Editorial Commentary: Ken Ciboski

Political commentator Ken Ciboski stands just right of center and offers a common-sense view of politics today.

Ken Ciboski's editorial commentary is also available on iTunes. Listen or subscribe here.

Yoichi Okamoto / humanitiestexas.org

Joseph A. Califano, who has spent 30 years in Washington serving at the Pentagon, on the White House staff, and in the Cabinet as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and as an advisor to presidents cites gerrymandering--which is the manipulation of political boundaries in the drawing of legislative districts intended to give a political party a numerical voting advantage--as a "preeminent cause of congressional crippling" in his most recent book titled Our Damaged Democracy.

We love our constitution—at least, what we know about it. The Constitution was ratified 231 years ago this past Monday, September 17. Each year, the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania surveys Americans on how much they know about the American system of government. Each year, the results demonstrate how little Americans know about the Constitution.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a grand jury must be convened to investigate a charge that Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach intentionally failed to register voters in 2016 by choosing not to process online voter registrations, which likely prevented qualified residents from voting in the 2016 election.

Kobach has been viewed as a leading advocate of stricter voter ID laws.

It is important to reflect on the saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Also important is the 19th-century Senator Daniel Webster’s warning that the contest for all ages has been to make sure that liberty is not the province of executive power. One concern is that newly elected presidents usually work to extend the reach of the office.

Yesterday was primary election day in Kansas. Fair and frequent elections are necessary conditions for a country to have a democracy. Even so, prior to the election the expected turnout was 26 percent of registered voters. With so many offices up for election, why do so few people vote? Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if we had an election and nobody came? 

The confirmation process in the Senate for Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court is much closer to beginning in earnest. Kavanaugh has submitted a large number of pages of information about himself that was requested by the Senate judiciary committee. Appointments to the Supreme Court are fraught with politics and controversy since the Court’s decisions have great influence on the politics and culture of American society.

The primary election season to select this year’s candidates for office is near. We should remember that the road to democracy has been long, and ideas for and against a universal and equal franchise have been expressed in history.

Stephanie Mitchell

Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than 20 years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America. Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many Americans never thought they would be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Levitsky and Ziblatt believe that the answer is yes. 

The United States’ political system is considered to be a Majoritarian system, which allows for a majority to prevail over a minority. The 2016 election outcome should force us to reckon with a problem in our democracy that is often ignored. The problem is that our political system is increasingly allowing a minority to rule over a majority.

The is true of the Electoral College, which produced a presidential win for Donald Trump even as he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes.


It again seems likely that the United States-North Korea summit will take place next month. Delegations from both countries have arrived in Singapore to work out logistical problems and other issues for the likely meeting.