Summary: The dysfunctional nature of our political apparatus shows that the second American regime has begun its death throes. History shows that the transitional period can take decades — and that America can emerge renewed and stronger.
We face many challenges. Increasing political polarization. Social mobility and income inequality at previous highs and increasing. Government finances at the brink of disaster, with an aging population likely to push it over the brink. New competitors abroad, an unprofitable faux-Empire, and political near-paralysis at home. Rotten boroughs dominated the Senate. The only thing upon which both parties agree is that we need foreign wars (bringing little or no benefit) and a military apparatus grossly disproportionate to the size of our actual or potential enemies (see this for details). In the future lies peak oil and other perils.
The combination marks the beginning of the end of the current American regime.
The first regime was born with the 1783 Treaty of Paris, and reached mature form in 1803 with the Supreme Court decision Marbury v. Madison. The second regime was born in 1931 during the fires of the Great Depression, when Hoover abandoned the laissez-faire policies of Andrew Mellon and initiated a miniature version of the New Deal — which grew during the Depression, maturing on no specific date. I believe the key dates to be the GI Bill on 22 June 1944 and the National Security Act of 1947. (These dates are illustrative, not definitive) The decaying remains of the second regime are our government.
As I have said before, a great nation evolves slowly. Transitional periods take decades. This can generate complacency, as in “there’s no hurry.” That’s wrong, IMO. Rather we’re on the clock. Every day the old regime dies a little, and a new regime takes shape. The longer we wait to join the game, the more difficult it will be to control or reverse current trends. There’s no need to panic; there’s time to think and plan, but there’s no time to waste.
As I wrote on 9 March: Light the fireworks – the campaign starts today! It does not end on 4 November 2010. Or 4 November 2012. It ends when enough citizens in America participate in the political process so that we gain control of the government. Not just voting, choosing between candidates on the ballot like a drunk choosing what brand of rotgut and cancer sticks for tonight’s binge. Rather we should participate in the process, like the crew of a privateer pirates voting to choose our officers.
I don’t know what form the third American regime will take. That depends on our wisdom, the leaders we choose, and our social cohesion. I do know we’ll get the government we deserve.
Links to other articles on the FM website about the political regimes
- Forecast: Death of the American Constitution, 4 July 2006
- The Constitution: wonderful, if we can keep it, 15 February 2008
- Congress shows us how our new government works, 14 April 2008
- See the last glimmers of the Constitution’s life…, 27 June 2008
- Remembering what we have lost… thoughts while looking at the embers of the Constitution, 29 June 2008
- A report card for the Republic: are we still capable of self-government?, 3 July 2008
- Another step away from our Constitutional system, with applause, 19 September 2008
- What comes after the Constitution? Can we see the outlines of the “Mark 3″ version?, 10 November 2008
- Are Americans still willing to bear the burden of self-government?, 27 March 2009
- “Lights, Camera, Democracy” by Lewis Lapham, 24 May 2009
- “The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living, but dead.” – Supreme Court Justice Scalia, 9 June 2009
- Beginning of the end of the Republic’s solvency. Soon come the first steps to a reformed regime – or a new regime., 14 August 2009
- More about the tottering structure of the American political regime, 17 August 2009
- The first step to reforming America (the final version), 7 December 2009
- Listen to the crowds cheering Sarah Palin, hear the hammerblows of another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, 8 February 2010
- Another nail put in the Constitution’s coffin, but we don’t care, 9 February 2010
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- To read other posts about this, see America – how can we reform it?
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