The Tale of Two Floundering Democracies – Part II
In this part I would like to discuss how the world’s foremost, most powerful and advanced democracy is floundering.
USA was probably the best thing that happened for the advancement of humanity and it’s achievements. At least that was the premise this pristine concept of democracy which is supposedly meant to establish a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The founding fathers who have saved this country from being part of another colonial offshoot of the British empire may not have envisaged that this country would be a torch bearer and beacon for free minded and flourishing human development for the whole world. At that time their main objective was probably to define a new paradigm of political entity, freshly released from the clutches of colonial power, and that the seemingly abundant resources and unending frontiers which might be offering such an expansive outlook to do anything that might soar the human spirit. Their founding principles of this nation are not in vain. Not only the country grew and prospered in terms of economy and prosperity but also it advanced such pivotal human rights movements like ending slavery, emancipation of women, standing up to fascism, civil rights so on and so forth. It is perhaps inevitable these things would happen, given that the founding principles are to espouse that “All men are created Equal”! (This just doesn’t mean only men, even though women weren’t seen as equal until late 19th and 20th centuries). Having said this, the founding fathers created the Constitution to lay the ground work for the progress of this nation. The creation of the three branches of government namely, The executive branch led by The President, The Legislative branch led by Congress and Senate and the Judicial branch led by the Supreme Court. I want to discuss how the constitution, the three branches are being rendered ineffective and in turn extremely paralyzing the country which should have been going leaps and bounds ahead in getting things done and advancing humanity.
The Key ingredient of the make up of the constitution of the country is to be able to amend it’s own proclamations which may or may not be applicable and stand the test of time and may need some fine tuning as time passes by. That alone is the cornerstone of this burgeoning democracy that many a country would hope to have to make them ideal. But there are some amendments that are being made sacrosanct by vested interests to continue to apply them even if they are either becoming irrelevant or downright inapplicable anymore! One of them is the second amendment, the right to bear arms. This is being twisted to such grotesque proportions that it is basically hijacked by NRA and their ilk for pure business reasons, at the cost of imperiling hundreds or thousands of lives and the freedom to live without fear. This right to bear arms, is so much twisted that, any proposal to make it more safe and rational gets immediately shot down by portraying the proposals as trampling the basic human right to protect oneself! This is pure BS. In fact BS may have some advantages of being a fuel or something but this one basically and potentially can drive the society towards more anarchy. Not only will it cost more lives but also more money maintain us as civilized society. One may see some more of my points on this in my article here. A quick and meaningful resolution to this vexed problem of gun violence will not only save lives but also so much headache for the law enforcement agencies. For all the super economical principles on which the right wing politicians that root for austerity and small government, are they really calculating the cost of upholding such frivolous right as this perverted view of second amendment? Just to clarify, there was nothing wrong in when the second amendment was promulgated but it should not be viewed as it is cast in stone in spite of the changed times, capacities and applicability of the arms in question. (as I was penning this article another massacre going on in Naval Yard in Washington area!) The glamor and glorification of wielding a gun to protect or kill someone looks pretty lame to me personally as it does involve neither much skill nor valor to stand one on one with anyone who one wants to challenge. In a duel of sword fighting you at least need a certain acumen and kind of constant engagement. In a duel of fist fight or wrestling you at least don’t rely on the advantage of having a superior weapon. But in a gun fight all it needs is just to pull the trigger by pointing the weapon at the right direction. It is very easy to take away a life rather than to create one.
When it comes to how the legislative section of the governance is working, it is horrific picture right now to say the least. Nothing moves through this section or moves at a pace that makes even a snail look like going at rocket speed, because of partisan politics. The bickering looks so mean and base that, even two year olds going to a preschool can agree on so many fronts as compared to what the legislative members of both the house and senate can currently agree or disagree on. The reason being extremely myopic view of politicking about anything and everything that is a possible need for human progress. Let’s briefly examine the workings of the Congress and Senate in this regard. Members to these houses are elected from all over the country representing the constituents to supposedly represent what they want, prefer or plan for their and future generations’ well-being. Back when these houses are being formulated, this seemed the only way to be able to formulate the laws, create plans and make decisions that would provide correct direction for the country to prosper. How else a country that is as vast and with as many people can express the needs and try to promote what they value in an effective way? The best thing is that justly divided people and places into districts can have one representative from each such unit and can quickly propose or oppose any of the various resolutions or laws that would promote an equal and just opportunity, environment in which work and capabilities are rewarded the way they are deserved to be rewarded. A number of such representatives from all over the country are supposed to participate in and formulating the debates on crucial issues as to how to manage economy, freedom, foreign policy and so on. It should also be mentioned that the outlook of how a democracy has been largely swayed into two views, one is liberal way and another is the conservative way. The pitfalls and perils of these points of view are presented by the author here and here. The scope of this article is not to delve on how or why there are those two views that are mattering in this country but to try and examine why they are failing in tackling the problems in fast and effective way.
I want to discuss how this representative system has become so ineffective and decrepit in present day politics. When a representative from a congressional district is sent to represent their needs, aspirations and hopes it is not guaranteed that he or she can or will do the justice to the constituents expectations! For one thing he or she will have own perspective of a problem which may not be the same as that of the majority view. Another thing is the candidate purporting to represent the people can always tell something during the canvasing and election phase and can turn into completely different view either to tow the line of the party to which he or she is broadly aligning or because he or she got bribed in an overt or covert way by vested interests. Either way it is a morbid betrayal of what people wanted and the elected persons do these things for they are unfathomable liars and have no remorse in what they do for the most part. It is usually such unconscionable persons that actually get into politics that it is inevitable this would happen. How else can we explain when it is very clear that majority of people against war, banking bailouts, wanting better healthcare, education, job creation and so forth and yet they cannot have their aspirations not represented and get defeated every day when any measure is brought to address these? The house and senate were created to tackle a possible draconian power an elected President may wield, but when these houses got aligned to two thoughts of political philosophy, they lost all the objectivity that is envisaged of these institutions. They are supposed to represent the people, but they are ending up promoting their own agenda which are often at loggerheads with each other and is holding hostage on important decision making for any small reason that the other party may not agree on. Just take the example on the debt ceiling fracas that comes up every year around this time. There is this fictitious amount of how much the government is under budget or how much its GDP compared to how much it is printing money (owes more than it’s income) and since it is multiplying into muti-trillion dollar proportions, every time it has to be addressed the representatives blackmail the government with defaulting on government jobs, projects etc. But in the end they anyway extend it because they cannot face the voters anyway if they close down government which takes care of things ranging from law and order, fire etc to local sewage! How do they solve this problem? Just by postponing and by simply printing more money!! All this is because one of the parties is hell bent on not allowing any more taxes for all the excessive spending that the country is doing on endless wars and tireless syphoning of monies to top earners in the name of rewarding the stewards! All the common sense and principles of economics are being thrown into trash and many falsities are being propagated to continue to favor the top 1% but giving little reprieve to medium earners. This is putting enormous pressure on the economy and the moral hazard on financial system is going to hit this country so hard, the bad times of Great Depression may pale with what is going to happen.
Coming to the two main parties that are wreaking havoc in the political landscape currently. Why is the republican party so hell bent on not getting anything done?Are they learning anything from the past, remote or recent? By opposing anything and everything that Obama’s presidency is proposing, they shooting themselves in the foot so many times, I just wonder if they have any more feet left! In opposing anything, one should offer a valid and a viable solution. But this party seems not bothered to do that and instead caving into a section of it’s extreme wing to sabotage any sane solution to how to get the country out of the great grave that itself dug in the past few years! In the process they are losing many moderates too, among them being the business groups who are seeing the direct problem of a weakening the middle class who will be the majority of their customers. The leadership of the party are obsessed with cutting anything and everything they see as expenditure, except possibly military expenses! The fact that why we have to spend so much on national security and military is itself an offshoot of the policies by this party’s fallacious pretenses that nearly pushed this country into Great Depression. The country is reeling in it still and yet they continue to argue the same way to continue the path. Will they ever learn? Even as staunch a conservative as Barry Goldwater did change his stances to make it objective difference of religion and politics and was open to issues like environment and valued politics. Ronald Reagan did at least shown the leadership in dealing with cold war and to strike agreements, which may not be all that rosy that they look but at least they created a certain moderation. Even the senior Bush was wise enough to have sane foreign policy and to build true coalition in the world and decentralize the responsibility to protect atrocities across world, but what do some of the hawks in republican party like McCain keep advocating to get involved in Syria! Are they blind to see what is going on in places like that!! Haven’t they learnt anything from the Afghanistan fiasco US did which resulted in the sprouting of religious extremist elements and their emboldenment? On the one hand they never introspect as to what is causing the never ending supply of support to these extremists and on the other hand they keep supporting the regimes which are largely responsible for the flourishing of the extremism. They ignore monarchies like Saudis and Bahrain and military regimes like Pakistan, Libya and thinking their tyrannical reign over people would need the support of powerful nations like US and that is how to make them dependent on us! But that will not solve the long term problems that will inevitably result from this. As long as we don’t realize the means are as important as the ends what we want to achieve, it will never be a long lasting solution. It is only postponing the current small crisis. Not unsurprisingly that is what exactly they are doing to address the economical problem too. That is to postpone problem so that it keeps ballooning so the it will be the headache of future generations.
The 2008 economical crisis doesn’t seem to have caused any kind of wakeup call to most of the politicians. They are continuing with the same arguments that actually led to the crisis. Obama’s administration did not do much to address the root cause that led to the current economic crisis and in stead keeps on emboldening the very institutions that caused this.Initially and even now the big banks and businesses seem to have gone into the mode of reaping the benefits of leverage upon leverage with lax oversight. And that is how they started supporting this right-wing nutty ideology which says that it is the very top that need all the benefits and protection but not the middle class which is like most of the populace! Many of these foolish businesses spent lot of money in getting a sizable representatives elected who continue to espouse the short-sighted problems of bailing themselves out for seemingly unrealistic profit margins and not supporting basic necessities of any advanced civilizations such as universal healthcare and good quality education. What kind of advancement have you done, if the nation cannot afford the basic necessities? Many members from both parties are responsible for this inaction either because they are biding for time to get elected next time or because they getting covertly or overtly bribed by short-sighted businesses.
Even the supreme court sides with ruling like ‘corporations are people’ and encourages unlimited funding from them to politicians. The justices are openly known to be siding with one side or the other! So what kind of justices are they if their judgements are not objective but based on their political lineage! It is because the cycle of electing supreme court justices kind of peaks at the trough of the opposing party in power! what an ingenious way of balance of power! In all the justice system seems broken and never seems to reflect what the majority think is just!
What is happening in the political landscape of this country is largely mud slinging the other party and nothing of the sort of a consensus. Whether or not this is by design or true split in the nation’s conscience? Is it that divided? Or is it time to invent a new political system which can truly represent the people? In this age of internet and instant news, why do we need a representative system to voice majority opinion? The majority can truly voice their opinion instantly, if such system is built with careful protections. It is time the whole political system should be revived and revitalized taking the benefits of modern technology. We should eliminate these middle men who are fictitiously brokering wrong and at times dangerous causes which are stalling any progress that humanity ought to be achieving. Worse when these middle men are grouped into two rivaling political philosophies, each trying to annihilate the other by sabotage, blackmail or populistic policies is what is causing the current chaos. Every able citizen should be able to support or oppose many of the propositions in a dynamic and speedy way using the modern communications like social media and should be able to steer the nation in the way majority wants. But in order to do this in the most flawless way possible we should first device means to curb the dissemination of false news and rumors. It is not going to be easy but it is achievable. It is the question of survival as time passes so the author is hopeful that if not the current generation, next or near future generations will do something to fix this broken political system called ‘democracy’!