A New Form of Government?

In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote that “when any Government becomes destructive of these ends (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness), it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, &etc.”

It seems that almost everybody is unhappy with the American government these days, but there doesn’t seem to be anything anybody can do about it. Voting is no good because of the myriad ways the system is rigged; armed rebellion doesn’t seem to stand a chance; and I believe that most people think that the attempt to call a new Constitutional Convention in today’s climate would be a) extremely difficult, and b) a Very Bad Idea anyway.

So who here on the SDMB can solve this mess?

Being unhappy with the government doesn’t necessarily mean that it has “becomes destructive of these ends (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness)”.

“Everyone” says they are unhappy, but almost no one wants to do anything about it. I judge people by what they do, not by what they say. People say all kinds of things.

or maybe it is just that in fact the populace has many different ideas on preferences in the real details and the compromise of democracies does not look like the pure results that people imagine in their heads?

What Ramira said.

Violent revolution won’t happen until things are a lot worse than they are now. The way to change things is through ideas. Go out and be politically active. Convince people and win them over with solid, defensible ideas, and the country – and the government – will change. You can’t just sit on your ass and expect a once-every-four-year vote to change anything.

Martin Luther King didn’t sit around and complain about his vote not accomplishing anything. Neither did Cesar Chavez, labor unions, suffragettes, etc. You have to speak, you have to act, you have to convince enough complacent people that things must change in order to influence the government.

We may not be a perfect democracy or whatever specific type of government you desire, but the US government, slowly at least, does change in response to the changing mores of the populace. 13th Amendment, Civil Rights, free trade, you name it, and the government has responded to changes in the desires of its citizens. Not always quickly, not always peacefully, not always to everyone’s satisfaction, but that’s the cost of living in a country of 300 million people across a large continent. A ship this size doesn’t turn on a dime.

I don’t mean to trot out the First World Problem argument here, but if you think the USA is a “mess,” you should see what your alternatives are.

The American system of governance is not perfect but it is a functional country. People are generally well off and free to do as they see fit. The country is stable, safe, and has a functioning apparatus of state. Most American residents on the bad side of advantage are still better off than most people in the world. And as DrCube points out, it does change as the populace sees fit - slowly, to be sure, but frankly you don’t want government changing too quickly. Let me ask you this; what’s the status of gay marriage in the USA today? Remarkably progressive, as it happens, much more so than even most First World countries. But that was not the case 25 years ago - hell, it was almost unthinkable. But it is now so. That’s change, pushed by the people.

Which does to what John Mace points out (and is, to be frank, one of the most important things a person can even understand about life) - what people SAY means nothing. What they DO means everything. The way Americans behave demonstrates that they are generally satisfied with the manner in which the United States is governed.

The OP isn’t exactly clear, but I thought it was about the gridlock in Congress and its unwillingness to compromise, which I think is a legitimate complaint. Even if it’s more generally about government as a whole, it’s hard to deny that there’s been too much counter-productive, childish behaviour going on that would give anyone reason to complain.


This occurs because there are profound political divisions in the opinions of the population, yes?

Like most complaints about “politicians” I think these things come down to pure magical thinking, where the proposer is imagining that IF only the proposer’s idea was used it would be revealed that the majority are in an agreement around the proposer’s views.

It is the Magical thinking. Like complaints universally made about the behaviour of the politicians and somehow magically a non politician shall change any thing. But in fact all we are seeing in the politicians is the human behaviour exposed and examined.

Peaceful secession

What would that fix?

Democratic conflicts.

Yes, it occurs because of divisions in the opinions of the population.

If everyone agrees on something, gridlock somehow doesn’t seem to happen. Gridlock only happens when a large group of people support something, and another large group of people don’t support it, and both groups are represented in the government.

And so Group A can’t enact their Agenda A, because Group B keeps stopping them. And Group B can’t bury Agenda A because Group A keeps bringing it up. It’s a disaster! If only there were some way for Group A to always win without those pesky Group B’s ruining things! Er, I mean, if only there were some way for Group B to always win!

We enact Issue A until Group A is so large and powerful that Group B no longer has the political will to keep opposing Issue A. We can’t finally stop Issue A until Group B is so large and powerful that Group A no longer has the political will to keep proposing Issue A.

Is the problem that rich and powerful people have disproportionate influence on how powerful Group A and/or Group B are? OK, but how do you change things such that powerful people no longer have disproportionate political power? You can have a political revolution and toss the old bosses out on the street or string them up from lampposts, but now you’ve got to deal with the new bosses, who might be just as bad or worse.

Or, like the example of gay marriage, convince the people who really matter that the issue is either important enough to support, or unimportant enough to oppose, and suddenly the issue gets resolved. Identifying the people who really matter is an important part of the trick, as is convincing them. Convincing a plurality of corporate types is one way of overriding the opinions of the powerless masses. But millions of unimportant people marching in the streets tends to get the attention of the corporate types.

If your complaint is that the 1% aren’t paying attention, then start working to get the 99% out into the streets to demand that the 1% start paying attention. But you might have noticed that the 99% aren’t in fact out on the streets demanding change. Maybe they should be, but they aren’t. And so start organizing. But what if you get the 99% out into the streets demanding change, but those idiots are demanding all the wrong things? You can inspire the people to demand change but you can’t control what they demand, if you could you’d be one of the 1% controlling the ignorant masses.

On the whole, I’m quite happy. If I was in charge, there might be a few tweaks, but nothing to get up in arms about. I’d like to hear more about what the problem is before we start searching for solutions.

To a large degree, gridlock in Congress and contention between them and the President is a feature of the system, not a bug. It’s kind of like an inherent version of the checks and balances that they like to go on about in government class.

Comparing the pace of our system and the inherent tendency to lock up versus a single-house parliamentary system’s tendency to do the same isn’t a great comparison. We trade a degree of cohesion for a degree of stability and order. We don’t have the chaos of votes of no confidence, unscheduled elections and formation of new coalition governments, but we also very rarely have the situation where one party controls both houses of Congress and the Presidency either.

What it means is that our system tends to have a lot of inertia until some issue important enough to cross party lines comes to the surface, at which point it gets acted on. Which I think, is fine with most people- stable and non-capricious government is generally accorded to be a good thing, and stupid Ted Cruz-style budget stunts are aberrant behavior, not a normal thing.

Why would secession prevent such things? Do you believe two countries of 25 states would each have no divisive issues?

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, every democratic country in the world is physically smaller than the USA (except Canada, which has far fewer people) and has fewer people (except India.) But all still have wildly divisive issues they argue ferociously about. Why would America 1.0 and 2.0 not have democratic conflicts?

How? Are you saying that there’s a region out there, somewhere, in which every single person, 100%, agrees on whether or not they want to secede from whatever country they’re in?

Sure, the region that encompasses everything within twelve inches from where I stand. :slight_smile:

Nope. I’ll say many of the social conflicts created by democracy would fade away. Abortion, immigration, “gun control”, and many others would not be nationwide issues.

if that is so, those countries should also pursue a policy of peaceful secession.