Monday, November 13, 2006

The shame of America

I've been thinking (and now I need a lie down). Without waffling:

One of the most fabulous things I've always admired about the United States of America is the ability for anyone born there to be its head of state, regardless of their background, their creed, colour, gender et al.

Sadly, this appears to be wrong. The penny's just dropped. I've realised that if one wants to be the President of the USA, one either needs to be incredibly rich or have rich friends. If anything's wrong with America, it's that. But can it be fixed, dear reader?


Anonymous said...

You're talking about fixing things so that rich people don't become powerful, and powerful people don't become rich.

Plato's Republic featured the idea of people specially trained from birth to be absolute rulers, in a society that forbade luxury to them. Unfortunately, I think that probably constitutes totalitarianism.

You could always overthrow society and replace it with one where there are simply no very rich people. That was another of Plato's ideas. Actually, Marx had a similar thought too.

You might try passing laws so that no one, no matter how rich, could rule for long. That way, rich bastards would always be in charge, but it'd be different rich basterds every few years, with different agenda.

Trouble is, America is supposed to have laws like that already, and they're not working very well.

The Kibutzim are supposed to be without hierarchy. Except they have it anyway. The famous Paris Commune of 1871 was amazingly egalitarian - for a few months before the army flattened it.

Brian said...

Well, no, not just ANYONE can be president. You have to be 45 years old. You have to be a natural born citizen (Arnold Schwarzenegger is ineligible despite his reign as California governor).

But, yes, having mondo cash is a prerequisite. Look at it this way--you can't even buy your way into being Queen. So it seems to me that's harder to achieve than President of the US.

Moncrief Speaks said...

You have to be 35 years old.

These days, "anyone" could be prime minister of the UK too. Our president was born into a prominent political family. Your current PM was born into a middle-class family with no political history.

We've had our share of up-by-the-bootstraps presidents from lower-middle to middle-class early lives-- Clinton, Carter, Reagan -- but I can't say the UK is any less able to elect "anyone." If anything, as you say, you're more likely to because the fundraiser barrier is so great here. And you don't have the requirement that the PM be native-born.

Also, which of our countries has had a woman leader (a grocer's daughter)? And to this day we've only ever had one Catholic president, for heaven's sakes.

Ina said...

Already the name of the next president is known to a select clique of movers and shakers. Perhaps they cannot quite rigg the election but the can make an enormous difference to its outcome.

The movers and shakers of the world are few - as has always been the case in modern times. These people weild vast influence and have never been elected. They certainly support and work with elected representatives. They work together - scratching each others' backs. The real power makers shape the destiny of the front men or politicians.

I am such an old cynic but I really think that whilst the majority of us in the industrialised world are kept content we will never kick up a fuss about this inequality. We are never hungry and our lives are filled with consumer goods manufactured through the savage exploitation of the planet's resources and its poorest people.

This is unsustainable. Both for the powerful and for the masses subdued in a world of apprent affluence. Perhaps ours is the last generation to suffer this situation. When the people of the world grow hungry and we have no more attention grabbing gadgets to keep us amused the world system will collapse. It will be the end of humans and much life on the planet through war and starvation.

Minge said...

I wonder if putting a cap on electioneering spending might have some impact. A severe cap, mind. I'm thinking $100,000.00. General Washington was opposed to party politics, you know. Shame the patriots aren't as patriotic as they claim, they might say good-bye to it.

One of the things I loved about America was the fact that anyone born there could be President some day. Here, you have to be born to the current head of state or some other accident of birth to get a look in. Monarchy is a disgrace. Sadly, the American ideal and dream is becoming just that, a dream. Do you think a lowly person will ever become President again?

I hope, one day, we too will have an elected head of state.

While we are happy with our gadgets, people are starving. Yes, we complain, but we sit here at our computers doing so. We're all hypocrites and it's all gone horribly wrong. It won't be long before the slaves are emancipated and the gaolers are enslaved.

Moncrief Speaks said...

But the monarchy has no power. You can only feel sorry for those people.

Minge said...

The monarchy does have power. Here, anyway. It's just that it's not exercised. The fact that the monarchy has power makes me very uncomfortable. The last monarch to refuse an election was George V. That's not so long ago in the scheme of things. It's wrong. It's dreadful.

Any ideas for a perfect democracy?

Andrea said...

Minge for Prime Minister!!

Minge said...

Yay! I think the Labour Party should forget Mr Brown and put me in charge! I wonder what ridiculous laws I could think up?