Blain’s Morning Porridge – July 4th 2022: The US’ Past will determine its Future.
“The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.”
This morning: The US has been a great Anglo-Saxon creation and experiment, but the way in which 6 conservatives hold the reins of power, and are showing they are prepared to flex them is causing rising doubt.
Happy Birthday America!
Traditionally on July 4th I go out for a proper lunch in the City with mates to remember all the very many good things about America – including our careers in finance. Thanks! But this year.. I’m working from home and wondering about the future. I am seriously worried about America, and wondering if it’s all our fault? (US Readers – today’s Morning Porridge may contain nuts and the merest smidge of ironic sarcasm..)
Here in the UK we should celebrate American Independence with more enthusiasm. After all, it was an absolute stroke of genius – on our part!
Independence Day was the culmination of our great plan to improve the UK. It was brilliant for its time. Over centuries we’d come to realise the main issues in the UK were down to a whole host of conflicting demographic and people problems – which we easily solved by exporting them elsewhere.
In the 1600s the new Britain (not yet the United Kingdom) emerged from millennia of mostly slaying each other: Britons against Saxons, Saxon against Angles, Angles against Scots, Scots against Picts, Everyone against Vikings, Scotland vs England, Britain against Spain, France and anyone else wanting to have a go, Religious Wars and Civil Wars.
Suddenly, peace (of a sort) broke out. The aristocracy moved from damp draughty castles into nice modern stately homes. The peasantry moved from disease riven mud-hovels into brick-built boxes in new cities. People stopped dying of preventable diseases and a lack of soap, and the population began to boom.
The UK is a small island, and we don’t really have the space. We wanted to avoid the kind of unpleasantness we’d seen generated by civil wars, rebellions and overly dangerous political and religious ideas – like levelling up or social equality, questioning the divine authority of kings, or further outbreaks of religious intolerance.
Hence, we came up with the wizard wheeze of exporting all the useless pains-in-our-backsides to New World across the Atlantic. So:
- We got rid of surplus impoverished second, third and n+1 sons of the minor aristocracy (drones by any standard), and the middle classes by offering them land in the fertile south and shipping them off to found new agricultural estates.
- We winnowed the cities of surplus labour by offering “opportunity” in the new world – shipping them off to work the land, build the cities and direct the industry and commerce of the new provinces.
- We got rid of our religious nutters. The frankly dull, boring and mostly harmless ones dressed in black were shipped off to the new world and promised they could do whatever they wished in terms of their religion. They happily established themselves in New England and in typical Puritan style started burning old women as witches because the milk had gone sour. The more radical Catholic dissenters were shipped south.
- The Scottish/English borderers – who’d spent centuries raiding each other – were offered Northern Ireland, or if particularly violent, given land in the New World with added attraction of being able to fight the French to the West and North.
And every time we experienced a national tragedy, like wars and clearances in Scotland, or famine in Ireland – there was plenty of space for the inconvenient survivors in the colonies. As the colonies grew, it was easy to persuade bright young folk that a lifetime spent paying back the costs of their economic migration was worthwhile.
Brilliant. Britain’s population excess solved.
We got rid of our unnecessary surplus, and foisted them off on the Americas.. which then had the absolute temerity to complain about being taxed by London. Ungrateful little tykes. Enough is enough. Despite the fact we’d help them get established and protected them from the marauding French, we had our second genius moment. Why pay for the America’s to be our national dumping ground…? Let them pay for themselves!
So we engineered a rather lame revolution, helped them write a rather ironic constitution that befuddles them still to this day, persuaded them to sort themselves out by adopting ridiculous political structures, and left them to get on with it, confident, in time they’d see things our way and become an English Speaking bastion on the unfashionable side of the Atlantic..
Which from our perspective; has pretty much panned out as planned.
But the fervid mix of hotheads, genetic misfits, bad ideas and even worse behaviours we shipped out do seem to be battering into each other rather appallingly these days.. All of which leads us to a comment in Sunday Times yesterday: “Why America is in such a mess” There were a couple of lines that really stood out:
- “Did the rebellious colonists of 1776 create a country dedicated to the radical idea of human equality? Or did they create a fundamentally conservative republic shaped by Christian values? And, critically, who gets to decide, and how do they do so?”
- “When George Washington left office in 1789 he warned of the curse of “faction”. His dream was of a republic run on consensual lines by silk-stockinged gentlemen farmers.”
- “The most worrying development is the collapse of faith in the legitimacy of the national government. The Senate, the Supreme Court and the presidential electoral college are, by design, anti-majoritarian. Those institutions enable an organised minority, in the 1850s as now, to impose its will on the rest. An NPR poll published last week indicated that 58 per cent of Americans had no confidence in the Supreme Court, while a University of Chicago poll found that more than a quarter of US voters believed it might soon be necessary “to take up arms against the government”. If government is no longer seen to be based on the consent of the governed, the outlook is bleak.”
Two weeks ago the world was shocked and surprised when the Supreme Court of the USA reversed a previous judgement giving women rights to abortion.
Last week the Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate and set targets for fossil fuel carbon production – effectively handing control back to republican states. Many Republican law makers still accept massive funding from the coal, oil and gas lobbies.
And, it was at this point I came across a Thread on Twitter by Thom Hartmann outlining a doomsday scenario for US politics:
- Assume the Democrats could win the popular vote in 2024 and win enough electoral college votes to hold the Presidency. However, Republican controlled state legislatures (with majorities for the Dems) then declare they are awarding their states electoral votes to the Reps. The US Constitution lays out the process of the electoral college, but does not mention the popular vote or the will of the people. It says “in such manner as the legislature may direct”. It may seem obvious it should be demographically determined, but in the most powerful democracy on the planet, semantics and the courts could well rule.
The Thread goes on to point out the 2000 US election, which hung on Florida votes, had three Supreme Court Justices citing the primacy of the State Legislatures to assign the votes – including Clarence Thomas. Since the last election many republican controlled states have amended their laws to allow the legislature, not the actual number of votes, to determine who gets the electoral college votes.
The Hartmann Twitter Thread is well worth a read. It’s scary and suggests that if protests erupt, they would be quickly quashed by militias, and protest organisers arrested for “seditious conspiracy” against their state legislatures.
There are two ways of looking at the current myre in the US. Either is just a young nation still finding its way towards further greatness with some issues still to resolve – which I sincerely hope. Or, its on a terminal collision with itself. Probably time to reform the 246 year old operating system.
That’s really not what we had in mind when we let the US go its own way back in 1776, but I guess it’s a consequence of the folk we exported…. And, no… they can’t send Trump back.
Five Things to Read This Morning
FT Global inflation: Japan faces a moment of truth
FT EU finalises sweeping rules for wild west crypto industry
WSJ Millennials were optimistic about their financial future, but now, not so much
BBerg Boeing Rues US-China Trade War as Airbus Wins $37 Billion Deal
BBerg How the ECB Plans to Keep Markets in Check as It Hikes Rates
Out of time, back to the day job
Strategist – Shard Capital
Bill, May I vehemently disagree with your last comment -“And no…they can’t send Trump back”
Why not? He would, presumably, be sent back to his paternal ancestral home – Germany? What better place for a befuddled quasi neo-whatever- white supremacist?
Half German.. Half Scots… worrying.
Maybe Scottish Independence is not such a bad thing after all.
You’re something else Bill. England is a has been and you lecture the USA about “doing it wrong”. England started WW1, WW2 and now it’s trying to start WW3 with its rabid anti Russian propaganda. If anyone is doing it wrong it’s England. Your error filled Malthusian approach is something else. You can’t make anything in England any more because you’re too tied to your class structure. You’re hopeless. And hopelessly untalented.
If only we shared your vision and wisdom
I guess you think a democracy is better than a constitutional republic. You need to be informed that our republic is based on law and the constitution. Your obvious disdain for conservatives is pathetic. The supreme court makes decisions based on the constitution as it is written, not as a liberal or conservative would like it to be. Obviously you disagree, how sad and short sighted. The constitution and the electoral college were set up to protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority. If you need to be reminded, the best example of a democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to eat for dinner. The supreme court didn’t abolish abortion, it sent the decision back to the states. Also maybe you should be informed that most legal scholars, including liberal supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg opined that the Roe v Wade decision wasn’t correct.
My work here is done.
And such a cleary presented perspective on why I am wrong and must be humiliated for it. “Sad and shortsighted” “pathetic”… etc. Thank you sir.. can I have some more… thwack…
And who protects the majority from the tyranny of the minority? In this case, 6 conservatives who own their positions to acturial accident and conservatives?
Be honest. If the court was 6 liberals and 3 conservatives, Right-wing Trumptards and Republicans would be fulminating… and declaring it all unconstitutional.
Wake up America.
Of course that is what all politicians do, including the Brits. You can invert the situation ( control, power etc) and each party would swap hats and none the wiser as the talking points would be the same. I am an American sort of socially liberal (old style not the new crazy version think Bill Maher) but I can stomach people who disagree with me. I like your sass Bill! But as I tell my wife often… if abortion was so damn important then they should have codified it in law at some point in the past half century and not left it to how a batch of old people felt that month.
Hello from the wrong side of the pond Bill. I do appreciate the instruction in anglo-American history and it’s demographic impact. One thing puzzles me however. Based on my meager understanding of British history your most heinous and depraved residents were transported to Australia. If that is the case why is Oz the Lucky Country whist America is cursed?
Of course my comments y’day were a deliberate red rag to US bulls – see the trumptard comments above.
But continuing the theme:
It was version 2 of the experiment. Under v1 – America, we made the mistake of sending out loads of society drones and created a society with aspirations to mimic merry old England.
V2 – realising Australia was hostile and more difficult ecologically, and desiring to make them tough and strong, they got the lowest levels of society sent out.. and you know what… It absolutely worked.. (Remember, the Duke of Wellington called his army the scum of the earth, “they may not frighten the enemy, but they frighten me”, and created the instrument to defeat Napoleon.)
Ah ok I see you used the word “TrumpTard”. That qualifies you as suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. I used to occasionally scan your articles on Zh but I got to the point I wondered why they even place them. You’re singularly untalented. As always you live up to the name I have given you in the Zh comments: Bloated Bloviating Blain.
Why thankyou kind sir.. I rejoice in the nickname. How wise you are..
What part of the law don’t you get? The supreme court is supposed to make decisions based on the rule of law, the way the constitution is written, NOT by ideology. Geez I guess liberals have no problem with your fascist tendencies. Shove you ideology down everyone throat, laws don’t matter. Typical knee jerk liberal response :totally disregards facts when formulating an opinion. I am unsubscribing from your drival.
And.. winding up to 11…
There are none so blind as those who chose to be..
Good to know that a document written nearly 300 years ago was so prescient. However please edify us. If the Constitution and the Holy Bible are in conflict, which takes precedence? Is the issue adjudicated by the Supremes or an ecclesiastic tribunal, the Grand Inquisitor perhaps?
Not as simple as in grade school texts. Early / mid -20th century major opinions looked to the general principles of equality, freedom to choose (Brown v Board of education- separate schools cannot be equal). Now, “conservative” judges appear to know what outcome they want (to favor Republican / business interests) then find history to support the decision, even if they must resort to disagreeing with Congressional majority decisions (eg, Shelby County v Holder, when the Court decided discrimination on basis of race no longer existed, so states could organize and run elections any way they chose, and no longer needed Justice Department review and approval.)
Thank HMK. But trying to educate the Euros on our Republic is futile. They don’t understand that our founders saw the states as laboratories of democracy. Instead they put labels on everything. The irony is that they throw tantrums about abortion and the right to dismember the most innocent of human life even as they depopulate and commit demographic genocide. Their only hope is that Russell Brand will run for PM and win!!!
Disturbing trends here in America
We are all taking sides
My only hope is that the Right gets too greedy and overplays their hand
I wonder how woman will react?
One typo/ Washington left office in 1789; not 1759
thanks – will correct
Its so sad to see people, obvioulsy an intelligent person, such as hmk becoming so aggressive. What has happened to sensible, fact based debate where multi and vehemently opposite opinions are respected while disagreeing with the substance of the opinion.
I love people like hmk – there is nothing so satisfying as winding up them up, and letting them spew their poison so the world can see it for the nonsense it is.
Bill, you’re a lovely writer and I treasure your financial insights, (and you can see the ‘but’ coming a mile away) but you’re a tad harsh on some of us uncultured, quarrelsome Yanks. Were it not for many of the violent conservative Americans you look down on voluntarily visiting your sceptered isle in the 1940’s you’d be primarily commenting on the ups and downs of the Frankfurt stock exchange.
This is the kind of debate I like.
A nice polite intro, and then the “but” punch between the eyes..
It’s the old US “we saved your butts” from Hitler argument..
Um. it is… DEBATABLE.
The US, acting as the bastion of democracy and selling the UK weapons, plus the first rate US forces allocated to the European theatre, certainly played a critical part in the overall victory against the Nazis, alongside the sacrifice of Russia, the UK, the Empire and Europe. That is fact.
Would we have survived without that help?
During the first critical period, post the fall of France in 1940, we survived on our own resources, and the fact the Germans had no way of crossing the English channel and invading – and would have lost an invasion close to the beach-heads. (And have in innumerable wargames staged since.) Without the promise of US support coming – Lend-lease – then the UK may well have sued for peace, and given Germany a much higher probability of winning the war against Russia from 1941.
I will rank that the Brits and our fighting allies (Canadians, Australasians, South Africans, Free Europeans includes Poles, Czecks, Nogs, Frogs, Bubbles and everyone else who escaped, or rallied to us (including 50,000 free state Irishmen) surviving 1940 as 90% due to our efforts, and the US as 10% by dint of Roosevelt promising to help. (Personally, I think we would have fought on if he’d shook his head – as Ambassador Joe Kennedy urged him to do at the time.)
By December 1941 – Pearl Harbour – the Nazis had already lost the war by invading Russia and fighting a two front war.
If Germany had been fighting a one front war, ie the UK had signed a peacetreaty, and given Hitler free reign, then history could have taken a very different path. Germany could well have won the war, and turned on a hold-out UK later. THe US isolationists would have kept the US out the war on the basis the Goddamn Commies were being sorted out by the Nazis.
Would the UK have lost the war at this second critical stage without massive US support?
Potentially. The German wartime economy was chaotic – and only really got organised late in the war. It squandered resources on overly complex machines making firms compete, and slowing production. Its allies were unreliable and not wedded to putting their boots in graves for Germany. In contrast the UK was strongly organised – focused on quantity and delivery of good (rather than brilliantly over complex) and was strongly supported by a motivated empire. Canada had the third largest navy by 1945, and their army in Europe was elite, superbly equipped and well trained!
The key battle would have remained the Atlantic – where, to be fair, I reckon it would be a 50/50 call between strong UK and Canadian naval forces, plus massive innovation of airpower, centimetric radar and new weapons to defeat an increasingly strong and modern U-Boat force. In the real war that battle was won in early 1943 when the U-Boats were broken in Atlantic convoy battles – mainly by Canadian and UK forces. (Yes, Tom Hanks did play a part on USS Greyhound, but only one ship sank more than 2 U-Boats on a single convoy, HMS Wolverine, and it was part of Captain Walker’s Royal Navy hunter-killer group.)
In a non-US scenario the RAF would have had to kept up the pressure to destroy the U-Boat industry, distract resources from Russia to defend Germany from airpower and keep the economy destabilised. Again, technology counts. The world raves about German wonder weapons like the King Tiger, Komet and Me262, but UK aircraft were just as advanced and far more reliable. The best tank of the war was the UK Comet from 1945, leading to the Centurion. Had the Germans fielded a massively larger V2 campaign against the UK – it would have evened the civilian casualty figures, but Rockets were essentially random while RAF Mosquitos were taking out precision German targets from 1943 onwards.
The Manhattan project? Sure – a war winner. But it was a joint venture with the UK till the end of the war. We would have got there – eventually. The Germans? Historically, they lost the initiative when resistance teams took out Heavy Water production in Norway and again it was never well coordinated.
The third critical aspect is how would have the UK won the war without the US? It would have required close cooperation with the Russians and certainly would not have seen the Russian steamroller stop on the ELBE. At the successful conclusion of the War the Cold War Iron Curtain would have probably decended on the English Channel – meaning we’d bled ourselves dry to become a footnote on the Leningrad exchange.
What was the contribution of the US?
Massive, and appreciated.
But don’t think you won WW2 by turning up 2 years late.
Have got a good mate who is also half German half Scots – very generous, with a lovely sense of humour and doesn’t appear to want to run the world!!. Good read Bill
On Kiwi – you will note I wrote Australasian – ie Oz and Kiwi. Maybe I should have said ANZAC
You have some critical historical details flat wrong. I urge you to read David Irving’s “Hitler’s War” as well as his other WWII historiography. Hitler desperately wanted peace with the UK and only invaded Russia because they were about to invade him. Churchill insisted Brit, Aussie, Canadian, and US (and more) soldiers die because he was bought and paid for by Czech money. So your counter-factual hypothesis is false. Churchill would never have made peace. Therefore, the US did indeed save Britain from Churchill’s drunken corrupt madness by arming and manning the European invasion. Russia (our friend?) did more than its share on the Eastern front, but Hitler may well have prevailed, without the need to garrison the West.
Roosevelt specifically deserves your gratitude (oh he was also influenced by Marxist advisors) for sitting on the intel that Pearl Harbor would be attacked, and then exploiting the outrage of “the date that will live in infamy” to inflame an isolationist American populace to once again sacrifice the flower of its youth in Europe.
Your smug “woulda, coulda” argument is offensive on its face, but even more so in light of the facts you ignore or do not know.
However, if your article and comment reply were intended to create opposition, great work! I am delighted to correct your grievous errors and enlighten your audience.
David Irving – the well known Holcaust Denier..
Since when is democracy about 2 states (NY and California) telling the other 48 states how to live their lives? Or in your case 1 state (the UK). SCOTUS simply gave congress what they deserved—the middle finger. Both parties had ample opportunity via being the majority party (more than once) to deal with the issues but refused to. By law, the issue goes back to the states where THE PEOPLE (of ALL 50 states) get to decide. SCOTUS rulings on Roe v Wade and EPA does not prevent congress from passing bills on those issues nor does it prevent the executive branch from signing the bills into law.
Really not that complicated.
I would have thought democracy is quite simple:
Biden – 81,268,924 votes, 306 electoral votes
Trump – 74,216,154 votes, 232 electoral votes
Seems obvious to me.. you are, after all, one nation…
So because Biden won the states and the people should just bend the knee? That wasn’t the argument when Trump won in 2016. Or for any election where a non-democrat won. Remember Tip Oneal’s response to Regan winning the 80 election when asked what will Democrats do in response, “…Oppose, oppose, oppose!” Reap what you sow.
I reckon historians will mark the end of the US hegemony as before 2022, not after. The exit of Afghanistan, the raising of fictions over facts (2016 election) or very likely QE being the reference points. What we are seeing is the collapse now.
I can’t see the issue with SCOTUS. The issue is the legislative bodies (Congress & Senate) being able to write new law. Not how aged Judges decide what it was meant to mean 100+ years ago – back when the legislative last worked.
The main risk to US presidential elections is not the College but the County system, where 3009 counties should implies there are about 50,000 each to count. That means you’d have to fix a hell of a lot of counties to steal even 1 state, never mind an election.
But some counties have way more. 4.26m voted in Los Angeles “county” in 2020.
67 counties have more than 500k votes.
This is US – so we know for certain that these big city “counties” are Democrat run with long term Democrat officials, including those in long term Republican states. State officials may set the rules about managing elections, but local county officials carry them out.
Maricopa, Arizona is the classic example – 2.08m votes collected in a state with 3.40 total votes. Maricopa is essentially Phoenix Arizona.
Plenty of scope for cheating there – and of course some think it already happened.
As the yoof of today would say, Bill is indulging in (economic) bants, probably better received over a few tipples…
I often think history isn’t often top down – It’s often more bottom or middle up (?) and I’m always surprised as to how little attention is given to the civil wars (no, not that one, the ones in the 1640’s – here in Britain.) I would suggest that the American revolution was the last act of those wars and the ideas that were fought over, and still are to varying degrees in both countries even today. My view is that many of the radicals of the 1640s finally got themselves a country, albeit a few generations late. Read a pamphlet from that time from the more ideologically committed – say John Lilburne or the radicals in the New Model Army and I’m surprised as to how similar the language is to that used by the radical American right today…
Levellers… proto-socialists… oh, now its Tory Policy.. tee hee..
Hello to all, I enjoy reading the different points of view. Bill, you have good knowledge on a lot of areas, and this stuff isn’t your day job. Keep up the good work!
For me the problem in is a combination of math and technology. Before the internet our society could ignore the dumbest 20% of our population. In any given community they were not able to cause much electoral trouble.
Then came the internet, allowing those 20% to communicate and organize. Suddenly there were 65,000,000 idiots who became a powerful block. Along came Trump to woo them with shallow answers and dangerous ideas.
Now those 20% are more engaged than ever before with a pack of cynical politicians who see the path to power using these simplistic answers to gain the votes of simpletons.
Until and unless the remaining 80% get involved the US will continue down this slippery slope.
As a Canadian (who doesn’t live in the US, nor belongs to any political party) I don’t have a “dog in this hunt”. However, I don’t agree with your recent takes on the SCOTUS and its implications for the US direction. Like it or not, the US was founded as a constitutional republic, with a very explicit constitution outlining the powers of the states and federal government, as well as how amendments could be made.
Simply put, the federal gov’t is granted a limited set of powers as outlined in the constitution. Anything not specifically outlined is a power of the state, or a right retained by the people. For the 1st 150 years of its history, the US was a beacon to many in the world while having this decentralized structure. It is really only post-WW1 (and really picked up steam post-WW2) that the federal gov’t started to grow almost unconstrained.
The primary purpose of the US S.C. is to rule on the legality of laws or regulations as pertaining to the constitution. As neither abortion nor “when does life begin” is outlined in the constitution, it is clearly not a federal gov’t power, and thus must be left to the states to decide. OR an amendment to the Constitution can created to codify this issue once and for all. They did it to abolish alcohol, so surely if so many Americans are in favour of it, it would be possible.
I get that this goes against the precedent of the last 50 years, and why many are angry, but I believe all agree that the judicial system should not be swayed by emotion or public opinion. Countries are founded on the rule of law.
I personally don’t agree with a complete banning of abortion as some states have either done or will do. However, many other states are moving to enshrine such rights. This is how the US was setup. One can now choose to live in a state with such rights – or travel there for a procedure.
I believe the greatest threat to the US is its overreaching federal gov’t (regardless if Democrat or Republican) that is spending itself so far into debt that it might not recover.
In support of your argument, I would like to add that pure democracy is a tyranny of the majority. What BB calls “anti-majoritarian” are really republican protections of minority rights in a democracy. The fact that such protections are structural, in the separation of powers, and codified, in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and their Amendments, makes democracy less tyrannical.
Popular leaders elected democratically deserve the chance to govern. They do not get a mandate to rule. This confusion reigns in parliamentary democracies, with no separation of legislature and executive. The authors of the US Constitution knew parliamentary democracy to be inherently flawed, by this idea of an “electoral mandate” that empowers a majority or coalition to both re-write law and execute its (selective?) enforcement.
One more thing better about America: middle school civics class.
My question is do you think that the argument made by Ray Dalio, among others is the cause of much of the antics, namely that as the level of inequality rises and the middle ground is deserted, by an increasing number of people moving to the extremes, left and right. These people then seek strong men and women to represent them – be they milder extremes like Thatcher and Reagan, to Le Penn and Bennie Sanders and the the real extremes after them.
You exported all the useless pains-in-your-backsides to the New World but kept all the people with bad teeth! Bill, I know deep down inside you’re still in love with USA. Stay positive, hold on to the optimism. Happy 4th!
I am intrigued by the popular American notion that Brits have much worse teeth than Americans. Is there actual evidence to support that? Obviously the elite in American business, entertainment, politics and finance have teeth that appear fabulous. Just look at President Biden’s set of wonders? But Americans consume 35% more sugar per person than Brits, so are they all really likely to maintain healthier teeth – especially as there is no National Health Service to pick up part of the tab for the USA’s poorer folk? If you travelled coast to coast USA by Greyhound, how would the teeth of your fellow travellers strike you?
Clearly I missed the fun yesterday whilst enjoying 4th July “its only Treason if you lose” celebrations.
One unfortunate consequence of moving south from NYC is the greater expose to the Trumptard core (although phxfreddy is demonstrating a new genre of intellect is alive and well in PHX) and the inalienable “rights” and alleged “dictums” they frame many opinions around. Which is at the heart of many of the issues the US faces – what I do (and others in this thread) believe is that the Constitution should be viewed as an experiment without being set in stone. The parallels with the EU in my mind are huge – the EU treaties as they stand and the other constructs are very much experimentation or stepping stones in moving to a fully fledged federal construct. In the same way, after 350 years the US constitution needs to evolve and be understood to need to evolve.
Which then brings in the major fly in the ointment – how is that done? Again the EU parallels are manifest – for the ECJ read SCOTUS. Both are, have been and will always be, overtly political. And this is where we run into major confrontation between the electorate, the executive and the elected offices. I agree that in a perfect world many issues opined on by the ECJ or SCOTUS should go back to the electorate. BUT……in the EU this is not currently possible as there is only a very tangential connection between the electorate and the executive. In the US this theoretically should be a better construct. BUT….as others have noted, the mistrust of parliamentary forms of government coloured the Founding Fathers’ view and the system has checks and balances to the extent of producing gridlock. In a largely agrarian economy, maybe this wasn’t a bad thing – don’t disrupt the harvest or we starve. In the 21st century for good or bad, this is simply untenable. Just for fun, the electoral college is there to really pollute the mix. Whilst the EU has tried to emulate the potential for the electoral college to emasculate the democratic vote (see various referenda results and the EU’s direction to vote again), the electoral college is probably the biggest joke in the land of liberty and democracy.
In short whether you view the current construct of the EU, the US and the UK, there is the innate ability of a cabal to direct or subvert the demos. This is enshrined/interpreted in constitutional type documents (the US Constitution, the EU Treaties) by a select few, but clarification/change is either protected by the cabal (UK, US & EU), impossible by the gridlock of the process which is supposed to enshrine the will of the demos (EU and US) or capable of being overturned by parliamentary supremacy (UK pre EU and post BREXIT).
Managing large groups, whether it be in a corporate construct or political, is increasingly difficult. In which case maybe one solution is devolution of more power or the dismantling of too large to manage organisational/political constructs. Either way, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.
Assuming then we don’t get that unicorn which is a benevolent/altruistic dictatorship, we are totally clucked unless our elected officials and political appointees are able to navigate the thin line between the tyranny/rationality of the majority and equitable/accountable government.
Whilst the latter is definitely problematic, the former I am also doubting. Especially after the posting yesterday (probably endorsed by phxfreddy) I saw – “Remember the holiday we celebrate on 4th July is because we had guns.”
Happy birthday America.
Doug – you’ve gone native..
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