Our government has failed – or maybe presidential democracy has


Our government has failed us. As we complete our first week of drastically scaled-back government, the impacts can be seen everywhere. On Tuesday, Utah stopped issuing WIC vouchers and closed its health clinics, denying children and pregnant women much-needed food and medical care. NPR reports cutbacks in Meals on Wheels programs in states across the nation, so the elderly poor aren’t getting fed either. Paid reservations at national parks, including the Grand Canyon, are not being honored. And the indirect effects are even worse: communities that rely on autumn tourism are being hit hard because of the national park closures. Even our cheese business is suffering, since three of the six markets we attend each week rely on tourist traffic for success. Our sales yesterday were a dismal 20% of normal. Reduced income for local businesses ultimately means less tax revenue for states, and for the Fed itself.

And there’s a moral effect to all this as well. Our government is now faced with the choice of not paying its furloughed workers, which is hardly fair to the men and women who serve our government and have bills and mortgages to pay, or paying 800,000 workers for work they didn’t do, which is unfair to the taxpayers. Neither is a good choice. As the U.S. is promotes Presidential democracy as the ideal system for nations throughout the world, this is hardly an example worth imitating. Our system has failed – why would anyone else adopt it?

The Tea Party members in Congress have little incentive to resolve this dilemma. They want to see all non-essential government shut down anyway. What we’re experiencing now is what government would look like under Tea Party rule.

On the other hand, I have little sympathy for the Democrats, who continue to spend as if money can be printed at a whim without economic consequences. Borrow-and-spend economics has inflated the money supply five times faster than our GDP growth over the past twelve years. The national debt began exceeding GDP in 2011 for the first time since World War II, and shows no sign of improving. We are a nation hovering on the brink of financial disaster.

China, of course, is using this opportunity to suggest that their system is a better choice. At the moment, it would appear so – though to accept the two models as the only two options is as much a failure as allowing only two parties to run the U.S. government. There are never only two choices. Our current system is premised on a fallacy.

In any case, it is time for Americans to admit that our system has indeed failed. It is time to look for a new system. Whether that is a parliamentary democracy or something else is a matter to be decided by the people in a Constitutional Convention. Perhaps it will be decided that our nation is too big and too diverse to remain a single unit.

The current political impasse emphasizes that there’s one choice we cannot afford to make, and that is more of the same. Our government has failed us, and it is time for a change.

The Shutdown Prophet
Washington couldn’t have gone dark without a radicalized Republican Party. Or maybe it was destined to all along.

In a famous 1990 essay, Linz observed, “All such systems are based on dual democratic legitimacy: No democratic principle exists to resolve disputes between the executive and the legislature about which of the two actually represents the will of the people.” Presidential systems veered ultimately toward collapse everywhere they were tried, as legislators and executives vied for supremacy. There was only one notable exception: the United States of America.

Until now?


  1. Wow… This post certainly makes me question supporting your company. To think that you’re equating the US system to a repressive dictatorship that allows child and damn near slave labour…

    Blaming either party for spending is trite at best. Last I looked Congress as a whole is in control of spending, and BOTH parties come out pretty equally for ownership of over-spending and under-funding over the past 12 (actually past 100) years.

    There are two real issues with our current system: The largest is the unfettered influence one can get by (legally) throwing money at
    people in Congress. Public campaign reforms, mandatory non-partisan broadcast coverage of candidates on “public” airwaves, term limits, salary caps,
    and stripping of life-long benefits would be a good start to cleaning up that mess.

    The other is this partisan, anti-fact-based blame and bickering. Claiming one side is coming for your Bible, guns, and kids, or that the other is trying to reinstate slavery and repeal women’s rights back to pre-S.B.Anthony days. Combine that with the dismal excuse of a public education system, and the mentality that education and science are bad (or the “enemy of religion”) and it’s a tragedy.

    I get that there are issues with the current system. But trying to “fix” it by propagating myths and playing the same blame-game won’t fix it. As the Tea Party is now discovering, voting out incumbents and voting in non-compromising radicals isn’t the solution either.

    The solution is to remove the corruption at it’s source. Make public service what it was meant to be: A job that can still pay the bills but isn’t a golden ticket or a money maker. You do this by electing in people with good ethics, who resist being bought, and are willing to compromise while finding a way to fix things long term. Finding people like that in politics today is a rough task, but they do exist. Usually in the Green party, or smaller independent parties. Start making those changes at the lower levels (which is already starting in many places), and you’ll see real change start to happen as they rise up through the ranks.

    • Ooooh… “equating”? No. I’m talking about world perception, as reported by NPR.

      I agree that corruption is one of our major problems. I disagree that it can be fixed through the electoral system. The nature of the system as it has evolved is to reward concentrated wealth. It’s rotten to the core.

      I’m not blaming one party or the other, they are both integral parts in what is now inherently (Bernie Sanders notwithstanding) a 2-party lock on power, creating an artificially dual view of the nation and its issues. There are never only two answers, but our system of government is now defined as if there were.

    • Real change rising up through the ranks would take 20-30 years and there’s no guarantee they wouldn’t get corrupted /coopted in the process. We need something much faster and more effective than that…

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