Thursday, November 25, 2004

Democracy Perverted

The alleged two party system that we have in this country is hardly democratic, in that the Republicans and Democrats have much more in common than not. What we have is de facto only one party with factions that represent different segments of the wealthy/corporate power elite. The recent presidential election only underscores the point. There was so little daylight between Bush and Kerry's positions on Iraq that people reasoned that they would stay with the "original" rather than risk going with a Bush's war wannabe. Is there really any other way to view the evenly divided electorate than that it represents two nearly indistinguishable candidates?

When I studied in Canada years ago I was struck by the fact that built into their parliamentary system was an Official Opposition led by the ranking minority party. Most important is that they are not a nominal Opposition but a real one that engages in serious struggle over important issues. I observed a qualitative difference in the way political differences were played out there as opposed to how the Republicans and Democrats do it here. There, one had the sense that real work was being done. Here, its hard to take Congress seriously. Our Congress in action resembles political theater.

The sitting House of Commons in Canada is made up of representatives from four of the country's 10--yes I said 10 registered national political parties (this does not include numerous other registered, so-called "third" parties) as well as two Independent members. There is a lot to say for diversity--in biology, culture AND politics. It only stands to reason that the more diverse the input into the governing process the better and stronger the product will be. Inbreeding yields defects both in organisms and ideas.

The recent Republican rout left that party in solid command of the White House, both houses of Congress and a majority of state governorships. It left the party so emboldened that they now believe that retaining this control permanently may be possible! So here we are in "democratic" America with one of our political parties drooling over the chance that they may be able to lock in their control over Washington, and thus the nation, indefinitely. These supposed champions of democracy are eagerly poised to install themselves as rulers beyond effective challenge as though it were OK. As though it didn't smack of totalitarianism. As though it wouldn't make the existing system an even greater mockery than it already is. Terms like chutzpah and cojones are too mild to describe their intent. Were that step to be accomplished even the charade of a two party system could not be upheld. Now I am not singling out the Republicans here. I have no doubt that if the Democrats saw the opportunity they too would jump on it.

Too many Americans are uninformed and complacent when it comes to how they are governed. To that extent, they deserve what they get. Trouble is, those of us that don't deserve it get it too. The uninformed and gullible voting in the people and policies that will damage us all. Now that's democracy perverted!

1 comment:

PaxRomano said...

Max,

Thanks for the “wake-up” posting. It was the first thing I read today (before Salon.com or the paper), and, man, it rang true!

You indicated that "Too many Americans are uninformed and complacent..." Sad but true. I'd add that most Americans are rather self centered and/or anesthetized by the mass media and concern themselves more with petty affairs than with what is important.

Maybe it is true; the government we get is the government we deserve.

Mike Petrucelli