Joined: May 2006
|Quote (Amadan @ Sep. 07 2008,18:52)|
|Quote (carlsonjok @ Sep. 07 2008,14:57)|
|As an American, I see plenty of problems in execution of our political system, but that is not due to any defect I see in it's particular construction.|
If the system permits that type of execution, you have to ask if its construction is still appropriate. It's undeniable that it was designed (where have I seen that phrase before?) for social and technological conditions very different from today's. Perhaps Americans consider the abuses and corruption within it an acceptable cost of the freedom the system permits. Or perhaps they reason that the problems can be fixed without change to the constitution. But if I was an American, I'd take quite a bit of convincing.
I think there are two faulty premises in what you are saying here. First, I would suggest that you are engaging in a reverse Exceptionalism inasmuch as you seem to the think that abuses and corruption are particularly egregious in the American system. Second, you are seem to be assuming that there is no means of addressing such problems except by changed constitutional construction. I think both premises are wrong.
I think the first premise is prima facie false and requires little comment except to say that corruption and abuses of power are present in any system and I don't think the American system is any worse, and probably much better*, than most other systems. That said, I do understand power is a force multiplier and a minor abuse of power here may have a more significant impact that a major abuse elsewhere. But I don't see that as a fault in construction, but as a problem in execution.
The second premise is false in that there are means of dealing with abuses of power and corruption. The American Constitution provides means for dealing with violations of a constitutional nature. Indeed, I would note that several times, when suits related to the constitutionality of the "enemy combatant" and military tribunal policy have rose above the district court level, the Bush administration has backed down in what I would describe as a strategic retreat to avoid constitutional reviews that are unlikely to break there way (I am thinking particularly of the Hamdan and Padilla cases). The unitary executive concept and the signing statements, along with the warrantless wiretapping, are still concerns and it should be interesting to see how that plays out.
The second premise is also flawed in that I question that is necessary that a constitution deal with anything more than defining the role and structure of government and the nature of it's relationship to the governed. Abuses and corruption that falls outside the (current) US constitution are not unaddressable. Rather, they are addressed through existing, and voluminous, criminal and civil codes.
I agree, constitutions shouldn't be tinkered with on a whim. My point however is that many Americans seem to subscribe to the notion of American Exceptionalism, that their Constitution is the definitive and unimpeachable wellspring of democracy. But remember that Eisenhower's first draft of his farewell speech referred to the concentration of power in "a military-industrial-congressional complex". Allegedly for fear of instigating a political crisis, he removed the reference to Congress, and toned down his remarks to the 'potential' for such a concentration, not to its actuality. But that it exists is a fact.That it does so within your constitutional system suggests that the ability to concentrate that much power in that way is a defect in the system that those who drafted the constitution did not and could not have forseen.
Spare me. In this regard, America is completely unexceptional. Business and governmental interests are inexorably intertwined in all systems everywhere. I will try not to engage in armchair psychology, but I would ask you to consider whether your unease with the American military-industrial complex** is less due to our constitutional construction and more that our (currently) pre-eminent position militarily in the world tends to exaggerate the impact of abuses that would be merely annoying elsewhere.
|But any political commentator, let alone politician, who dared to say so would at best be written off as a flake, or be denounced for treason for daring to suggest that the Founding Fathers (Forgive me, I have to laugh whenever I see that term) might have got even part of it wrong.|
I make no bones about it, I think the American Constitution is an exceptional document, witnessed by the fact that other nations have modeled their constitution after ours, sometimes even lifting language wholesale. I think you are put-off by the extent of American power (a point I will not begrudge you) and are confusing the execution of a fundamentally flawed system with the execution of a fundamentally good system by flawed actors. But rather than dealing with this in the abstract, I think it would be easier (for me, at least) if you would elucidate what you would change about the American Constitution.
* I come to this perspective as a businessman, employed by a European company, who deals frequently with associates all across the world, and passing familiarity with anti-corruption laws. Business laws and practices around the world (including Europe) are far more laissez faire than those here in the States.
** Strangely enough, the last 8 years, and the verdict from the Hamdan tribunal last month, have lead me to the conclusion that we have far less to fear from our military than the civilians elected and appointed to direct them.
It's natural to be curious about our world, but the scientific method is just one theory about how to best understand it. We live in a democracy, which means we should treat every theory equally. - Steven Colbert, I Am America (and So Can You!)