If It’s Broken, Fix It!

The American Reality – not the Dream

There is no gentle way of saying this!  Why?  The people who inhabit the United States don’t find criticism of their reality any more welcome than does their sitting President. One might use a different title for this thought: Beyond Repair.  However, that title has been utilized by more than one of their more critical theorists already. 

            There are at first glance four ailments:

  1. The Electoral System
  2. The Governance Structure
  3. The Legal System 
  4. American Exceptionalism

Let’s Consider Each:

  1. The Electoral System that is currently used in the “Divided States” of America is not only divided, but more importantly, if you were to construct the worst possible electoral system, you couldn’t out-do the US.  For example, the Electoral College (now ancient) has lost total relevance in the 21st Century. The decentralized system – each state having its own electoral system for federal/national positions – not only the President, but also Congress: i.e. the Senate and House of Representatives is painful, all with equal irrelevance.  Congressional seats – ‘Down Ballot’ seats from the Presidential ballot – could/should continue at the federal/national level.  Other ‘Down Ballot’ ballot elections might stay at the state level of determination. 

To continue to have each state determine the Federal/National arrangements for Registration, Ballot style and construction, Counting of ballots, and Final Tabulation is hardly democratic or just; it’s time to be consistent, nationally recognized and regulated. Why has the Electoral College continued into the 21st Century? Why, also, can it be manipulated in some states by the Governor?  A patchwork quilt system hardly seems to give it elegance.

The 2020 election’s confusion and ‘legitimacy-crisis’ issues certainly raise enough questions to demand refining and fixing the present system and structure. It’s broken!

Put simply, why not determine the future President by the popular vote?

That, of course, does nothing for the structural ‘disabilities’ of the tripartite system of the US – the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court.  Why are there no ‘Checks and Balances’?  [see below]

2. The Governance Structure of the US is assumed to exemplify one of the ‘great democracies’. If you shout something often enough folks come to believe.  In fact, the present structure militates against deliberative, dialogical, constructive legislative action.  If the Senate and/or the House of Representatives is controlled by one party or the other … the President or one or the other legislative body is crippled.  In terms of what?  Crippled in terms of imagining or enacting needed legislation. The ‘most powerful man in the world’ becomes a ‘lame-duck’ President – Barak Obama being a prime example.

Democratic dialogue amongst political players becomes stilted, stalled, and endlessly embroiled in vitupritudeness behaviour and ultimately dislocated from the political intelligence necessary to govern.

There has always been vehement defenses of the US system … the problem is that it doesn’t work!  Hello!

3. The Legal System once in the hands of someone like Donald Trump as President exemplifies a kind of “Pardon Me” approach to legal matters.  The President can apparently pardon anyone – with the now necessary exception of himself. Thank, whomever comes to mind, for that! In the US judges (‘down ballot’ judges) are elected. Of course, the Supreme Court judges are appointed by the President as recently witnessed. In the Canadian model judges at all levels are appointed. The differences between these two models need ‘outing’ and exploration. The recent examples of Presidential pardons á la Donald Trump’s ‘colleagues’ are ridiculous and de-legitimize the legal system.  Why continue the charade?

4. ‘American Exceptionalism – The thematic Devastation of Intelligent Democratic Life and Language: The ‘Americans’ don’t understand that their moniker is an example of language theft or linguistic imperialism. Everyone in the western hemisphere is ‘American’ … some more than others, if that doesn’t seem non-inclusive.

However, “The leader of the Free World, the Most Powerful ‘Man’ in the world, the Greatest country in the world, the Greatest Democracy in the world” – these are not simply patriotic expressions (personal or national). They are ‘American’ ideological obsessions. Vapidity comes to mind. Tagged to these are perspectives that suggest that the US is a model of democracy and freedom, (for export and imposition anywhere).  The imperialism continues.  

One expression, that if it weren’t so critical (especially now) would be laughable, is that the US is a country laden with Checks and Balances!  At the moment, (November 2020) the thirst for checks and balances is so necessary – yet unavailable with the structures and systems outlined above.

Finally, ‘delusion’ has become normalized! A just, caring society would send Trump to prison for his various ‘exploits’ – sexual as well as financial.  To prison with mandatory mental health care thereafter!  But, in that order. Insanity should not exclude prosecution.

Delusion is not okay.  Paranoia can be creative … but it’s not in most everyday realities normal. Mary Trump – the President’s niece – stated in an MSNBC interview a couple of weeks  before the election, that the American Psychiatric Association should step in.  She, as a psychologist, recognized the ethical difficulty of diagnosing via TV or the reality of a stage podium.  We all comprehend and understand that.  I suggested after the Women’s March in 2016 that perhaps we might do just that.  Is the Shepard’s Hook not a form of check to bring balance?

            To conclude, to be fair, to be just, and to retain some sense of reality, truth, and to some extent some sense of humour, the United States, is one of the few countries in the world that has over the course of its existence, exhibited (alongside its racism, sexism, classism, imperialism –all not unique to the US, and given its continuing ‘civil war’), has exhibited a wealth of intelligent creative energy.  The question asked at the moment is this: Why haven’t responsible Republicans stepped up to the plate, to use the national sporting image, and applied the ‘Sheppard’s Hook’?  But, a more penetrating question over the long term is this: How have the people of the United States of America, the USA, allowed the past four years to happen?  There are urgencies in the world at the moment – Covid 19 – but more importantly,  the Climate Crisis.  And, of course, ridding the world of Donald Trump!

We must all step up!

The Bumper Sticker says it all:

If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention!

About Gordon A. Bailey

I was born in Montréal in 1946, raised in Minnesota and Saskatchewan and now live on Pender Island, BC. I taught Sociology at Capilano University in North Vancouver for eighteen years - commuting by ferry, transit and bicycle. My writing includes three books in sociology - on theory, on ideology, and an introductory text (still under construction). I intend to shift my writing focus to essays, articles and various forms of fiction.
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