Is Democracy in Danger?

Is democracy in danger? Have the various political factions made the determination that they must prevail at any cost, even if that means discarding the truth, a licentious and biased media, and abandoning democracy if the faction does not get their way? It sure seems so. Donald Trump, a political novice by any standard, defeated a political machine with decades of success, armed with members of the political class whose collective experience stretched into scores of years. Immediately, Trump’s detractors began plotting to remove him in what could only be described as any means possible.

 

Not to go too far into the history of presidential elections, but the presidential election of 1796 had an Electoral College vote of 71 to 68. The presidential election of 1800, because of a tie, went to the House of Representatives, who took 36 ballots to decide who would be the president. Close presidential elections are nothing new to the democracy of the United States. But now, the losers, instead of directing their efforts to win the next election, and trying to connect with the American people, are initiating investigation after investigation in an attempt to legally remove the president. My prediction is that after millions of dollars spent in a frivolous fury of moil, none of their objectives will be realized.

 

Of greater concern, it would seem, would be the problems facing the United States. We have eleven million people in this country who are here illegally, and yet, no one pretends to step up to the podium of responsibility and accept responsibility. The defenders of those here illegally reiterate their apothegm that they are only here to work, to seek a better life. A better life, it often seems, at the expense of the American people. Speaking of expenses, we have a federal deficit that we lost control of years ago, and a Congress that appears to be making little or no effort to mitigate the encumbrance. I might ask, as well, why do our representatives think that they should be addressing the interests of those who do not even have the right to vote? The problems of the constituencies of our representatives who vote should be their priority, and if that is indeed the case, why are they allowing tax dollars to support non-citizens to be drained from the public funds? We are all aware of our crumbling infrastructure, and yet, does no one understand that more people mean more stress on that infrastructure?  If our representatives are interested in serving non-citizens, they need to do that on their own time, not on the public dime.

 

It seems that as a democracy, we have people who are willing to do almost anything to gain power, and yet their efforts seem to be focused simply on power and not, as they were elected to do, address the problems of our republic. The promises are never realized, and their trajectory seems to be to accomplish their own ends, and not the interests of the people. Add to that their contentious nature and unwillingness to compromise and we see the deadlocked Congress that we have had for some time now. If the solutions are a compromise, isn’t a compromise a better solution than remaining loyal to an unattainable goal? Was not this nation, and our Constitution, a compromise?

 

It would seem that our representatives should be addressing the problems of the people, and not the problems of their party. The wealthy will always be well-represented, as they will always get that for which they pay. The endless investigations and attempts to impeach someone not of their ilk has become a pertinacious encumbrance on the responsibilities of our representatives. If our representatives are not fighting to impeach, they are of the opposite party, fending off the impeachment aspirations, both of which are wasting precious time and, as our economy sinks, and dwindling resources. Loyalty is an honorable characteristic, certainly. But loyalty to one’s constituency should take precedence over loyalty to one’s party, or to those whose ability to vote remains uncertain at best. They were elected to represent the people, and they need to meet that obligation. If our representatives cannot pursue the interests of their constituencies, they need to resign and pursue the desideratum of their choice, without taxpayer funding or government support.

Comments

George N Romey Added Jan 26, 2018 - 5:09pm
National politicians are mostly millionaires. They fight their ego games while America sinks into the abyss. Americans are told we have full employment and it’s their fault if they are still forced to have multiple part time jobs to barely survive. And the Federal Debt? This will never be repaid.
 
This goes beyond Donald Trump. It’s about a government that has become nothing more than a Banana Republic.
Dave Volek Added Jan 26, 2018 - 5:53pm
Jeff
 
Your article speaks to the frustration of the American people. Maybe I can add a few insights here.
 
In my opinion, whatever influence the Russians had on the election, it was very small. It could have tipped the balance towards Mr Trump, but I doubt it. If if I'm wrong, Mr Trump still earned 99% of his votes on his own merit, not from anything the Russians did for him. But the problem seems to be that his campaign team were soliciting the Russians to interfere, which begs the question of what was exchanged. Then the team tried to cover it up. If we say that this investigation is mostly politically motivated, there would be a large degree of truth to it. But having said that, the campaign team could have chosen not to engage with the Russians. In essence, the Trump team gave a warehouse of political ammunition to Trump's enemies--and for a very small political gain. This is just not smart politics. Which then begs the question of how smart are these people in the first place.
 
A politician's first loyalty is to the political party. If a political leader has proven he/she can win elections, the party will be very loyal to that person. A party cannot afford to put its elected members under the bus on the first hint of bad news; it will protect them for a consider time. Until we get rid of political parties, these relationships will always hold. In other words, don't expect your elected officials to be representing you. 
 
As you know, I have written a book about an alternative system of governance. If this system is built well, it will address all the concerns in your article. My marketing is nearly over, and it seems things have to get worse before the USA starts looking at my ideas.
 
 
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 26, 2018 - 6:53pm
Yes, George, as Harry Truman says the only way to rich as a politician is to be a corrupt politician. The Clintons are quite rich, too.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 26, 2018 - 6:55pm
Thanks for the comments Dave. The framers of the Constitution were not big believers in parties, they thought that they would divide our nation. It looks like they were correct.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Jan 26, 2018 - 8:13pm
Democracy in the land of the formerly free died long ago. Today its merely an oligarchy. 
Dave Volek Added Jan 26, 2018 - 9:08pm
Jeff
Getting back to your immediate question: "Is democracy in danger?" I would say for the short term the answer is "no." The institutions of American democracy are working well, and the peaceful protests is an effective deterrent for those who want arbitrary power: i.e., they have to work within the rules of the constitution.
 
My fear is that some nebulous force, which has a good understanding of psychology and sociology, is watching and learning from this circus. In other words, the next populist presidential candidate might be the danger.
 
 
 
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 27, 2018 - 6:53am
Tubularsock since my students read these posts, I cannot have you using foul language. Therefore I must delete your comments. Please feel free to submit them without the obscenities.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 27, 2018 - 7:00am
Dave political parties have gained too much power in the U.S. If effect, you cannot run for most elected positions because the parties have a stranglehold on the positions. this is something that needs changed, because it is a danger to our democracy. Thanks for the comments.
Dino Manalis Added Jan 27, 2018 - 9:36am
Democracy is struggling and investigations take too much time and cost precious money.  Politicians should be responsible and work together to deal with problems effectively and efficiently.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 27, 2018 - 10:10am
Excellent observation, Dino! I believe that the political class no longer seeks to serve the people who elected them, only to make themselves and their cohorts wealthy. I also think that the parties have been substantially influential in all of this, protecting their members (um, like that Secretary of State that compromised many classified documents) from harm even when they disobey the law. I was willing to let the actions of HRC pass, but now with all of the investigations of the current president, it is time to open up the files and see just who has broken the law, and almost more importantly, who let things slide when they should have pursued the investigation more vigorously. We won't have enough fingers to point the blame! 
Dave Volek Added Jan 27, 2018 - 10:14am
Dino
In the TDG, the politicians will learn to work together.
 
Why should we expect political parties to work together when they are competing for votes? Imagine a football game where the running backs routinely hand the ball over to the other side because it is a nice thing to do.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 27, 2018 - 11:25am
It would be nice if the political parties served the people, and not as many special interests. I would think that the people would have at least some similar interests.
opher goodwin Added Jan 27, 2018 - 1:05pm
Jeff - democracy has been dead a long time. In order to have democracy one needs unbiased information. The media has always had a strong bias and never produced unbiased views. They manipulate the public. Democracy cannot work.
The political elite lie. The media lie.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 27, 2018 - 1:10pm
Is democracy in danger
 
The US is not a democracy, it is a republic. And a real "democracy" never existed as did not a real "socialist" or "communist" system.
 
Fake information :-) It was always, and will always be, about who's the leader and who's got the power. In medieval times it was kings and the pope, now it's global companies and their networks.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 27, 2018 - 1:15pm
BTW: Presidents and PM's are only uselful nowadays so people can focus on somebody, because agendas behind might be too complicated for a day's thought.
 
The WEF in Davos showed that. The media here spent n hours reporting Trump's landing, arrival wherever as if he were god.
 
I puked silently, because: Trump has no say here. As he says himself, America First ! So the fuck stay there and don't fucking move to embarass the rest of the world.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 27, 2018 - 1:22pm
BTW2:
 
What do you think we think about a comic tweeter coming here and tell us:
 
"America first" means that we can't do it alone, we need partners.
 
That means: We tell you where to go, and we earn the fruits after. And when you miss the path, it's your fault.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 27, 2018 - 1:26pm
BTW3: A country which has 800 mililtary bases around the world and takes the right to intefere in sovereign countries' business while not respecting the UN charta suddenly puts a clown up who says "We can't do it alone" ??
 
Hilarious ! We all laugh about such a delusional soap opera :-)
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 27, 2018 - 2:23pm
Stone: We cannot have a direct democracy, but we have a republic where the representatives are chosen via democracy, therefore, we are a representative democracy also referred to as a republic, but we elect our representatives, and we are a democracy, just not a pure democracy. We can't have 300 million people voting on everything.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 27, 2018 - 2:30pm
What I loved about the one of the violent flareups in the Middle East, as my sister was in Europe, and with all of these people dying do you know what they were asking? Where are the Americans? We're the global policeman, and no one else wants to pay but they darn sure want us protecting their oil tankers so that they can get out of the Persian Gulf, and they like us containing other groups that want to stop the flow of oil and other commodities. Without our presence in Germany Stalin would have taken the whole of Germany, not just his half. What I love most, though, is the people who sleep under the blanket of very freedom that we provide, and then question the manner in which we provide it. We'd prefer you just said "thank you" and went on your way. And no, we don't really care about what you think you are entitled to, especially when you have most of what you have because of our efforts.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 27, 2018 - 2:36pm
Jeff
 
You could. We do it here. The problem you have is that millions of people have the good philosophy but the leaders operate on greed and self-interest.
 
One might say they are victims of the power game, but the concentration on 2 parties which are actually the same does not serve those 300 million. If you had a party that represents the native indians, the Mexicans, the Asians who have immigrated. it would be fair.
 
But it would mean that the US would have to revise its anglo-saxon heritage.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 27, 2018 - 2:39pm
BTW: We have 6 parties in government here for a people of 8 million. From the far-left to the right.
 
And it works. Compromise. That can work on a larger scale also. As the French say: Une question de volonté (A matter of good will)
Ben McCargo Added Jan 27, 2018 - 3:15pm
Was not this nation, and our Constitution, a compromise?
Yes Jeff, there was a compromise, more than one, some good, some bad.  The one that affected my people wasn't too good I don't think but, well, everyone can judge fore themselves.  
 
I think Trump won the election. even as a democrat and a liberal.  I also think that Russia may have been involved in some capacity and that's why we need the investigation.  I get the Russia thing; Hell, we do the same around the world.  Doesn't feel good when somebody else lays it down in your own backyard.  The fact that I know our government has the same technology, to me, makes the necessity of an investigation, all the greater. 
 
And everyone, do we really think the medias lies?  Or, is it that we need to take all that we read and see on TV or in print with a grain of salted skepticism?  I think it's the latter.  Don't let that fake news idea get into your head.  We're all part of that cycle aren't we, as bloggers?  Doesn't it filter down to us at some point, if all news is fake?  You tell me... 
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 27, 2018 - 3:34pm
Stone, in the U.S. every time a third party gets a foothold, the Reps or Dems co-opt their position and take the votes. The people who belonged to the third party realize that they can get more from an already established party and they go along. The people themselves must show loyalty to the third party. There are some countries in Europe where there are a multitude of parties, and they have to have several elections, a main election and then  run-offs, to finally get enough members that they can finally get something done. It is an issue of loyalty. The smaller groups of which you refer are (thank the Lord in American you can do that) free to and have every right and opportunity to start parties, it is just that if they get big enough, one of the main parties will take their position and represent them. We don't have any more Whigs, nor is the Know-Nothing party, nor the Constitutional Union party to name just a few, still active. The issues they took up either went away or, as mentioned, their positions were taken up by the main parties. I am in full agreement that it is the parties themselves that have corrupted what started out as a fiarly good system.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 27, 2018 - 3:52pm
Ben, after the assassination of Salvatore Allende in 1973, Congress passed a law making it illegal for U.S. agencies to interrupt elections in foreign countries, although there are certain exceptions. Even as a campaign official, you must register with the U.S. if you are going to work on an election in a foreign country. I believe that some of the Clinton political class worked on a foreign election and didn't report it, but then, if you're associated with the Clintons, federal law doesn't apply to you.
RobL_V2 Added Jan 27, 2018 - 5:19pm
Dave Volek, first forgive me if this was discussed on another string. But I cannot fathom why the Russians would want Trump as President. If anything Hillary gave them the Reset, NewSTART, sold our uranium stockpile (part of it), as well as handed them geographical territory from Syria to Ukraine. Its inconceivable they would want a President who campaigned on reversing those policies. 
 
That said certainly Russia benefits if the USA is weakened by infighting, dangerous partisanship, and all the other insanity going on as Jeff alluded to. So they would never tip their hand even if they were pro-Hillary in fact they'd say they were pro Trump just to add fuel to our fires of instability.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 27, 2018 - 9:37pm
Jeff,
No, it's not a democracy, but it'ts not a pure republic, either, because of the electoral college.  Also, anyone who wants to run for office is more or less forced to join with Republicans or Democrats, because getting on any ballot is a nightmare maze of rules unless you have a party behind you.  So, yes, politicians end up representing their parties (and their political donors) more than the voters.  
 
In other words, the system is rigged every whichaway to keep those in power in power.
 
I imagine everyone would like to influence US elections, whether directly or indirectly, and if the Trump team spoke to Russians, so what?  That everyone is making such a big deal about it only detracts from the business of running the country.
Stephen Hunter Added Jan 28, 2018 - 8:54am
Not sure if 'democracy' is in immediate danger Jeff, however it is certainly screaming for a make-over of some kind. 30% controlling the narrative right now is wake-up call. 
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 28, 2018 - 8:59am
The Electoral College is the equalizer for the smaller states. If we did not have the Electoral College, the small states would have left a century ago, and worst case scenario, they would have never have signed the Constitution. The Electoral College is an example of one of the great compromises that this nation was founded on. Not the least of important records, the Electoral College has always voted as the people that they represent have told them to vote. This nation was founded upon compromises. Our inability to compromise at this point in time is harming this nation.
Robl and Katherine are right, why in the world would any Russian want Trump instead of Hillary? It makes no sense. Trump isn't going to give things away or just allow the Russians to take over territories that Hillary would have graciously allowed the Russians to take.
Stephen Hunter Added Jan 28, 2018 - 9:34am
I am not sure if they wanted Trump over Hillary either Jeff. Their end game is creating a divide and keeping people fighting and unhappy. And they continue to figure out how to use fear and anger with FB etc. And have their trolls in place to keep stirring the pot. 
Dave Volek Added Jan 28, 2018 - 10:19am
RobL
I too wonder why the Russians would want to meddle in the American election. They didn't get the result they were looking for. Maybe next time they will save a few million dollars and put it in their Swiss bank accounts.
Dave Volek Added Jan 28, 2018 - 10:29am
I've always thought that if the TDG ever takes off, it would first be applied in the USA. The reason is that Americans have the sense that they created something from nothing (in terms of governance), so they may have the sense that they can do it again.
 
There's all sorts of discussion on this thread about the flaws of political parties (my book has identified 12 such flaws), yet there is still a belief that the "answer" lies within the parties.
 
My brother-in-law is a mechanic and got a call one day: "My car keeps breaking down."
 
My BiL said, "Oh"
 
The potential customer continued: "I have to take a set of tools and some space parts everywhere I go. I often spend an hour or two on the road fixing it. Then when I get home, I have to give it a good inspection for my next trip. I really can't trust this car any more."
 
My BiL asked, "What kind of car is it?"
 
The potential customer said: "A 1939 Chevrolet".
 
My BiL said: "This car is just worn out. You should buy a new car."
 
 
 
mark henry smith Added Jan 28, 2018 - 2:38pm
Jeff, democracy is always in trouble. It is a terrible way to get things done, but it is the fairest we've been able to devise. But the problems you talk about are not problems of democracy. Our crumbling infrastructure is not a problem of democracy. Our militarism is not a problem of democracy. Our deficits are no a problem of democracy. Our entrenched political parties are not a problem of democracy.
 
All nations have these problems when the political elite become a rule until themselves, it doesn't matter what system of governance is in place. As I have stated in other comments, the US problem is and always has been income disparity and limits to social access. Those two problems are directly connected. There was a brief attempt to separate the two in the South after The Civil War and it was quickly corrected to keep the affluent whites in secure control. Land was not taken to be given to freed slaves. Money was not paid out. Voting was not made free and fair.
 
We are still battling the same battles. A democracy can vote itself out of existence if the right person enters the arena and can sway the demos to elect him or her supreme leader. A president can rule by decree if no one stops them. How we can allow this insanity to continue, as Stone points out, as I read in the paper about how all the European leaders now seem enamored with Trump, complete drivel, is anyone's guess. As long as the markets keep soaring, the sheep will keep their eyes on the numbers growing on their earnings statement and ignore everything else.
 
I would say that David Byrne said it correctly, same as it ever was, same as it ever was.