Benjamin Franklin the United States of America Needs You!

The kind of crisis gripping the political elite in the United States of America and causing mayhem and havoc to ordinary people’s lives is a sorry spectacle for the the rest of the world. In some countries it would be enough for the military to step in and launch a coup, while in others million could be galvanized and take to the streets. But in the United States, while people express their frustration and disappointment or agree or disagree with their elected representatives-it’s pretty much business as usual for the worlds largest economy and most powerful democracy. People continue to do what they do best-consume. And they consume a lot in the US especially the hate filled rhetoric of the Barmy Right Wingers, whose opinions these days seem to dominate the media roadshows, nightly news and the loonies producing those bigoted self aggrandizing radio talk shows.
Since the election of the country’s first African-American president, and the decline of the far-right under the disgraced presidency of George W Bush, US politics has polarized. The right hates the idea of a left-leaning liberal black man, who supports the poor and disenfranchised, champions Gay rights, equates marriage beyond gender stereotypes, adopts equal opportunities for all women, and reforms health care under the Affordable Health Care Act, leading their country. But he does, and that’s that.
The Republican Party loathes him. Yet over 51% of the people loved him enough to re-elect him in 2012. Obama won the popular vote by more than 6% securing over 65 million votes, and securing an easy victory in the Electoral College of 332 to his opponents 206. The people spoke and Obama was given a clear mandate to govern. Yet, 11 months down the line US politics is a malfunctioning, inoperative, broken system. The government has run out of money and its civil services are broke. The Republicans hold the Affordable Care Act as a hostage and refuse to pass a bill which would see ordinary people get their wages, and the country pay its dues on time. In effect the US Republican party is disenfranchising over 65 million of the US citizens who voted in the 2012 election. They recently approved and passed a bill which would cut $ 40 billion off the food stamps program which helps the desperately poor of their country.
Jeffersonian democracy was once an ideal for those Nation States wanting a transition to egalitarianism through the ballot box. Instead it has become a de-based spectacle – a system of government embroiled in blackmail, infighting, intimidation, coercion and chaos, and perhaps one to be eschewed in favor of alternatives. Does it make Chinese authoritarianism and Russian coercive governance look like more sustainable substitutions? Benjamin Franklin once said of the United States of America “We are more thoroughly an enlightened people, with respect to our political interests, than perhaps any other under heaven. Every man among us reads, and is so easy in his circumstances as to have leisure for conversations of improvement and for acquiring information”. Unfortunately this is not the case today.

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