L. Neil Smith's
Number 390, October 22, 2006

"Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans and Spam."


Undermining Democracy
by Alex McConnell

Credit The Libertarian Enterprise

Last Friday the 13th, President Bush signed into law the SAFE Port bill, which includes a rider banning online gambling. Mind you, this bill doesn't actually make online gambling illegal per se, but it makes transferring funds to online gambling websites illegal, which amounts to the same thing. Despite a near unanimous bipartisan vote, many are going to try to paint the Republicans as being somehow more responsible for this than the Democrats (much like with the Patriot Act).

Some say that the Democrats are against this ban, but it would be political suicide for them to vote against the port security bill. I don't see how they consider cowardice to be a good defense of Democrats here, but maybe that's just me. Others say that while the Democrats are against this ban, the port security portion of the bill is so important that it's not worth delaying the bill to get the online gambling rider removed. The thing is, both of these arguments completely miss not only the real reason that the Democrats are equally responsible, but also the issue at stake here that's far more important than either port security or online gambling, riders.

From dictionary.com, a rider is "a clause, usually having little relevance to the main issue, that is added to a legislative bill." One would be hard pressed to find an issue that has less to do with port security than online gambling. Riders are a sneaky, underhanded way of passing legislation that wouldn't stand up to a vote on its own and they are used by almost every politician in Congress. As an individual bill, the online gambling ban was having trouble getting to the floor in the Senate due to lack of interest (although it passed the House with overwhelming support from both parties). Instead of accepting defeat, Bill Frist, Enemy to Democracy, decided in his infinite arrogance and tyranny to force this bill on us through a rider. So now we have a law passed that was unable to garner the support of a majority in Congress, much less a majority of the American people. Allowing ridiculous riders like this to pass in such a fashion is undemocratic, unfair and absurd. If tyranny of the majority weren't bad enough, we have this whole system in place that allows and encourages the passing of laws that even the majority won't pass! The worst part is that almost everyone in this country is aware of this problem and chooses to not do anything about it.

The issue of riders is one that almost everyone agrees needs fixing, so why is no one motivated to do anything about it? This is partly due to the fact that most riders are minor spending pork riders rather than big liberty eroding ones such as this latest, and people care less about such. This is also partly due to ignorance and a lack of understanding by some voters on how often this occurs and how it undermines democracy. Ultimately though, the real problem here is the two party system. Every person who votes for their party no matter what wrongs they do just to keep "that other party" out of office is enabling these politicians to get away with this crap. Every person who votes for a Republican or a Democrat rather than a preferred third party candidate for fear of "wasting their vote" is enabling these politicians to get away with this crap. Stop enabling politicians to violate our democracy like this, America!

Some reading this probably support both the port legislation and the gambling legislation and think they shouldn't care about this. Others likely support the port legislation and care little about the online gambling rider and think they shouldn't care about this. You should. This isn't about these issues, it's about democracy. Stop voting for candidates who vote for any bill that has a rider on it. A candidate who votes for a bill with a rider is a candidate who is voting against and is an enemy to democracy and that candidate needs to be removed from office no matter what. Democrats who continue voting for the Democratic candidates who voted for this bill should be ashamed of themselves. Is not democracy far more important than anything else Democratic candidates stand for? And don't even try and tell me that it was a "must vote for" issue and your candidate shouldn't be blamed. To vote for a bill you know to be wrong just because you think it will hurt your poll numbers is cowardice, pure and simple, and should not be tolerated either. As for Republicans. . . what is the point of your War on Terror if we continue eroding democracy here at home to the point where our government is no better than that of Iran or North Korea? Sure, we're not close to there, but we're certainly moving in that direction when laws can get passed without even having a majority approval. In the end, the only real solution is to start branching out and voting for different candidates, even if you have to "waste your vote" to do so.


Vitamin Shoppe
Over 20,000 products from more than 400 brands

Help Support TLE by patronizing our advertisers and affiliates.
We cheerfully accept donations!

to advance to the next article
to return to the previous article
Table of Contents
to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 390, October 22, 2006