Tuesday, March 31, 2015

THE SILLY SEASON


Gerhart Mennen Williams was a colleague of mine on the Michigan Supreme Court. He often referred to an election year as “the silly season.” He certainly knew a lot about elections. Nicknamed “Soapy” because of his family’s  toiletry business, Williams was elected Governor of Michigan six times, back in the days when the term of office was two years.

Seems like these days the silly season starts earlier and earlier. The modern phrase is ‘election cycle.’ It surely goes round and round. No sooner has a new set of officeholders been sworn in than the pundits begin speculating on the next batch of candidates and campaigns.

Like everything else in America, the process of electing the President has become incredibly burdened by bureaucratic regulation. The Federal Election Commission’s 167 page book of rules mandates that anyone who runs for President must register and provide detailed reports about how much money is raised and spent, and who gave what.

Anyone who raises and/or spends more than $5,000 is required to report, and failure to do so is punished by heavy fines.

A waltz through the FEC’s web site is enlightening if not amusing. There are already more than thirty-seven candidates of the Democratic Party and twice as many Republicans. More than sixty Independents and dozens of ‘No Party’ candidates along with a bevy of independent, would-be Third Party candidates make for a total field of more than 200 wannabees.

The FEC has a simple way to separate the wheat from the chaff. They have decreed that only candidates who raise or spend more than $200,000 are regarded as ‘serious.’

In addition to the expected names like Jeb Bush, Chris Christy, Ben Carson,  Ted Cruz, and Lindsey Graham, there are some obviously synthetic monikers like President Emperor Caesar, and Sydneys Voluptuous Buttocks.

There are also a goodly number of literally anonymous folks, who are apparently serious about wanting to lead the nation, but have no realistic notion about what getting to the White House entails.

There’s a young woman in Texas who has a full time clerical job and spends every other waking hour pursuing her dream of becoming the first woman President. Her web site insists that her campaign  will accept donations from no one.

Cherunda Lynn Fox lives at 17145 Gable Street in Detroit. She has two committees, Fox for President and Friends of Fox. Both committees are headquartered at 17145 Gable Street. Ms. Fox seeks the nomination of the Republican Party. So far she hasn’t raised a dime.

If the Federal Election Commission is keeping its eye on Presidential candidates, it virtually keeps political parties under a regulatory microscope. Its ‘helpful’ 159 page booklet of do’s and don’t’s starts out with the good news that any group which raises or spends more than $1,000 must register and heed its warnings.

Despite this draconian regulatory oversight, there are more than forty political parties in the United States, in addition to the BIG TWO. There are half a dozen Socialist parties, an American Communist Party; two or three Christian Parties, two Green Parties, the American Nazi Party, and Parties dedicated to Peace, Justice, Reform, Prohibition and Marijuana.

There are parties for Workers, Families, Veterans, and  Whigs. There’s a Light Party and a Tea Party, a Justice Party and a Third Party.

Being a student and devotee of the Constitution of the United  States, I was particularly intrigued by the Constitution Party, so I poked around to learn more about it. Here is what they say:


The seven principles of the Constitution Party are: 1) Life: For all human beings, from conception to natural death; 2) Liberty: Freedom of conscience and actions for the self-governed individual; 3) Family: One husband and one wife with their children as divinely instituted; 4) Property: Each individual's right to own and steward personal property without government burden; 5) Constitution: and Bill of Rights interpreted according to the actual intent of the Founding Fathers; 6) States' Rights: Everything not specifically delegated by the Constitution to the federal government, nor prohibited by the Constitution to the states, is reserved to the states or to the people; 7) American Sovereignty: American government committed to the protection of the borders, trade, and common defense of Americans, and not entangled in foreign alliances.  

I'm inclined to learn more about those folks. Stay tuned.

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