Monday, April 22, 2013

Like Lobsters Caught in a Trap, Americans Are Held Prisoners By Their Procedural Republic

The news coming out of the USA last week was pretty bleak: another senseless act of indiscriminate violence at the Boston Marathon, where two home-made bombs were detonated amongst the spectators, killing three, including a young child, and maiming hundreds.

Yet, against this backdrop of blood running in the streets, the US Senate was unable to adopt a law that would have made it mandatory to perform a background check on any individual wishing to purchase a semi-automatic weapon. The vote was taken only after a few months after a lone gunman went on a rampage in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, also ignoring the fact that more than 90% of Americans favor the implementation of background checks.

It wasn't the case that the motion didn't have the support of the majority of senators, the vote was 54 in favor and 46 against, but in yet another weird twist of the American political system, a simple majority wasn't sufficient to adopt the legislation.  In short, it takes 60 votes in the Senate to avoid a filibuster by the opposing political party that effectively defeats the motion.  Instead of letting the minority opposition engage in eternal delaying tactics, the bill was simply dropped.

For the American nation this means that in all likelihood it can expect to witness another mass killing within its immediate future.  Like lobsters caught in a trap, Americans are held prisoner by their procedural republic, a political system that tries to pass itself off as a democratic republic, but in reality is nothing more than a plutocracy.

In fact, because the composition of the American Senate gives an effective veto to states comprising as little as 12% of the electorate, because the entire electoral system is built on the first-past-the-post voting system that discrimates against third-party candidates, because the electoral districts for the House of Representatives are gerrymandered, because it is an electoral college rather than an electotate that determines the outcome of the presidential election, because corporations have the right to spend without limits during electoral campaigns, because voter registration practices effectively suppress voter turnout, the US cannot be considered as a democracy.  In a democracy, it is the many that govern the few; in a plutocracy, it is the few that govern the many.

Taken together the above-mentioned procedures also prevent any meaningful change to the American political system and consequently to the society at large.  Essentially, the US is stuck, despite its incredible technological development, with a social operating system from the 17th century, a way of thinking that dates to the Protestant Reformation and the Pilgrims, and a value system that perpetuates the belief that people get what they deserve, where the rich can wallow in their wealth while the destitute must endure their suffering.

For those at the top the food chain, this hierarchical social system must be maintained at all costs, which includes maintaining the largest military force in the world at public expense and turning a blind eye towards the suffering of those families that are touched directly by the deaths of the appropriately 20,000 Americans killed each year by fire arms. Indeed, the plutocrats show as much concern for their fellow citizens as they do for the lobsters whose fate is to be boiled alive before being served on a plate.

Yet, it costs very little prevent the masses from making any meaningful systemic change. Conservatives need only control only one of the Congressional legislatures or the presidency to bring the entire political system to a standstill.  Since control of all three elected offices is rare, the condition of institutional lock-in has come about. Traditional media sources and social networks may rail at the apparent injustice that regularly surfaces across America, but to no avail because the system is extremely resistant to substantive change.

Like lobsters caught in a trap.

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