06 September 2007

America - out of touch with democracy

From StrategyPage's The Facts On The Ground In Iraq:

"September 5, 2007: The major problem in Iraq is back in the United States. There, many politicians either don't bother, or don't want to believe, what is actually happening, and has happened, in Iraq. In a way, that makes sense. Because what is going on in Iraq is so totally alien to the experience of American politicians. Moreover, many Americans take a purely partisan, party line, attitude towards Iraq. So logic and fact has nothing to do with their assessments of the situation.


Which brings up another major issue in Iraq. Many Iraqis believe only a dictator can run the country, and force all the factions to behave. However, a majority of Iraqis recognize that dictatorships tend to be poor and repressive, while democracies are prosperous and pleasant. The problem is that the traditions of tribalism and corruption (everything, and everyone, has their price) do not mesh well with democracy. This doesn't mean democracy can't work under these conditions, many do. It does mean that it takes more effort, and the results are not neat and clean, as Americans expect their democracies to be."
Bolding is mine, of course.

Now isn't that a fine thing for Americans to believe?

What on earth leads Americans to believe that democracy, of ALL systems, will be 'neat and clean'?

Really, just what sort of imbecilic fantasy is this, that expects a majority rule system with frequent elections to be 'neat and clean'? It is the absolutely, number one system of MESS! It is very, very messy on purpose - to expose the thoughts of the People to each other so that they may be considered for use by the entire Nation. I mean look at the 1913 Webster's courtesy of die.net:
n 1: the political orientation of those who favor government by
the people or by their elected representatives

2: a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body
of citizens who can elect people to represent them
commonwealth] [ant: autocracy]

3: the doctrine that the numerical majority of an organized
group can make decisions binding on the whole group
majority rule]
I don't see 'neat' or 'tidy' or 'clean' or even 'easy' mentioned in there. If Americans actually believe that democracy is 'neat' or 'clean', then we have lost the meaning of what democracy actually *is*. How the hell can we expect people to understand that democracy is meant to allow for representation of a vast sea of viewpoints on governing and running a Nation if we don't actually accept that such a process is not 'neat' or 'clean'?

What an example?

How about the 'abortion debate'? That has been such an unclean fight between two partisan factions that they have forgotten what 'neutral ground' means. There is NONE in that fight, that has gotten so rancorous over the exact *wrong* thing that people no longer even believe that there can be ANY other viable viewpoint there. And you know how that gets reflected in this lovely 'neat' and 'clean' system that is supposed to allow for a wide variety of viewpoints across a spectrum to be heard? Yeah, its been shut down with any other viewpoint closed OUT by the two venomous sides that no longer even believe in the thing that makes democracy work: compromise. And how do I know that there is NO other view accepted?

Ever get one of those lovely groups polling for one side or the other in this 'debate'? Want to freak them out? Do as I do and say I am not for or against either side, and hold a view separate to both. Which, luckily, I do. You will get hung-up by the person doing said polling. You do not fit in a 'niche' predefined by the 'two sides'. You are positing a way forward for democracy to allow the process of the Nation to slowly work things through and let the rule of law take its course along with the input of the States and the People in them.

That is democracy.

NOT polarizing a debate on the National level, but by working it out on the local level until until a more common view can be held by the majority. One that ensures that both extremes get no victory nor no defeat, but that the process of society continues unabated.

Want another? How about 'terrorists' during wartime? Do you handle them with military means or purely civil means?

Want the answer?


As the President as Commander in Chief, Head of State, Head of Government and, thus Chief Law Enforcement Officer, the US Armed Forces can be directed on exactly HOW to treat those CAPTURED by the US Armed Forces on the battlefield or while being a threat to operations. Do you know the first President to put out such rules for the Army? That described *exactly* what terrorists DO and how the military should treat them? It was done... by Abraham Lincoln.

Want to know something?

That rule violates no TREATY signed by the US nor any law passed by Congress because it REFUSES to pass law in this area to this very day. When the poor Field Manual got revised at the end of the 19th century, the poor rule went to the floor because, I would hazard a guess, no one fought like that anymore. Sounds about right for the high water mark of civilization.

Now, do you know that there is a Civil Side to this? Congress has, in actuality, put into law how to deal with a SUB-CLASS of terrorism! Even put a life sentence on it! But they didn't call it that because it was one of the last forms to be a real threat to multiple Nations simultaneously, and was done for the money involved. It is called PIRACY. And as the logic goes: All Pirates are terrorists, but not all terrorists are Pirates. Got that?

Yeah, I'm not too impressed with the Congress for not doing something about this, say, 25 years ago when they could have gotten a very good set of laws passed that were easy, simple and well defined.

Do you know why it didn't happen? Because it might involve the use of the military to defend us!
And why didn't Congress add this to the UCMJ? Because the President ALREADY HAS THE POWER TO DEAL WITH IT.

But that might get a few folks thrown in jail for life by doing that who don't deserve it!

You know the court that those could APPEAL TO? The US Supreme Court. And so long as the individual was caught on the battlefield without a uniform and adhering to no Army under no Nation do you know what? They get to rot in jail for being idiots if they weren't a 'terrorist', because they refused to BE a CIVILIAN. That just might stop up things at the SCOTUS... well, the rest of their comrades in robes have that problem at lower levels, who said that they should be immune from actually having a 'full case load'?

And then, under the cited law of nations that Congress passed as part of the Piracy laws, it can very well pass a similar set of laws saying anyone brought in performing the activity of predatory warfare without sanction is an outlaw or pirate, and get life in jail. Yes it is just that simple! Uses the exact same idea as the first piracy statue, only with more words. I'm sure someone could trim it by a few.

How about 'illegal immigration'? A huge problem, what with all these folks running around breaking treaties and international law for their own good and such... you do know that they are international outlaws, right? Violating treaties and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is a Treaty, too, come to think of it. 'Illegal immigration' is just that as it violates:

1) the law of the Nation they are leaving,
2) the law of the Nation they are going to,
3) the law of Nations for orderly work between Nations,
4) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
5) and any treaties between the two Nations involved regulating same.

International scofflaws, really, when you come right down to it.

So we get the 'open borders' folks and the 'reconquista' activists and those that would just like these scofflaws to OBEY THE DAMNED LAW. Even *just* international law, but really ALL of them like WE DO. But we have a Congress that puts out wrist-slap fines for huge corporations for doing something like violating National Sovereignty by creating illegal contracts. My that sounds nasty! Why aren't we shutting down these criminal operations in the US?

Damned good question! That might require the 'debate' to get away from the international scofflaw illegal aliens and get to cracking down on the enticement side a bit. How about: shutting the company down and auctioning it off and all those found internally supporting such illegal work getting 20 years in prison and some godawful fine? I support *that*! Of course you won't hear the 'two sides' talking about actually having corporate citizens that obey the law... not once nor ever! We set the penalties so low that they are 'part of the cost of doing business' and 'passed on to the consumer': you.

Yes, only YOU can fund illegal aliens! Good job! Don't like that? Well if you don't, then it is time to get away from 'two sides', isn't it? For neither side will put that forward and YOU get to pay for it. You might even *reward* illegals who turn companies in and give them safe escort home and a few thousand bucks reward. Wouldn't that be sweet? Employers would never know if the illegal they wanted to hire was willing to turn them in! Everyone wins!

That sums up a few of the reasons why 'neat and clean' democracy is an inane concept: if it doesn't get a spectrum of voices and views to be heard and only gets 'two sides', then you get some sort of authoritarian government that sets the agenda FOR the People, not the People setting the agenda for it.

If you want a 'neat and clean' government system, try National Socialism or Communism or any despotic dictatorship or autocracy. Those are very, very 'neat and clean' so long as you have adaptable definitions of 'neat and clean' to mean: whatever the boss wants. Want to see a democracy in action? Look at Italy! For awhile there it was a 'government a year' if not more frequently! Very messy. Very unclean. A lot of corruption, of course, but getting less corrupt government is what democracy is supposed to do. Many eyes and minds to hold those granted power accountable to them.

Tribal democracy? Ever been through Appalachia? How about Switzerland's canton system? India, mayhap, with its widely varying views deriving from rural and urban, different ethnicities and multiple religions? That does a good job of emulating 'tribal' while being absolutely recognizable as democracy.

Throw in a bit of federalism to the mix, so that governments are keeping watch on each other and there you go! Extremely messy! Because the 'will of the People' is rarely defined down to two viewpoints. That is what we have in America and it is losing the definition of what democracy *is*. When only two 'sides' get made to be legitimate or the point of any 'debate' is to get something down to 'two sides' you are no longer dealing with a system meant to give input to the widest possible range of views. It is, actually, most unpleasant and stultifying to find people who want there to ONLY be a Left or a Right and forget that the Nation is more than two sides: it is all sides taken as a whole.

Perhaps we can remember that, and soon... else we may be needing the Iraqis to come over and to teach *us* why democracy is messy and unpleasant, and the only system that guarantees that no matter how bad a decision *is* it will have been thoroughly looked at and the *least bad* path can be found. That is often a *good* way forward, even if it is sideways. America has ventured out on a limb with its democracy, and we appear to be hauling the chainsaws out. We don't understand it anymore and will lose it very quickly unless we re-learn it very, very quickly. That is what the founding generation has warned us about, and as things go, liberal democracy has yet to prove its staying power. The success of it is not inevitable, particularly when it degenerates as it has in America.

Because that *is* what Iraq is teaching us... if we care to get off our high horses and learn about that gift given to us.

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