Tag Archives: California

Pan Fascism: Mussolini was a Piker

English: Benito Mussolini and Fascist blackshi...
English: Benito Mussolini and Fascist blackshirts in 1920 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

California’s Senate unanimously approved a bill proffered by Sacramento Democrat Richard Pan on May 18. The bill “would allow so-called beer bikes to operate on streets, but leaves cities to decide if alcohol is allowed on board.”

Why are “beer bikes” so important to Senator Pan?  If you guessed “because he likes freedom,” you’re wrong. According to the Associated Press, he’s concerned that “current state law does not include a definition for this type of vehicle, creating legal uncertainties.” Pan may or may not like beer bikes, but he’s deeply worried that something, somewhere, might be happening sans the supervision of Richard Pan.

This is just today’s example. I come across stories like it on a daily basis. A kid cited for running a lemonade stand without a permit. A traveler robbed of his cash by “law enforcement” on the claim that unless he can explain it to their satisfaction, some crime must be involved. And so on, and so forth.

Somewhere, some politician gets a bee in his bonnet and a law gets passed. Not in response to some clear, present, actual danger, but to ensure seamless regulation of all matters, large and small, such that nothing, anything, ever goes unaddressed by the political process.

This attitude, which drives modern American politics, stems from the doctrines of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, founder of the political ideology known as fascism. As he put it: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

Mussolini only had a couple of decades to implement his ideas before World War Two and death interrupted him. Unfortunately, a more slowly moving version of those ideas took root in America around the same time under other names (“progressivism” being the most popular and enduring).

Today’s politicians surpassed Mussolini’s control fetishism long ago. We’re fast approaching the “progressive” ideal embodied by the ant colony in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King: Ubiquitous signposts reminding us that “EVERYTHING NOT FORBIDDEN IS COMPULSORY.”

Not that today’s “conservatives” are any better. They’re every bit as keen on controlling others as “progressives” are; they just have different notions concerning which strings to pull on their puppets (all of us who aren’t politicians, that is). As Richard Nixon might say, were he still alive, “we’re all progressives now.”

Well, maybe not all of us. If you prefer freedom, look for the “Libertarian” label when next you vote.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.



Time to End the Elections Duopoly

RGBStock.com Vote PencilCalifornia’s elections system is making news again (“Top-two primary system survives challenge,” by Thomas Elias, Salinas Californian, February 17). “Top two,” in California and elsewhere, is the latest effort to strengthen the Republican and Democratic parties’ monopoly — “duopoly” — over  American politics.

Supporters’ justifications for “top two” laws are that too much choice on the November ballot “confuses” voters, and that permitting only two candidates avoids run-offs and plurality rather than majority winners. So while those pesky third party (Libertarian, Green, etc.) and independent candidates can run in the earlier primary elections if they jump through enough hoops, in November voters must choose between the “top two” primary vote-getters — almost always  a Republican and a Democrat.

The single largest voter identification in the United States, exceeding any party’s, is “independent.” Polling consistently shows that pluralities or majorities of Americans support the idea of a “third major party” and would consider voting for non-duopoly candidates for political office.

Yet every other November, the vast majority of non-duopoly candidates go down to defeat. A few win local office. Even fewer become state legislators. Bona fide independent or third party governors, US Representatives and US Senators are rarities. And the next US president who isn’t a Republican or Democrat will be the first since those two parties coalesced into their current forms in the mid-19th century.

Why? Well, for one thing, those two major parties control access to election ballots. And they use that control to make it as difficult and expensive as possible for third party and independent candidates to even offer themselves as alternatives.

Prior to 1884, printed ballots were provided to voters by political parties and candidates. Those voters were also free to write out their own ballots by hand if they didn’t vote “straight party ticket.” Between 1884 and 1991, the states adopted the “Australian ballot” — a uniform ballot printed at government expense.

Standardized, one-size-fits all ballots, of course, have to come with rules. And guess who gets to make those rules? The two ruling parties, of course. Over time they have sewn up their “duopoly” with increasingly draconian restrictions.

In most states, Democratic and Republican nominees for office appear on the ballot automatically or nearly automatically. Third party and independent candidates might be allowed to run as well, if they spend lots of money collecting petition signatures — money which then becomes unavailable for their actual campaigns.

“Top two” proponents seek to tighten the screws even further and eliminate any chance whatsoever that a third party or independent candidate without, say, the personal wealth of a Ross Perot, might “spoil” the election of one of the establishment candidates, or even surge to victory.

They refer to their systematic diminution of voter choice, with straight faces, as “democracy.”

The rest of us refer to it as “rigging America’s elections.”

If voters want real political choice, it’s time to start voting for candidates who support free and fair elections … while the duopolists still allow us to.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.