American democracy

Will “American democracy” throw up the best leaders?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 28, 2008

In the blog Beyond Sg, George Yeo, Minister for Foreign Affairs, asks if the United States’ system of “American democracy” will “throw up the best leaders”.

Quote from the blog:

“But will such a system throw up the best leaders? Watching the race between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, a large part of the contest is about crafting speeches and sound bites, and endless spinning of one’s position. The system of analysing and targeting voters is extremely sophisticated. Out of the cacophony, the American voter is supposed to be able to sense the core of a candidate and then decide in his own best interest. Ordinary people may not understand all the issues debated but, given enough time, they have the instinct to figure out who is the right man or woman to become President. That at least is the hope.”

What are your views about Mr Yeo’s question?

I fully agree with George Yeo's doubt about American democracy throwing up good leader. They had a peanut farmer, an actor, a Clinton and two Bushes as Presidents. Look at what is happening to America now? That tells a lot about American democracy. They should learn or adopt the Singapore model like the Singapore Maths Text Books.


Matilah_Singapura said...

The word "democracy" never appears in the US Constitution. In fact the Bill of Rights was authored to protect the individual from the "mob rule" of democracy.

Of course, this no longer applies. Many Americans have been cheated out of their liberty.

In the beginning of the United States (after the chucked the Brits out), presidential powers were severely limited to that of a ceremonial role. The Vice President was the opposition candidate who lost the election. The "leaders" of the US was actually Congress and the Senate, and the states were essentially autonomous.

In other words, no single agency had all the power. There was separation of powers at every level - state and federal, plus the power was shared by congress and the senate, and the individual state legislatures, and at the local level - local government. The president couldn't go to war or introduce any bill at whim - only congress could do that, and they had to get the approval of the states, the senates etc. The president didn't have the power to be Commander-In-Chief until AFTER congress had allowed him to declare war.

During the civil war, Lincoln changed all that. Using the excuse of "security" and his power as Commander in Chief he expanded presidential power - e.g. he removed habues corpus meaning people could be jailed for any reason (sound familiar?), he also imprisoned members of the press for "sedition" thus there was no more 'free press' (sound familiar), he supposedly "freed" black slaves but immediately conscripted them into the union army (substitute private slavery for state slavery), and the list goes on. [Refer to books and articles by economic historian T. Delorenzo on Lincoln]

Fortunately for America and all-mankind, Lincoln was assassinated by an actor - truly a wonderful event in the history of "performance art".

Matilah_Singapura said...

TJ is by far one of the best thinkers on the political subject of republicanism. Singapore is a REPUBLIC - i.e. we are (supposedly) self-governed by our people.

Thomas Jefferson in his final years (CATO book forum):

Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson - mp3 available for download.

Interesting part is how he Jefferson came up with the idea of "ward republics" after realising that politcal power from the people is only exercised ONCE during the ballot. After that, the govt voted in seizes ALL THE POWER and the people have no say anymore, until the next election; and in the case of dictatorship - never again for a long time.

TJ's idea stems from the premise that political power should never come from the top down, but from the weakest units in society - i.e. bottom up, such that the political power CAN NEVER be concentrated to a few special interest groups, for e.g. a "ruling elite". From these assumptions, the idea of "ward republics" (aka "wards") was born. Wards, in Jeffersonian terms, were limited in territory to 5 or 6 square miles - totally autonomous. Small enough to be self-governing (democracy is safer in small units) and small enough never to be a threat to themselves or to other wards.