Pity that we ignored the outside world. We could have learned from them.
Ever since 1831, when Alexis de Tocqueville travelled across this flat earth to our hallowed shores and told us what he had discovered through his unique perspective, it has been useful to see ourselves through the eyes of an outsider. Sent here to study our prison system, he ended up studying us, analyzing both our puritanical past and our heady, unique and fascinating future. That future, in large part, was based on a constitution that inspired millions here and abroad, from the very time that it was penned and voted into existence. Sadly, that document no longer works.
Part of his genius was seeing and recognizing the obvious, then describing it in ways that we could not ignore . . . Or deny.
de Tocqueville had this to say about the role of women here, in an awed and inspired manner:
“As for myself, I do not hesitate to avow that although the women of the United States are confined within the narrow circle of domestic life, and their situation is in some respects one of extreme dependence, I have nowhere seen women occupying a loftier position; and if I were asked, (…) to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply,—to the superiority of their women.”
What an insight and what an analysis of our society back then.
While other countries copied some some of our democratic ideals, in many ways, they eclipsed them, having far greater numbers of women in office, and even as heads of state long before Shirley Chisolm became the first woman to seek the US Presidency.
By now it is routine for women to sit in the House, the Senate, many governor’s offices, and almost without notice or comment about their sex, as mayors and local and state politicians. We must admit that Shirley never had a chance. Since her efforts (as well as Gerri Ferraro’s as VP) we were never given another opportunity by the powers that be. Part of that is intentional, part of the is structural and part of that is by unfortunate design.
Part of the problem with our current constitutional design is that it is not capable of being repaired, not without wholesale changes. And we are incapable of positive change. Only destruction looms ahead.
THE TWO PARTY SYSTEM IS A MESS
The basic framework of our political system is mess, doomed to failure. No two party system could ever function adequately in a country that sports 320,000,000 people, with 11-15,000,000 of them here without documentation. The broad, often conflicting range of interests is simply too huge and complex to be effectively dealt with by any two party system, no matter how hard they try. When they try. Or more to the point, if they even bother to try.
There was little of such effort visible over the last eight years. That bald, disgusting fact became the norm when Mitch McConnell promised that his only goal was to make Obama a one term president. It was stunning when he said that. But the reaction was even worse. The lack of outrage among democrats, republicans, indies, and of course, the MSM, is partly why our country is doomed to fail.
NO 100 MEMBER SENATE CAN FUNCTION TODAY
Add to that, our basic political structure is unworkable. 100 senators for country of 320,000,000? No founding father ever anticipated such a disaster. Certainly they never intended that those 100 would wield so much latent, even covert power. Those same brilliant founding fathers, well, most of them, hated the idea of political parties. They viewed political parties, correctly as it turns out, as a potential cyst on the nation’s anus.
Yet, by limiting ourselves, unrealistically, to having a senator from North Dakota have as much influence as a senator who has New York City, Chicago, or LA as part of his/her territory, we have effectively closed off the senate from the people, and turned it into a millionaire’s club that works rarely, if ever, in cooperating on a pressing issue (Zika? Aids? Global climate change) except when it can magnify its own power and reap the resulting riches. Only then do most of the 100 mini-tsars cooperate while a few complainers see the money grab (regardless of the subject) for what it is. Today, Bernie Sander, Elizabeth Warren and a couple of ultra-conservative GOPers have the gall to complain and point out the problem, even though the larger issue continues to elude them.
Here is a pop quiz. Name one senator who left the senate as poor or poorer than when he/she first arrived. Name one. Just one. Or look west, young man, look west. Democratic Senator DiFi may not have been openly bribed, but her family certainly profited greatly by stuffing their maws at the public trough.
I cannot think of one senator in modern times who is not better off financially by the time she /he leaves office. To our chagrin, and to the loss of the nation.
If you do not believe that our senatorial system is totally fucked, just look at the 8 member Supreme Court.
A 435 MEMBER HOUSE CAN NEVER FUNCTION USEFULLY FOR A COUNTRY THIS SIZE
The House. Today, it brings images of John Belushi in a toga. But the real thing is even worse. 435 individuals, dedicated to raise funds to insure their own re-election, who toil each and every day begging for campaign donations, and whose members only spend 3-4 days actually in session during those rare weeks when they even bother to be in town, have control over our country. Every Thursday they rush to local airport so they can fly home to raise more funds. No, not every thursday. They are only in DC for 15-18 weeks to begin with. Unless there are parties and fundraisers to attend. Corrected, it should read, “Every Thursday when they bother to be in DC, they rush to fly home in order to raise more campaign funds.” That is their normal life cycle. That is what they do. That is who they are.
435 people, intent on begging money from potential puppet masters in order to maintain their offices (and the power that attaches to it). It is not unfair to claim that all 435 of them spent far more time begging lobbyists and billionaires on their knees over the last eight years, than they ever did legislating.
The most democratic country in the world? US? The US and A? Seriously? Who are we kidding? There is absolutly no bloody way that any one congresscritter could ever fully represent 735,000 individuals with varied interests, needs, and ideas. Even worse, when bad ideas become popular, and result in the election of the inane TeaBuggerers, it causes even more sand to be spilled into the already creaky gears of government. Even when a exceedingly rare, supreme, brave effort to face a problem squarely does take place, a small group of Ayn Rand devotees manage to strangle any good idea that might bubble up through that mess, having a Vulcan death grip over our entire political process. Our system was never designed to deal with a mindless, childish, and deliberate effort to destroy our Federal government. Yet that is what unfettered TeaBuggery has brought us, a small, unpopular minority holding the rest of the House, and as a result, the country, hostage.
THE GENIUS OF TEH DONALD
You have to admit that for all his obvious personal . . . distractions, Donald Trump was smart enough to diagnose the problem. Not only was our system irretrievably broken, the general population was mad, very mad. Insecure financially, tired physically, and unable to trust anything that was coming out of D.C. He saw and diagnosed that anger, and pounced on it.
He took advantage of his insights and understanding, and played his GOP opponents like fools. He beat them in ways they never imagined, and he destroyed their party, even thought they may not recognize it just yet. Funny thing, despite his surprising success, his true message was ignored by the Hillarians. Trump took the identical tactics and did it a second time, using an ossified, top heavy, elitist DNC and insular, vile, undemocratic party structure against Hillary, at the very time that she relied on just that very structure to bulldoze her own opponents and insure that she and only she would or could be the nominee.
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS FATALLY ILL. SUPERDELEGATES? WTF?
The DNC is a major villain in this mess. As is the insular party structure. Many people complained, even here, and those many, many voices were shut down, ignored, berated, even kicked out. Debbie whatshername Schultz? She was no loyal democrat working for the people of this country thru the DNC. She was and is a political hack intent on controlling the result at all costs. Donna Brazile is even worse, now that we know that she cheated to help Hillary in a debate. But her goals were identical to Debbie’s and Hillary’s — anoint Hillary as the chosen one no matter what. No matter what the facts on the ground or in emails were. No matter that a majority of American cannot stand her.
Forget about the complaints. Ignore those who tried to warn the party. Insult them as sexists, when the reality was that her problems were largely self made, and that the candidate was immune to learning from or reacting to serious, factual criticisms.
Between the major two party inherent design flaw, and angry, upset, insecure, and untrusting voting public, and the glossed over weakness . . . Nay, weaknesses of the democratic nominee, and you had a situation ripe for surprise, even disaster.
And that is what we reaped on Tuesday.
OTHERS DIAGNOSED BETTER THAN WE
The BBC, or the Beebs, as some call it, had this to say:
Hillary Clinton has long had a trust problem, which is why the email scandal loomed so large. She had an authenticity problem. She was seen as the high priestess of an east coast elite that looked down, sneeringly, on working people. The vast riches that the Clintons accumulated since leaving the White House did not help. The former first couple were seen not just as limousine liberals but Lear Jet liberals.
Again, their wealth exacerbated her problems with working class voters, even though they happily voted for a property tycoon. In a country where millions more women vote than men, it was thought that her gender would give her a major advantage. But what became clear in the primaries against her rival Bernie Sanders was how hard she found it to enthuse young women voters especially about electing the country’s first female president, and shattering the most resilient glass ceiling in global politics.
The Guardian is no less aware of what happened:
There are few places where the political landscape is turning to quicksand as quickly as McDowell, the poorest county in West Virginia.
A forlorn place dotted with shuttered coalmines and abandoned homes, McDowell was once a Democratic heartland but is quickly shifting allegiance – Barack Obama won there in 2008, but Mitt Romney took it by a wide margin in 2012.
This year, it was the county in which Trump won his highest percentage of primary votes. There are more than 3,000 counties in the US – none voted for Trump as overwhelmingly as McDowell, where he secured 91.5% of the vote.
How can it be that a tax-avoiding billionaire who flies around in a gold-plated private jet is most popular in a place where more than half the population lives off donations from a food bank?
Le Monde had a sense of what was boiling over on this side of the Pond, even before Tuesday.
But there’s more to it in this election: a feeling that crosses party divisions, an anger expressed in the primaries by the 12 million people who voted for Senator Bernie Sanders and the 13.3 million supporters of Republican billionaire Donald Trump. They reckoned the system is rigged because politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, have launched wars in the Middle East that have impoverished the US without bringing victory. Rigged, because a majority of the population continues to pay for the consequences of an economic crisis that has cost those who caused it nothing. Rigged, because President Obama has disappointed the huge hopes of change generated by his 2008 campaign. Rigged, because Republican voters saw little difference after they mobilised to take control of the two Houses in Congress in 2010 and 2014. The system is rigged because nothing changes in Washington, because Americans feel dispossessed of their country by an oligarchy that holds them in contempt, because inequality grows and the middle class is beset by fear.
The election ostensibly began so well. On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton’s party nomination was supposed to be a cakewalk, a dynastic succession power-assisted by Obama, but it turned into a struggle against a maverick septuagenarian, Sanders. He surprised everyone by successfully mobilising millions of voters among the young, the rural population and the working class with an anti-capitalist campaign. And money was no obstacle: he raised huge sums from millions of small donations, circumventing one of the most hated ways in which US politics is rigged (2). This surprising outcome seemed all the more promising as Donald Trump also spent far less on his primary campaign than several of the Republican opponents he crushed.
The system is rigged? Of course it is. It was rigged by, for and for the sole benefit of maintaining the political power of those in charge. Both parties’ true leaders thought that they had it rigged to their benefit, and are now shocked that We, The People, don’t like that very much. More than anything, Tuesday was a protest vote against the status quo. And Trump was anything but status or quo, while Hillary represented the very worst of it.
Here we sit, scared of what will happen tomorrow. Paul Ryan has already promised to destroy the best run, most efficient method of providing health care for the elderly and infirm. Medicare is gone, to be trashed on the ash heap of what we once knew as Obamacare. Vouchers? Private insurers? Oh my fucking nasty god. Yeah, that will be an improvement. I cry at the damage that maniac will create. I cry for the elderly who will forgo care, because it will no longer be available to them. I cry for the kids, whose sick parents will go untreated, lose their jobs as a result, and who will become homeless. The Tent Cities of years past will be our future. Ryan will guarantee that. And trump promised to help.
So, in summary, this was what America faced on Tuesday. A sexist, racist, groping, used car lot employee turned carnival barker, who has done little in life but promote himself, often at the expense of others. No political experience. No administrative experience. Experienced only in litigation, given that he has created so much of it. But he correctly diagnosed this nation, its angry voters, and the many ills that our government has studiously ignored, (including both major parties) and capitalized on it. He won fair and square, just because we let him.
On the other side, an elite, experienced, extremely wealthy woman selling herself as one of the common people. Yeah, that will work, doncha think? The hatred that many felt and still feel towards her was not the result of some right wing conspiracy. She personally earned each and every bit of it. But our elite leaders knew best. Her chromosomal makeup, her experience, and her smarts would win over millions and win the election, except for that pesky million member voting block that refused to bring themselves to vote for her. It was not our fault for pointing it out. And I cannot blame hillary supporters for putting blinders on and refusing to recognize this fact — even today — an extremely large bloc of americans would never vote for her.
In one sense, and only one sense, the election of Trump is a good thing. it will speed up the end of America as we know it. The destruction of our two party system, the eradication of the party elites (on both sides) that have done so much damage to the middle class and to the country, and a federal government so unwieldy and so unworkable, that we were forced to create a giant administrative system to cover up its inherent weakness. All that will be gone, perhaps violently. The national wounds and structural weaknesses run so deep that incremental change is impossible, especially with the TeaBuggered hostage takers now firmly in control.
No, in order to save this country, we need to allow Trump, Ryan, McConnel, ALEC, the Koch bros. and Steve Bannon destroy it first. Only then can we rebuild. Tis a pity that 320,000,000 will suffer so badly before that opportunity arises.