vetocracy
America the Decaying
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  • Bruce

    I must confess to having not made it through the entire piece. However, the author made some great points when it came to elites having outsized influence and being a force resisting governmental reform (sugar growers and corn farmers for example). What I did not see him discuss was the fact that not only does the bureaucracy resist reform, it has actually turned against the citizenry when that citizenry attempts to prevent further usurpation. The bureaucracy gets vicious protecting and growing itself. Madisonian government would work, but the citizenry has to be engaged and resist bribes that politicians offer in the form of vote buying. That has not happened and we are in deep trouble as a result.

  • ShadrachSmith

    It is Machiavelli’s cycle of government. Republics decay because of factional corruption. They are replaced by oligarchies of entrenched power. The only way to delay the process is the emergence of a great man who revives the Republic’s original principles…which are always better than the principles of any of the competing factions. There is no solution to this problem. Reagan helped, but people are people.

  • Arkeygeezer

    After reading the whole thing, it is difficult to find a period in American History when the American political system was not in a state of “decay”. Mr. Fukuyama continually decries political checks and balances as creating too many “veto points” to be efficient.

    He prefers the “Westminster system, which evolved in England in the years following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, is one of the most decisive in the democratic world because, in its pure form, it has very few veto points.” However, a few years later England had “the Restoration” which put another king on the throne to administer things.

    The American political system may be messy, inconsistent, and, in the eyes of some, disfunctional, but it has produced a country that is wealthy, militarily strong, with the most freedom possible for its diverse peoples. We continue to tinker with it and muddle around, but the result is impressive.

    • LarryD

      The Framers were familiar with parlimentary democracy and the Westminster system. That they invented someting new constitutes a rejection of English precidents.

      For one thing, the Presidental system encourages candidates to try and form a majority coalition *before* the election, instead of afterwards as in the parlimentary system. This results in more centalist governments, whereas parliments often get pulled to extreams by having to include small factions in order to form a majority.

      And the Framers weren’t interested in efficient government, but in limited government.

      I think the biggest problem with American Federal government is unaccountable bureaucracies, which are in violation of the Constitutions seperation of powers.

  • Duperray

    Why did democracy started aeons ago by electing people which mission was to speak with population’s voice at senate and House?
    Just because – due to lack of technology – it was physically impossible to make polls for every issue. The penalty of such old legal system is visible everywhere in any democracy to day: Abundant money, hobbyists put pressure upon elected persons in a way to make them support things which are not in population’s interest and against their duty.
    The solution: Une electronic polls. No more deputy => no more lobby influence. Use TV broadcasting in real time the many sub-committees sessions in a way each american person could follow the issues she/he is interrested in. Then an elctronic poll close the loop.

    • Arkeygeezer

      The American political system is not a democracy. It is a representative republic.

    • rheddles

      Why did democracy started aeons ago by electing people which mission was to speak with population’s voice at senate and House? Just because – due to lack of technology – it was physically impossible to make polls for every issue.

      Wrong. Twice. Re-read history and notice that all free Greek men met at the Pnyx to practice direct democracy a mere 2,500 years ago, not aeons, or eons for the unaffected. Also re-read history and notice that the founders did not trust the people exclusively. The word democracy was almost a form of disparagement to them. That is why they didn’t create a democracy. They created a mixed form of government with elements of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy so that we could avoid tyranny, oligarchy and mob rule as generally we have and continue to.

  • PKCasimir

    Fukuyama hasn’t been right about anything yet and he certainly doesn’t understand the American system of government. If he’s read the Federalist Papers, he certainly didn’t understand them. For some reason, the liberal establishment deems this rather confused man “brilliant.” If “brilliant” is a substitution for doesn’t know what he’s talking about, then I agree that he’s brilliant. Fukuyama writes a book proclaiming “the end of history” then immediately follows that with another book saying that well, maybe, it isn’t the end of history. He supports Barrack Obama for President because he can’t imagine a worse President than George Bush, the younger. So much for his imagination.

    • Corlyss

      “Fukuyama hasn’t been right about anything yet and he certainly doesn’t understand the American system of government.”

      I was wondering when someone would notice that.

  • Pete

    Two huge factor in America’s dysfunction is that 1) we have over dosed on multiculturalism, you know, the ‘diversity is strength’ claptrap and 2) our moral foundation has been rotten out by radical secularism forced on society by the corrupt elite. .

    • Fred

      Bingo!

    • witheo

      I think what is happening here is that glib commenters, like Pete and Fred here, rest their case entirely on proving their polemic true, merely by presumably persuading the gallery of proving the other false. This, as we all know, is a persistent, yet popular and therefore pernicious fallacy.

      Consider, for example, a logically impeccable line of reasoning that both permits categorical support for one side of the question, without necessarily claiming it to be indubitably true. It goes like this. Just because a given theory appears to be consistent with certain facts, does not automatically exclude the possibility that a totally different theory could appear to be equally consistent with the facts. Do we ever have sufficient evidence to confidently assume we are indeed fully apprised of all the facts?

      Look. You simply can’t, in all decency, go around noisily affirming the antecedent of a hypothetical proposition by affirming the consequent. Without, as we know always happens whenever we make rash assumptions, running the very real risk of making a complete ass of oneself.

      The fact that the ground is wet can be accounted for by rain or by someone having watered the lawn. Capiche? The same logic applies to the present subject and every other as it does to contemporary physics. On a macroscopic level, both Newtonian Physics and Einstein’s Relativity explain physical motion equally well. I think Robert Grosseteste devised the epistemological basis for this eminently orthodox dialectical device only about eight hundred years ago.

      Just saying …

      • Fred

        I think what is happening here is that glib commenters, like Pete and Fred here, rest their case entirely on proving their polemic true, merely by presumably persuading the gallery of proving the other false.

        What the bloody hell are you babbling about? Proving the other what false? Pete made a statement with which I agree and I expressed agreement. Neither of us said anything about proving anything false. By the way “persuading the gallery of proving the other false” isn’t even grammatical in English.

        Just because a given theory appears to be consistent with certain facts, does not automatically exclude the possibility that a totally different theory could appear to be equally consistent with the facts.

        What did Pete or I say that seemed to you to contradict this point? It is quite possible, and for me is in fact the case, that we believe the political dysfunction Fukuyama notes exists and is a cause of weakness but that it is a symptom of a deeper cultural malaise.

        Do we ever have sufficient evidence to confidently assume we are indeed fully apprised of all the facts?

        No. But we do often have sufficient evidence to confidently assume we have enough of the facts to make a warranted assertion.

        You simply can’t, in all decency, go around noisily affirming the antecedent of a hypothetical proposition by affirming the consequent.

        Boy, that sounds awful. What does it mean in English, and how, exactly, did Pete or I commit this indecent affirmation?

        On a macroscopic level, both Newtonian Physics and Einstein’s Relativity explain physical motion equally well. I think Robert Grosseteste devised the epistemological basis for this eminently orthodox dialectical device only about eight hundred years ago.

        Well. How can I possibly argue against science clichés? And where can I get one of those eminently orthodox dialectical devices? I’ve always wanted one, but I’ve never had the epistemological basis for it.

  • Anthony

    Foreign Affairs piece essentially reprise of Francis Fukuyama’s AI essay “The Decay of American Political Institutions” (Dec. 2013).

  • Fat_Man

    As you yourself have said the Blue Model is dead. What props it up are the leeches who suck off the blood of the state and ethnic groups who vote as a form of expressive identity, i.e. the 47%. What will kill it is its bankruptcy.

    Is a catastrophic regime change fated for us. The last 2 were the Great Depression and the Civil War. We can pray that we will not have to go through a disaster of the magnitude of either of those in order to achieve a new regime.

    Britain managed to do it in the 19th Century. So I guess that a disaster is not fated. On the other hand Britain had something in an elite that was patriotic and religious, had a deep connection with all strata of society, and an ethic of duty.

    We sadly have an elite that is narcissistic, materialistic, atheistic (when they are not besotted with primitive nature cults), arrogant, and intolerant. They have no leadership ability nor do they have any followers. We are unlikely to get out of this pickle easily.

    My guess is bankruptcy in the form of hyperinflation, accompanied by rioting.

  • Duperray

    The “least bad” political political system is the british one: No writtent constitution, just traditions that everybody respects and follow. The King is just for “decorum”, has no power, relic of history. It works for 360years without revolution, often faced much more odds and dangers than US did: Remote vulnerable commercial colonies, long sea lanes, risk of invasion from sea (1805), two bloody continental Wars at next door’s continent, devastating air raids in 1940, smooth decolonization, de-industrialisation. They always arrange to keep flexibility to adapt and save their country.
    It is not only due to their unwritten system, but to mental content and priority ranking of all britons. These values appear to be totally absent in most of western populations: Secularism / corrupted “elite” (better label these as “successful dynasty crooks”) effectively look to be cause of.

    • PKCasimir

      You might try reading a history book before you pontificate about anything Western because you certainly don’t know anything about British, European, or American history. The British monarch is, in fact, sovereign and the Brits are subjects. Britain has had more than its share of coups, usurpations of the Crown uprisings, revolutions, and violent domestic unrest. Britain lost her American colonies through violence and the history of British occupation of India is one of violent repression and bloodshed. Britain was in the process of losing WW1 until the united States intervened and turned the tide of battle. It only survived WW2 because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and Hitler, rather stupidly, declared war on the United States, sealing his fate.
      As a free man, a concept with which you are apparently unfamiliar, I want to enumerate what p[powers I cede to a government in a written document. Individuals who would trust their freedom on somebody’s memory quickly become slaves of the state, like Communist China, perhaps.

      • Duperray

        Nothing to react, you describe your pathetic frozen belief pretty well. Re-read history and notice that all what you said about british kings occurred before end of 17th century, ie before present system (which was set precicely to control kings) became the rule.
        Of course this was before 1776, so pre-history; possibly Age Stone?

        • PKCasimir

          The way you Chinese Communists read history is that if what occurred doesn’t fit your argument, you ignore it. Mao taught you well. “Pathetic frozen belief” would more appropriately belong in the Ice Age, not “Age Stone.” But then you just aren’t very good at history.

          • Duperray

            Wonderful: “The way you Chinese Communists read history is that if what occurred doesn’t fit your argument, you ignore it”: This is current leftists Dems’ way.
            By the way, where did you learn History? In Guantanamo? In TV shows?

          • PKCasimir

            Bachelor of Arts in American History.

          • Duperray

            Congratulations !

            Look at this, from American Interest today about Hamas::
            “It is old news that an academic tenured Left has a foothold in departments of history in the United States”.

            In case foreign History is taught in US as per this sentence (present world madness is “Rewriting History”) our opposite points of view can be understood..

          • PKCasimir

            And just what that have to do with my knowledge of history? Absolutely nothing. Just because the Chinese Communists indoctrinate all of its citizens doesn’t mean that all Chinese are Communists or actually believe the nonsense they are taught in school. As a Chinese Communist who actually believes the nonsense you were taught, the one thing you just don’t understand is the United States and its concept of free speech, free expression and the right of assembly.
            You are now just flailing around.

          • Duperray

            I never show contempt about other’s degrees.
            From the height of your knowledge, you deduce I am Chinese, raised in Communist China, all along with an avalanche of near-by insults.
            In front of such agressions against british, chinese and myself, it is no longer wise to carry over dialog.
            FYI, I am european, raised in a free country, having studied US and European History by personal conviction and pleasure during the past…65 years, having brothers and step family living/ carrying US citizeship. Glad to belong to a 3-generation Engineers family from prestigious european Universities, so do my children. Having had important business responsability at director level in three successive US companies, I am now retired.
            End of communication.

  • lehnne

    Isn’t this the guy who wrote about the end of history? The governance of the U.S. has descended into subsidized criminality and decadence because the people adapted to manipulating the system rather than enhancing or strengthening it add a decadent population and presto you get a scenario apparently beyond the author’s ability to understand.

  • jeburke

    It seems to me that FF is trying gamely to put an analytical gloss on the current lament of Democrats that “gridlock” and partisan polarization are preventing Washington from “getting the job done” — the job being whatever it was that Obama or they promised in 2008 and 2012 — and that the gridlock is primarily due to right wing intransigence in the legislative branch. Unsurprisingly, they are content to ignore the possibility that the current standoff is merely the result of the successful operation of the Constitutional scheme — the House putting a check on some of the President’s and Senate’s more ambitious plans (is it really so radical for the House to slow walk any immigration reform schemes, press for fewer defense cuts, refuse to endorse tax increases, object to IRS or NSA conduct?)

    In any case, the idea that the current political impasses and rancor constitute an historic change does not hold up to the most casual scrutiny of our history, which is one of nearly continuous political conflict — conflict that might have proved disastrous were it not for our system of divided sovereignty, limited government, protected indivual rights and separation of powers. On the rare occasions of rapid change in federal governance — conspicuously the New Deal — that change was fueled by national crises and an unusually broad electoral mandate. For all that, the 1930s were far from free of rough conflict.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “Because Americans distrust government, they are generally unwilling to delegate to it the authority to make decisions, as happens in other democracies. Instead, Congress mandates complex rules that reduce the government’s autonomy and cause decision-making to be slow and expensive.”

    What gobbledygook, the real reason government doesn’t work is because it’s a monopoly, and like all monopolies lacks the “Feedback of Competition” that forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price, in free markets. As government gets bigger and bigger the waste, incompetence, and corruption just gets more and more. Since the government must be a monopoly; the ONLY way to make things better is to limit the size and scope of the government monopoly to just those things only a government can do (Defense, Justice, Foreign Relations). Anything which the free market can do, should have priority over the government monopoly, as the “Feedback of Competition” will make the Quality, Service, and Price all get better over time.

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