Will we survive the real Cold War?

Image: Flickr ("Caveman Chuck" Coker)

CALIFORNIA., February 24, 2014 –  With the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, many of us are reminded of the Cold War: a political, ideological and economic struggle for supremacy between two super powers. Oh, not the one between the former-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States; the one that’s raging between the Democratic and Republican Parties.

The other Cold War began in 1947 at the end of World War II and concluded on December 26, 1991, when the USSR was disbanded. That pales in comparison with the “D and R” Cold War, which has been going strong since 1854 when the Republican Party was founded principally by the anti-slavery faction of the Whig Party to offset the pro-slavery circle of Southern Democrats and their Northern Democrat allies.

Much like that other Cold War, both Parties believe they occupy the intellectual and moral high ground on every issue. However, nothing could be further from the truth. One cannot solve our Nation’s problems by viewing them through a politically-biased filter. Yet, that is exactly what our current Party paradigm requires.

Both Parties try to define our problems in a way that is most flattering to their respective ideologies and most emotionally enticing to the categories into which they have carved our Nation’s population. It’s rich against poor, Wall Street against Main Street, men against women, gays against straights, Blacks against Whites against Hispanics, etc. The more they can divide us, the more they can control us. Never mind that they can’t clearly articulate what the fundamental issues are that are eroding our quality of life.

Even if they could define a problem, it’s almost beyond comprehension that either of the Parties would be able to identify the actual root cause. That would expose them to accepting a degree of culpability. Witness the recent Government shutdown. Both sides claimed the other caused it while ignoring the fact that either could have prevented it.

Then, when it comes to an assessment of viable alternatives, neither side likes to concede that the other Party may have an answer. Each tends to only explore solutions that fit its agenda; disregarding the possibility that the other may have something worthy of consideration. As a result, we are rewarded with decisions that reflect the best interests of the Parties as opposed to the best interests of the People.

Is there any wonder why our Government has become so dysfunctional?

Luckily, there is a solution. Find common ground.

Impossible you say? Your side is right and the other is wrong. That’s how we got to where we are.

There actually is a relatively simple solution. Every elected official takes an Oath of Office.

The President states, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Correspondingly, every Member of the House and Senate, states, “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Both Oaths require those who take them to “faithfully” perform the responsibilities associated with their respective offices as opposed to bowing to the will of their political Parties.

Both Oaths also require a commitment to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. The original document is only four pages long, and it has only been amended 27 times. Surely, every one of our elected officials can come to understand what’s in it and how it narrowly delimits their roles.

If our elected officials took their Oaths of Office seriously, neither their political affiliation nor their personal opinions would ever interfere with their obligation to serve the People. Their Oaths of Office only require faithful service and an adherence to the Constitution and its associated Amendments.

While the Constitution may be subject to interpretation, there are certain elements that are relatively straight-forward.

The Preamble doesn’t begin with the words “We the Democrats” or “We the Republicans.” It begins with the words “We the People,” and it does so for a reason. It also doesn’t split “the People” into categories or a caste system. That practice was invented by the Parties to divide our Nation rather than unite it because it’s easier to solicit donations and votes through negative emotion rather than rational thought (i.e., “Contribute to our campaign and vote for us because the other side is against you”).

The Constitution provides another big hint by creating a separation of power in its first three Articles.

It leads with the Legislative Branch in Article I because the House and Senate provide the closest link to the will of the People and the States. The House was elected by popular vote and Senators were originally appointed by their States.

It wasn’t until the Seventeenth Amendment was passed in 1913 that States’ interests were effectively neutered to solve an ill-defined problem in the wrong way. The change was made to prevent money from unduly influencing the appointment of Senators.

Today, the House and Senate are nearly mere images of one another in the way their members are chosen. In other words, money is used to create an undue influence with respect to who wins each auction election.

Many of our issues would be resolved if Congress were to look to Article I for guidance with respect to its responsibilities and associated authority. Article I, Section 8 in particular suggests that Congress’ power is limited to those issues which “provide for the common Defence (sic) and general Welfare of the United States.” There is no provision for crafting legislation that is designed to favor particular constituencies upon which the Parties rely for donations and votes.

If our Representatives and Senators simply honored their Oaths, we would not be stuck in the political quagmire that describes our current political environment. Correspondingly, if the President were to look to Article II for guidance, we might have a smoother running Government.

No mention is made of circumventing the Legislative Branch in that Article. Instead, the President is to exercise civilian power over the Military, preside over the administration of legislative directives through his or her Cabinet, as well as to oversee foreign affairs and make certain appointments (predominately with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate). Include a few Presidential pardons, and you have a fairly good understanding of what the President’s responsibilities are under the Constitution.

Even our non-elected Justices take an Oath that parallels the other two: “I, (Name), do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as (judicial position) under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”

Article III provides for the establishment of an autonomous Judicial Branch as the final check and balance with respect to power. The Judicial Branch would function far more effectively if Presidents proposed appointees on a basis of merit rather than political predisposition and if the Senate approved or disapproved such appointees upon the same grounds.

Accordingly, the Judicial Branch would better serve the interests of the People if its votes on controversial issues were construed within the context of the Constitution as opposed to being influenced by the opinions and political beliefs of the Justices themselves. Like Article II, Article III never anticipated any legislation being delivered by any authority outside of Article I.

Finally, Article V provides a rigorous standard through which we can amend the Constitution. It is not an impossible standard given that it has been met 27 times. However, we have become lax in its application.

It has become far easier to blur the distinctions between the legislative power of Congress, and the powers that reside within the Executive and Judicial Branches of our Government. Sadly, that fact has become a weapon of mass destruction utilized by both Parties in their never-ending Cold War.

I can only hope that someday, we hold them all accountable to honor their Oaths. It may be our only defense against the annihilation of our Republic. What do you think?


A Civil Assessment has been designed to serve as an Op-Ed forum for YOU. You are invited to offer your opinion and to discuss your position in the Comment Section. Please be sure that your “assessments” remain “civil” so that they may earn the respect of others.


T.J. O’Hara provides nonpartisan political commentary every other Tuesday on The Daily Ledger, one of One America News Network’s featured shows (check local cable listings for the channel in your area or watch online at 8:00 and 11:00 PM Eastern / 5:00 and 8:00 PM Pacific. He will also be appearing February 26th on The Rick Amato Show (available at the same online link) at 9:00 PM and Midnight Eastern / 6:00 and 9:00 PM Pacific.

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TJ OHara
T.J. O'Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States. Along the way, he earned the first Presidential endorsement of the Whig Party since the 1850s, his website was archived by the Library of Congress for its historic significance, and he won the first on-line “virtual” Presidential election (conducted by We Want You) by a commanding 72.1% and 72.7% over Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, respectively. His column explores our Nation’s most pressing issues, challenges conventional thinking, and provides an open forum for civil discussion. Learn more about TJ at his website and connect with him on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter (@tjohara2012). To order his books, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords or Sony Reader.
  • Erick Carpenter

    I for one TJ, fear that the only way our system is going to be corrected will be by force and that, only after another complete meltdown of our economy. If that does not happen, many will do like I am doing right now, posting my opinion on the web, and having no voice or ear in the political arena. I feel that I am not served nor listened to by any political pundit.

    And the main reason behind that is that I am not wealthy enough to keep them in power, so they ignore what I have to say, and listen carefully to those that can keep them in their office. So until there is a major upheaval in our society, it will continue on with this insane two party system as people are not willing to change. Even when the change could not possibly be worse than what we currently have.

    I hope I am wrong, and that somehow, the existing system will be replaced by something close to what you have described above. If not? It will be a very interesting decade.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Carpenter.

      Never fear! Next week’s column will address your concern. There is an asnwer for those who want it.

      • Erick Carpenter

        Post away TJ..

  • To Eric’s point, it is all about money and security. Theirs, not ours. Folks retire from government and make the salary of successful entreprenuers at consultantcies or money center banks. So while it looks like a cold war, and the government appears to be dysfunctional, under the surface it is working very, very well for the priveleged few. All while our national income disparity continues to widen, which any political scientist will tell you spells the death of a constitutional republic.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Chaas.

      Perhaps the Cold War isn’t between the Democratic and Republican Parties … perhaps its between the Parties and the People. :o(

      • indeed and perhaps sir, if we may go to a 2nd differential on your thought, as I squint my eyes into owl-like focus, a Cold War between the money/influence that controls the parties constituent members and the rest of us.

        You are most welcome Mr. O’Hara; the pleasure is always mine sir.

  • Jason Decker

    I would say this is one of your best articles I have read so far! Very well put! I have been thinking a lot about what George Washington said about political parties in general and what he feared as basically came true in a sense and you articulate it above when you talked about the two parties pitting groups against each other in order to push their agenda for the country. Not thinking about all of America and how we can encompass everything. With all the economists and aides these people have it shouldn’t be too difficult to craft economic policies the meet the needs of all different groups to a certain extent under the capitalistic system. If we look at the countries progression we can see how the same ideas from both sides just haven’t worked alone. If you were to “Compromise and bring those ideas together something special can usually be accomplished. The only bi-partisanship that goes on today are very small scope things that don’t really make an impact, but rather just stabilize the economy and keep the status quo until one group can claim power all out and push their full agenda. They are just waiting for 2014 elections to go through and see if they can gain full power of congress before doing anything and if they can’t they will probably wait til 2016 and so on. Vicious cycle!

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Decker, and for your kind words.

      The solutions to our problems really aren’t too difficult. However, when partisan interests preclude our problems from being properly defined, we are doomed from the beginning. As I further stated in the article, this same challenges spills over to the identification of the root cause and to the consideration of alternatives.

      Even when alternatives are considered, the fundamental step of providing an assessment of their potential adverse consequences is often ignored. Of course, that’s what happens when our elected officials pass bills without first reading them.

      Your analysis of the probable scenarios surrounding the 2014 and 2016 elections cycles is frighteningly correct. Unfortunately, you could add 2018, 2020, 2022, etc. and still be correct.

  • Andrew Evans

    Can we really expect the Republican and Democratic Parties who have been locked in a “Cold War” since the mid 1800’s, to actually produce and support quality candidates and public servants for our nation? Even if good people get into office they have to oppose the opposite side, even though there are probably good people and good ideas coming from the other side. Both the Republican and Democratic Parties think that their way is the only way and will fight tooth and nail against each other. Last time I checked oil and water do not mix. The key is the American people having the courage to take action on their frustration. Support and vote for new options for representation, independents and minor parties. While that will take time to happen at the highest levels of public office, at least consistently. We must focus on becoming more informed and empowered as citizens, a good way to practice this new empowerment is to go after the fuel for the engine of the two party system, soft money and restrictive voting in primaries. There are other goals to work for and should be worked for at the same time. But soft money is the fuel and restrictive primary voting rules force many Americans to have their right to vote restricted and forbid them from participating completely in the electoral process.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Evans.

      You point is well taken. That is why I was driven to find an undeniable common ground.

      If an elected official disclaims his or her Oath, he or she should be removed from office. At the very least, they will have been exposed for what they are. Hopefully, the electorate will deal with them swiftly in that regard.

      Since the Constitution is at the basis of each Oath, we might once again begin to be governed as a Nation of laws rather than political persuasions. I will continue to fight for that time as I know you will as well.

  • PD MacGuire

    If the Republican Party does meet success in the elections, and takes a stronger position of leadership, will they use that mandate to effect real solutions for our ailing economy? Many fear not; that they will take advantage of the situation with cynical attempts to roll back social issues which have been decided by the courts. The American people need to demand that they jump out of their partisan ruts, and work towards sensible solutions for our future, rather than revisiting the past.

    • Thank you for your comment.

      Based on their most recent history (i.e., during the Bush Administration), your fears about the Republican Party are well-founded. However, it is often difficult to tell the major Parties apart when it comes to their actions.

      For example: The Democratic Party has controlled the House and/or Senate for the vast majority of the years since FDR’s Presidency, yet many of our social issues remain unresolved. If they were nearly as good at addressing the issues as they are at campaigning on them, many of our social ills might be behind us.

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