As most of my traveling fellows probably also noticed, congressmen, liberal journalists as well as university professors often complain about the polarization of the american society. (Not only in terms of political views, but also considering regional, religious and social differences, though let us here concentrate on the political divide.) We met a bunch of left-leaning thinkers, who kept arguing that the GOP moved further to the right than ever before, particularly considering their views on social issues. Meanwhile, having less chance to get familiar with republican arguments, I’ve been following closely right-wing op-leaders through the traditional media, listening to Republican convention speakers wining about a “new era of socialism” and GOP politicians complaining about the rise of the far-left. My personal favorite line comes from 2009, a republican congress, when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee left a comment on Obama’s 2009 stimulus package plan, saying “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff.”
Most of the political thinkers see this dividing process, alongside with the high unemployment rates, as one of the most destructive social phenomena in US policy. As few of them claimed, this trend should also be seen as an explanation for POTUS’s falling popularity, namely that despite his promise, President Barack Obama failed to narrow the gap between the democrats and the GOP in the congress. (Whoever is responsible for this outcome, the audience only remembers the one who promised “change”.) The hostile political atmosphere in the congress made it less and less possible the two big parties reach agreements on historical questions, especially after 2010, when republicans sailed into majority in the house of representatives. The outcome is, despite a few partial successes, an even more sluggish decision-making.
Although It did not come up at any of the conversations, still, the idea was in the air, that a slight cut on the system of checks and balances could hold back most of the “pointless” political debates. It was in the air, that giving more space the governing power to be able to realize it’s program would be a desirable solution for lubber operation. It did not come up, because it has never been a serious issue for US legislatures and, obviously, any reform on the system of checks and balances would only be adoptable with changing the constitution. However, listening these, more or less left-leaning, people complaining about the “inefficiency” of American politics, and having read a couple of books on this topic, I felt obliged to stand up each time and add my perception on the nature of democracy. I felt obliged to, because in my consideration, having the political control is more valuable than the efficiency of any policy. I know how it feels like, when lawmakers face no obstacles while redefining the rules of democracy. (The current Hungarian governing party – controlling a two-third majority in the parliament since 2010 – has been systematically cutting out democratic checks so far. They have arbitrary rewritten the constitution and filled up both the media committee and Constitutional Court with loyal party people. Besides that, they also have created a new law of election without coming to understand their opposition. It makes no sense doing any comparison between American and Hungarian politics, though the current “developments” in my home country still should be a formidable example for true democrats.
Conflict is the quintessence of the democratic political nature. I know it is a banality, and might even sound pathetic, but democracy is inefficient. It is slow and often annoying, complicated. Though, In the end, this is how it supposed to be. The debates often appear to be pointless, hopeless and sometime unnecessary. There’s no other way to secure permanent political control, unless forcing the actors to reach an arrangement. Political thinkers used to say, that the most essential virtue for a politician would be to have a clear vision about the community’s future. I do not agree with that. That is a fundamental virtue, but the are other crucial ones. Politicians tend to think, that if they were in charge, they could hold themselves back. Still, power is extremely tempting. If we learn anything from history, we learn that the more the convinced one is about the right direction, more ready the one is to remove anything out of the way that obstructs him. The more confident one is the more is the need for someone to hold him back.
POTUS AND POWER
Great piece Daniel. Let them fight it out, that’s what they are supposed to do.