JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE NATURE OF A REPUBLIC – THE INSTRUCTIVE EXAMPLE OF THE UNITED STATES – A COUNTRY THAT HAS GONE FROM A VERY UNDEMOCRATIC EARLY REPUBLIC AT ITS FOUNDING TO A PLUTOCRACY WITH DEMOCRATIC WINDOW-DRESSING – THE ROLE IN AMERICAN POLITICS OF “THE CULTURE OF COMPLAINT” – THE NATURE OF ELECTIONS TODAY IN AMERICA – THOMAS JEFFERSON WAS THE FOUNDING FATHER OF TODAY’S “ALT-RIGHT” – THE FOUNDERS’ LACK OF BELIEF IN DEMOCRACY – AMERICA’S VERY COSTLY ELECTIONS WHICH CHANGE ALMOST NOTHING AT HOME OR ABROAD BUT GET PEOPLE VERY EXCITED   1 comment

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF A COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN CBC NEWS

 

“Why Queen Elizabeth and the ‘nuclear option’ won’t likely come into play in the Governor General Payette controversy”

“Revelations of unusual spending and allegations of a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall have raised questions about the fate of Canada’s current governor general. And that fate, in theory, could rest in the Queen’s hands”.

 

To those who write about becoming a republic, Canada actually avoids a lot of political turmoil and cost just by going along with what we have, imperfect as it is. It is pragmatic. And there is no magic in being a republic. The example of the United States could not be more instructive.

The word “republic” pretty well means only that you have no symbol of monarchy and that you are “represented” in some fashion, even if it is by a privileged class. It is vague political term, not at all synonymous with democracy.

The long-ago Venetian Republic was not at all democratic. The Dutch Republic, the world’s first independent modern state, was not democratic.

The arrangements of the Dutch Republic influenced framers of America’s Constitution, who were mostly unfriendly to the idea of democracy, regarding it much the way J. Edgar Hoover regarded communism in the 1950s. The elites who founded America felt that democracy risked property being taken from them by a political hoi polloi. And that kind of attitude echoes still in America. The country was, and remains, a “republic.”

Originally, only the votes cast by the elites appointed to the Electoral College counted in elections for President.

The Senate, the most powerful legislative body by far since it approves all presidential appointments and all treaties, was an appointed body until the early twentieth century. The “Great Compromise” of the 1787 Constitutional Convention set representation in the House according to population but fixed representation in the Senate at the same number for each state, two.

That gave inordinate influence to small states and small thinking. It is a totally outmoded concept and produces bizarre contemporary effects. It means nearly twenty million people in California receive the same representation in the powerful Senate as about three hundred thousand in Vermont. Of course, those proportions greatly affect citizens’ access to their Senator and the relative cost of Senate political campaigns.

Originally, the only voters were white, adult males with a certain financial net worth, a pretty exclusive group, a very tiny percentage of the population, effectively America was a backwater aristocracy.

There was also a compromise with Southern states, for representation in Congress, of counting every slave as three-fifths of a person. This raised the weight and influence in Congress of the thinly populated, largely rural Southern states. It gave slaves no representation, it just increased the representation of slaveholder interests. It is also very revealing of the thinking and values of many American Founders, allowing slaves to be counted as a fraction of a human being.

Things have evolved and changed in the US, but all good studies of American government conclude that although most people can now vote – not all, but most, convicts and ex-convicts generally are excluded, a huge population in America – it is not very democratic even today.

It has evolved into a two-party state, with each of the two official parties completely dependent on huge financial donations from the country’s elites – a form of plutocracy. Elections in so large a country, one with such a propensity for marketing, polling, advertising, and theatrical campaign show-tours are extremely costly affairs, and there really is only one class of people who can pay for them. They of course give with the expectation of a return, at the very least, future access.

Election campaigns could of course be mandated to be shorter, to be less elaborate, and could even be paid from the public purse, but entrenched American attitudes about government make that impossible, and the last people who would want to see any of that are the plutocrats and their creatures in government. Those who benefit from any system do not favor change.

America’s plutocracy has an elaborate democratic window-dressing, so there is a lot of noise and excitement during an election, but the public’s political participation influences very little. Almost nothing but the rhetoric changes, no matter which of the official parties wins.

A very thoughtful writer some years ago, Robert Hughes, wrote in a critique of American society, “The Culture of Complaint,” about the tendency in so many so matters for Americans to form highly argumentative factions, with vocal and melodramatic leaders, doing endless battle but settling very little of substance.

That same characterization fits American elections. In a sense, all the noise and drama disguise the fact that almost nothing is happening. The press and people fall into the same pattern every time.

The country’s policies, at home and abroad, reflect the interests of the elites who finance its political parties. That is why we have a brutal empire supported by a trillion-dollar-a-year military-intelligence service complex, and that is why there is no national healthcare, no daycare, and many other social services common in other advanced countries.

And please note that among the most vociferous defenders of America’s identity as a republic, in contrast to a democracy, is its large Right-wing. Many of the attitudes you can read from that group are just restatements of things life-long slaveholder and anti-democrat, Thomas Jefferson, for example, said about two hundred and thirty years ago. He was the Alt-right’s Founding Father.

Readers might also enjoy:

 

ttps://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/07/22/john-chuckman-comment-how-american-politics-really-work-why-there-are-terrible-candidates-and-constant-wars-and-peoples-problems-are-ignored-why-heroes-like-julian-assange-are-persecuted-and-r/

 

https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/lessons-from-the-american-revolution/

Posted August 18, 2020 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

One response to “JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE NATURE OF A REPUBLIC – THE INSTRUCTIVE EXAMPLE OF THE UNITED STATES – A COUNTRY THAT HAS GONE FROM A VERY UNDEMOCRATIC EARLY REPUBLIC AT ITS FOUNDING TO A PLUTOCRACY WITH DEMOCRATIC WINDOW-DRESSING – THE ROLE IN AMERICAN POLITICS OF “THE CULTURE OF COMPLAINT” – THE NATURE OF ELECTIONS TODAY IN AMERICA – THOMAS JEFFERSON WAS THE FOUNDING FATHER OF TODAY’S “ALT-RIGHT” – THE FOUNDERS’ LACK OF BELIEF IN DEMOCRACY – AMERICA’S VERY COSTLY ELECTIONS WHICH CHANGE ALMOST NOTHING AT HOME OR ABROAD BUT GET PEOPLE VERY EXCITED

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