America Collective

Two opinion-articles in The Washington Post help understand the current condition of the US, an advanced bourgeois democracy. Comments on these opinions are not needed.

The “Don’t venerate or vilify the Founders. Vindicate their radical vision.” (July 3, 2022) opinion piece by Mr. Max Boot, The Washington Post columnist, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam, said the following:

“As we celebrate the Fourth of July, views of the Founding Fathers are more polarized than ever before. Some progressives want to tear down their monuments, because so many of the Founders were slave-holders, and they created a political system that denied political rights to women and minorities. Most conservatives, by contrast, still view the Founders as demigods and seek to squelch any criticism of them in public schools — promoting a spirit of conformity utterly alien to a founding generation that joyously engaged in never-ending disputation.

“More than that, conservative jurists who extol the theory of ‘originalism’ insist that the only way to interpret the Constitution is according to the way the Founders themselves viewed it. The Supreme Court has just upheld abortion restrictions and struck down gun restrictions based on the dubious claim to be channeling the Constitution’s drafters, even though many historians disagree with the right-wing interpretations.”

It said:

“Unfortunately, we are now walking back into the darkness. Because of a benighted Supreme Court, 40 million women are about to lose their reproductive freedom.”

It said:

“There is no justice in a political system that gives Republicans six of nine Supreme Court seats even though a Republican has won the popular vote for president only once in the past 30 years. So, too, there is something deeply amiss with a Senate that gives California (population 39.3 million) the same number of seats as Wyoming (population 581,348). The Founders never envisioned such an imbalance between power and population. It undermines any pretense that we are still a democracy.

“We should abolish the electoral college and make the election of senators proportional to population. Let the will of the people prevail. We should – but we won’t. Small states will block any constitutional amendment that would strip them of their outsize power.”

The article proposed steps “to make our [US] political system more democratic and representative.” These include expanding “the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court”; “end the Senate filibuster” system, which “gives a small minority of the population a veto over all legislation.”

Another opinion-article, “Nearly every American has a foreboding the country they love is losing its way”, (July 3, 2022) by Mr. David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post, presents the following question:

“What does our national portrait look like on this Independence Day?”

Then, it says:

“Nearly every American, whatever their political perspective, has a foreboding that the country they love is losing its way.”

It again questions:

“How great is the danger of national decline?”

It says:

“The Pentagon’s in-house think tank, which has the mysterious name ‘Office of Net Assessment,’ commissioned a study of the problem by Michael J. Mazarr, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corp. It was just published, under the title, “The Societal Foundations of National Competitiveness. [….]

“Mazarr’s disturbing conclusion is that America is losing many of the seven attributes he believes are necessary for competitive success: national ambition and will; unified national identity; shared opportunity; an active state; effective institutions; a learning and adaptive society; and competitive diversity and pluralism.

“[….] ‘Writers and scholars alike … have argued that the spirit of adventurousness, experimentation and determination to remake the future have all ebbed in the American character,’ Mazarr writes.

“He notes polling that three-quarters of those surveyed in 2019 were unhappy about where the country is headed. A 2018 study reported that more than 60 percent of those polled had ‘more fear than hope.’ And Americans across party lines don’t trust our country’s institutions. A 2018 poll registered only 10 percent who were ‘very satisfied’ with how democracy is working; it also found that two-thirds of respondents agree that ‘public officials don’t care what I think.’

“National unity and cohesion are declining, Mazarr believes. [….] ‘A country with a rapidly diversifying population — though it gains competitive advantages from this diversity — will also face greater hurdles to sustaining a sense of coherent national identity,’ Mazarr writes.”

The opinion piece said:

“He [Mazarr] cites the evidence of rising inequality. Between 2001 and 2016, the median net worth of the middle class fell 20 percent, and that of the working class plummeted 45 percent. He notes evidence that in each generation since 1945, children have been less likely to make more money than their parents.

“[….] Mazarr quotes a World Bank assessment of gradually declining ‘governance effectiveness’ in the United States over the past 20 years. It isn’t just a government problem, though. Private-sector productivity has been stagnant for decades, and corporations struggle with bureaucracy and bloat. Universities spend nearly as much on administration as teaching, and administrative costs account for a third of total health-care spending.”

It said:

“I found Mazarr’s conclusions chilling. When countries begin to fail, he argues, ‘it is a negative-feedback loop, a poisonous synergy.’ The energy that could reverse decline becomes sapped by mistrust and misinformation. Some people get so angry they want to burn the house down and start over.”

The observations/opinions made on the US need no extra comment, as these are enough to comprehend condition of certain aspects of the state. The situation stands stark if it’s viewed in the perspective of economy and class.

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka, Bangladesh.


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