Wisconsin Senate–Is Johnson Rebounding?

Sen. Ron Johnson is clearly headed to defeat after numerous polls showed him down 10-15 points in a rematch against Fmr. Sen. Russ Feingold. However, recent polling have shown Johnson rebounding a bit, even with a Loras poll showing him leading Feingold 5 points with other reputable (Marquette) polling showing him in striking distance of keeping his seat.

 

Incumbent profile:

Ron Johnson (R)

First elected in 2010, 1 term

 

Challenger profile:

Russ Feingold (D)

Former U.S. Senator, 3 terms

 

Sen. Ron Johnson narrowly unseated incumbent Russ Feingold in 2010’s Tea Party wave. Elected from the slim liberal-leaning state of Wisconsin, ultra-conservative Johnson replaced ultra-liberal Feingold for this class 3 seat. Johnson proved to be too conservative for this otherwise moderately progressive state (Scott Walker brought jobs to WI but Ron Johnson did not) and Wisconsin voters have been wanting to remove him since 2010.

 

Ron Johnson never led a single poll in this race, not even polls conducted in 2014 or 2015, until early October when Clinton is leading Trump by a margin as large as 10 points. Theoretically, Johnson’s rebound happened att an impossible time interval. The Gravis/Breitbard poll immediately before the Loras one showed Feingold leading Johnson by 12 points, so what caused this 17-point shift in just one day?

 

I ran through the two candidates in Google Trends, but nothing too significant is told. The only notable surge in both candidates’ search interest graphs occured at the Johnson-Feingold debate, and both candidates got a significant but temporary surge. I also tried to obtain Johnson and Feingold’s campaign activities, noting anything controversial that could move the needle by as large as 17 points, but unfortunately nothing is found.

 

Therefore the only explaination of that poll is that it is an outlier. I am supposing that Johnson’s right to try bill had some impact on Wisconsin’s Senatoral race. Accoding to previous experience, Johnson’s boost is most likely temporary (he refuses to take moderate positions even when the national party abandoned him). It is extremely unlikely that Johnson would win this race but be careful to put this one safely in the Democratic column. For instance, LA gubernatorial election was rated Likely R before the blanket primary (spoiler: Bel Edwards tronced Vitter); it became lean D before runoff. (In that race, Vitter was never safe but pundits locked him)

 

Rating: Strong Lean D

 

Update (10/18/16):

Feingold up 12 in a poll showing Clinton up 8, confirming my hypothesis that the boost is temporary.

Missouri Senate–Who are the Trump-Kander voters?

Presidential hopes in Missouri for the Democrats have faded long ago, but Missouri Democrats are still able to win down ballot races. Usually, due to incumbency advantage, Senators run ahead of their party’s presidential nominees (example: Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in 2012), but this is not the case for Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who faces an uphill reelection battle against little-known Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.

 

Incumbent Profile:

Roy Blunt (R)

First elected in 2010, 1 term

 

Challenger Profile:

Jason Kander (D)

Missouri Secretary of State, 2 terms

 

Kander’s campaign was really a long shot (see prediction section) before some miracle happened in early July that a Public Policy poll showed Kander down only three points. The same poll showed Trump up 10 points ahead of Clinton. A St. Louis Dispatch poll conducted a few days later confirmed the race is within five points, but this poll showed Clinton ahead in the presidential race. (The poll was conducted during Clinton’s postconvention bounce period.) Later polls all showed Blunt ahead with a small lead, until this, probably the best political ad regarding gun control ever, sending a strong signal to the conservative pro-gun Missouri while also playing with the gun control message supported by almost 90% of the American population, including 80% of Republicans. After the release of this ad, both sides now recognize this race as a tossup and DSCC pulled in swing state resources to help Kander.

 

In addition, “Washington (or state capital name) is broken, we need to fix it” has become the standard-bearer of politicians running for office nationwide, and in this anti-establishment year, this message has become surprisingly effective. Bernie Sanders almost upset Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump won his party’s presidential nomination. Both candidates ran as outsiders, and their messages resonate well with the voters, who disapproved Congressional performance 7-1.

 

Blunt’s establishment Republican position angers Missouri voters who seek change in government. Before Blunt was elected a Senator, he was House Minority whip, second ranking Republican in the House, although he departed from the position after Republicans’ successive losses in the House. A Monmouth poll shows Blunt only having 80% of Republican support (11% goes to Kander), while Kander has 90% Democratic support, with only 5% going to Blunt. The same poll shows Kander with a 62-32 lead over Blunt in moderate voters’ views. The poll also shows both Blunt and Kander is becoming more unfavorable (compared to August), but Kander’s net favorability rating is still at +19, 1 point down from August’s +20, whereas Blunt’s net favorability has become negative.

 

This race might just be a replay of Arizona’s Senate race of 2012, but the R nominee for president is much more unfavorable among ordinary Americans than Mitt Romney is. If Trump gets trumped by Clinton in the 3rd debate, he would be starting to drag down downballot Republicans, making 2016, otherwise a Republican golden opportunity to expand their majority in both houses of the Congress, a 2006-style Democratic wave.

Rating: Tossup

 

Indiana Senate–Bye? Bayh?

Incumbent profile:

Dan Coats (R)

First elected in 2010, 1 term, retiring

 

Challenger profile:

Evan Bayh (D)

Former U.S. Senator, 2 terms; Former Governor, 2 terms

 

Todd Young (R)

U.S. Representative, 3 terms

 

Pundits have been very, very careful on Bayh’s chances of returning to the Senate. Most pundits rate this race at most Tilts Democratic. The race started with the release of three internal polls showing Bayh up nearly 20 points. I was initially puzzled–Bayh won his first four statewide races by 60-40 margins, his poll numbers are good, and his name recognition is almost universal in the state. Soon, I found the reason that pundits were so careful regarding Bayh. Todd Young is much stronger than Bayh’s previous statewide opponents–he is a U.S. Representative with a net positive approval rating, not lightweight opponents who Bayh faced during his two previous Senate campaigns. If Bayh is running for governor, he would win the race easily by distancing himself with national Democratic figures, but he is running for a federal office, and he hasn’t lived in Indiana for quite a long time. Since his entrance to the race, Bayh has found himself in numerous controversies–residence, job during six years, why back at this time, etc. Todd Young’s campaign also aired different attack ads on Bayh surrounding these controversies, enough for him to almost close a 20 point gap. For now, Bayh is still favored to win (the poll showing him +1 is strongly Republican-skewed), but Young is well within reach for his new job.

Illinois Senate–more competitive than you think

This is my first installment covering the Senate race. One installment would come per week.

Many pundits have Illinois and Wisconsin Senate locked for the Democrats. While recent polling has suggested Feingold well on path to victory, Illinois’ Senate race has received only minimal coverage. That’s normal because Illinois is not a swing state and polling just for the sake of the Senate race is not very cost effective.

 

Incumbent profile:

Mark Kirk (R)

First elected in 2010, 1 term.

 

Challenger profile:

Tammy Duckworth (D)

U.S. Representative (2 terms)

 

Mark Kirk has suffered from low approval ratings, non progressive records, and corporate-friendly stances. In a state as progressive as Illinois, Kirk has definitely been targeted by DSCC for defeat. The challenger Tammy Duckworth also has a solid record–Purple Heart Army Lieutenant Colonel, Amputee, Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Congresswoman for two terms. But Kirk is nowhere near weak–he’s a former Navy commander and ten-year representative from the most Democratic district represented by a Republican in the nation (the district went Obama in a landslide twice), and he defeated the state’s treasurer six years ago.

 

Kirk generated much publicity by being the first sitting Republican Senator to support Merrick Garland’s nomination and has met Garland personally. This gave him a significant advantage ahead of Ron Johnson (Wisconsin Senator target for defeat by DSCC), who refused to support Garland’s nomination and to meet him. Also Kirk’s record is much more moderate than Johnson’s.

 

Recent pollings also suggest Kirk is stronger than what we perceive. In an internal poll, Duckworth only leads Kirk by 7 points. Duckworth’s lead is even smaller in public polls–a Loras College Poll has Duckworth leading by a sheer five points, whereas in the same poll Clinton leads by 14. An Emerson poll also shows Duckworth leading only by 2, but Emerson only samples on landlines so it skews heavily in favor of the Republicans. Compared to Feingold being up by almost 15 points, this polling result raises an alarm for Democrats so optimistic about defeating Kirk.

 

But Duckworth starts with a major advantage–she has a war chest of almost 6 million dollars. This is significantly higher than Kirk’s 3 million. Keep in mind that Kirk has almost been abandoned by the GOP and the Republican Senatorial committee, so I am not very optimistic about his chances of defeating Duckworth, especially when Duckworth’s ads bombard Illinois. Also, her campaign seems pretty smart too.

 

In conclusion, I believe Duckworth starts with a major advantage (mainly due to her warchest campaign funding), but Kirk still has his chances.

Rating: Strongly Leans D

Update (10/18 2016): I am moving this to D Favored mainly because of Loras’ massive fail at Wisconsin and a subsequent poll showing Duckworth up 15 points.

 

 

 

Hillary Clinton and Haiti

Almost every group of African-Americans voted for Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly over Bernie Sanders. However, there is an exception–Haitian Americans. Haitian Americans in Florida favored Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton on a large margin.

 

For multiple reasons, there is just simply no reason to support Hillary Clinton for president for a Haitian-American, unless they are disattached from their home country for too long–exemplified by Rep. Mia Love (R-UT).

 

  • Hillary Clinton and the State Department pushed for lower minimum wage in Haiti. Haiti has one of the cheapest labor–skilled or unskilled–worldwide. According to World Development Index published by the World Bank, in 2012, 70.99% of the Haitian population are living under $3.10 a day, one of the highest percentages in the world. In 2009, Haiti’s legislature passed a bill that would almost triple the minimum wage from 24 cents per hour to 61 cents per hour. This bill had met with significant oppositionns from the industries–utilizing slave like labor is one of the best ways to earn profit–and the United States embassy. President Preval vetoed the bill. Hillary Clinton, although not directly involved in the incident, was indeed secretary of state at the time.
  • Haiti’s elections are met full with frauds. I had written articles on this issue previously. The state department favored Michel Martelly, a singer who is an American permanent resident and definitely an American ally, to win the presidential race over either Mirlande Maniget or Jude Celestin, Haiti’s CEP disqualified Celestin from the 2011 race, enabling Martelly to enter runoff with Maniget, which he later won.
  • Martelly’s governing, although not viewed extremely unfavorably by Haitians, involved widespread corruption allegations, further enhancing the doubt on Clinton’s ability to lead America if she chose a leader who is notoriously corrupt in Haiti.
  • State department refused funding Haiti’s elections, forcing Haitians to use inferior electoral devices and prone to fraud.

Therefore, I can’t think of a reason why a Haitian-American would vote for Hillary Clinton, even in the general election against Donald Trump. We have already seen Haitian Americans going to the polls supporting Bernie Sanders in historic volumes (and this is documented by mainstream medias), in the general election Trump might also receive this surge and may (there is a very small probability of Haitian-Americans tipping Florida to Trump but certainly possible) win Florida with the support of Haitian-Americans, whose abhorrence for Clinton is obvious.

How did each state vote between the years?

This is my first post regarding the 2016 presidential election. I will make several new posts analyzing the polls and building a prediction model.

 

So now major parties have determined their nominees for president (and likely for Senate too). With Clinton and Trump, we might be facing the two most unfavorable nominees in the history of presidential elections.

 

Regardless, what that means for us is that we might have a new president who will likely continue president Obama’s legacy or a president who wants to call NATO obsolete and loving Russia.

 

But that is not the objective of this post. Today, I conducted an analysis that put all the results of the past six presidential elections in battleground states together, and analyzed certain trends in these results. I considered the states Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Colordado (14, 183 electoral votes) battleground states. Here are a few interesting finds:

  • Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan only voted Democratic.
  • 1996 election was a landslide in most states.
  • Ohio voted with the eventual winner every time.
  • Were Florida to vote Kerry in 2004, Kerry would have become president.
  • All 2016 battleground states, including Georgia, voted Democratic at least once.
  • Generally speaking, first term trend differ from overall trend by almost a percentage point.

Contrary to public beliefs, Georgia and Arizona, the two red states with most chances of Democratic takeover this year, are trending red in borh first-term elections and elections in general. Pennsylvania, which the Washington Post and Nate Silver called trending red, did have a slight Republican trend, but it only has an effect of 0.28 points per election, and if we only look at first term elections, the trend is reduced to 0.075 points.

 

Virginia and New Hampshire are slowly becoming blue states. New Hampshire swinged to the Republicans once, in 2000 of which it voted for George W. Bush instead of Gore, differing by 1.7 adjusted percentage points. Virginia, on the other hand, never voted Democratic prior to the 2008 election, but the trend to Democratic is steady.

 

Missouri downgraded from a bellwether state to a red state over the years, with a huge overall trend of R+1.13 points per election and a huge first term trend of R+1.65 points, both largest in all 2016 battlegrounds.

 

Florida remains the most competitive state, but North Carolina has been showing trends of becoming very competitive. Florida voted Republican in 1992, 2000 and 2004, and Democratic in 19996, 2008 and 2012. The nominees won Florida on average of 2.92 points. In North Carolina, the number is larger because of the Republican landslides in 2000 and 2004, which Bush won by 13 points in 2000 and 12.4 points in 2004, but otherwise the nominees won the state by only 1.53 points.

 

Another (not so good) predictor of competitiveness is by calculating average voting percentage. Among the 14 states, Michigan has the most Democratic leaning, at 9.8 points, followed by Pennsylvania, at 7.33 points, and Wisconsin, at 6.53 points. Georgia has the most Republican leaning, at 7.1 points, followed by Arizona, at 5.87 points, and North Carolina, at 5.5 points.

 

Bill Clinton’s landslide in 1992 in Missouri boosted the Democratic number up to 49.9, but the state has been trending Republican since that election. Obama’s vote share in Missouri in 2012 is similar to that in a lean red state, such as Arizona and Georgia.

 

Attached is the raw data file for anyone interested to read and experiment with. It is in XLSX format.

 

Download Attachment

 

What does it mean to be human?

“If you think we can’t change the world, it just means you are not one of those that will.”

–Jacque Fresco

 

With so much technological advances, the world has become interconnected. For example, one could easily access news in the United States from Indonesia with adequate internet connections. While creating convenience is an important portion of these technological advances, their real value is to expose the negatives and promote the positives around the globe. People living under authoritarian regimes can have access to modern, progressive American and European medias to learn that the regimes that they are living in are oppressive and has certain rooms to improve. Analogously, people living in pluralistic regimes can learn that they do not live in perfect world and the world has so many flaws to conquer.

 

Only 78 out of 167 countries worldwide has democratic institutions that can be considered open and transparent. Even so, not all these countries have completely flawless democratic systems. While Americans comment that they are living in slave conditions under corporate influences constantly pushing the government to work in the corporates’ favor, people living in Africa might not know what government is, and if they do know, their knowledge of government is likely much worse than that of Americans. Human conditions are relative.

 

Our world has flaws, and these flaws are so deeply locked in the existing orders of the world, but they are not insurmountable. It is a part of the human nature to progress, and eventually one day humans will progress to a state that most humans living on the planet can find a satisfying live in the place that they are living in. Bernie Sanders’s grassroot movement did not attract a support large enough to alter American political landscape completely, but there will be a Bernie Sanders II, a Bernie Sanders III, and a Bernie Sanders Eleven Million promote the activism and replace the politics of fear with the politics of hope. Unfortunately, if we all sit home and remain silent, nothing will change, but if we actively protest and outspokenly express, something will happen.

Last Big Prize of 2016

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Bernie Sanders will win five out of the six primaries tomorrow, according to my model.

In my personal opinion, I think Bernie will win 70% or so in MT and ND, 60% in SD and lose narrowly in NM, but numbers are numbers, I will not change them based on my personal feelings.

 

June 7th early morning bonus:

June 7th will be the last date that nationwide primaries will be hosted. With 694 delegates up-for-grab, Bernie Sanders would need to win more than 72% of the votes today to make up that almost insurmountable pledged delegate gap. However, this projection, unfortunately, does not pose the situation that Bernie would be able to win the pledged delegate count.

 

However, Bernie is able to score two to five victories today. Within the margin of error, it is possible for Bernie to win all states except New Jersey, but it is also possible for Hillary to score all states other than Montana and North Dakota. Yet, it is possible that Hillary Clinton, according to the medias, clinched nomination would decrease turnout on the Hillary camp, as some voters no longer feel that their vote matters.

 

California

With 475 delegates up for grab, the Golden State is undoubtedly the biggest prize of the primary process, as well as that of the electoral college. As a state, California is ethnically diverse, with no majority ethnic group. With 37.6% of the population being Hispanic or Latino, California has the second highest concentration of that ethnic group only behind New Mexico; 14.9% of the state’s population are Asian, also the second highest of any state, behind Hawaii.

 

My model gives a Bernie win in California of approximately 7-8 percentage points, but a key voting bloc–Asian-Americans–cannot be factored with enough weight into the model. With 15% Asian-Americans, this group could tip the election either-way. Low average among Hispanics–29 years–may also contribute to a Bernie win in California. The State only has a small Black population of 7.2 percent, a strong indicator of a Bernie victory.

 

Polls have consistently valued Bernie at 1-2 points behind Hillary Clinton; however, polls also consistently underestimate Bernie by 4-5 percentage points. As indicated in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and Indiana, even in consistently polled places, polls underestimate Bernie Sanders’s vote share. Polls did, however, overestimate Bernie vote share in South Carolina.

 

Other than polling and demographics, the other consistently reliable indicator is Facebook like count. In California, the adjusted count is reported to be 2.84, above national average, 2.77 for 0.07 points. This is higher than 2.4 in Iowa, 49-49, 2.71 in Ohio, 44-56 and roughly the same in Kentucky (2.83, 46-46), but significantly lower than states that Bernie won in a blowout, such as Colorado (4.5, 60-40), New Hampshire (3.77, 60-40) and Hawaii (5, 70-30). The Facebook model also suggests Bernie will win Northern Cal. in a blowout (70%+), but lose 10-15 percentage points in central California.

Averaging all submodels, Bernie tips California with 7-8 percentage points.

 

New Mexico

New Mexico primary would be the second-most interesting today, behind California. With a Latino population of 47%, NM’s demographics favor Hillary Clinton. Yet, New Mexico’s Black population, at 2.1%, is extremely low, and might indicate a Bernie victory.

 

Second, Bernie’s Facebook like share is high in New Mexico, with a relative adjusted count of 3.875, similar to that of New Hampshire and Colorado. Colorado also has a high Hispanic population, and heavily Hispanic Pueblo county voted for a 6-point Hillary Clinton victory. With New Mexico being more demographically Hispanic, Bernie may still tip a victory, but New Mexico could go either way, and winning margin will not be large.

 

Do we truly live in a democratic society?

Democracy came from two Greek words, “demos”, meaning people, and “kratos”, meaning rule or power. Combining the two terms, that gives us “people rule” or “people power”. In theory, this system of government gives ordinary people the power to influence and change the government. The first modern democratic system established in England, in 1689, 327 years ago. But in what way did democracy really progress? More and more countries are adapting democratic institutions, and almost every country now claim to be democratic, but in reality how democratic did our world transform into, and what could authorities do to improve upon our current system?

Thomas Jefferson said “democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” In other words, democracy progress when people are willing to make it better, and democracy regress when people are not willing to make it better. Jefferson, along with other early thinkers that invented representative democracy, wanted to establish a system that the government can be peacefully transitioned from generation to generation, controlled by the people, and audited by the people.

In theory, a Jeffersonian representative democracy would live forever, as people always want to progress, not regress. Yet, as common sense tells us, no system is perfect and no system lives forever, and Jeffersonian democracy is no exception. Jefferson and other founding fathers, fearing a central government too powerful, established a complicated system of separation of power to limit the scope of government; that system included a legislative branch called Congress, an executive branch headed by an officer called President, and a judicial branch with judicial powers vested in a supreme court. Separation of power brought several positive remarks on democracy—when a president is too powerful and abusing his power, Congress could impeach him, and when Congress is abusing its legislative powers, the Supreme Court has the power to override Congressional laws.

Again, this system would work perfectly in theory, but not long after Congressional representatives became directly elected, political parties form and the system altered. First-part-the-post, plurality winner-take-all electoral system in the United States exaggerated margins of victories of victors, and the system resulted in a two-party rule that sustained until today. Two-party system has obvious strengths—policy implementation is much easier. But its weaknesses overshadow its strengths. In an election, the people have a choice, but not much; little viewpoints are represented in a two party system, and losing candidates in tightly contested elections do not receive any credit. If an election, in a winner-take-all plurality electoral system, has an outcome that the winning candidate wins 51% of the votes, while the losing candidate wins 49%, separating them few hundred votes, the winning candidate gets all the credits, while the losing one gets none.

Indeed, plurality winner-take-all electoral system has become one of the biggest flaw of western democracy. In a plurality system only winning candidates have an influence on the government, and that influence can hardly be offset by the opposition party. In Canada, for example, a majority government can enact legislations easily, as the government holds a majority of seats in the House of Commons. Even if all oppositions vote against a piece of legislation, the government, holding a majority of seats, faces little barriers from enacting that legislation.

The flaw in the plurality winner-take-all electoral system is so significant that people wrote books and dramas on it. In Netflix’s award-winning series House of Cards, Francis Underwood is running for president of the United States. In Season 3, Underwood is the incumbent president after the former president was impeached, and by constitution, vice-president Underwood succeeded him. Underwood made a pledge to not run for reelection, but he has eaten his own promise. When this scene happened, Underwood is facing a tough primary challenger; he is behind in polling and his opponent caught a substantial piece of dark story of him.

This scene reinforces the notion that the winning candidate gets everything, and the losing candidate gets nothing in a plurality winner-take-all race. Winner-take-all races create an substantial burden on each candidate running for office and make he or she do whatever possible to make he or she the winning candidate. From this scene, we can easily see that elections are not beauty contests or amiable competitions that losing candidates still get recognition, and votes, at least in the eyes of politicians, are more important than anything else, even if that “anything else” contains their legacy.

Electoral system is far from the only problem that democracy is facing currently. Indeed, democracy is not just about holding elections. Civil rights and liberties guaranteed, rule of law present, high political efficacy, meaning that most people believe that they can change the government, are all characteristics of democracy. In 2010, a Supreme Court of the United States decision cited as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission severely undermined political efficacy in the United States.

Citizens United is a non-profit organization aimed to promote conservative causes and to raise money for conservative candidates for elections. Before the 2008 election, Citizens United released a video describing then-Senator Hillary Clinton in order to prevent Hillary from being elected president. Citizens United wanted to release the video for “on-demand broadcast” for a fee, but they could not do so because a provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act prohibited corporations and unions from using treasury fund to fund a candidate for election. (Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, 1, 558 U.S. 310) Citizens United sued Federal Election Commission in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. The district court sided with Federal Election Commission, and Citizens United subsequently appealed to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, but it declined hearing. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and ruled that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit organization or for-profit corporation.

The ruling had an adverse impact on American electoral politics. Before Citizens United, corporations could only donate to political action committees, with a spending limit of $5,000 per candidate and $10,000 to a political action committee. Citizens United overruled that limit and corporations can donate whatever amount they want to a candidate.

There is an old Chinese idiom saying if A is given money by B, then A must work in favor of B, and that applies perfectly to this situation. When a candidate receives donations from a corporation or an individual, then he or she must work favorably for that corporation or individual. Conventional wisdom tells us that what is good for corporations might not be always good for us, the ordinary people, and sometimes they blatantly suppressing people’s rights in exchange for more profit or tax breaks. Corporations gave candidates donations, and candidates returned them tax breaks, subsidies or/and government contracts. Is this what democracy is about? Is this what the framers of the constitution intended?

Dred Scott is was a slave whose master brought him to Illinois, where slavery was banned. At the time, slaves moving into a free territory are generally freed automatically. Dred Scott petitioned for freedom, and he won, but his master appealed, all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled Dred Scott was nothing just a property of his master, and was subject to his master’s control no matter where he moved.

Scott ruling benefitted no one but a few top elites. Citizens United served the same purpose. Citizens United gave a few business moguls and large corporations the power to buy elections outright. Representatives lost their purpose, as they only need to represent companies, not the people. It took America 19 years, and a bloody north vs. south civil war to repeal Dred Scott, and northerners are generally against slavery; however, this time, almost all politicians in the United States, except Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, embrace Citizens United.

Instead of being written by me, these two paragraphs are actually what I paraphrased from the Boston Globe, Senator Bernie Sanders’s words and what I implied. “Citizens United” reduced citizens from equals to inferiors, creating class differences even in the most basic democratic value—value of vote.

In addition to elections, democracy also includes several other key values such as rules of law, independent, impartial judiciary and civil rights and civil liberties guaranteed. In today’s North American society, independent judiciary is generally respected and hailed, but we are still a far cry from rule of law and guaranteeing the people civil rights and civil liberties.

In Canada, the Harper government introduced Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 (Bill C-51) to the parliament. A provision of the act included warrantless searches and seizures of any private citizen posing a threat to the society or engaging in terroristic activities. This act is extremely similar to the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (Patriot Act), including provisions to engage in warrantless monitor of phone records, internet browsing records and collection of other statistics. Right of Due Process, meaning that a state must respect all legal rights owned to a person, is circumvented, and the government can be in control of private citizens’ personal life, instill authoritarian values and reducing democratic values.

NSA surveillance, police brutality, government negligence in people’s conditions and harsh criminal penalties are only just a few governmental actions instituted by our supposedly democratic government. These suppressive actions, reducing citizens to be inferiors, are not values of democracy, but values of authoritarianism. As outlined in the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution, [no person shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor [shall any states] deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The key, to democracy, is people. In a true democracy, political legitimacy is given to the authority by the people, and can be taken away by the people, not kings, princes, dukes, or gods. Representatives truly representative, judges duly carrying justice for the people, executive doing what the people demands and executes order based on such demands, and these, are the perfect explanation of democracy.

Do we truly live in a democratic society? The answer is clear. It is true that the society that we are currently living in has democratic values, and the people can potentially have a substantial force throughout the society, as in the case of Bernie Sanders and his progressive coalition, but these forces are never large enough to shake the government into a machine that actually works for the people, as the ones in power full use any counteracting force to stop progressive forces from overcoming their forces, such as through media influence and public opinion manipulation.

Maybe some day we can have a real democracy, but first end government surveillance, police brutality, unlimited campaign spending and harsh criminal penalties. These processes take decades, if not centuries to complete, but benefits of having a government fully controlled by the people and responsive to the people will make the already great human race even better.

What changed?

As generations fade,

Tides turn and leaders amass,

But what changed?

 

Civilizations build and dim,

Philosophies enjoin and dissolve

But what changed?

 

Emperors abdicate

Presidents flourish

But what changed?

 

People born and die

Soldiers go abroad and return home

Yet some remain wandering

 

Old empire goes

New empire emerges

But what changed?

 

(excuse my shitty poem)