Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Old Europe" Looks At "Change," Other USer Electoral Myths

The German news magazine, Der Spiegel, has an international edition to which I frequently turn for Continental points of view. DS long-time political correspondent, Gabor Steingart, outlines and discusses three crucial Murkin political myths for the electoral season: 1) "Washington is 'Enemy #1', 2) the power of lobbyists, and 3) the "One-Nation" fallacy.

Quite correctly, he makes the case that the last of these is by far the most pernicious, most debilitating for democracy, most destructive of actual action/change in Govt.
The third myth is the most dangerous of them all, because it shakes the very foundations of the United States Constitution. Critics across party lines claim that America is a divided nation, whipped up into a frenzy by both parties, which they insist are only capable of thinking in terms of friends and foes. All of the current candidates promise to put an end to the current atmosphere of polarization and forge a great consensus. "We are one nation," says Obama. So does Mitt Romney. And so does everyone else.

But this system of dialogue, of checks and balances, is precisely what the framers of the Constitution intended. It is arduous and often nerve-wracking, but it works.

One party keeps the other party in check. Sometimes the House of Representatives opposes the Senate, or both pounce -- when needed -- on the man in the White House. This is the way it works -- and it's the way it is supposed to work.

Democracy thrives on differences of opinion, which translate into differences between parties. Promising to put an end to this ongoing dispute makes about as much sense as a supermarket manager announcing plans to combine the meat and produce departments -- and justifying his decision by saying that the management wants to overcome the decades-long polarization between steak-lovers and vegetarians.
There is sommat with which to quibble--especially in regard to the alleged 'differences' between the parties, but you see the point: If someone starts raving about how the Parties should cooperate, you are probably talking to a fascist. Qubbles aside, the article is worth the time to read it.

1 comment:

bruckenbachloveswoody said...

...and how much quibbling can there possibly be in a two-party system? To a European (ok - maybe not to a Brit) this looks like child's play. Try juggling half a dozen of strong parties on a spectrum that actually stretches from far left (the REAL left) to far right, throw in the necessity to form coalitions, and you've got some serious quibbling going on! Welcome to the "real" world, which DOES exist somewhere out there!