February 12, 2021
photo above: Backbone Campaign – CC BY 2.
WN: The highlighted article is a succinct dismantling of any notion that the United States is a democracy. We Canadians and other democracies are plagued by some of the same issues. But the so-claimed “oldest democracy” was never intended to be, and has never been anything close to, a representative system of governance.
And when a nation is ruled by oligarchs, greed, hatred and fear dominating the leadership are ingredients for a recipe of (in their case) a will to brutal, rampaging domination of the world–all humanity, the Good Earth and God be damned! In God We Trust is the Ultimate Grand Lie that renders Trump almost a truther by comparison. And while Trump was arguably the most vile national leader in modern times, vile as a category description of American national government (and statewide in many cases) has always been accurate.
Can any good thing come out of American democracy? Not on your life! Well not at least at the macrocosm level. Otherwise, of course! Nothing/no one is all bad, all evil, all vile.
And one can always hope and pray . . .
The deadly Capital Riot, they have shown, was instigated with the explicit purpose of stopping the certification of the orange monstrosity’s clear defeat in the 2020 presidential election and was based on the monstrosity’s baseless lie that the election was “stolen.” As the House Managers have made clear, no reasonable deliberative body can be true to its claims of faith in democracy and decency and allow the MFR go unpunished and free to hold federal office again.
That said, there are four problems with the language the House Managers are using in their expert evisceration of the MFR.
That said, there are four problems with the language the House Managers are using in their expert evisceration of the MFR. First, they have been unwilling to use “the F-word” – fascism – to describe Trump, his most fervent backers, and the January 6th Attack on the Capitol. That’s a shame because the word richly applies.
Second, it was disturbing to hear the House Managers repeatedly refer to the President of the United States as “our commander-in-chief.” That is inaccurate.
“The Greatest Country on Earth”
Third, the House Managers have made repeated references to the United States as “the greatest country on Earth” and other words to that effect. An excellent primer on why that’s wrong is Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson’s magisterial comparative study The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. The United States is a savagely inequitable and militantly capitalist, wasteful, eco-cidal, and plutocratic (see below) society that scores very badly in comparison to its fellow rich nations on economic equality, poverty, public health, racial oppression, women’s rights, mass incarceration, violence, civic engagement, literacy, numeracy, workers’ rights, empathy, and more. (Look at its disgraceful performance in response to COVID-19: a nation with less than 5 percent of global population quickly became home to a quarter of the pandemic’s victims.)
The American people are subject to an unelected and interrelated dictatorship of concentrated wealth and global empire – an empire that has murdered millions the world over and that continues to oppress billions. The U.S. global imperialism and the U.S. domestic misery are inseparably linked: half of U.S. federal discretionary spending goes pays for a Pentagon System that accounts for more than 40 percent of global military expenditure and maintains more than 1000 military installations across more than 80 countries. Think of how many children could be lifted out of poverty, how many Green Jobs programs could be undertaken, how many medical outreach operations could be launched with the money Uncle Sam spends on its historically and globally unmatched warfare state, the single leading institutional carbon emitter on the planet.
The United States is NOT “the greatest nation on Earth.” (The MFR is as American as cherry pie.). Much of humanity would say worst nation on Earth, or close, with good reason.
“Our Great Democracy”
Fourth, there is the House Managers’ reference to Trump’s (unmentionably fascistic) attack on “our great democracy,” supposedly granted to us by our great Founders.
What great democracy bequeathed by which great Founders?
By numerous rigorously researched political science accounts1, the United States is a corporate and financial oligarchy whose “democratic” political and policy contests typically amount to battles between competing authoritarian blocs of capital.
“Our great democracy”? Really?
Forget for now the Marxist thesis, to which I assent, that bourgeois democracy cloaks the underlying dictatorship of capital – that capitalism and democracy are fundamentally opposed to one another. Quite true, as I have joined many fellow Marxists and other anti-capitalists in demonstrating over and over.
But no, put that aside for a moment and look simply at the ancient charter of ruling class governance that plagues the United States more than 23 decades after it was introduced by slaveowners, merchant capitalists and publicists for whom democracy was the ultimate nightmare. In the third decade of the 21st Century, “the world’s greatest democracy” still doesn’t elect its absurdly powerful chief executive through a nationwide popular vote but rather through a bizarre Electoral College system designed to appease slaveholders in the 18th Century. Under the nation’s deeply conservative 1788 Constitution, the American presidential election system is skewed to overrepresent the most reactionary parts of the country.
Please click on: America the Grand Oligarchy
- Good starter works are Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens, Democracy in America? What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It? (University of Chicago Press, 2017); Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned its Back on the Middle Class (Simon and Schuster, 2011); Ronald Formisano, American Oligarchy: The Permanent Political Class (University of Illinois, 2017); Paul Street, They Rule: The 1% vs. Democracy (Routledge, 2011).