mandates. Many of these mandates include the monitoring of a citizen’s waist size or body mass index (BMI) to allow the government to document which citizens may be at increased risk for health problems related to obesity. Additionally, some of the more austere health mandates call for a policy of higher taxation for those who do not fulfill the set health conditions. The logic behind these policies originates with the goal of reducing health care expenses for the general population by reducing the prevalence of one of the most detrimental diseases that exists within the United States. Currently, American healthcare is the most expensive healthcare system in the world, according to the World Health Organization, prompting many citizens to go without necessary treatment because of the cost of receiving medical care. The CDC also declared that America spends nearly 10% of its entire annual healthcare budget ($147 billion) dealing exclusively with obesity; therefore, it is necessary to mitigate the prevalence of obesity in order to make healthcare more affordable for the general populace. The communities of America also have a moral obligation to mitigate the shocking rates of death caused by obesity every year. In 2014 alone, over 600,000 people died in the U.S. due to diseases directly related to obesity, meaning nearly 1 in every 5 deaths in the U.S. occurs because of obesity. These astonishingly mortality numbers prompted the American Medical Association to categorize obesity as a disease in 2008; despite this classification, no decisive action on how to solve this overwhelming health issue was produced. In contrast to this blatant lack of concern towards obesity, the U.S. spends over $215 billion a year treating and researching cures for cancer in spite of the fact that obesity kills approximately 23,000 more people annually than cancer. Therefore, taxation or financial penalties on the obese could be a necessary step in generating extra revenue to increase the affordability of health care and creating crucial incentives for citizens to become healthier. Although this attitude towards obesity might seem strict and excessively harsh on citizens suffering from obesity, these actions have been tried in the past in nations like Japan and have yielded beneficial results on a national and municipal level. Since 2005, Japan has implemented health mandates for citizens ages 40 to 74, these require citizens to come to hospitals to have their waistline and weight recorded, allowing the government to predict which patients may be at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other obesity-related illnesses. These methods have been implemented on a national and local level in Japan, meaning that urban centers and rural communities alike can experience the benefits of an improved state of public health. In addition to its empirical successes, several health experts, including Yoichi Ogushi, ardently support the inclusion of health mandates in the United States. Ogushi, a health expert from the Tokai School of Medicine states, “if you did this in the United States, there would be benefits, since there are many Americans who weigh over 100 kilograms [around 220 pounds]”. In Japan the program has had astounding results and the Japanese government has projected that they will reduce the overweight population by 25 percent over the next seven years. Due to these triumphs, there is a high probability that the future of America’s public health will rely on its ability to adopt, adapt, and improve upon the public health mandates implemented internationally. In addition to the implementation of proven management plans and the introduction of public health mandates, the process of taxing the root causes of obesity is a critical step in eradicating the disease. This type of taxation, commonly called a “fat tax”, often centers around reducing the affordability of foods that are deemed unhealthy for consumers. This line of action is often regarded as one of the most feasible and historically implemented forms of obesity mitigation in history. Similar to many other great innovations in obesity management, taxes on unhealthy foods were first created overseas. In Denmark, the government decided to implement a tax on certain foods that possessed more than 2.3% saturated fats. After Demark’s experimental trial with the “fat tax,” many other European nations such as Hungary and France joined Denmark’s pioneering campaign to improve the health of their citizens. These successes across Europe prompted the European Union’s health associations to praise the taxation on unhealthy foods, remarking that the action was able to “achieve a reduction in the consumption of the taxed products”. This truly laudable ability to collect revenues from the tax and limit the impact of unhealthy foods on society allows a community to witness an improved state of public health and have enough excess revenue to subsidize healthier foods. Moreover, the implementation of taxes on unhealthy foods are of paramount importance in addressing the public health issues that Kansas is facing. Currently, Kansas has the 13th highest adult obesity rate in the nation at just over 31%. Obesity in Kansas has also increased over 12% since the year 2000; these statistics have led experts to conclude that by 2035, Kansas’s obese population may exceed half the population of the state. Therefore, it will be necessary to implement taxes on unhealthy consumer items in Kansas and the across entire nation; certainly these taxes will play a vital part in how the state and local communities will view obesity in the future. Undoubtedly, humanity truly values the gift of health and it is imperative that the often debilitating, malignant disease of obesity is battled on a national and local scale. Therefore, it is crucial that our community and our nation is able to change and reform to meet the needs of our citizens in solving the colossal obesity problem. Moreover, the future health of the nation depends on how America confronts obesity today. Hopefully, the implementation of proven and effective obesity management plans, general public health mandates, and the taxation of unhealthy consumer goods will mold the future generation of Americans to appreciate the gift of health and strive to ensure the longevity of the generations that succeed them. As a footnote I would also like to apologize for the previous post entitled "Possibly a focus on the future of the Modern Whig Party" for its briefness. I was still new to the site and was unaware of proper posting procedure.

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