Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is the United States a democracy?

We are about to find out.

The NY Times reports:
The national telephone survey, which was conducted from June 12 to 16, found that 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan — something like Medicare for those under 65 — that would compete for customers with private insurers. Twenty percent said they were opposed.
Let's see. . . . The Democrats control the presidency and the House of Representatives, have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and they have 72 percent of the American public behind them on the issue.

If Obama cannot get Congressional Democrats to pass the kind of health care reform that Americans want, anyone can appreciate that Obama's authority is likely be greatly diminished -- for the duration of his (one-term) presidency.

There is a lot of talk in the US media about what a "tough fight" health system reform will be for Obama. I think this kind of talk is a load of hooey -- encouraged by the Democrats themselves.

Because Obama and the majority of Democrats in Congress have more than sufficient political capital to accomplish meaningful reform. They could ostracize, shame, or even threaten to suspend from their party members who try to block reform. And these members' careers would be finished. But it would never come to this, because if soft-spoken Obama carried this kind of big stick, recalcitrant Democrats would have "the excuse" they needed to fall in line with the party. No, talk about the "difficulty of reform" is just a way out should Obama and the Democrats choose to put coporate interests first.

But there is no way out.
Photo, by Jotman, shows a sign outside an ancient temple in Cambodia. Don't miss the follow-up to this post: What needs reform even more than health care?

1 comment:

  1. hmmmm...

    it is curious why do you bring this up, and why now?

    I have been long arguing in many blogs and forums that while US is trumpeting the "Democracy" around the world as a self-proclaimed champion of democracy, there are well established facts that :

    1) US has continuously interfered and meddled in affairs of many countries and in fact has direcly or indirectly participated in toppling the DEMOCRATIC governments and installing the dictators (like in Iran, Eqypt, L. America, etc) - I remeber in one his documentary John Pilger has mentioned the actual number of counrties where US has done that.

    2) US itself was designed as Federal Republic and its founder fathers has especially made sure that it is so - to ensure that "majority rule" doesn't supress the liberty.

    3) US Constitution and all its Amendments doesn't have any single word "Democracy" mentioned.
    (correct me if I'm rwrong) and neither similar words like "democratic" or anything close.

    [of course I am well aware about some political scientists pontificating about the arguments that the modetl itself is democratic - and yet this model is NOT what is defined as "Direct" or "True" democracy]

    not to speak about many other things too evident nowadays - Patriot Act, Homeland security, etc. etc.

    so, my understanding is that US using the slogan "Democracy" merely as a tool, and even that - only when it is convenient. Like Pakistan was long-term ally of US (since after WWII), despite the fact that a lot of time (including lat few years under Muzsharraff) it was a dictatorship; Iraq same - Saddam was greatly supported by US; now it is also in Georgia, where Saakashvili is acting as a dictator, although West has tried to paint him as democratic leader; Pol Pot was also supported by US to counter-act the Vietnamese.

    and last, but not the least - Thailand and all its dictators were largely supported by US in all aspects, financially and militarily...

    I think that talking about "Democracy" is outdated topic. Democracy as well as Capitalism are already practically obsolete concepts. newer models are emerging - as social welfare state, Social Business (promoted by M. Yunus) etc.

    US itself according to many opinions, as Max Keiser, is increasingly becoming a "Socialism for rich" (especially "banksters") or as Pilger said - a "corporate fascism".


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