How anyone could see US political system as desirable is beyond me, the term ‘American democracy’ needs to be retired
The 2020 election results only prove that American democracy is a complete and utter sham. The US political system was designed to make certain that as little democracy as possible can influence the fundamental class.
As was predicted long before Election Day, US President Donald Trump is pulling out all the stops he can to maintain power – discrediting the legitimacy of the vote, attempting to turn the election into a court battle, and thus encouraging his radical supporters to take to streets.
Declaring victory early, as I mentioned in my previous column for RT, has served to advance all of these strategies and make the election look like a “steal” by Democrats – but this is not what’s actually happening.
This election in particular has exposed how deeply anti-democratic the entire American political system actually is, which ought to be the real conversation.
First of all, Democrat Joe Biden has secured the most votes of any presidential candidate in American history. In any other developed democratic nation, the ballgame would already be over – Biden would have been the clear winner. In fact, Democrats won the popular vote but lost the election in 2000 – which ended up as a sham election decided by a conservative Supreme Court – and in 2016 when Donald Trump first won.
This is one of the perplexities of the American democratic system, the Electoral College. According to its proponents, the Electoral College encourages the US’ federal system by allowing rural states to have a fair say in national politics that reflects their unique interests. This is also reflected in the makeup of the legislature – each state, regardless of population, receives two seats in the Senate, which is the more powerful chamber of Congress, and this pretty much always sways to the advantage of conservatives.
In reality, this system was designed – just like the American Constitution itself – to make certain that as little democracy as possible can influence the fundamental class relations of the country. Recall that it was wealthy and powerful bankers and slave owners who created the Constitution in the first place, and they designed the federal government specifically in reaction to popular working-class movements, notably Shays’ Rebellion of 1786.
It’s not even a secret that the Founding Fathers merely wanted to defend property rights (which included slaves, i.e. living people, at that time) and creditor rights while having as little democracy as possible. This is why the Senate was originally not directly voted through a popular vote until the 17th amendment was ratified in 1913, why only those who owned property (and were white men) could vote, why constitutional amendments are nearly impossible to pass and so many more anti-democratic features exist.
The nation’s founders had a funny way of recording nearly everything, and if you’re curious enough then it’s possible to find some gems that might surprise you. Here are some interesting pieces relevant to the idea of American democracy:
In Federalist No. 10, James Madison wrote that “democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
President John Adams, in a 1814 letter to John Taylor, wrote that democracy itself “never lasts long… There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
President of the Continental Congress Nathaniel Gorham even wrote on behalf of the government (then under the Articles of Confederation) to Prince Henry of Prussia in 1786, asking him to be king of the United States of America. He declined, of course.
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But this was indeed a serious position among many of the nation’s founders; they had just fought off the British monarchy not for being a monarchy, but for being British. Many were fine with the system so as long as it suited their own interests.
Plato once lamented in The Republic that democracy is a funny thing – it can be hijacked to create a totalitarian state. This theme is reflected in the anti-mob-rule philosophy behind so-called American democracy, which is ironically not a term found anywhere in the Constitution. (Article IV, Section 4 only guarantees “to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government,” not ‘a democracy’.)
And that’s really the tale of ‘American democracy’. This is why the Republican Party is perfectly fine with the Electoral College that baffles the minds of all outside-lookers, why they work so hard to disenfranchise voters and why right-wingers always default to “America is a republic and not a democracy anyway.” And they’re actually correct in some sense. Because they simply couldn’t win in a straight up popular vote election since their program is radically against the average person’s interests.
Fast-forward to 2020, pro-Trump protesters emboldened by the Donald team’s ‘electoral fraud’ claims stormed vote counting stations on Wednesday night in Detroit and Phoenix demanding that they either stop counting or keep counting depending on the president’s performance. Thousands of pro-Biden demonstrators took to the streets across the US demanding that all votes be tallied.
The similarities between what’s taking place in America right now and what takes place in less-developed countries is profound.
For example, as reporter Ollie Vargas recently made the point, “Trump declaring victory prematurely is how the coup in Bolivia started. Carlos Mesa declared a 2nd round on 1st day of counting, when that started to look unlikely, his fascist supporters started burning down vote counting centres and assaulting leftists & indigenous people.”
In Bolivia 2019, we saw a similar dynamic. The elite that live around Santa Cruz de la Sierra, many of whom are very open white supremacists and anti-government activists, see their own interests as distinct from the masses. They want Bolivia free from “the Indian” (their term for former President Evo Morales) and a weaker government that allows for tax fraud and white-collar crimes to go undetected.
The US Republican Party basically pioneered this melding of white antagonism with pro-wealthy class warfare. It’s only now coming home in a much more real way than expected, one the American elite only thought could exist in the periphery while the lockstep elite class decorum in Washington continued unabated.
It should be noted that this is what the other half of American power, the Democratic Party, wants – a return to that decorum. That’s why this race has been so close, why they lost part of their majority in the House of Representatives and why they couldn’t take the Senate, which, by the way, was the establishment’s entire drive for Biden to be nominated – he would help down-ballot races, they said. Wrong.
Democrats are a fake opposition; a right-chasing party designed to sell this same unpopular program without the bitter taste.
The 2020 election results only prove that American democracy is a complete and utter sham. Republicans and their voters are actually smarter for realizing this and abandoning its pretext altogether; meanwhile Democrats cling to this ideal that has actually never been a reality; American democracy is totally ahistorical, it is a self-contradiction at this point.
For Americans, it truly is a sad week because, to quote Joe Biden, “nothing will fundamentally change,” and that is cemented for at least the next two years (probably four) with the likely outcome of a Democrat White House coupled with a Republican Senate and Supreme Court.
How anyone on the outside could see this political system as desirable is beyond me, and it’s clear that many more that didn’t before are beginning to see American democracy for what it really is – a sham. We should all henceforth refrain from using this term to describe whatever is going on in the United States in November every few years.
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