Only a fortune teller can predict the US’s future. The kind of country it is, its path to progress, depends on the thinking underlying its political evolution.
In America’s early years, to prevent autocracy, its founding leaders designed a complex system of checks and balances built on the idea of individualism known as the separation of powers.
However, such a political system is precisely what is wrong with America’s economy and society now. Its legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government seem separate, but the relationships between them are complex; without an understanding of the US constitution and laws, their connections are baffling. The right of judicial review* by the Supreme Court alone is enough to show that the tussle between the US Congress, the White House and the judiciary is full of uncertainty.
Hence, the US judiciary cannot be seen as independent from the various political parties.
Whether this uncertainty benefits the US can be assessed based on the end-results. However, any judicial system is implemented by the judges, and the selection of federal Supreme Court judges involves a lot of political combat in the US Congress. Hence, the US judiciary cannot be seen as independent from the various political parties. And in the US, a country of partisan politics, no political system can change the nature of its party politics.
The president of the US is America’s chief administrator but has no authority to issue currency. It is the US Federal Reserve that holds America’s economic lifeline in its hands. Presidents who tried to wrestle back this authority from the Federal Reserve had their careers ended tragically.
America’s messy political elections all bow to monetary needs in the end. Political tussles or checks and balances will ultimately give in to capitalism.
The checks and balances in the US constitution are not only seen in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, or in partisan politics, but also in the relationship between America’s politics and economy. In fact, the system of checks and balances makes up the fabric of US society, based on the principle of individualism.
Money talks in a capitalist system
The aforementioned gives the false impression that the US is a democratic country that believes in individual freedom when all of it is merely on the surface. The US is, in fact, a capitalist country where “capital is king”. America’s messy political elections all bow to monetary needs in the end. Political tussles or checks and balances will ultimately give in to capitalism. America has never changed in that sense. Money talks in a capitalist society — this dictum defines America.
The US now has the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the world, but White House spokespersons still shamelessly trumpet the US as a world leader in fighting the coronavirus.
Under capitalism, capitalists and workers are completely at odds with each other. And although the Democrats and Republicans do propose political initiatives during election campaigns to reduce social conflict, increase social welfare, and safeguard the interests of the low- to middle-income group, it goes without saying whether these initiatives will work.
As the pandemic worsens, America’s rich have had access to testing, while most in the low- to middle-income group could only straddle the line between life and death. The US now has the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the world, but White House spokespersons still shamelessly trumpet the US as a world leader in fighting the coronavirus.
Perhaps these spokespersons are from another planet; their thinking is completely out of this world. US President Donald Trump has said the US has the highest number of confirmed cases in the world because its testing is the highest in the world. Those who do not know the facts would be easily hoodwinked. But one look at the test numbers in Beijing and Wuhan, and people would find that claim to be a bald-faced lie.
Despite such big talk, many in the US actually believe in their President, that his suggestions and orders are correct. They think wearing a mask removes their rights, and refuse to do so. It defies belief that there are such people in a so-called educated country like the US.
Of course, if one knew the US education system, one would also understand why there is this group of uninformed people. The polarisation in American education is pronounced. The US attracts top students from all over the world to drive its science, technology, culture, and economy, and these foreign students raise the standards of US education. Hence, the US is constantly relying on capitalist externalities to safeguard its position of dominance.
The founding fathers wanted to use capitalism to put people in different groups, and only a handful of so-called “elites” were eligible to determine the country’s fate.
As the US government refuses to accept more foreign students, US tertiary institutions are in a crisis, and if this continues, these institutions will face serious financial and talent shortage problems. Capitalist externalities are also reflected in the US’s economic sector, such as when it issues US dollars and sparks economic crises in other countries.
A unique individualism for a handful of people
Individualism is a double-edged sword — it can lead to self-actualisation or self-destruction.
When America’s founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence, they put people into categories; not everyone living in the US had voting rights. The founding fathers wanted to use capitalism to put people in different groups, and only a handful of so-called “elites” were eligible to determine the country’s fate.
It is this deep-rooted capitalism that makes individualism in the US a unique type of individualism that is created only for a handful of people. This is shown in the preservation of the electoral college in the US election system. Regardless of how many votes a presidential candidate gets in a state, the electoral college makes the final decision. This unique brand of “democratic centralism” has made presidential elections very uncertain.
... the core of Christianity is the Matthew effect, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
The so-called “swing states” in the US are key states for the electoral college. While the federal Supreme Court judges call for the electoral college to respect voters’ sentiments and not to vote against it, it cannot be denied that the electoral college exists to make sure that US politics remains in the hands of a minority elite.
A close analysis of US capitalism shows that Christianity is, in fact, America’s spiritual pillar. And the core of Christianity is the Matthew effect, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is why in the US, to become a true master of the house, one needs to have enough money. While literary and artistic works from the US promote the American spirit and encourage individual freedom, and advocate “making it” overnight, everyone knows that it is very difficult to make it in a mature capitalist country through hard work alone.
The most pressing problem for Trump is that although he lives in the White House, he has never been accepted by the governing groups in Washington.
The Matthew effect, the Christian spirit, the US constitution, and the US democratic system were once lauded and trumpeted. But the pandemic has exposed the US for what it is. No matter how the US government paints a picture of calm, it cannot cover up the fact that the US has the highest number of deaths in the world from the coronavirus.
Trump not able to galvanise and unite
The most pressing problem for Trump is that although he lives in the White House, he has never been accepted by the governing groups in Washington. He wants to bring together America’s elites for his use, but when it comes to the crunch, his political cards are plain to see.
He has publicly referred to the secretary of state as a representative of the “deep state”, meaning intelligence agencies and diplomatic groups, while he is the true representative of the state. This deep-seated unhappiness would naturally show, exposing the nature of America’s capitalist society.
In the US, administrators and executives are completely separate. The elected president is a classic example of an administrator. But it is the executives who keep America running. Trump understands his position, and so he gathers talents from the US military and the financial institutions on Wall Street to strengthen his position, while getting the head of the Central Intelligence Agency as secretary of state to improve communication with government agencies.
But now, it looks like Trump is just putting on a front. He has no real understanding of the workings of US politics. Despite having access to various information and views during policy-making, given his personality, he would not base policy decisions on such input. With his recklessness in the international community, he has destroyed the image of the US as carefully constructed by American stakeholders, and turned the US from a world leader into a clown, at odds with the interests of its people.
*According to the US Federal Courts website, judicial review refers to “the ability of the Court to declare a Legislative or Executive act in violation of the Constitution”.
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