April 15, 2016

Politics, Elections, Innate Behaviors

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.  P. J. O'Rourke
I have a self-imposed ban on US political news.  I have learned enough to conclude that elections are hopeless charades. My approach is to develop and apply some general rules of human nature to current events. There are no surprises, ancient patterns recur reliability. The names and places may change, but the underlying  patterns are innate and fixed in human DNA.
Elections are often thought to be the essence of democracy, but as human groups grow larger and social organization more complex, elections become media events that preclude the ideal of citizen involvement in government. In a simple analysis, increasing size and complexity of government makes ideal democracy impossible. Eventually, democratic rights might be restored by internet technologies that permit citizens to discuss and vote directly on policy issues and legislation.

The value of elections is not so much the selection of the right people to run governments since this result is seldom achieved. Elections invite the powerbrokers to spend increasing sums of money to elect candidates they chose. You could argue that candidate selection for elections is so inappropriate, so contrived that the real tasks facing the elected politicians will never be addressed. An election lottery choosing from thoughtfully selected, highly qualified citizens would do a better job of forming governments. An alert, well-informed citizenry and a politically independent judiciary are essential to the preservation of personal freedoms. A civil society develops multiple overlapping levels of dispute resolution with the right to appeal bad decisions that are common and inevitable when local tribunals and courts decide who is privileged and who is not.
The US Example
According to Posner,   in the US, the founding fathers did not want to set up a democracy but a mixed government. The presidency is the monarchical element, the Senate and Supreme Court are aristocratic elements and only the democratic element is the House of Representatives. This design has worked more or less to balance competing interests, but Bush and Cheney demonstrated that the design had become obsolete. The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and later ratified by conventions in each U.S. state in the name of "The People"; it has since been amended twenty-seven times, the first ten amendments being known as the Bill of Rights. None of the amendments change the infrastructure of governance.  The US is a totally different country in the 21st century. Corporations that do not evolve with changing circumstances tend to fail. So do countries with antiquated constitutions. Researchers at Princeton University have definitively concluded that America isn’t a democracy… instead, it’s an oligarchy in which power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.
In the US, government is a circus of competing interests, displaying their wares in a variety of venues. The real process of government is an endless series of negotiations. Negotiated deals tend to benefit the more aggressive, influential and wealthy participants. Government as a circus is arguably better than government as a monarch’s court, but it is not ideal and may not be sustainable. All governments are inefficient and are prone to corruption.