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Keeping the world safe for Democracy?

What is our mission in the world? Is it to make it safe for Democracy? Is it to bring freedom to the world? I know many think this is still the USA’s purpose to be the greater force for good. I have heard conservative leaders espouse these views. I am starting to be convinced however that the world does not really want the “good” or “freedom” we promise. They want familiar. They want their basic needs met and a little comfort and that’s it. They also want their society to line up with their core beliefs.

For 1 billion souls on Earth who believe in Islam, the concept of freedom and Democracy is very different than the rest of us Westerners. It has become ever too apparent that invading Iraq was not a good idea. We picked off a painful scab in Saddam Hussein, whose regime was forcefully holding together disparate peoples with different values like Shia’s, Sunni’s, Kurds etc … and replaced it with nothing near as strong or forceful. Now the country is slowly heading into the radical Islamic camp. Recently two cities Mosul and Tikrit, cities we once controlled, are now firmly in our sworn enemies hands, led by a man we once held captive. file53988e003fcf7 Invading Iraq was kind of like raking leaves around the bottom of a tree. You may clean them up, blow them away but in the Fall they will be back again. To say invading Iraq was a waste in money, lives and resources is an understatement. For us as Westerners to come into a country impose our values on a society that for the most part has not changed its concepts of freedom and servitude in centuries is foolish.  Additionally while going after Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan may have been a good idea, invading the country and trying to impose our will on those people was a mistake. Also, its foolish to think  completing civic projects for these people will somehow change their opinions of Westerners who do not have the same religious values as them.  When we eventually leave Afghanistan just like Iraq, the same people who were there before the invasion, that were swept away, will come back and nothing will have changed. Vietnam should have been enough of a lesson for us to learn. Nation building may have been appropriate immediately following the second world war but its outgrown its purpose and has morphed into something else that most in the world resents.

In my opinion we should not make war unless we are prepared to annihilate a country’s infrastructure and completely subjugate its people  in perpetuity or assimilate them into our culture.  If countries continue to harbor terrorists giving them shelter, funds and training then we should go to war with those countries regardless of how big they are or how much they pretend to be our “friends”.  End it one way or another that’s how I would do it.

This new asymmetrical war being fought in the shadows and in the open in the 21st century is still war. We are still killing people to impose our will against someone else’s will but there will never be a peace the way this war is being fought. It will never end and more and more money will be spent to “win” and more and more people will die. Is this the cost of freedom now, perpetual war fought over ideological and religious differences that are incompatible with one another? To talk to our military industrial complex they would say yes,  and be okay with that.  Do you agree with them?

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In America, clearly 40% plus of voters continually choose leaders that promise a government that will take care of them. They do not want individual freedom and in fact view it as dangerous. They don’t want Republican Democracy they want Socialism. They want to be just like the rest of the world and no different. The possibility of being exceptional they find distasteful and somehow “unfair”. If this block of dependent citizenry is permitted to grow and with the defacto open border policy we currently have with future Democratic voters from Latin American coming here by the truck load legally and illegally to access our “free” things,   America the land of  prosperity and opportunity will disappear. What replaces it is not going to be pretty.

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So , if we cannot even convince our own citizens that freedom and democracy is desirable and that America is exceptional,  how can we possibly convince a jihadist to change his spots?  The best course of action is to make our system work here not try to sell it elsewhere. We need to annihilate our enemies and put the big nations that oppose us like China and Russia on notice. We need to root out the hard core leftists in this country and start teaching our young what an exceptional America looks like. We need to bring back a flourishing economy, a growing manufacturing base; encourage technological innovators and then we won’t have to sell America to the rest of the world. They will look to us, as they have in the past and say, how can we be more like them?

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Elected Elites?

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In a recent Linkedin story written by Richard Branson, the billionaire of Virgin Atlantic fame, he defends Democracy and calls on Democracies everywhere to consider looking at successful businesses and their structures as a role model presumably for better government.  He makes note of China’s speedy economic growth and how they are able to move quickly and without gridlock. He then goes on to suggest government could cut costs by eliminating so many representatives we have now, and instead paying the remaining  fewer representatives more money.

 

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According to Branson:

 “..Research has shown paying politicians more improves quality, and a talented, diverse new generation of people who would be attracted to positions where they could make a difference.”

First off I am not sure what research he is referring to but that sounds like a terrible idea. If anything we already pay politicians particularly US Congressmen far too much for too little return on investment. I fail to see how having less representatives somehow gives people equal or more representation than they already have now. It would appear Branson would like to see power concentrated into the hands of just a few representatives and given a freer hand to get things done. What “things” would remain to be seen, but you can be sure you and I won’t have a say in it if he gets his way.

Also, how does offering more pay for abysmal performance make for better representatives? For far too long we have elected people whose self-interest was the primary motivating factor for going into public service. You want to really start fixing things you have to change this paradigm. Political office currently attracts those seeking power, influence and money. How does that equate to good representation for the people? In the private sector money attracts more talent but does the type of person drawn to money, power, and influence make the best representatives of people who come from diverse backgrounds, cultures and economic conditions?

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In today’s society once these money and power hungry people take office is it rational to believe that they will somehow shelve their own personal interests that have driven them their entire lives, and expect them instead to suddenly become altruistic and put their country and constituent’s needs first? I don’t think so. Offering more money like Branson suggests to attract a new diverse generation will only attract different sharks to the same pool, not better representatives.

We have drifted from the principle ideas of true representative government, perhaps out of ignorance or apathy I don’t know but we have grown too comfortable electing and putting our blind faith and trust in these type of people. The very same kind that thinks it’s okay to spy on you, lie to Congress, and ignore the Constitution.

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In my view the compensation for any elected politician should be primarily the opportunity to serve the people. That should be reward enough. A small salary plus costs reimbursement should be in place but that’s it. Also there should be cumulative term limits for all those in public service. After eight or ten years in public life,  that’s it, you’re off the public dole and you have to go find a real job or start a business of your own. The days of career politicians should be numbered.

The Congress is supposed to be a snapshot of the American people. All of them not just the successful power hungry ones that come from five or six different career professions primarily. One of the major problems I have noticed and have written about in the past is the demographics of the USA and the demographics of Congress are dramatically different.

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In John Adams’s Thoughts on Government, Adams wrote about Congress saying

“..It should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them.”

Ask yourself the question, do our current Congressmen and woman think, feel, and act like you? They probably don’t and most of you would probably have little in common with them.

I wonder what kind of people would then be attracted to public service if pay for elected office was nominal, had little perks, and service was required to end after a few years. Would we be better off represented by Joe Citizen, the plumber, the baker, the teacher, or the software guy who took four or six years off from his live to “serve” a bigger purpose? Would we get a better return on our investment than leaving it in the hands of the “political professionals”? Would people step up and do the job? I think they would despite what other political hacks might think.

Lastly, while I oppose government bureaucracy just like the next guy, some gridlock is not necessarily a bad thing, despite what Richard Branson, the business mogul thinks. Our system of government was built with gridlock in mind to prevent hastily written laws that have bad consequences later. The intention was not to put laws in place that could easily be changed or circumvented at the whim of the people, businesses or political influences of the moment. The government was structured so that the passions of the people and various special interests were to be given time to cool off, and rational discussion and input from all interested parties could follow before legislation was to be enacted.  As Justice Scalia once said in support of the argument that the Constitution should be interpreted as the framers intended  “If the Constitution means whatever we think it means today, why have a Constitution. Just have a legislature.”

In summary Branson’s off the cuff idea would further disenfranchise the average American citizen and would concentrate more power into the hands of an elite few and keep it there. I think he should stick to his business and leave We the People’s business alone.

 

 

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