There is no problem with America’s political system, or the Republic

Summary:  I’m often asked for solutions to the most serious problem facing the Republic, the erosion of its foundation. There is a simple answer. The question makes a false assumption. Understanding this allows a clearer vision of America, and our available choices.

There is no spoon.

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An incident from the Constitutional Convention:

Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Dr. Franklin “What have we got, a republic or a monarchy”

“A republic, if you can keep it” replied the Doctor.

— Entry of 18 September 1787 in the Papers of Dr. James McHenry on the Federal Convention of 1887. He signed the Constitution, served as our 3rd Secretary of War, and is namesake of Fort McHenry.

Scores of posts on the FM website document the death of the Second Republic (of the Constitution, following the First under the Articles of Confederation). Readers often respond to these with impassioned requests or demands for solutions to this problem.  They are mistaken. There is no problem.

Our Republic consists of machinery to govern America. Machinery which can worked by it’s people — or should they choose not to do so, by powerful factions. Both are choices. Neither choice is a “problem”.

Events since 9-11 make it obvious we have chosen to let our richest citizens  run America, taking the responsibility and effort of self-government off our shoulders. We have an inalienable right to do so, to withdraw as active participants in the governance of the nation.

Our plutocrats will probably govern well. Of course they will make decisions in their best interest, not ours. In exchange we’ll have the freedom to complain about the result, so long as we do so quietly. Our ever-growing internal security agencies will handle unruly dissenters.

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We have taken the blue pill

It’s all about choice. We’ve chosen the blue pill, the easy path.

American’s reactions to this choice take one of several forms.

(a)  Denial

Since the outward forms remain, we can deny that anything important has changed. For a few generations this was the primary response of the Roman people to the rise of the Empire.

(b)  Acceptance

This could be through Stoicism, Epicureanism, or Hedonism (all popular Roman responses to Empire). Drugs, TV, and video games makes this easy. Or one can adopt Dr. Pangloss’ belief that all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.

(c)  Religion

Religion is a refuge for peasants, especially one with an eschatological emphasis (ie, on the coming end times). Very popular during the Empire, this powered the rise of Christianity. Increasingly popular today are the green faiths, and their belief in the coming environmental apocalypse.

(d)  Deus ex machina

A characteristic American response is the search for easy solutions, often mechanical ones. Such as new laws, or a Constitutional Convention at which (somehow) right-thinking Americans can seize power.  This is the political equivalent to our increasing incidence of obesity.  We choose obesity and political passivity. It is not a problem that we prefer fat to exercise and self-restraint.

We would like a pill to make us thin. A pill to allow us to telepathically effortlessly run the government (perhaps a future version of the extremis virus?). And to gives us wealth and happiness. These desires do not change our actions.

(e)  Fantasy

We hope that a good leader will save us, or that true Americans will rise up and restore the Republic. 44% of Republicans believe “that an armed revolution in order to protect liberties might be necessary in the next few years”; some are stockpiling guns in preparation for the great day.

Conclusions

All of these are adaptations by individuals to our collective political choice, the abdication of our role as citizens in the Republic. There is no problem, just different ways to live with our actions.

It’s not too late to change our collective decision. But nobody has the ability or right to make us want to govern ourselves.

How should you respond to this milestone in history?  My recommendation: anger and resolution.  Contagious emotions. Should that spread, then we can consider next steps.

Let’s give them the last word to the voice of experience, of history.

Qui tacet consentire videtur ubi loqui debuit ac potuit.

— Silence gives consent when he could have spoken.

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For More Information about the future of the Republic

  1. Forecast: Death of the American Constitution, 4 July 2006
  2. A soft despotism for America?, 22 July 2008
  3. What comes after the Constitution? Can we see the outlines of the “Mark 3″ version?, 10 November 2008
  4. America reaches a tipping point as Washington becomes its heart and soul, 29 January 2009
  5. A look at America’s future – grim unless we get smart and pull together, 12 March 2009
  6. “The Coming of the Fourth American Republic”, 24 April 2009
  7. A third American regime will arise from the ashes of the present one, 30 March 2010
  8. For America to prosper it must first burn, 22 November 2010
  9. Origins of what may become the 3rd American Republic (a plutocracy), 8 April 2011
  10. A look at the future of America, unlike the expectations of conservatives and liberals, 10 August 2011
  11. The good news:  America’s politics are neither polarized nor dysfunctional.  That’s also the bad news., 16 November 2011 — Expect progress in 2013!
  12. Lewis Lapham explains why America needs a Third Republic, 26 December 2011
  13. What will replace the Constitution in Americans’ hearts? Let’s check for Fascism., 29 March 2012
  14. Our choice of a leader reflects our true self. What does 2012 tell about America?, 19 September 2012
  15. Bulletins about the birth of the New America, and the disinformation driving it, 24 September 2012
  16. Under the cloak of liberalism America slides to Fascism, 20 October 2012
  17. Attention Americans: the Revolution has begun. You must choose a side., 23 November 2012
  18. The New America needs a new national anthem! Here’s my nomination., 24 November 2012

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34 thoughts on “There is no problem with America’s political system, or the Republic

  1. There is a bootstrapping problem here that is not acknowledged. How do you even get a real choice at the polls when your interest group has no money? The immediate tactical problem.

    1. You thought the process of democracy was easy? Effortless? I do not recall any of the Founders, or the intellectual giants whose work they built upon, saying such a thing.

      Since we’re not trying, the objections you mention do not appear relevant. Our preemptive surrender — democracy is so hard! — is all that matters. The creative excuses we manufacture to maintain our self-respect matter not at all.

      .

      sheep_tv

    2. “Since we’re not trying…”

      You got an important point here.

      I would like to connect it to a related issue which I have been reading about. Basically, people have two legal ways to express their grievances with organizations and institutions:
      a) “voice” — confront them to change things (i.e. sue, petition, vote, enter competition, strike, etc);
      b) “exit” — disengage and look for something else.

      “Exit” is most notably the predominant option in the market economy: if one does not like a product, service, or retailer, then one looks for a better deal elsewhere — confronting the supplier so that it changes its offering is exceptional.

      Consumer orientation is pervading society, and is suspected to influence political processes in the same way. Typical results are systematic wild swings from one election to the next, and resignations from parties, trade unions, etc.

      The situation seems particularly relevant to Europe — from what I have read the apparently calm situation there is because people are increasingly choosing “exit” over “voice”, including emigration (“voting with one’s feet”). It would be interesting to figure out how far it explains what is happening in the USA.

      Needless to say, those writers using those concepts unambiguously state that “exit” by itself is corrosive for the cohesion of society, and cannot serve to build anything new.

  2. you are not incorrect in noting that there is no spoon. the secret of the other is the secret for the other itself. a good question is what else is there?

    1. good things show you what is impossible. your favorite things tell you what you already know.

    2. here is another way to put it..if we do not disagree that there is no problem then what is being used to identify possible solutions?

    3. Again, see my reply to Greer. If we look in the mirror and are happy with what America has become, then there is neither problem nor solution.

      My guess — we can only guess at such things — is that we have a broad consensus — bipartisan — to become subjects. It remains only to wait for a leader to arrive, to fit us with harness and bit.

      This does not for with our self-image, so we cloak this truth with lies.

      If you do not like this situation, ripping the veil of lies becomes the primary operational goal.

    4. remember that the surface of your reflection is not an actuality. what society deems flaws are the not yet symbolized gaps in your self image. authority is a force that must be ignored for it is in tension with your fear of annihilation..complete symbolization will be mortification…leading to less than nothing. you can only recognize the fall in retrospect for the last word of the sentence changes the meaning.

    5. I do not understand much of ehat you are saying in that comment. might be too tightly lacked for me.

      “remember that the surface of your reflection is not an actuality.”

      A powerful point, general semantics in action! Looking in the mirror is a metaphor for the action of self reflection. Looking at our self rather than blaming others. Assuming responsibility rather than being a critic or consumer.

    6. objects in the mirror are always worse than they appear. happiness cannot be obtained directly..it is a byproduct of flow

    7. your analysis seems to make people less rational than they actually are..possibly because you are more intelligent than most people. this seems like a good visual representation of most people… http://youtu.be/CXC-Aj4XOXY

    8. the reflection is not a metaphor. the eyes of the other are the imaginary eyes of the subject. in the gaze the object has the power.

    9. I do not disagree. just because something did not happen does not mean it is not true

  3. Mr Maximus, what are you doing, personally, in your own life, to save the American Republic?
    Other than writing this blog, I mean.

    1. I don’t understand what that means. Talk creates ideas, resolution, and plans. Action comes only after that.

      If the first steps are done badly, the actions will probably be futile or counter-productive.

      The first Committee of Correspondence, the first step towards the Revolution, was created in 1764 at Boston. These went large scale 8 years later, in 1772. The first Continental Congress was 1774; fighting started the next year.

      The first antislavery organization in America, the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society, was founded in 1775. Lots of talk before much action could be taken.

    2. Other than the ten-plus hours a week to run this website? FYI, I see that as the most effective form of action for this stage — agitation and communication. That’s where Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams started, and IMO where we must start today. On the one yard line.

      I am politically active in the local Republican Party, though less so in recent years as the crazies have taken over. I used to be an active public speaker, carrying their message to community groups several times per week. Plus the usual organizational meetings, manning desks at events, donating money, and walking the precincts.

      I am very active in the Boy Scouts on several levels, including fighting internally for its soul. These boys and girls are tomorrows leaders. (For one hour a week you can help help shape the next generation of Americans)

      Plus I do the key activities to keep America running: family (wife, kids, house) and work.

    3. you can only ever change your mind. you can only actually change the world by forcing something to kill you. change is the only constant. love and change cannot be untied.
      what is an idea?

    4. (For one hour a week you can help help shape the next generation of Americans)

      Maybe ‘you’ can shape the next generation by working with the Boy Scouts, but I can’t. I’m born and raised atheist — since a child. Also, I’d never pass any kind of ‘heterosexuality’ test. I don’t know what the policies are exactly, these days, but I’m not going anywhere near this group. I don’t think they want my kind. I don’t want to push the issue.

    5. The policies with respect to homosexuality are in the process of change, as they are in society as a whole. Large organizations that deal with children tend to evolve more slowly than others, for reasons obvious to anyone who has been a parent. My guess is that they will, like other institutions in America, work this out during the next few years.

      As for atheism, that’s your right and privilege to choose. However, you seem to imply that there something wrong with organizations for people with different beliefs. Do you not believe in diversity?.

    6. remember boycotting only serves the party that perceives themselves as moving. charity is not an act. there is only one sexuality. as long as there are castes there will be outcasts

    7. > However, you seem to imply that there something wrong with organizations for people with
      > different beliefs. Do you not believe in diversity?

      I don’t want to imply any judgements. Only my desire to stay as far away as possible.

    8. “As far away as possible”

      What an odd viewpoint. Same community? Same nation? Same world?

      It is an organization nobody is forcing you to join or support, like the tens of thousands of others in America. It’s existence near you will not contaminate your soul.

      You sound like someone hostile to other ways of thinking. Try some tolerance and respect for others.

  4. As said the poet:

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves”

    -Julius Caesar (Act I, Scene ii, 140-141)

    1. Great apropos quote!

      But is there anyone at fault? If we collectively decide to be subjects rather than citizens, is that a “fault”? By what standard?

      I believe each of us to look in the mirror and evaluate ourself. The “man in the mirror” is the only valid judge.

      Moralizing about America lifts this process into the clouds and prevents operationally useful conclusions. We have to decide what we want to be, and not hide that decision under lies.

      Failure to see ourselves clearly is the real problem, IMO.

  5. FM remarks “Failure to see ourselves clearly is the real problem, IMO.”

    Here’s evidence:

    “Amazingly, there is a very large question even in the Armed Services Committee about who the United States is at war against and where, and how those determinations are made.”
    — Former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith testifying at a hearing on how the Obama administration interprets its war powers under the AUMF

    Source: “Washington gets explicit: its ‘war on terror’ is permanent,” Glenn Greenwald, “Comment is free,” Friday 17 May 2013.

    1. evidence of what?

      the law exists ONLY to cover the crime that created it. as we move towards a lawless world of policy and administration through the inappropriateness of private property as intellectual property these symptomatic tears in symbolic reality will erupt with the threat of violence. these are NOT directly related to the negation of self that drives the individual to look for clarity through failure. the proximity of the other, in this case not exclusively society but ideology itself, is the bar of your unconscious.

      failure is simply disallowed. humans only give something AFTER they have calculated how to take it away without fear of confrontation. perfection is when you cannot take one more thing away

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