Saturday, February 11, 2017

Epistolary Free-Verse: Dear Gracie

Dear Gracie,
As I lay here, between a book of Fitzgerald
and the rolling Spring River,
I could hardly conjure an image from my novel
 on account of this oppressive beauty.
I pictured you, trapped up there in winter,
and how your presence would make poetry
of this scene's bewitching prose.
So then I tried a sonnet
to capture it.
No luck.
The lens on my Muse is broken,
and this letter is evidence of my open wound.
I'm certain, however, that these things,
reflected in your eyes
and measured with your voice,
would make them rhyme again.
Love,
Clayton

Friday, December 2, 2016

Poem - Discontent in Love



Invest in me, my heart would say,
The beauty of your youth,
Before our days are spoiled with age,
With time’s approaching truth.

For when I look into the glass
It grows less like the form,
That’s borne my name through harsher days,
Of conquest, sin, and storm. 

I see my lights are fading there
That guide to my embrace;
How dimly do they shine beneath
The lines upon my face. 

I surely know, who’ve kept myself
So long as company,
How painful is the winding path
That finds its way to me. 

Against this, how your smile cheers
Each part, and there renews;
I have no strength to tame desire,
Or comfort to refuse. 

But you deserve a happy end,
Whom darkness cannot know,
And not to waste unhappily
On one corrupted so. 

I cannot bring myself to doubt
The truth your smiles convince,
That you deserve a fairy tale,
But I am no one’s prince.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Outline for a Constitution: A Directorial Republic

Every once in a while (okay, pretty much once a week), I come up with a different scenario for how to organize a government. Sometimes it's just one aspect of constitutional law. Sometimes it's a whole system.

This was my attempt to wrestle with the problem of "personality" in a representative democracy. The idea here is that, by dividing the office of executive among a collective group of individuals, endowed with significant powers to present and consider legislation, a single individual would not have enough power to use his or her celebrity to bully the state. This constitution proposes, in every way, an elective democracy. Judges, legislators, and executives are all subject to the people directly as the sovereign entity, and the people themselves have the power to make and declare laws without the consent of such elective bodies.

I also approach the idea of reorganizing our "Bill of Rights" into a list of civic responsibilities, each with its attendant rights. This is to provide an interpretive tool for judicial bodies to balance out the rights of the individual with the common good of all, two ideas that can never really be in conflict.

This outline is incomplete, insofar as it does not deal with local or municipal government or impeachment. It is only meant as an outline.
Let me know what you think!



The Republic
I.                     On Rights and Duties—

A.      Human beings do not have “rights” in the sense of “particular privileges” that they enjoy merely for being human.  Rather, they were created with a purpose by God, to give him glory by reflecting his image in this world. This purpose enjoins them with particular duties, in pursuit of which, they also have rights which are necessary for them to complete those duties. Any enumeration of those rights should be organized according to those duties, among which we can enumerate the following, along with the rights that are implied by each.
1. The Duty to Worship God in accordance with one’s well-formed conscience
a.        Freedom of Religion
b.        Freedom to educate children in one’s religious faith
c.        Freedom of civic bodies to engage in religious practices, provided that these do not coerce citizens into particular forms of participation contrary to their conscience.
d.       Freedom from indoctrination by religious cults that violate Christian principles of charity and human dignity.
2. The Duty to provide for one’s own bodily needs and those of his/her dependents
a.       Freedom to own property
b.       Freedom to receive basic medical care
c.       Freedom to receive an education capable of engaging in civic life
d.       Right to Privacy
e.       Right to freedom of movement
f.        Right to life, from birth until natural death
g.       Right to possess sufficient means to defend one’s life and the lives of one’s family
3. The Duty to act for the common good of the state
a.       Freedom of political expression
b.       The right of groups of citizens to join together for the common defense
c.       The right to vote, provided that one is capable of reading or hearing the choices of candidates
d.       The right to petition the government
e.       The right to know the laws and regulations passed by the government which affect one’s person
B.      These rights, and their attending duties, must balance one another in terms of their interpretation by the state. They may not be deprived, except on due process of law for the violation of a crime or in order to protect the lives, property, or liberty of others.
II.                   Popular Sovereignty
A.      In the Republic, sovereignty belongs exclusively to the people. It is not owned, possessed, or otherwise claimed by any person besides the people as a collective entity, and all the functions of government are separately subject to it.
B.      The sovereignty of the people means that, ultimately, it is the people who write the law, who interpret the law, and who carry out the law.
C.      Nonetheless, it is not for the people to deny the rights of all persons within the jurisdiction of this charter who are capable of engaging in these civic duties to participate in said democracy, and it remains the responsibility of the officers of government to ensure that all have the right to petition, deliberate, and vote in accordance with the principles established herein.
III.                 The Legislative Department
A.      Legislative power is exercised by the people in three ways:
1. By electing representatives to draft and consider legislation;
2. By petitioning for laws;
3. By passing laws through referenda.
B.      The General Assembly –
1. The General Assembly is responsible for considering and drafting ordinary legislation.
a.       The Republic is divided into 75 districts of equal population by a mathematical method. In this way, the whole country is divided by the shortest line dividing areas of equal population. This division takes place every 12 years.
b.       From each of the 75 districts, three representatives are elected for four year terms by the following method:
1.       Each candidate joins with two other candidates to create a single slate of candidates.
2.       Voters cast their vote for one of the slates of candidates and vote for one of the candidates on their preferred candidate.
3.       If a single slate receives a majority of the votes cast, all three of the candidates are elected.
4.       If, however, no slate receives a majority of votes, the two most preferred candidates from the slate that received the most votes are elected, and the most preferred candidate from the slate that received the second highest number of votes is elected. (Thus, for example, if the Republican slate received 45% of the vote and the Democrats 30% and the Libertarian 25%, the Republicans would get two seats and the Democrats would get one seat.)
5.       If there are any ties, a runoff election is held.
c.       In order for the General Assembly to pass a law, it must have the concurrent support of the Board of Directors and receive the support of a majority of the whole number of members.
d.       However, if the General Assembly wishes, then it may, without the intervention of the Board of Directors, submit up to five laws for the approval of the people at either a general or a special election. In order for said law to pass, a majority of registered voters must cast ballots in the election and the law must receive the support of a majority of them.
e.       The Speaker of the General Assembly is the Chancellor of the Republic, as provided below. However, all other officers are elected by the members.  
2.  The people may themselves pass laws without the intervention of the General Assembly:
a.       At least 1/10 of registered voters may petition for a law to be passed.
b.       Once the signatures are certified as genuine by the Board of Elections (appointed by the General Assembly, Supreme Court, and Board of Directors), the petition is presented to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who rules on its constitutionality. This may be appealed to the full court.
c.       The President of the Board of Directors schedules a referendum on the matter within 3 months of its being certified, which may also be on a General Election day.
d.       In order to pass, a majority of registered voters must participate in the referendum and it must receive a majority of the support of those who cast ballots therein.
e.       No more than 10 ballot initiatives presented by petition may be on any one ballot. They shall be prioritized and scheduled by the order received.
IV.                The Executive Department
A.      Executive Power is held by a Board of Directors.
B.      There are 14 Directors on the Board, elected in this manner:
1. Every four years, seven members are elected for an eight-year term by all the people of the state.
2. Candidates will run in separate races.
3. In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of votes in the race for his or her position. If no candidate receives a majority, a runoff election is held between the top two candidates.
4. Candidates must be nominated by at least six members of the General Assembly.
C.      The President of the Board of Directors is the Director who, in the most recent general election, received the highest number of votes, excluding votes cast in runoff elections. The Vice President is the person who received the second highest number of votes. Ties are decided by a vote of the whole Board.
D.      The President of the Board of Directors:
1. Is commander-in-chief of the armed forces during wartime.
2. Nominates members to supervise each executive agency. (This must be approved by a majority of the whole board.)
3. Appoints members of committees and commissions.
4. Determines the agenda of Board meetings.
5. In the absence of the President, these duties are performed by the Vice President of the Board.
6. In the case of a tie, the President casts a second vote.
E.       The Board of Directors:
1. Directs the actions of executive agencies.
2. Approves treaties (which must be ratified by the General Assembly)
3. Administers the armed forces during peacetime.
4. Grants pardons and reprieves
V.                  The Judicial Department
A.      Justice of the Peace Courts
1. The whole Republic will be divided into townships, each of which will elect a Justice of the Peace from the practicing attorneys in that township. And if there is no practicing attorney in the township, then the President of the Board of Directors will appoint one for the same.
2. Justices of the Peace are responsible for hearing cases involving traffic violations and small claims up to $2,000 (or a higher amount determined by law), from which no appeal is possible.
3. Justices of the Peace also have power to grant warrants of search or arrest within their township and to empanel grand juries to bring criminal indictments against individuals who commit crimes therein.
4. Justices of the Peace are to be elected for four-year terms.
B.      Municipal Courts
1. Each municipality, which is to be one per county or metropolitan district, is to have a municipal court which will hear civil cases and misdemeanor cases arising from municipal ordinances.
2. The Municipal Court is to consist of judges appointed by the County President or City Mayor with the consent of the County Assembly or City Assembly as provided by law.
C.      Circuit Courts
1.  There are to be a number of Circuit Courts established by law.
2.  Circuit Courts shall hear criminal cases arising from national law and appeals from Municipal and Justice of the Peace Courts, as well as civil cases provided for by national law.
3. Each Circuit Court is to have three judges elected for 12-year terms by the people of the circuit. One judge is to be elected every four years.
4. When hearing appeals or criminal cases, all three judges must attend and agree to the verdict. For civil cases, the defense shall first eliminate one judge, then the prosecution, so that the remaining judge is responsible for hearing the case and determining the ruling of the court.
D.      The Supreme Court of Appeals
1. The Supreme Court shall consist of 9 justices elected for twelve-year terms, with 3 justices elected every 4 years.
2. The Chief Justice shall be elected by the members for a four-year term from among their members.
3. The Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases both from law and equity.
E.       The Court of Chancery
1. The Court of Chancery shall have jurisdiction over all cases arising from equity.
2. The Court of Chancery shall consist of a Chancellor and two Vice-Chancellors who shall be appointed by the Board of Directors for a four-year term. Any decision by the Court must be agreed to by two of the three members, but the Chancellor shall alone determine what cases are heard before it. 

VI. Amendment of the Constitution--
 A. To propose amendments to the Constitution, a petition for the amendment must be signed by at least 1/5 of registered voters. 
B. The proposed amendment shall then be presented to the people on the date proposed by the petition, which may not be within 3 weeks of a general election, nor on a Sunday.
C. In order to pass, the amendment must receive a majority of support by those voting in the election, and must be supported by a majority of people in more than half of the General Assembly districts. Also, at least 50% of registered voters must vote in the referendum.