My Guest today requires no introduction. She has commented many times on my blog. Please welcome, from New York, New York, Elizabeth.
I ain't repeatin' the rules, yo' al know them by now!
As always the post is unedited
Change of Power?
The reign of GW Bush is coming to an end. I say reign because he behaved like a monarch, not like the President of a democratic country.
Was he all bad? No one is all bad. He put some money toward the fight against AIDS in Africa, against child pornography, and for community health clinics. What some people see as Bush's biggest error (or crime) was the war in Iraq. However, I see the Iraq war as something that, regardless of its technical illegality, was something that might have turned out a lot better than it did if only it had been run by competent people. The biggest faults of the Bush administration, I believe, will be remembered by history as incompetence, cronyism, corruption, and the attempt to consolidate power in the Executive Branch. More than anything, Bush tried to turn the Presidency into a Third-World style despotism. The most frightening aspect of the past 8 years, however, is the way Congress just went along with what most of Bush wanted.
Our system is based on "checks and balances," the tension between the three branches of governments--Executive, Legislative, and Judicial--that limit the power of each one. The founders of our government knew that many politicians were just like GW Bush. They thought they had created a system that would check the power of such would-be despots. The Legislative Branch has failed in that duty and the Judicial Branch has come close to failing. Thus our country now teeters on the edge of dictatorship. The people (mostly) have put their faith in a man, Barack Obama. But the problem at this point is the system. Our system isn't supposed to be run by one man. That isn't democracy; it is dictatorship. How did this happen?
Many people blame special interest money and see Congress as corrupt. That is part of it. But politicians still need votes, not just money, to get elected. Many politicians have been defeated in past years despite being outspent. I believe the problem is a national attitude that is quite similar to the one that existed in Tsarist Russia: The "leader" is seen as a far-off, almost mythical icon who runs the country, and the people see themselves as cut off from power and dependent on the beneficence of the Leader whom they idealize. This is an infantile mindset that has no place in democracy. But it seems to be the current majority American mindset.
Yesterday I went to a Libertarian convention. (I have serious issues with the Libertarian Party that I'll get into in another post). One of the speakers was a free-market economist from St. John's University. I decided to throw out what I've believed is one of my more controversial ideas: That the US is too large and should be split up into three to five separate countries. To my surprise, the economist agreed with me. In fact he said California was too large and should be two separate countries. He went on to say how Scotland should leave the UK (apparently he's of Scottish origin). When human groups are too large, people cannot work in concert with each other without damaging individual freedom, he said.
The economist might have been a bit extreme. But empire and democracy don't go together. Idealization of far-off, mythical leaders doesn't go with democracy. Nor does a useless legislature that rubber stamps the President's actions. We might not need to break up the US just yet, but surely the people of the US need to exert more pressure on the Legislature to represent their interests. State and local governments also wield significant power and they often also operate without checks from the people. The mythologizing of the Presidency must stop. Barack Obama is a young man who has a lot to learn and already has shown some insecurities and weaknesses of character. We are about to witness what I am afraid will be a coronation rather than an inauguration next week. Wake Up, America. Democracy is rule by the People.
My comments come first. Except for a little President Bush bashing and she gave him some credit for some of what he has done in the last 8 years I, in general, agree with what Elizabeth has said.
As always your comments are appreciated and feel free to email the post to your friends.