Donald Trump Confirms the Complete Failure of the American System of Government

by Lenny Cavallaro

 

So many volumes have been written, extolling the virtues of “representative” government. Sadly, the USA now presents conclusive proof that such a system cannot work. What is needed is truly proportional government, but in the absence of a parliamentarian system, we can never hope to see it.

 

I became painfully aware of this harsh reality in 2000, when George “the Usurper” Bush became president by virtue of a 5-4 Supreme Court vote. Although Dubbya’s father (George H. W. Bush, aka Bush-41) had appointed Clarence Thomas to the bench, no one sensed any impropriety in letting that judge cast a vote. Let us reflect for a moment on what occurred.

 

The popular vote, which is by far the closest indicator of national sentiment, showed that Gore was more than half a million votes ahead. He garnered 48.4% of the vote to 47.9% totaled by Bush. Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke, running on the Green Party, took 2.7% of the vote. Several other candidates appeared on various ballots, but none garnered even 0.5% of the vote.

 

Nevertheless, the Electoral College – an antiquated device contrived to prevent the “ignorant masses” from exerting too much influence on the election outcome – went narrowly to Bush, 271-266, with one abstention. In the USA, it is the Electoral College that determines the outcome.

 

We can split hairs well into the evening about the Florida ballots: how many people were confused by the strange alignments across the physical document, how “dangling chads” worked their way into the lexicography, how the Republican administration of Jeb Bush, the candidate’s brother, may have removed up to 19,000 blacks from voting eligibility (19,000 from a demographic that ran 90% for Gore, and in a state Bush “won” by 537 votes), etc. All of these are reasonable arguments, yet they obscure the bigger problem.

 

Under a parliamentarian system, Gore, who got the most votes, would have had the first opportunity to form a government. The Greens would surely have formed a coalition with the Democrats, reasoning that they would thus gain leverage for many points on their platform, since they might otherwise withdraw and spark a vote of no confidence, causing the government to fall.

 

Let us fast-forward to 2016. Last November, Donald Trump captured the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by 2.8 million. In fact, he won handily: 304-227, as seven electors “defected.” Thus, he has his “mandate,” fueled by egotism, narcissism, and paranoia. When something is reported that Trump doesn’t like, he simply screams, “fake news.” He has appointed a cabinet of billionaires unparalleled in the harsh criticism their names have evoked: a Secretary of Education who favors for-profit charter schools, a Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare who is an “insider” for big pharmaceutical interests, a head of the Environmental Protection Agency who made his career by fighting the EPA in court, and many others. We also know that Trump’s hundreds of projected judicial appointments will consistently rule for corporations over people, management over labor, and police over civilians. However, let us reflect for a moment on how this all happened.

 

We know that Trump won the Electoral College, and we must concede that Clinton and the Democrats ran an abysmally poor campaign. However, it is the “winner-takes-all Electoral College that decides the election. The Libertarian Party got 3.27% of the vote, which equated to zero electoral votes; the Greens (this time with Jill Stein) took 1.06%, again totaling zero.

 

We can speculate as to whether there was more antagonism toward Trump (from Libertarians) than Clinton (from Greens), yet chances are reasonable that Clinton might have formed a government under the parliamentarian system. Even if she could not – the Democrats and Greens had but 49.09% of the popular vote between them – any coalition formed by Trump would have been shaky to say the least, and the government might certainly have fallen. Moreover, parties that tally less than 1% generally receive no seats in parliament. In fact, in some countries, they need at least 5%.

 

More significantly, though, where do people stand on the “issues” – which, in the USA, is almost a moot point, since personality, slick advertising, and outright lies are far more important concerns. President Trump has declared war against science, dismissing the irrefutable arguments about climate change. Of course, he also asked the Irish government for help building a wall around his golf course at Doonberg to protect the facility from the threat of rising sea levels (source: The Guardian 17 Nov. 2016). [These, of course, will be caused as more ice melts from the Arctic and Antarctic regions!]

 

Let us leave aside what most U.S. citizens believe and focus instead on what most of Trump’s own supporters believe! A recent Climate Change in the American Mind survey of the latter revealed shocking statistics:

 

By 49% to 30%, far more believe we are experiencing global warming.

 

By 47% to 28%, they feel the USA should participate in the international   agreement to combat climate change.

 

62% support regulation or taxation of carbon fuels linked to global warming, while         only 21% opposed either or both measures.

 

Perhaps most surprisingly, more than 70% expressed strong interest in    renewable energy (e.g., solar, wind, etc.).

 

Nevertheless, the die is cast. Trump and his cronies will “drill, baby, drill,” cram the Dakota Access Pipeline through Native American lands, ignore science, and encourage policies that have been linked to climate change.

 

Let us look at health care. 58% of Americans surveyed favored the single-payer (i.e., federally funded) system (source: Gallop Poll, 16 May 2016). By 58% to 37%, they also favored reproductive choice – absolutely anathema to the hard-core Republicans (source: Pew Research Center, 26 January 2017). And 61% felt that the wealthy (especially those “one-percenters”) were paying too little in taxes – again, absolutely contrary to the Trump/GOP agenda (source: Gallop Poll, 15 April 2016).

 

Congress will dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which already fell far below the single-payer ideal favored by the majority of the people they allegedly “represent.” Instead, our elected leaders will put in some sort of system that will make health insurance even less affordable than it is. The judges Trump appoints will all oppose abortion rights. And Congress is already poised to enact legislation that will cut taxes on the wealthy and eliminate the estate tax altogether. What sort of “representation” is this?

 

Here’s another interesting question. Why is it that the USA has never had a referendum initiative at the national level?

 

We have seen many governments fall – e.g., in France, Italy, and the United Kingdom – when the prime minister backed a referendum position that failed. On 23 June 2016, voters in the United Kingdom elected to leave the European Union, and Prime Minister David Cameron, who had opposed the “Brexit,” promptly announced his resignation.

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a referendum initiative in the United States of America – one that might result in toppling an administration? Alas, that is impossible, because of our system of government.

 

Here is another consideration. Margaret Thatcher served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 until 1990. She was never defeated by a Labor candidate at the polls, but was removed by a vote from within her own party, even though she actually topped challenger Michael Heseltine by 204 votes to 152 (with 16 abstentions). Under the rules of the Conservative Party, she needed to win by 15%. Thatcher got 13.9% more votes and might have campaigned into a second ballot and beyond, but she decided to resign. Thus, effectively, the parliamentarian system enabled the candidate’s own party to remove the person at the top of the ticket.

 

Let us go back to early 2008. With the imminent financial crisis (signs of which were already apparent in 2007), suppose the Republican Party had voted to remove George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and in their stead named the very popular Condoleezza Rice as president! This would have stolen the thunder from the Democrats completely. While a woman and a black man would contest the Democratic primaries that year, the Republicans would already have placed a black woman in the White House. She might well have been re-elected that November – and at the very least, she would have fared far better than the hapless ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

 

Ah, “but the Founding Fathers said . . .” And herein lies perhaps the biggest problem faced by the American people politically. They are “married” to a document that simply doesn’t work! In fairness, the Founding Fathers – those “sainted” and “enlightened” white men who believed in slavery and did not believe women had the right to vote – were intelligent enough to see the inherent dangers within the document they had contrived. That is why our first president, George Washington, warned against “factions” (i.e., parties). Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, opined that any constitution needed to be re-written from scratch every nineteen years. James Madison, our fourth president (whom most regard as “father of the Constitution”), conceded that “factions” were probably inevitable, but expressed grave doubt that the document to which he had contributed so much could possibly withstand the advent of formal political parties. The list goes on.

 

Of course, at this juncture we get the legal scholars involved as well. We find different “schools of thought” – e.g., those who go strictly by the text of the Constitution, those who focus instead on the intent of what was written, and those who treat it as a “living document” and project how the writers might want to be interpreted today.

 

Really? Do we need all these fine “scholars” – most of whom do little more than find and distort phrases to conform with their political ideologies? I do not think so. If we write new laws, these same brilliant minds can surely find ways to interpret those instead of the ones we currently have in place.

 

At the end of the day, change is often, if not invariably difficult, painful, and unpleasant. Unfortunately, stasis leaves us in a hopeless position. We have seen “gerrymandering” – a process by which Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives (and which they’ll probably hold for decades) despite the fact that more people voted for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans nationwide. We have seen two presidencies (2000 and 2016) “won” by the candidate who lost the popular vote; we would have seen a third such phenomenon (2004) had John Kerry won Ohio (as exit polls clearly showed he had!). Most alarmingly, we now have an administration that is hell-bent on an agenda that the majority of Americans oppose.

 

Perhaps some clever wordsmith can counter everything I have written by claiming that this sort of minority rule by the wealthy is what the Founding Fathers – the slaveholders, racists, and misogynists whose policies would also result in the genocide of Native Americans – truly wanted. I really don’t care. Those worthy gentleman did not receive instructions on government from the deities of Mt. Olympus; neither was this Constitution dictated to them at Mt. Sinai. It is a document written by men, and at least as flawed as those mortals were themselves.

 

It is time to admit the obvious. Our “representatives” do not represent us. PERIOD. They represent those with the real power – the large banking interests, the biggest corporations, the military-industrial complex against which President Eisenhower warned us, et al. Donald Trump has simply brought the inherent weaknesses of our system into clear focus. Whether one supports him or opposes him, it should be blatantly obvious that he and his cohorts have an agenda most Americans oppose.

 

Let us retreat just a few years before our Constitution and review the Declaration of Independence: “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government . . . it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

 

Governments derive powers “from the consent of the governed” – not by a minority of the people. The people have the right “to alter or to abolish” government. It is not only “their right,” but it is also “their duty” to do so! However, we need more than just a change of government. We need a new system altogether. The parliamentarian models of Europe, for all their faults, clearly offer a far better reflection of the will of the people than this two-party “duopoly” that has produced the Trump regime. The American people should recognize the inherent weaknesses that concerned the Founding Fathers and try what most of the civilized world finds vastly superior!

5 thoughts on “Donald Trump Confirms the Complete Failure of the American System of Government

  1. I’m not so sure that climate science is as black-and-white as you outlined here. We also know that the scientific method doesn’t work very well with climate science. We know that the gold standard for the scientific method is the double blind study. How does one isolate one variable in something that has as many variables as the earth’s climate?

    My proposal for clarification on the environment would be to go back to the word pollution that we used back on Earth Day. We worried about the pollution of the air, water, and soil. We didn’t try to document studies that could get their arms around something as big as the entire climate of the earth.

    We also know that climate change is inevitable and that the earth has gone through climate change miny times and it’s 5 billion year history. Whether we are in the middle of anthropogenic Climate change through global warming or global cooling has become politicized science and Scientized politics.

    Somebody as well grounded in climatology as Judith Curry from Georgia Tech, with many books and articles to her credit, and a fully tenured professor at that prestigious university, resigned over the state of so-called “climate science” just this past January 2017.

    So, not to sound snarky, and with all due respect, as I do respect you, you are asserting definitive conclusions from “science” that the scientific community does not hold as a whole, nor does the scientific method ever assert any position I was knowledge. As you know, the scientific method is merely a falsification process. The best that we can say is that our current theory has not yet been falsified but we’re doing our damnedest to do so. That’s my sense of the epistemology of the scientific method and should be of the scientific community although the scientific community seems to assert “truth ” that the scientific method does not. Nor ever will . If can’t. epistemology and metaphysics have not evil to that stayed in the scientific method. Think God! LOL The scientific community does a great disservice to the populace when they a certain knowledge that is never possible for them to have. They create a sense of certainty in there were in the policy was because the idealize them without merit.

    To escape this politicization of the environment, let me suggest that we return to the word pollution. We have no trouble creating double-blind studies of pollution in the air, water, soil. If we regulate each of these individually we will make significant inroads to protect our environment perhaps even the climate. The combination of the individual interventions to prevent pollution might have a synergistic effect of protecting athropogenic climate change or global warming, if there is such a thing as Climate change, which the scientific community does not in fact served as a whole. And there are very few minutes scientist to take it to the current state of scientific methodology that is being used to study climate and global warming.

    As you suggest with a theory of government, substituting the parliamentarian system for the electoral college as a simple solution, perhaps, returning to the world pollution will help unite with environmental us with our legislators to protect the mother of us all.

  2. Do you have left out a few things about the US Constitution and the electoral college but maybe helpful for your readers to know. A lot of your readers sure have read or study the words of the U.S. Constitution in terms of the electoral college.

    I am going from memory on this but I believe the electoral college Was originally numbered one delegate for every member in Congress and in the Senate. There were supposed to be one delegate in Congress for every 30,000 people. That would mean that there would be over 11,000 members in Congress at that point if we still followed the constitutional model.

    At some point in the 20th century, I don’t remember Nguyen, probably 1913 with all the other legislation was passed like the Federal Reserve act, the 16th amendment on directing unapportioned taxation, and the 17th amendment when senators were elected by popular vote instead of by their state legislatures were past.

    Maybe we would have a more proportional government and representative government if that model were still in place. Imagine over 11,000 delegates locally appointed by the 30,000 people that they were representing

    For your reader sake, in Massachusetts, the state legislature has one representative for every 40,000 people. And the federal legislature has one for about every 750 to 900,000 people.

    The other point that isn’t mentioned in your article is that the person who is voted in first, that is that has the most number of votes, becomes president and the second person, of all the candidates that are voted for that comes in second becomes the vice president.

    In other words Trump would be president and Hillary Clinton would be vice president. So people would be represented proportional to the electoral college.

    If there were over 11,000 people that were voting from the electoral college and only one person could be from their state we might have many many more people running for office from each of the different congressional districts and all of the different states.

    So, the problem in the United States is that the United States does not follow the Constitution. You seem willing to do you value the document and the writers of the document in order to make your argument.

    However, the fact remains, but the original document was the Declaration of Independence that formed a philosophical foundations for the rationale of government and its foundation and workings. Government is designed to protect life liberty and the pursuit of happiness for each individual

    The constitution also allows for an amendment process which the legislature the executive branch and the judicial branch have all felt completely free to ignore. That amendment process being found in article 5.

    We also know that corporations have been recognized as persons under the constitution by the Supreme Court since 1886 in continuing down to citizens United and other decisions that you have pointed out to me. Those decisions big corporations With the same legal rights as humans, able to sue before the Supreme Court under the bill of rights and even more ironically under the 13th and 14th amendment!s!

    According to the supremacy clause of article 6+2, any treaty becomes the supreme law of the land. That means that agreements like made at Brettonwoods with the formation of the UN, World Bank, IMF, GATT, and later NAFTA and the WTO, but these agreements become the supreme law of the land. Another words that you syrup the national Constitution.

    As your readers may or may not know, under the WTO regulations, dispute resolution panels are formed of only three members. If there’s a complaint by a corporation about a restraint of trade and the DRP, meeting in secret, whose minutes or never down by any member government, can be sued for millions and billions of dollars until that country comes into compliance with the trade agreements that the corporations have hand and that legislatures have signed off on. We know these legislators are highly influenced by these major corporations.

    Because of the Supreme Court decisions about corporate personhood corporations are able to lobby and to finance campaigns without financial Limit because their financial donations are considered speech and under the First Amendment speech cannot be limited. So with this kind of corporatocracy it is inevitable that corporations will get their way and we will be offered a puppet on the right in a puppet on the left.

    I think, in conclusion, passing an amendment that says only human beings can be considered persons under the Constitution and that money given by corporations for lobbying in campaign-finance should be considered as bribery human voices, individual voices might be heard. Again if we went back to the guidelines of the constitution of the electoral college and had delegates a point for every 30,000 people we might see more diversity in candidates and number one would be president and number two would be vice president. That might make for a different landscape.

  3. Shirley, you must agree with Donald Trump about the mainstream media being fake news and the propaganda piece of the big banks and transnational corporation’s which have interlocking boards with the corporations that own the mainstream media

  4. Agreed:

    “Let us retreat just a few years before our Constitution and review the Declaration of Independence: “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government . . . it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

    Governments derive powers “from the consent of the governed” – not by a minority of the people. The people have the right “to alter or to abolish” government. It is not only “their right,” but it is also “their duty” to do so! “

  5. Insightful and thought-provoking! It is time to alter drastically or abolish the existing government. Its failures are painfully obvious, and as a consequence far too many of us are made to suffer at the hands of callously opportunistic “representives.”

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