JI Politics Regulars: A Must Read: Democracy, American Style...
I've decided to remove the author's name in case people decide to react to who wrote the article as opposed to the content of the article. But I am curious to see what you guys think about this one......
American schoolchildren are receiving some valuable lessons in democracy, American-style.
There is the matter of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of soliciting bribes in return for the appointment of a U.S. Senator to replace Barack Obama.
I really donít see what all the hub-hub is about. After all, bribery is the name of the game in U.S. politics. Itís just that we donít call it that for the sake of appearance and respectability.
What are campaign contributions if not a form of advance payment of bribes in return for expected favors down the line? Does anyone really think that all those big donors and bundlers are donating millions of dollars to federal politicians just because they love America and its politicians?
Of course not. Most everyone knows that theyíre donating all that money because they expect to receive benefits in return. And the politicians know that if they donít deliver the bennies after they are elected, the campaign contributions will dry up for subsequent campaigns.
The bribery also works in the other direction. What about all those campaign promises delivered by politicians promising ďgrants for your communityĒ or some other welfare benefit? Arenít those just a variation of bribery in that they offer the voters an anticipated benefit in return for their votes? Why do you think there is always a rash of such announcements in the months leading up to the election?
Oh, and for anyone who has convinced himself that Illinois is the exception and that all the other states are different, think again. According to USA Today, on a per-capita basis Illinois actually ranks 18th in number of convictions for public corruption.
Thereís also the matter of the bailout for the automobile companies, a socialist program if there ever was one. The U.S. Senate failed to approve the measure. That prompted President Bush to announce that he is considering granting the auto companies their bailout anyway.
I must confess that when I heard that news story, I had to go back and confirm what I had heard. Donít the teachers in high-school civics classes teach that bills must be approved by both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and then must be signed into law by the president to take effect?
How then does the president bail out auto companies when the U.S. Senate has refused to approve the deal? Isnít that what dictatorship is all about?
It turns out that Bush takes the position that he can bail out the auto companies with the $700 billion that the Congress granted to him to bail out the Wall Street financial firms.
So, there you have another fine example of democracy, American-style ó an enormous slush fund of U.S. taxpayer money that the president has at his disposal to bail out any company he wants, even if Congress refuses to approve the deal.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg is reporting that the Federal Reserve is refusing to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans and the collateral received to secure payment of the loans. The Fed takes the position that such secrecy is essential to its operations. The taxpayers, whose money is being used to make such loans, will just have to trust their appointed officials at the Fed. But hey, isnít that type of secrecy found in communist and other totalitarian regimes?
American students are also learning a valuable lesson about how U.S. democracy works in foreign affairs. President Bush just signed an agreement for the continued occupation of Iraq that purports to tie the hands of incoming President Obama. While the Iraqi regime needed to secure approval from the Iraqi Parliament, Bush took the position that he could sign the agreement on his own, without the approval of Congress.
Isnít that a strange way for democracy to operate? Doesnít it seem more akin to dictatorship? After all, donít forget that Bush ordered his army to invade Iraq without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. He then ordered his army to occupy the country indefinitely and to brutally suppress any resistance to the occupation. He then signed an agreement with the regime his invasion installed that extends the U.S. occupation for another 3 years. And unlike the Iraqi regime, which calls itself democratic, Bush refuses to get Congress to approve the deal and instead just signs it on his own.
Not that the agreement means anything anyway, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned. Over the weekend, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, announced that U.S. troops would remain in Iraqi cities after the agreementís summer 2009 deadline for exiting the cities.
So, what was the point of making the agreement if it wasnít going to be honored? Is that the way politicians in democracies are supposed to behave?
Otto von Bismarck once said, ďLaws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.Ē The same holds true for politicians and bureaucrats in the U.S. and the dictatorial actions they take.