After the victory over the British and the acquisition of independence in the United States, a great debate began between two factions of the Founding Fathers about the ideal nature of the country’s political system. In terms of influence, George Washington was only slightly inferior to God, which gave him the opportunity to build a heaven in the New World at will.
Washington was not against lifelong rule, and even in conversations with his closest associates, he always emphasized that war could have been avoided if King George III would have abandoned his aggressive taxation policies. Alexander Hamilton actively used this thesis, lobbying for federalism and the de facto coronation of the first president. This idea consisted of America that would be a continuation of Britain; therefore, it could more easily and more quickly adopt Britain’s model of government with a few reservations.
It is necessary to note that similar suggestions benefited from the popularity of people who, not long earlier, had battled to their death with arms against the British monarchy. Shady lobbyism, newspapers, gossip and different technologies did their work.
Sometimes, it was sufficient to promise cattle or even a bottle of whiskey so that a person would quickly forget the slogan “for freedom and independence.”
From the point of view regarding the realities of human design, it’s possible to understand such a concept. After all, the majority thinks in generalities and does not delve into more substantive matters. Now, new stars-and-stripes flags hang everywhere, there are no British governors general, extra taxation fees have been removed — here it is, independence, which would not exist without Gen. Washington. So why should governance of the most worthy and courageous of Americans be limited?
Concerns about the substantive elements of government grew more complicated. The philosophical question of what the fundamental distinction would be between the king from the Osgood House (the first presidential mansion, as the White House still did not exist then) and the king from Buckingham Palace demanded a lot of time for serious reflection, a luxury not permitted the simple worker or farmer.
This and other difficult topics, including freedom and democracy, were taken over by a second part of the elite led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. They thought that a model of democracy completely oriented to the mood and desire of the majority could become ruinous for the country. Emotions in politics, whether excessive love or hatred, created a dangerous overexertion of public immunity. Additionally, these emotions could be used as instruments for implementing tasks on behalf of those who managed to subdue the feelings of the masses at the right time.
Madison was certain that true democracy was based on the principle of the balance of power between the unorganized majority (voters) and the organized minority (those in power).
Balance of power is achieved by the constant development of institutions that, on one hand, strengthen each other, and on the other hand restrain each other if the threat of intensification of power from one branch emerges and another branch sharply deteriorates.
Fortunately for the majority, the second faction was victorious in that historic period, and the formation of a new administrative architectures slowly started. It is worth noting that after the debates at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a question was posed to Benjamin Franklin from the crowd: “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” To which Franklin answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Again, by all formal signs, the republic has been maintained up to the present day, but is everything this unambiguous from a substantive point of view?
In his time, Professor Samuel Huntington launched ongoing discussions about the fracturing of Madison’s system of checks and balances, which undoubtedly changes one’s perception of democracy. He was convinced that the elites’ pursuit of power (financial and electorate) created a threat, making it easier for the masses to meddle in strategic political processes.
Huntington considered it unusual for American leaders to apologize to a particular group for certain historical events and retreat from requests that were initially harmful.
Actually, the institutions of power became too unbalanced: the branches of government were more oriented toward narrow corporate interests, and this separate factor at times has overshadowed the whole system. Every self-respecting U.S. president after George H.W. Bush has, more often than not, thought only about how to find political careerist friends in Congress who are prepared to sacrifice the interests of the legislative system — the main shrine of American democracy — for the sake of personal dividends.
For a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, the main thing is to be loyal to the LGBTQ+ community and its rights, not to criticize African Americans (even if one is a criminal), and under no circumstances possess a history of sexually assaulting women while drinking beer at a fraternity party. The Constitution and the law are unimportant.
The erosion of this system has today led to one being able to burn their country’s flags with impunity, tear down monuments of historical figures and damage private property. And all of this with total support from one of the elite who wishes to saddle these masses with taking over.
In other words, an internal overexertion has occurred, and now America finds itself in a deeply divided state.
It is terribly unfortunate for America that Donald Trump is not Washington and that Joe Biden is not Madison, so the country could get out of the current crisis painlessly and with dignity.
On many American political talk shows, one often hears discourse about what Washington, Adams, Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers would have done today. The constant references to the past should not come as a surprise considering the very high level of mistrust toward politicians, especially at the federal level. The number of people who think that their vote does not influence crucial decisions grows with every year; since 1972, the turnout for the presidential election has not risen higher than 55%. Even the 2008 campaign, where for the first time in history an African American, Barack Obama, was the Democratic candidate and the main favorite of the election, garnered only a 57% turnout.
More than half the citizens believe in conspiracy theories, ranging anywhere from the idea that Freemasons rule the world and support the conspiracy regarding transnational corporations being involved in organizing 9/11 to the theory that alleges Obama is an agent for Islamic radicals. All of these trends only confirm that there has been a serious fissure in the balance of mutual understanding between the organized minority of elites and the unorganized majority of citizens, this being especially demonstrated by indicators of stratification (such as education and income).
Russia is America in reverse.
In Russia, the majority, which saw the breakdown of one country from the failed mission of worldwide revolution and the all-encompassing atrociousness of the 1990s (the supposed passage to a completely different model of development), does not believe in wonders, nor does it demand them. It would be better to keep what exists.
In this context, one can confidently call Russia a nation of realists who correctly realize that there is a choice between the greater and lesser evils in politics. This is exactly why the concept of Vladimir Putin’s longstanding government was originally uncontested. It sets a long-term strategic goal to maintain the sovereign state as the immutable unit of the nation’s vital organization. From the point of view of political performance, a longstanding government manufactures products that are demanded by the majority over a given time span. Currently, stability is this product.
This might appear boring to some and outdated to others. In general, some consider stability to be synonymous with stagnation, and consequently they see it as being disastrous for the country. Similar opinions should have a place in public discussions, but the real passage from stability to the next stage will be possible when there is a different kind of popular demand.
Now it is possible to single out hundreds of demands emanating from narrow-minded groups of influence, but not one of them possesses the sufficient potential energy to challenge the majority. Furthermore, the local elite minorities together do not offer any fundamental political ideology, but instead base their strategy on miscalculations, mistakes, the weakness of the current elites’ management and greed, and the frequent crossing of all boundaries of rationality. In such situations, these are exceptionally temporary tactical victories that have no chance of creating any serious strategic threat.
In other words, for now, we do not have our own Madisons or Jeffersons in Russia.
More precisely, there is no apparent corresponding demand. Many people, even those who defend stability, are reflecting more often on what the next stage of political development will be, what form the longstanding government will take next, and what it will consist of. I would answer these questions with the following: “A different form, if we can save the country.”
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