Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The fundamental flaw of American politics

72 miners in Canada were trapped in a mine that was on fire. A few weeks back, that killed 13 miners in Sago, WV as they ran out of oxygen and suffocated. But these miners in Canada weren't ever in any danger. They simply retreated to safe-rooms that had 72 hours of oxygen, and chatted on the phone with their wives while waiting for rescue.

So why do Canadian mines have safe rooms and American mines do not? Well, in the end, it is because of a fundamental flaw in the American system of government: America is a semi-monarchial Republic, not a parlimentary democracy.

Canada is a parlimentary democracy. The United States is a semi-monarchial Republic, explicitly designed that way. The Presidency was designed to give George Washington semi-monarchial powers because George refused to be monarch. This inherently dictates that we will have a two-party system where any other party is powerless.

That explains a lot about why Canadian politics and U.S. politics have gone in such different directions since the Commonwealth was declared. Even their current “conservative” government doesn’t have a majority in Parliment and thus is forced to rule by consensus, rather than via fiat. When forced to rule by consensus, you can’t ignore the wishes of the minority parties, including the minority parties that represent workers. If you do that, the minority parties can band together and force a no-confidence vote and force new elections, something that no self-respecting party leader wants to see happen.

There is a reason why every strongman dictatorship-pretending-to-be-a-democracy has a "strong President" type of government, while virtually every functioning democracy on the planet has a parlimentary type of government -- parlimentary democracies are simply more effective at giving everybody, not just the majority, a voice in the governing of the nation.

This is a fundamental flaw in the American system, and one which will be fixed when cows fly. Australia and Britain, despite having no Bill of Rights, still have as much freedom as the United States because their form of government has built-in checks and balances to protect minority views that the U.S. "strong President" form doesn't have.

So what does that mean regarding the circus of the spineless that is the current Democratic Party? Well, amongst other things, it means we can't simply form a 3rd party. The tyranny of the majority is inherently built into the American system, a tyranny which insures that 3rd parties, unlike the Bloc Quebecois and NDP, have no voice in government. While Prime Minister Harper cannot govern without the support of the Bloc Qubecois and NDP in Canada, President Bush can govern quite well without the support of the Greens and Libertarians, thank you very much.

So for the moment, I suggest that the best thing to do is take over the Democratic Party and make it the majority party. A third party simply isn't going to work, because we live in a semi-monarchial republic, not in a democracy.

In the long term, it might be a nice thing to have democracy in America. And no, voting doesn't mean democracy. People voted in Saddam's Iraq, too. If you have no real choice regarding who you're going to vote for, that's no more democracy than Saddam's Iraq was democracy. People didn't have a real choice there, either.

As I said, I expect it to happen about the time that cows fly.

- Badtux the PoliSci Penguin

Posted by: BadTux / 1/30/2006 10:55:00 PM  


Thank you Badtux. You're right on all counts. If third parties were viable, there would be a substantial one in this country right now. They're not and the only way we can make any progress at all is to enable the more progressive Democrats by electing them - no small feat. But independent candidates can't solve our problems either. They only help the Republicans get bigger and stronger.

People need to listen to the penguin.
# posted by zenyenta : 31/1/06 3:56 AM  

I'm with you, Mr Badtux. We need to take over the dimocratic party, and force it to stand up for the principles that we cherish. Anything less will keep us on that plantation.
# posted by SB Gypsy : 31/1/06 6:30 AM  

... and the first thing we need to do is get rid of the triangulators, like Hillary and LIEberman.
# posted by SB Gypsy : 31/1/06 6:33 AM  

Stalin said something along the lines of "Who the people vote for doesn't matter. Who counts the votes does matter."
The Democrats & Republicans are spending money to ensure a 2 party system. (far as i'm concerned, two sides of the same coin) Remember the 2000 presidential debates? Those debates were sponsored not by the League of Women Voters (an impartial organization sponsoring all previous debates), but by a new group. The new group was funded only by the Dems & Repubs. There was no way Nader & Buchannon would be invited. They learned their lesson from Ross Perot & Governor Jessie. Clinton may not have been elected without Perot pulling 20% of conservatives his way. Jessie Ventura would never have won without fighting to get on the local televised debates. People saw him as refreshing, & not a total nut-case. Can you guess who sponsored the debates? The League of Women Voters!
# posted by Dave : 31/1/06 3:46 PM  

I don't think it's the two-party system that's at fault as much as the nature of the philosophies that separate the two. Were both to agree on certain basics, then things would be more workable.

For example, the whole Dems are the civil liberties party. Why should both sides not be concerned with civil liberties?

Odd how things have worked out.
# posted by Progressive Traditionalist : 1/2/06 3:05 AM  

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