America is not well served by our democracy.

I said* what???* I’m the raving anti-monarchist!

Yep. I said it. Our pandering, lurching-toward-bankruptcy, idiotic Congress leads me to wonder if representative republicanism works at all. And I think, “Yeah, maybe, if we fold the executive & legislative together, like a normal country; but not this one, apparently.” Because really, people who want to wield power effectively aren’t going to become legislators in our system. The only personal gratification lawmakers get is graft.

Then again, our system seemed to be working for some things back in Nixon-days. But after 20 years of people attempting seriously to advocate that the Environmental Protection Agency is a bad thing, except when it’s corrupt enough for them to buy it off, I no longer think that America is competent to be governed (quasi-)democratically. You want a Caesar, welcome to it. Keep that incense fire burning, or you’ll burn in his courtyard when the petroleum runs out.

Me, I’m swimming to Spain.

There are two issues here, inconsistent with each other.

First, Americans want a Monarchy. We look wistfully at the UK, we buy Princess Di bric-a-brac, we tell our children fairytales about kings & princesses. We are programmed to follow a King. In the popular affection, Congress doesn’t stand a chance in Hell against the President of the United States. OK, fine, I say, get it over with.

Second, the system we have ensures that those who want to govern go into one of the non-legislative branches, while the theoretically sovereign branch, the legislature, is the most personally frustrating career path in the government. It’s all compromise & dilution of power. Graft is nigh inevitable for psychological reasons, & looking at Rep. Sensenbrenner, I imagine insanity is a common result as well.

Me, I think a parliamentary democracy is better in general. But not all countries are ready for democracy. The USA, in its childish heart of hearts, clearly really wants a Monarchy. Fine, have one, & go to Hell.

Yeah, I often entertain the same kinds of thoughts. Sometimes I think that the government serves no purpose except gratifying the egos of the people who are in it. And that the public lets it go on and on, to its own detriment, because whenever the government promises the people some money, all is forgiven. A system like that is pretty clearly doomed to ruin everybody it touches.

Then again, sometimes I’m just stressed and in need of a little fresh air. I try not to take my opinions that seriously when I’m really pissed off. Although it really does seem that it’s almost impossible for the government to cut any program, which ensures that spending is always going to be insane and irresponsible.

Maybe a socialist monarchy like the Scandanavian countries. Only we’ll have more sunlight in the winter.

I didn’t think democracies are supposed to have detention camps in Poland, for heaven’s sake. That’s supposed to be the fascists. Now it’s all wrong. I think this is where I came in.

Or you could put it as P.J. O’Rourke so aptly put it at the end of his excellent book Parliment of Whores. (Apologies that I don’t have the exact quote, the book is packed in a box right now, I’m moving in 3 days)

The problem with Democracy is that it’s a license for thievery writ large. We all have the idea that we can “vote ourselves rich”, meaning we (think) we can tax “other people” and gain benefits for ourselves. In the end, the whores are us, you and I, inclusive.

Well, the way I put it is “really large-scale collusion.” But yeah, sort of.

To Spain?


See, we solved that problem by having a monarchy whose entire duty is to look good, and stashed them safely on the other side of the ocean, to be represented on this side by equally powerless charismatic ex-journalists. Problem solved!

Or, in a more serious vein, as I stated in another thread:

Hang on a sec. While I won’t be surprised if those allegations are ultimately confirmed, right now they are nothing but allegations. There is no direct proof of the existence of such camps.

Y’all realize Spain is a monarchy, right? And that the legislative and executive power are supposed to be separate and about half the time manage to do so, right?

Just checking - and anyway you’d be welcome. Please don’t swim, the Red Cross’ budget is already a bit stretched.

I prefer his other oft-quoted comment on government in that book, “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” And people wonder why I pray for the total destruction of all life on Earth.

Heh. Got a great wisecrack from a Good Ol’ Boy here: “You gotta admire those Spaniards: they find themselves a good Bourbon, and then they show it the proper respect!” :wink:

I have long felt that, while the US system of government is structurally very sound in its checks and balances, election is a terrible way to fill the offices in the executive and legislative branches. I recommend a lottery system drawing from those literate adults who can also do basic arithmetic, ensuring far more complete representation (no more tyranny of the majority). Because of the checks and balances, no single loony tunes could disrupt the country too badly.

Put legal hedges in around the officials so as to prevent them from personally benefitting from the office. Voila! no more lobbying, except by real-life persuasion. Generally speaking, most people will rise to the occasion and respond with their best attempt at statesmanship if catapulted into a sudden position of high responsibility. In fact, W is one of the few who seems not to have grown in the least since taking office, perhaps because he doesn’t really do much besides setting some very high level goals, campaign for the policy *du jour * and take vacations. Again, if a nutcase got into the executive office, the congress would keep a grip on him/her, because there would be no parties, and thus no party line to toe.

Each office holder would stay on for the first three months as a consultant to the next office holder. That would give the next time to find his/her feet.

Will it ever happen? Not a chance!

What annoys me so much is not the colossal fuck-up that is American democracy (all Democracy in general, of course, but American democracy in particular) but the way that other (read third-world, if that word were still in currency) countries have copied their system- with the inevitable result that the President siezes supreme power and rules as a dictator while the legislature squawks and feebly waves a carbon copy of the American constitution, which is being amended to nothingness as they speak (the carbon copy, not the original American consititution). Parliamentary democracies have not been vastly superior, but they have at least the advantage that there is no way for the supreme leader to falsely claim a direct mandate from the people over the heads of elected representatives.

Bah, if only George Washington had accepted the crown you wouldn’t have this problem. Or better still, if the Americans hadn’t seceded in the first place.

Phillip K. Dick proposes something like this in his otherwise pedestrian Solar Lottery. However, there is always the risk of a true nutcase getting a hotline to power. His solution? Legal assassination!

I think that because of the checks and balances inherent in our system of government (including impeachment and removal from office), that a single nutcase would not be able to do too much damage. Obviously no single person should be able to press The Button.

IMO, Dick is about the most dysphoric author around (even given that he wrote Sci-Fi during the 50s), so naturally the only solution he would come up with would be legal assassination.

This all sounds pretty rash to me. The failing isn’t so much with our representative democracy, per se, but rather its current implementation is the source of the disaster. Since we’re all quoting aphorisms here, lemme toss one out. It ain’t from O’Rourke, but one that is often attributed to the great architect, Le Corbusier: The devil is in the details. There was a time when our election system did actually produce pretty decent results and did so pretty consistently. We need only return to those days. That would take only a solid program of campaign finance and election reform to restore the former glory; scrapping the whole shebang ain’t necesary.

Perhaps combining a mandatory and wide-reaching reform of these processes with Dick’s (and Oy!'s) lottery system to select the members of the reform commission would work.

And when they are confirmed, they’re old news. Problem solved. :rolleyes:

The OP has only succeeded in showing his own ignorance of his own country. We’ve had fools predicting the rise of a dictator in our country for more than two centuries, and judging by the OP, there appears to be no understanding of why that has not happened.

And UncleBeer, when was this mythical time at which our electoral system produced “pretty decent results” on a consistent basis? I eagerly await to learn of the era of American history in which politics was not tainted by money, fraud, machines, or scheming party leaders.

Well, the ultimate foundation of the system is the voters. If the voters become dysfunctional, everything else will eventually cease to work well.

So, the root long-term cure for the problem is to create intelligent, informed, non-panicky voters, and then their wiser choices will ripple through the system and improve and restore it.

But I agree with matt_mcl. The US really needs to separate its executive (who fights in the political trenches, wins the position, and wields the resulting power), from its head of state, who symbolically represents the nation. That way opposing the President would not be equated to Opposing America.

Well, in Ontario, they’re supposed to be randomly picking two voters from each riding (electoral district) for the Democratic Renewal committee… whose choice will then be put to a vote, like in BC. I hope I get picked. Boy, do I have some things to say. :slight_smile: