Author: Rafael Wolf | Libertarian Candidate, Michigan House of Representatives
Editor: Bonnie Warren
So you think your vote counts, huh? What if someone told you that if you vote for a Democrat or a Republican candidate that your vote doesn’t count, and that your vote is the one that is “wasted” every election cycle? Do you, at the core of your voting belief system, believe that if you vote for a Democrat or a Republican candidate that this is the only way for your vote to count – that any vote for a third party is a “wasted vote”? What if I told you that it is because of something your empty-headed, elected officials neither explain, nor understand themselves, but mindlessly and voluntarily participate in, the “parliamentary process,” that you subscribe to the propaganda of the “wasted vote” theory? The parliamentary process, or “parliamentary procedure,” is an accepted tradition of rules that determine how business is accomplished within a legislative body. What is not well explained, is how a seemingly logical process, designed to centralize legislative power into the hands of a few lawmakers, actually strips the majority of members of their true legislative independence and power. Ninety-nine percent of legislators can be considered useful idiots, either by their own lack of understanding of the process, or by how they leverage the process for their own, personal gain. Political processes in Lansing and Washington DC, within both the house and senate committee structure, is designed in such a way, that a very small number of people, such as committee chairs and speakers, also known as “Majority Leaders,” determine most courses of action as it applies to creating legislation. You, the person whom you vote for and possibly elect, are not directly represented in congress – consolidation of power, opinion, and choice into the hands of a few, robs you of your representation. In fact, power is so consolidated, that only three people at the state and federal level, are essentially “in charge”.
Have you ever heard of such a notion? How is this even possible?
Looking toward Lansing, let’s focus our attention on the State House and the propaganda given to us directly by the Michigan House of Representatives website – about these matters, they report:
When a bill or resolution is first introduced in the House of Representatives or the Senate, it is sent to a committee that deals with its particular issue. At committee meetings, elected members delegated by the House or Senate consider and make recommendations considering dispositions of bills, resolutions, and other matters referred to them. Committees are appointed by the Speaker of the House or the Senate Majority Leader and are organized according to subject matter.How Committees Work | The Michigan House of Representatives
Notice the highlighted clause – committees need be appointed by only one of two people, Majority Leaders! As private citizens, we expect government to work FOR US, regardless of political viewpoint. Because of the parliamentary process, however, with respect to being represented by an elected official, the voices of the general public are often quieted due to lack of inclusion. Both the Left and Right are silenced in varying degrees, as hard to believe as that is. Lets look at a few of the committees more closely and see how the process actually pans out…
Agriculture: 6 (R) – 5 (D)
Appropriations: 17 (R) – 12 (D) (overwhelming majority of Republicans!)
Commerce and Tourism: 6 (R) – 5 (D)
Are you seeing the pattern?
Government Operations: 3 (R) – 2 (D)
Are you seeing the problem, yet?
And the list goes on, with a majority appropriated to the “majority party” on every committee.
The legislative process is
almost always rigged in favor of the leading majority party, but more specifically, in favor of a handful of chair persons and legislative speakers (all two of them!). The majority “leader” in the House or Senate appoints the committee members, essentially gerrymandering, or rigging the outcome in their favor, by stacking the deck with majority votes, every single time, before the legislative process has even truly begun. I encourage you to see for yourself, visit the website, and look up the data on any committee, special committee, or sub-committee. You can, if you are so inclined, watch committee meetings on Michigan House TV to see how these committees function in real time. What’s crazy to think about, is that none of these processes are conspiratorial secrets! In every instance the process is unfair – to the individuals you elect, to those who elected them, and to politicians on both majority and minority sides of the aisle. Citizens think they have free and fair elections, not true, and they therefore also think they have free and fair representation, also not true. The committee process does not allow elected legislative officials the freedom to directly represent their constituents and voters are oppressed by arbitrary committee rules. Furthermore, what is ironic, is that both majority and minority voices can be suppressed, and with them, the ideals of representative democracy, simply at the whim of a committee chair. It is no wonder “the people”, which are usually special interest groups, gather petitions to get a petition for single issues onto the ballot trying to override representative democracy with “direct democracy” processes. That process is “the tell”, it is how you know what is being laid out is true.
This is the sad truth regarding how power is stripped from you, the voter, and any direct representation you think you may have, with the real power being consolidated into the hands of a committee chair or Majority Leader. Even if you vote for a Republican (the current majority political party in the House and Senate), your individual, elected legislator lacks any real authority to do anything with your social values, as the true political power lies with the committee chair, House Speaker, and Senate Speaker. Have you ever wondered why the “chair” of the House Appropriations Committee is so “powerful”? Where, pray tell, did he or she obtain that power? It was simply appointed to them, given away by your feckless elected representative. And what makes a chair or Majority Leader so special? Consider this – the Majority Leader appoints committee members, leads any number of meetings, and makes the overall rules. If any bill or new legislation is to make it past the appropriations committee, for example, the legislation needs to make it past the chair, who then brings it to the House Majority Leader. These individuals arbitrarily make themselves the gate keepers (or should we liken them to toll bridge trolls?). This is also why the House Majority Leader, also known as the Speaker of the House, is so powerful, as is their analog on the Senate side. Unless your elected official is a chair or Majority Leader (speaker of the House or Senate), then, his or her opinion simply does not matter. The chair matters less than the Majority Leader, as the Majority Leader has the ultimate say and leverage.
Even more remarkable, is the fact that there is little dissent from those elected officials that are being oppressed. In fact, they may not even know (or care!) how oppressed they are, believing this must be how business is done, hoping one day to fill the “big shoes” and wield such awesome power. No member is independent – each is a centrally controlled legislator, forced to toe the party line, or frankly, ignore the constituents who voted them into office. Their opposition, the minority party, is simply overruled, silenced by the broad strokes of a majority vote.
The Power Structure
Essentially, three people comprise the power structure of the state of Michigan – the House Majority Leader, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Governor. These are the officials that have the ability to “get anything done.” The federal level is similar, only at the macro level, the President of the United States replaces the Governor.
For example, I could hardly believe the following scene as it unfolded before my eyes a few years ago. Oddly, and laughably, President Trump showed us first hand how all this works on live TV! His narcissism, combined with the gullibility of the opposition party leaders lured into an idiotic press conference, one that was broadcast in the oval office, detailing a possible government shut down related to “building the wall,” put the very process I am talking about on public display! Normally, these events take place behind the scenes, between a few legislators, leaders, and top officials. Do you recall Nancy Pelosi discussing the embarrassment (1:15 in the clip): “I don’t think we should have this debate in front of the press.” To which Chuck answers (4:56 in the clip): “Let’s debate in private.” That is right Nancy and Chuck! We witnessed first hand, with blatant evidence of what goes on behind closed doors!
Perhaps this seems obvious to you and if so, you are in the minority who understand. No legislation, within the current parliamentary process, becomes law without the blessing of the afore-mentioned triple threat – an imbalance of power that gives these individuals disproportionate influence, as you can see for yourself from this unusual glimpse into the actual process itself. As noted, this type of circus exists and happens here in Michigan, you simply never see it live on TV or broadcast from the Governors mansion. Your direct representation, the person you voted for and put into congress, is virtually powerless. If your official is from the minority party, his or her vote does not matter, and if from a majority party, his or her opinion does not matter, and therefore, the truth is, regardless of your affiliation, your vote does not matter. Beyond the scope of this essay, and food for thought for another discussion, is the content of various legislative agendas and the motivation that drives their creation and implementation. Stay tuned…
Moving beyond one obvious solution – electing a minority of third party candidates to de-power the establishment, reducing all party power to that of minority status forcing coalitions to be brokered – the most effective fix here is to blow up the legacy parliamentary process and the old ways of “doing business.” including the monotony of voting for the establishment (D) and R). I am not suggesting committees should not exist to discuss and work through potential bills or legislation. What I am suggesting, is that we work together to overturn a system wherein a chair or House Speaker can block an elected official from working with others, by creating a more direct system wherein a bill can be brought forward by any elected official to the floor for a vote, bypassing any obstructive leadership that may already be in place. This would de-power the chair and House Speaker, turning their positions into ones of process administration. They would simply preside over a process that could accomplish important tasks in short order. De-powering these positions would make currently coveted (and often corrupt!) positions of leadership less desirable. The power of a few would be re-distributed back into the hands of the many, at which point your vote would actually matter! Revised parliamentary rules meant to de-power the few and empower the many, would allow an individual representative, your representative, regardless of party affiliation, to actually represent you. Your elected officials would be able to work with others of an opposition perhaps, to gain favor for new and innovative legislative initiatives. Such a structure would empower your representative to represent the citizens who elected them, without fear of party retribution like the loss of their active voice. It would encourage individuals to work with other individuals, bypassing an antiquated system of larger, centrally controlled groups working against other larger, centrally controlled groups, thereby relieving the process of the negative consequences of peer pressure from “leadership”. A better system of government brought forth by elected officials who know and understand the current oppressive process could potentially build new and diverse task-groups made up of politicians who may agree on any number of topics, allowing for legislative freedom that is not bound to party-specific ideology. For example, we know that not all Republicans are pro-life. Under a new system, these officials could potentially work with Democrats who are pro-choice, or, on the flip side, pro-life Republicans could work with democratic, pro-life representatives (they do exist). Wouldn’t it be refreshing if a candidate could show his or her true colors on the issues that matter to us, rather than spew forth hollow, echo-chamber, group-think, word salads, in the ways we now commonly hear from any number of candidates on the political Left or Right?
For God’s sake, man, let my people go!
Consider voting for a third party candidate, one that is not beholden to the establishment, who could bring these ideas to Lansing. Should you choose to vote for me, I believe I could convince a certain number of noobs elected to the House, or those re-elected to their positions (incumbents), to support the idea of a revised system of leadership, and completely change the dynamic of how we are all represented at the highest levels of government – a revision that is long overdue. You will not, in any way, hear any of what I have laid out from an establishment candidate. Quite frankly, they lack political awareness of how the process they are steeped in actually works. They are career politicians, I am a reluctant one but feel compelled and I have the means.