Thursday, September 16, 2010

The U.S.: Neither a Democracy Nor a Meritocracy

September 16, 2010: now that we're in the thicket
of the political season, it's high time we clarify
certain terms, to wit, democracy and meritocracy.
I strongly suggest the USA as a whole is neither:

(1) A Democracy is NOT what Benjamin Franklin
called the new nation on September 17, 1787,
The date our Constitution was signed.
In answer to a woman's query, "What sort of
government have you given us, Mr. Franklin?",
he replied, "A Republic, Madam, if you can keep it."
Actually, it's a representative, democratic republic,
even with subsequent constitutional amendments
and other liberalizing federal statutes which
also followed. All of the candidates, incumbents
and pundits invoking the word democracy should
recall a little thing known as the Electoral College.
In the words of the Pledge of Allegiance:"...and to
the REPUBLIC for which it stands,..."

(2) A Meritocracy can't possibly be what we've got
here, EITHER, with all the incompetence, mismanagement,
misstatement, lack of information, communication and
procedure ad infinitum. What about the well-known cliche'
"It's not what you know, but who"? There's real-world
reason nepotism and cronyism are included in American
English dictionaries. We DO indeed have very able and
knowledgeable people in government, industry and education
--but are they the major percentage? That seems more and
more untrue with each succeeding newscast and political ad.

One fine day in the far-off future our nation may
be able to accurately claim its status as a
democratic meritocracy; I fervently hope so.
Better still if all the other 199 countries
are justly described that way as well.


  1. The reproblicans are fond of saying that government should be run like a business, but that is NOT what government is, and running it like one would a business is a sure path to the kind of systemic government failures we currently suffer.

    LIS, the narrative is all wrong. There should be an independent "free press" pointing this out, but that too has been taken over by business.

  2. Thanks, Watcher, for writing in; your
    comments and further points usually
    resonate with me. My next post will
    deal with Obama's unemployment
    extensions which have produced positive results, according to Mark Price of the Keystone Research Center, a purportedly independent think tank. MP claims there
    would have been millions more at or below
    the poverty line without the extensions
    and I believe him. (I'll try to get the
    Obama camp to quote this salient fact in
    the current partisan public fights, but
    I'm not optimistic. In the past I've
    gotten through to some "toffs", but it's getting harder.)

    Good point about running the government
    as a business; the whole enterprise cannot
    be handled that way, even though aspects
    of it (accurate accounting practices, for example) should be. Laissez Faire isn't particularly fair, or sensible either.
    The Repubs would scream as loudly as
    anyone else if money runs out to hire
    police and they are robbed, etc. I'm
    going over to your blog now.

  3. fyi
    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Every vote would be counted for and assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. It does not abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

    The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska -- 70%, DC -- 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota -- 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 30 state legislative chambers, in 20 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington. These six states possess 73 electoral votes -- 27% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


  4. Good point about running the government
    as a business; the whole enterprise cannot
    be handled that way, even though aspects
    of it (accurate accounting practices, for example) should be. Laissez Faire isn't particularly fair, or sensible either.
    The Repubs would scream as loudly as
    anyone else if money runs out to hire
    police and they are robbed, etc.

    The RePigs would scream LOUDER than anyone.
    Yet having more to lose somehow doesn't translate into a willingness to pay more for police to protect their stuff. Which if you follow their logic they do not need police to do, since they are armed, ready willing and able to defend their hearth and home.

    Which sort of explains their appeal to rural folk who actually do have to get by with minimal police support, and it must work because the horrors they see beamed in on their satellite dish aren't a problem where they live because the roving bands of lawless thugs know they are armed (continue logic circle ad nauseum).

    The REpigs did this country no favors when they redefined and demonized at-will to suit their twisted world views. It'd be refreshing to at least see some kind of new playbook expressing a rudimentary understanding of key subject matter.

  5. Thanks for writing in, Watcher and Toto;
    now I'll have to go look up all those references Toto sent in with his
    mammoth comment! I agree with the
    idea of trying to create a true
    democracy; the Greeks didn't have one
    either, as they had slaves, but they
    DID give us the word/concept, I suppose.
    Have a good and safe week, both of you. Watcher, I'll see you on your blog.

  6. To increase voter turnout nationally,
    I've been hoping for the elimination
    of exit polls. Another great idea is
    to have the entire U.S. on the same
    12 hour elapsed time period, probably
    on a Saturday, for voting in national
    elections. (I thought about these
    changes back in 1982!) But re-imagining
    how we vote requires a desire for more
    justice and fuller participation....
    NOT a widespread sentiment, I'm guessing.