Monday, September 10, 2018

The "Integrity of America's Democratic System." What?

The “Integrity of America’s Democratic System.” What?
Peter Schultz

            The fear is rising that the current state of affairs is threatening “the integrity of America’s democratic system,” to quote an article on the CNN website, linked below.

But the idea that there is a core of "adults in the room," as described by the op-ed writer, subverting the President's authority and wielding for themselves the power granted to the commander-in-chief during an election season should also be a troubling one, since it raises questions about the integrity of America's democratic system itself.”

            Two responses. First, what is happening to Trump is nothing new, nor is it especially egregious when it comes to attempts to subvert a president’s agenda. Just one example should suffice here, viz., the presidency of JFK, where some members of the CIA and the military wanted to invade Cuba and overthrow the Cuban regime even though JFK had expressed no desire to do so. Hence, the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was meant to force Kennedy to send US forces into Cuba to support what both the CIA and the military knew was an invasion that could not succeed without such action. But Kennedy did not send US troops to help the invasion succeed and said afterwards that he would like to “break the CIA into a thousand pieces.” And if you want to talk about “a coup,” as Steve Bannon did recently, then just let your mind consider the Kennedy assassination which even the Congress concluded – in the 1970s – was a conspiracy. Now that could have been a coup.

            Second: “America’s democratic system” is an illusion. What makes our political system democratic? The fact that we have a president who received more than 3 million less votes than the person he allegedly “defeated?” Or the fact that we have a Senate where states like Rhode Island, North and South Dakota have the same number of senators as states like California and Texas? Or the fact that we have a Supreme Court whose justices serve at their own pleasure, often for decades, and are not accountable for their decisions in any way?

            If this is a democracy, it is a democracy of a very weird kind because the will of the many is more often thwarted than respected and our governmental institutions were constructed and are functioning to do just that, thwart the popular will. Our governmental institutions invite officials to oppose the president, both overtly and covertly because this is another way to ensure that the popular will does not predominate.

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