Creatures of a Preordained Democracy

This week, 5TF is thinking about: abolishing the Senate, dressing yourself archetypally, stealing like an artist, #vanlife, and the world's best TV reboot.

Creatures of a Preordained Democracy
Welcome to this week’s edition of 5 Things Friday, a weekly curation of five fascinating things to read, watch, and ponder.

This week, 5TF is thinking about: abolishing the Senate, dressing yourself archetypally, stealing like an artist, #vanlife, and the world's best TV reboot.

Okay, now on to this week's 5 things! I present to you...

5/ This argument to abolish the Senate.

I read this article recently and was surprised to see that it is 8 years old. The arguments within it still hold true.

Abolish the Senate
The US Senate is one of the world’s most undemocratic legislatures. It needs to go.

In it, Daniel Lazare explains how the imbalanced power attributed to the two houses of Congress effectively takes voting rights away from people in the most populous states in the US. But since the structure of our parliamentary branch of government is written into the Constitution, it is considered immutable, common sense, and just a fact of life.

He writes:

If Republicans proposed stripping workers of 80 percent of their voting rights, the uproar would be overwhelming. But since it is all the result of forces that the nation’s founders set in motion more than two centuries ago, there is only silence.
But the Constitution then goes on to subordinate the people by severely limiting their ability to change a document made in their name and in at least one instance, that of equal state representation, eliminating it altogether. The Constitution established the people as sovereign and non-sovereign in virtually the same breath.

It is tempting to dismiss the results as little more than a muddle. If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then the Constitution, the product of four months of labor by fifty-five merchants, planters, and lawyers, is a multi-humped dromedary straight out of Dr Seuss.

But one could also describe it in more modern terms as a kind of early computer program, one that switches on a processor, powers it up, and then orders it to perform certain specific tasks. The Constitution invests the people with just enough power to carry out the functions that it dictates.

If so, this explains a good deal about the American political system — its low ideological level, its narrowness of debate, its all-around thoughtlessness. Instead of freely thinking through the problems before them, Americans are required — programmed, actually — to think only in ways dictated by the founders.

They are creatures of a pre-ordained democracy that limits their role to filling in certain blanks. They will argue endlessly about the “necessary and proper” clause in Article I or the meaning of the Second Amendment, but never about why, after more than two centuries, they should remain bound by such precepts in the first place. They debate what the Constitution allows them to debate and disregard the rest.

Hence the silence over the undemocratic nature of the Senate. Since equal state representation is the single most immovable part of the political structure, it is the feature most resistant to popular pressure and therefore the one most off-limits to debate.

Americans campaign for and against various Senate candidates, they spend millions on political ads, and they beat their breasts when the wrong side wins. But they never pause to ask themselves why they play the game at all or what purpose it is serving in a democratic society.

Since they’re not programmed to think about such issues, they’re no more inclined to do so than a laptop is inclined to think about the merits of Microsoft Word.

In the long run, it is plain that gridlock plays into the hands of the know-nothing right who want Americans to believe that democracy equals mob rule and that government is a dead end. The more democracy is made to tie itself in knots, the more frustrated working people grow and the more corporate interests have the field to themselves.
By 2030, the population ratio between the largest and smallest state is estimated to increase from sixty-five to one to nearly eighty-nine to one. The Senate will be more racist as a consequence, more unrepresentative, and more of a plaything in the hands of the militant right.
“We the people” have therefore never been consulted at all. They have merely acquiesced. But the big question is: for how long?

4/ This archetypal guide to dressing yourself.

Okay, this may seem out of place within the context of this newsletter, but my Venus in Libra loves thinking about clothes. And it's trine to my Saturn in Aquarius, which is perhaps why I love a system as well — but one that's not restrictive or judgmental and that helps you express your unique self.

I went down an internet rabbit hole months ago that ended up with me landing on this YouTube page, Style Thoughts By Rita.

In her videos, Rita explains a system she and her husband have come up with called the "Four Essence System" that gives you archetypal guidance on your unique style.

If you ignore the fact that the guidance is split into gendered advice for women and men, and if you get past the icky-sounding concept of "dividing billions of women into just four categories," you might find that this is actually a liberating and easy way to think about style, more so in terms of archetypes than in terms of body shapes.

I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find this system, and if you're someone who has nerded out before on things like Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, astrology, or Human Design, then you may enjoy it too!

3/ This stolen advice from "Steal Like An Artist."

In the book Steal Like an Artist, the writer and artist Austin Kleon says:

It wasn't until I started bringing analog tools back into my process that making things became fun again and my work started to improve.

If you're a creative person who's been stuck in a rut, try stepping away from the blinking cursor and starting your creative process with something tangible. Write or draw your thoughts before typing them.

(This is something I'm going to attempt with the book I'm starting to write. I'm buying a pack of notecards to help keep the process tangible and bite-sized!)

2/ This hapless experiment in #vanlife.

I don't know why I found this so hilarious, but you might too, if you're someone who's seen the booming "#vanlife" trend on social media and have wondered to yourself, "Is that really as glamorous as it looks?"

I Lived the #VanLife. It Wasn’t Pretty.
The writer Caity Weaver’s pursuit of the manifest destiny of the millennial generation ended up looking better in the photos.

Caity Weaver writes in the New York Times magazine that no, no it is not.

1/ This unbelievably wonderful reboot of A League of Their Own.

Abbi Jacobson of Broad City fame has co-created a TV reboot of A League of Their Own, and I can't express enough how much I love this show.

I highly recommend watching (or rewatching the movie) before diving in, because it's interesting to see the ways in which the TV show sticks to and departs from the movie.

A League of Their Own, the TV show – available on Amazon Prime

Go watch it and let me know what you think!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend,