• June 14th, 2024
  • Friday, 08:22:40 AM

Governing By Rock, Paper, Scissors

The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Advisory Board


Rock/Paper/Scissors is a game where one can be both the victor and the vanquished. When three people are trying to make decisions, sometimes rational, sometimes not, each person slams a fist into the palm of the hand three times. On the third time, each individual lays out a closed fist (rock), an open palm (paper), or two fingers (scissors).

In the scheme of things, the rock crushes the scissors, the paper envelopes the rock, and the scissors cut the paper. So, one can be both a victor and a vanquished in each transaction.

If this sounds familiar, it may be applied to our governing system comprised of three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. Each branch theoretically has its role. The legislative branch shapes and passes legislation; the executive branch implements the legislation, and the judicial branch interprets the legislation.

As of this article, the country is still waiting on the outcomes of the presidential and some Senatorial races. However, it appears that no one party will have overwhelming control of any branch. In the presidential race, the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, is beginning to trend positive. If he wins, it will be by a slight margin. However, it appears that he will likely win the popular vote by a margin greater than Hillary Clinton who won it by three million votes. But in our current electoral system, that doesn’t matter since the Electoral College determines the winner.

In the Senatorial races, the Republicans have a slight lead and seem to be trending towards maintaining the majority. In the House of Representatives, the Democrats appear to be on track to maintain their majority, but by a smaller margin.

To some degree, however, the judicial branch appears to be “baked in” because of the recent appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court. With this appointment, the judicial branch moves towards a more “baked in” conservative bent. Unlike the legislative and executive branches, this is a lifetime appointment with implications for the long term.

Herein lays the gamesmanship of Rock/Paper/Scissors. For example, if Joe Biden wins the presidency and begins to carry out his agenda under the above scenario, he may have support within the House but may face opposition from the Senate. Even if he is able to move his legislation—presumably more progressive—he faces the possibility of a judicial challenge from a more conservative court.

To some degree, the gamesmanship of Rock/Paper/Scissors has always been at play. However,  over the last decade it has reached a hard core pitch with Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, refusing to move forward the name of a Supreme Court candidate, Merrick Garland, proposed by President Barack Obama in 2016. His excuse was the presidential election to be held eight months later was too close and the new president should have the right to choose the nominee. However, McConnell and his Republican cronies had a memory lapse about this stance as they decided it would be appropriate to nominate Amy Coney Barr and rush the nomination through in record time. This happened within a few weeks of the 2020 presidential election.

Since then McConnell has stalled over 200 legislative Democratic proposals. Included in this stack of stalled legislation are proposals for dealing with issues such as the stimulus package, the COVID 19 pandemic, and civil rights, including legislation named for the late Congressman John Lewis. McConnell has used his scissors to cut up the Democratic agenda.

President Donald Trump has used the rock to smash civil rights, economic sustainability, health and even the life of Americans, including those who support him. He is even using the rock to smash the various states’ rights and responsibilities to count the votes before they are even counted. His appointment of Amy Coney Barrett was another attempt to prop up his bid for the presidency. His strategy has included accusing states of impropriety in collecting and counting votes, threatening litigation, and then appealing to the US Supreme Court to declare him president (counting on his judicial appointments to support his case.).

The president has used the US Post Office to control the number of mail-in ballots that will be delivered and counted. His strategy has included closing processing facilities in minority communities that traditionally vote Democratic. His skullduggery continues!

Americans must use the paper of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States to ensure that their rights to duly elect their leaders are upheld. They must use the rock to smash the cutting tactics used by Republicans to eliminate social and economic justice. They need to use the scissors to excise those demeaning comments written by white supremacists supported by the president against non-white Americans. Used appropriately, Rock/Paper/Scissors can be a useful tool to maintain a balance of power among the three branches of government. Used inappropriately, it can lead to undermining the American democracy. Americans must choose!


Members of The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Advisory Board: Ramón Del Castillo, Ph.D.; Ray Ayón, retired Denver Police Detective; Steve Del Castillo, Ph.D.; and Luis Torres, Ph.D.


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