10 November 2006

Apparently the American system is not dying after all

A few short days ago there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth about the American political and constitutional system. It was dying. Democracy had no future in that country. The people of the United States were not to be trusted with their own future. The Constitution was clearly a seriously flawed document.

Well, well. What a difference a few days can make. It seems that the American system is not dying after all. The Constitution is a very fine document; democracy is flourishing and the American people are not the moronic hicks we were led to believe they are. All because the Democrats are now controlling the House of Representatives and (just) the Senate. God’s in his Heaven and all’s right with the world.

Or not, as the case may be. For now the Democrats and their supporters in the MSM, the tranzis and the European political class will have to face up to the reality of politics, which does not consist of Michael Moore-type posturing or statements by Hollywood fruitcakes. In fact, they are all being kept well away from the cameras and Nancy Pelosi, probably the first woman Speaker of the House has already transformed herself into a statesman-like figure who is not out to get the President but to work with him for the good of the people. Whether that is what she will do or not, that is what she says now.

Of course, Pelosi is not the only one around and a number of Democrats, as Michelle Malkin says, have started the impeachment drumbeat. As it happens there is nothing to impeach either Bush or Cheney for, just as there is nothing to impeach Blair for. Even if the Iraqi war will turn out to be a huge mistake (and precisely how do you measure that?) it will only signify bad political decisions. That is not impeachable.

The Democrat leaders, I suspect, have noted certain facts. One is that the new Congress is not much less conservative than the last one was. Many Dem wannabes brought out their conservative credentials or, at the very least, pretended to have them. Michelle was one of the first to note that and David Frum, among others, followed up with an interesting analysis. In other words, the Republicans got a drubbing to a very great extent because they betrayed their conservative principles. Now, I wonder if that might apply to any other party that any of us can think of.

Then there is the problem that the next lot of elections, this time presidential as well as some Congress and gubernatorial ones, will be with us in two years’ time, with the campaign starting considerably sooner than that. The Democrat mandate, despite the hysterical burbling of the British media, is not actually that big. The Senate they are controlling by one vote and that includes two independents on their side. One of those independents is Joe Lieberman and he is very unlikely to get involved in revenge-fuelled anti-Bush and anti-war activity.

Some of the new senators are not precisely on the left either, while some of the Republicans who lost were. (Others were not.) James Webb, the new Senator Elect from Virginia is, apart from being a successful novelist, a man who comes from a military family, who served as a marine in Vietnam (and did not dump on his buddies afterwards as Kerry did) and was the Secretary for the Navy under Reagan, resigning because he disagreed with the cuts. His son has just gone to Iraq. Will the moonbats approve of him? I think, possibly not.

I do not propose to analyze all the new Senators and Representatives. I am merely saying that the situation is not quite as bad as some people make out.

Furthermore, I, too, think that we have seen democracy triumphant and in a way that is almost impossible in any other country. (Yes, I am a bit of a fan of the American Constitution and of the American system, though I believe that pencil and paper are more useful than all that chad-ridden machinery.)

The point of accountable government is that the people to whom it is supposedly accountable can either get rid of it or, as in this case, give it a good kicking. The people owe nothing either the government or political parties. This sometimes gets forgotten by the politicians and the media that swarms round them. They owe us. And that is what the American people have said.

However, unlike us, the American people do not have to choose one or t’other of two fairly hopeless parties but can mix and match because there is a true separation between the legislative and executive branches of government. There is a suspicion around that the vote was a deliberate one for a legislative gridlock and that is not a bad thing.

As things stand, both parties have been put on probation for the next two years.

Could we do anything like that here? Apart from our system, which enforces a vote for the legislative and the executive simultaneously and degrades both Parliament and the government by not separating them, could we really give our rulers a good kicking if we did not like the way they ruled or legislated?

Of course, we do have a problem in that we have no Opposition worthy of its name at the moment but even if we did have one, could we change the trend in government through our electoral system? Alas, no.

Let us consider a few randomly chosen facts. The Financial Services Action Plan, which consists of numerous far-reaching directives that are being put into British law, has been unrolling for about ten years and part 2 is set to unroll in the next five. Elections do not matter, for the legislation, which will hurt the City of London far more than any other place in the European Union, is going ahead through its appointed stations.

Can a different British government have different policies on immigration or border control (a sore point in the United States as well though for different reasons)? Well, errm, no, as we found out when Michael Howard, then leader of the Opposition tried to advance certain policies on the subject during the last election campaign and was slapped down by the Commission.

Could the Conservatives, if they ever came to power, introduce that loopy idea they voted through during the conference about reducing or even abolishing VAT on environmentally sound light bulbs (not that anyone is going to vote them into power for that reason)? Actually, no.

Remember what happened when the Labour Government came to power in 1997, having put into its manifesto (those sacred words) a promise to abolish VAT on domestic fuel? The duly elected Chancellor of the Exchequer of the government with the largest majority in post-war Britain had to crawl to Brussels to beg the Commission to allow him to fulfil his electoral promise. He was told that he could reduce the VAT to the minimum level of 5 per cent but could not abolish it. Those who voted Labour for that reason just had to lump it.

I could go on, but shall not. Many of our readers will be able to think of examples themselves. The sad truth is that while the people of the United States can express their views about their government, can change its course in some ways and can administer a good drubbing if they are unhappy with the way things are going, we in Europe cannot to any significant degree.

Next time you hear clever-dick comments about the ridiculousness of the American system, remember that sad truth. Oh wait. The American system is no longer ridiculous since it delivered (almost) the result our own clever-dicks, not to mention the various media hacks, euro-hacks and tranzis approve of.

Even for them the problems are beginning to loom. The International Herald Tribune raises an interesting problem in today’s issue. The new man in the Pentagon, mindful of a Democrat-controlled Congress, may well abandon the idea of America leading a coalition of the willing and revert to NATO as the primary security structure. At which point there will be a challenge for the Europeans to change their attitude to many security problems. Above all, the game being played now, of “let’s try to create a security structure without the Americans while relying on them for military power” may well have to be reassessed. And not even the Democrats are likely to be happy about shouldering a disproportionate burden in NATO any longer.

We are in for some interesting times.