GREAT DIAGNOSES, BUT WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
If a government does not or can not serve the interests of its people, who needs it? For at least five decades, we have been hearing about the great turn-off government has become for millions of Americans. Of course, many of those who have given up on the system feel it gave up on them first. They apparently feel government is irrelevant to their lives because of its inability to deal with the debt, the recession, the subprime crisis, health care reform, decay of our cities, privatizing government functions, militarized police, multiple failures of our educational system, economic cycles, trade imbalance, increased violence, racism, guns, degraded environment, financial and medical rip-offs, invasion of privacy, food and water safety, overcrowded prisons, immigration, natural disasters, like Katrina, etc. Because people don’t see much positive coming from the federal government, many talk about downsizing, restricting, or even eliminating it. Not surprisingly, the inability of a government to solve problems raises questions about its right to exist, its legitimacy.
The 2016 presidential election statistics are in: 137,053,916 votes were cast and counted; Mr. Trump received 62,979,897 or 45.95%; he was opposed by 74,074,037 voters of whom 65,844,954 voted for Hillary Clinton, whose supporters were totally disenfranchised by our horse and buggy, 18th century Constitution with its oligarchic electoral college. Russian hacking had nothing to do with this non-democratic outcome, but merely exposed the machinations of the Democratic National Committee in its attempts to disenfranchise the more than 13 million Democrats supporting Bernie Sanders. These facts do not fit the media driven hysteria personified by Mr. Putin, which diverts attention from the many attempts of the CIA to meddle in the elections of scores of foreign countries and especially the crude, partisan move of the FBI in October 2016.
Fantasy, fatalism, fear and frustration created a wave of voter discontent and hope that Mr. Trump rode into the Oval Office. His victory in the electoral college and defeat in the popular vote highlight flaws of the US political system and have moved many to call for changes, beginning with the abolition of the electoral college, something the Democrats totally ignored in the wake of Al Gore’s defeat in 2000.
The absolute failure of federalism is a spur to the various secession movements that have increased in the last few years. One recent poll showed 13% of Vermonters want out. Texas, Alaska and Hawaii are long-time hotbeds of separatism. Colorado put the question on the ballot in five counties and there is talk of California being split into six states. The near bankruptcy facing more than 40 states is a pretty good indicator that people are not anxious to tax themselves any more for these failed institutions. Instead of laboratories for democracy, states have become little more than soapboxes for bigots, spouting ideas that could not survive in the larger world. They become incandescent over such issues as transgender toilets, which enveritably turn into lawsuits and move the questions into the courts, where a judge decides and the lawyers laugh all the way to the bank.
State boundaries do not confine any problem- from Zika to human trafficking. The military, banks, college accreditation boards, and the appellate court system are just a few of the organizations that ignore state boundaries and group them into regions. The states of the US were not designed to solve problems, but to soak up political energy. They are used as springboards for national political careers, but completely fail to prepare the many self-proclaimed candidates for president for any of the challenges to be faced. States continue to allow and even encourage the manipulation and disenfranchisement of voters. The state-based “Electoral College” skews the entire body politic. What makes Iowa or New Hampshire bellwethers? Only the fact that they are the first to open their polls to those who, pushed primarily by their bathroom mirrors, have been running for three or four years. States ensure these endless campaigns.
States, since the beginning of the country, have worked against the American “melting pot.” The vocal supporters of “states rights” seek to split the country. They do not support or believe in the cohesion of a united nation. They reject the lessons of the Civil War. Like frogs in a pond, they can not see beyond the horizon and think their swamp is the center of the universe. They see no common good. They actually hate America and everything for which it stands. Unlike those other haters of America, who get teenagers to strap on explosive vests, our home-grown haters are a bit more timid: they stockpile ammo and survivalist gear, buy large magazines for “hunting,” and go on-line seeking contact with one of our nearly 280 paramilitary groups. They wave the stars and stripes to hide their treason. Then, they act shocked when the federal government takes them seriously and reacts. “I am an American and I have rights, “ they shout as they seek to destroy the Union.
No one in his or her right mind would look at our continent, grab a ruler, and come up with what we have. Tens of thousands are able to take “selfies” at Four Corners while straddling four states at once. Disbarred lawyers and defrocked doctors are just two categories of state licensed professionals who need only to step across a state line to be able to open up shop again and continue their practice. It is not too much to conclude that the states of the United States are irrational accidents easily manipulated by special interests - from railroads to the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC] - and totally deserving the disrespect that insurance companies, financial conglomerates, and organized crime give them.
With the pressures of the Cold War gone, Americans have become more aware of and discuss more openly the inadequacies and outright failures of the US system. This widespread dissatisfaction goes a long way toward explaining why the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union caused no dancing in the streets. Few thoughtful Americans seemed ready to offer their system as a viable alternative to the peoples of Eastern Europe, Russia, or the other republics of the former USSR. Besides, there were no takers. The open secret is no one wanted to follow the US system.
The alienation and rage that many Americans feel about the system surface periodically. The Occupy Wall Street movement and its coast-to-coast clones represent the same political DNA found among “flower children.” The events in Ferguson that spurred the “Black Lives Matter” movement were preceded two decades earlier by six days of rioting in Los Angeles, sparked by the Rodney King verdict, but fueled by inner-city poverty, segregation, lack of educational and employment opportunities, widespread perceptions of police abuse and unequal consumer services. Later that year, Clinton’s win by a plurality, in a three-way race with Ross Perot siphoning off many conservative votes, gave rise to eight years of bitter denunciations and recriminations by the Right. When the Supreme Court decided by one vote to ignore the popular vote and award the presidency to George W. Bush, the Left grumbled about legitimacy for another eight years. Legitimacy moved back to the Right’s court with the “Birthers’ movement” questioning the right of Barack Obama to even be in the US, much less occupy the White House. Donald Trump’s simultaneous victory and defeat lay bare a serious contradiction in American democracy, one built into the system. Clearly, American society is deeply split with little prospect of scabbing over, let alone healing.
The American political system ensures continual agitation and conflict. Born of a revolution that at most only one-third of the people supported, America has witnessed century-long efforts to convert and convince the uninterested, unenlightened, unwashed and unanointed majority. Political and social turmoil have been normal from the beginning. Tranquility is a foreign notion, an old world idea, made impossible by the republic’s marketplace for competing ideas- as rigged as the stock market and Wall Street.
Every election is trumpeted as existential for the country: “America’s got trouble.” “America’s off track.” “Bring back the real America.” “Make America great again.” Since the disappearance of the frontier, one can not escape such tumult. Modern technology puts agitators into every home, calling on people to take a stand for or against this or that issue or group.
The widespread feelings across the political spectrum of “Them against us” also help fuel the unending conspiracy theories that really took off in the wake of Eisenhower’s warning about the
military-industrial complex and the suspicious circumstances surrounding the assassination of Kennedy. Thus, it is not surprising to feel the intensity of the grassroot response to the gun lobby’s contention that “My gun protects your freedom.” So much that happens seems to be traceable to a Deep State, a government within the government, a cabal of the military-intelligence apparatus and its operatives in the political and media establishments, the existence of which would go a long way toward explaining the continuance of policies and personnel from Bush to Obama. (See Mike Lofgren, The Deep State.)
Since the muck-raking of the Progressive era, government’s role has been gradually expanded to that of “regulator,” but never to “protector,” or what some disparagingly call the “nanny state,” while yelling “Don’t touch my Social Security.” or “Leave my Medicare alone.”
The US economy, largely driven by consumer spending, is based on the principle of “Buyer beware,” allowing and even encouraging every kind of rip-off that any enterprising person or group can think up, regardless of the boom and bust societal consequences, evidenced most recently by indenturing millions of college students with $1.5 trillion in “loans,” the securitization of subprime-no doc mortgages, credit default swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. It is witnessed every evening with pleas to “Ask your doctor.” about Big Pharma’s latest money makers.
The essential difference between the “regulating” and “protecting” approaches is clearly seen in the US, where government is measured, in the eyes of many, by its effect on business and especially the stock market, and the European Union, where many American companies complain about the difficulty of doing business. The EU is undoubtedly more sensitive to the need for privacy, as witnessed in the current flap over NSA’s ubiquitous snooping and the unwillingness of the US to come to grips with its ramifications. The American and European differences are also evident in their approaches to healthcare, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, genetically modified foods, bank regulations, Google’s mapping neighborhoods, and a host of other intrusions in the daily lives of individuals. Like air and water, our communities are seen as part of the common that businesses can exploit for financial gain.
There is no doubt that we can chop down every redwood, exhaust our fisheries, or frack the last barrel of oil out of our land. The majority, forced to concentrate on the problems of daily existence, have little time to familiarize themselves with the consequences of corporate control, either short or long term.
Alienation in American society clearly reflects the current income gaps whereby the lower class has tuned out because the system offers little beyond disdain for their non-participation, the shrinking middle class has gone into cocooning where it seeks mainly to be left alone to enjoy its toys, the upper class seeks to enter the 1% as quickly as possible, and the 1% strives to become the .1%.
Because government was never imagined as our protector or guarantor of justice, it was rather easy for Reagan to make it into “the problem” and for it then to evolve into “the enemy.” This anti-government sentiment provides a built-in resonance for those opposing suggestions to expand government power and responsibility. The innumerable government “screw-ups,” from fighting unfunded wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where billions were lost track of, to spending more billions on the bailout of Wall Street bankers, and the inability or unwillingness to stop or punish those who profited from kicking millions of families out of their homes with sham foreclosures, abetted by spineless courts and a sellout legal system, do nothing to build confidence in the federal government.
The US government and drug industry both have long histories of experimenting on human beings without their consent: from tracking 399 African-American men with syphilis in Tuskegee, Alabama, letting the disease run its course and spread to other family members without treatment for 40 years (1932-1972), to dropping Agent Orange in Vietnam, to infecting 1500 Guatemalans with syphilis, to introducing crack cocaine to the ghettos of many of our biggest cities. Nazi doctors tried to use American practice, especially eugenics, to mitigate their concentration camp atrocities. General Douglas MacArthur bargained with the head of Unit 731, Dr. Shiro Ishii, for the results of his beastial experiments on tens of thousands of Chinese and Russian prisoners. This short list, which should also include exposing thousands of US military personnel and South Sea islanders to radiation from atomic blasts and using depleted uranium ammo from Bosnia to Iraq, gives some historical perspective to gutting the Hippocratic Oath and Nuremberg Code, culminating in the CIA having doctors organize and supervise the torture of prisoners at black sites, like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
Tea baggers exhibit the same deep feelings of alienation that surfaced so dramatically in the Civil Rights movement of the 60s and the anti-war demonstrations of the 70s. The anti-establishment crowd now has coalesced around a political neophyte billionaire, whose main attraction is his willingness to “Tell it like it is.”
Whether America is the “City on a Hill” of many televangelists or the Great Masonic Experiment of George Washington and Ben Franklin, its Constitution is central to almost all discussions of the nation’s ills. Some want to get back to its “original meaning,” others want to push the envelope and realize its ideals. The sacred nature of the document itself is seen in the somber faces of thousands who every day mount the altar where it lies at the National Archives and in its descent every evening into an atom bomb-proof vault.
For a society that sees itself as exceptional, unburdened by any lessons of history, it is remarkable to hear Americans constantly referring to their Founding Fathers, 25 of whom were slave owners: men who believed they had a “God given right” to buy and sell Africans and use them as collateral for loans; men who saw slaves as property that they could use as they pleased; men who increased their wealth by slave breeding, just as they did with their horses and cows, sheep and dogs; men who when they spoke of freedom had in mind the freedom to own slaves; men who wrote a Constitution that allowed the importation of African slaves for 20 years after its adoption; men who included in their Constitution a Fugitive Slave Clause (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3); men who counted black men as 3/5 of a white man until after the Civil War; men who had no problem electing 12 slave holding presidents, beginning with George Washington, who owned more than 300, and Thomas Jefferson, who not only owned nearly 600, but produced six more with his wife’s half sister and slave, Sally Hemings, 30 years his junior; men who were haunted by two fears- loss of their “capital” and a slave uprising; men who were ready to fight and die to preserve their particular way of life; men who shouted “Hurrah” from their graves when Fort Sumter was fired upon, ready to sacrifice the Union on the altar of slavery.
It is no wonder that the mindset of such Founders had no room for ideas of social justice. Their Constitution set up the basic structures of the first large-scale republic since that of Rome with its very aristocratic Senate, and such Latin phrases as- “E Pluribus Unum,” “Annuit Coeptis,” and “Novus Ordo Seclorum.” There is no doubt but that their Constitution gave rise to the War Between the States and that today's American politics, still based on that same Constitution, are essentially a continuation of that Civil War, but with other means.
Experience filled in the gaps: political parties with self-preservation as their primary goal, lobbyists (currently 25 per member of Congress) who operate on the principle that what is good for their group is good for America, unaccountable judges who hand down ringing decisions about what we do and how we live, factions that prefer to work their will by turning political issues into legal ones, a security state that seems suspicious, if not fearful of its own people, clearly addicted to war, foreign and domestic, as excuses to limit our freedoms and civil liberties, as well as all the other extra-Constitutional modi operandi of our republic.
All the power games we read and hear about in the media are directly rooted in the Constitution, as is the fundamental fact that the system responds only to system participants. It is deaf to the concerns or needs of those without votes or money, the “drop-outs,” those with no skin in the game.
The oft heard complaint among system participants of having to choose “the lesser of two evils” stems from their intuitive recognition that New York’s Boss Tweed spoke an abiding truth about American democracy when he declared, “I don’t care who does the voting, so long as I get to do the nominating.” With this as subtext, we were not overly surprised at the statistics from our last normal Presidential election in 2012: the voting age population was 235 million of whom 65% (153 million) registered and only 54.87% (129 million) actually voted. Obama beat Romney by 4,982,296 votes [65,915,796 vs. 60,933,500], which meant that the decision about who would be President was made by just 2% of adult Americans. This kind of narrow margin mirrors those 5 to 4 decisions we so often get from the unelected and unimpeachable life-terms justices on the US Supreme Court; the kind that gave us GW in 2000.
Farmers who get poor fruit season after season eventually must look at the tree and decide to keep it or uproot it and plant another. Similarly, critics who are bothered by the fruits of the US system must look at the institutions of our republic and at the document that gives them life. Democrats and Republicans, who do such masterful jobs in pointing out the flaws in Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama and now Trump must first acknowledge these men did not make the system. They simply played within its rules.
Bumper stickers proclaiming our gerrymandered, corrupt and dysfunctional Congress is “The best money can buy” clearly reflect popular resignation that we have a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. There is little surprise in knowing that more than half the members of the House and Senate are millionaires. The anti-democractic nature of the beast is clear from the current Republican 52 Senate majority represent approximately 35 million fewer people than the Senate's 48 Democrats. Low voter turnout points to the ennui of oligarchic politics and the conviction that voting won’t change anything because the moneyed interests have already made the really important decisions.
Interest groups see candidates as investment opportunities. It is an incontestable fact that each election cycle brings ever-higher levels of expenditures. A typical House race now costs close to $1.5 million and a Senate race is in the neighborhood of $20 million or, in the case of Massachusetts, $82 million. Few political observers were astonished when the 2008 election for president surpassed the $1.7 billion mark. We know Obama and Romney each spent more than $1 billion in their efforts in 2012- to get a job that pays $400,000. Trump doesn’t want any salary, so he may figure on other pay-offs.
It is widely acknowledged that corporations and PACs control much more than just Congress- a filter they have turned into a plug for both the bureaucracy and judiciary. They not only sustain, but actively participate in the revolving door for business people to serve a stint in government and then for government officials to morph into lobbyists able to imprint legislation long after the voting is done in the hallowed halls of Capitol Hill by writing the fine print to implement omnibus laws. Or, if all else fails, their legal teams can tie things up in the courts for years. This open and unabashed dominance of money in the American political system has been distilled into the golden rule of our republic: Those with the gold rule. We all understand that this rule has no chance of being broken under the existing system. No one was really shocked when Jimmy Carter labeled the US government “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery....” (March 2016)
The US national debt is climbing toward $20 trillion, which carries an annual half-trillion in interest. With this year’s budget pegged at $3.88 trillion, including a deficit of $1.4 trillion, many people sigh and say, “Thank God we don’t get all the government we pay for.” Consciously or unconsciously, they have sometimes opted for an extra-Constitutional brake on government- gridlock. They often give all or part of Congress to one party and the White House to the other in an apparent hope the two will be so busy fighting and investigating one another, they will leave the nation alone. That gimmick was mothballed with the 2008 election, when the Democrats got control of the executive and both legislative houses. Inter-party was replaced with intra-party gridlock, characterized by paralyzing splits among Democrats! With the 2010 elections, the more traditional system was restored with the Republican goal of making Obama a one term president. Though they failed in that, they have now succeeded in capturing both Houses of Congress, the Presidency and are on the verge of changing the complexion of the Supreme Court for a decade or more. Many dream about 2018 to reestablish gridlock.
Gridlock is one way to slow, but certainly not stop the agendas of special interests. Given our political system, it may seem a rather practical response to the “lawless” state that we get occasional glimpses of in investigations like Watergate, Iran-Contra, Abu Ghraib, rendition, Gitmo torture, Blackwater mercenaries, CIA/Pentagon hit squads, the shenanigans with TARP and stimulus funds, and now NSA. To many thoughtful Americans, the US is in a deep, on-going constitutional crisis.
Despite frequently expressing a desire to eliminate all nuclear weapons, President Obama, ignoring the reality that our active opponents ride around in our own military equipment, use AK47s and dress alienated teens and women in explosive vests, bowed to the wishes of the military-industrial-congrssional complex, a totally extra-Constitutional entity, to initiate a $1 trillion modernization of America’s nuclear weapons, less than 6 years after accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. In place of a public works program that they say smacks of socialism, Republicans now promise a further trillion dollar Pentagon buildup.
Our new Cold War with Russia is used to justify stationing American troops at more than 830 bases outside the US, as well as annual “defense” outlays that exceed those of the next 10 countries combined; all the while failing to adequately care for the returning men and women who wore the actual “boots on the ground.”
Instead of disbanding after the implosion of the Soviet Union and the demise of the Warsaw Pact, NATO, pushed by the US, has expanded with new missions: destroying Yugoslavia, re-orienting Russia’s neighbors, especially Ukraine and Georgia, encircling Russia itself with trip-wire bases from the Baltic to the Black Sea, installing anti-missile missiles in Poland, and Romania to protect Europe from Iranian missiles, and periodically conducting massive military maneuvers along Russia’s western border!
Looking at the US over the course of its history, Dr. George Friedman, in his new book The Next 100 Years, concluded it is “historically a warlike nation,” “young and barbaric,” lacking a “historical perspective,” with a tendency to become “disproportionately emotional about events that are barely remembered a few years later.” These are not very flattering generalizations about the world’s only superpower, but certainly apt when one is exposed to America’s fear ridden 24/7 media.
Noteworthy in all this labeling is the cliché that the US is “young” as if excusing its more unpleasant characteristics and giving rise to the unexpressed hope that things will change as the nation matures. However, this overlooks the fact that while the US as a nation is only 240 years old, it has one of the oldest constitutions. The government functions much closer to the way it did at its beginning than any other nation in the world. Those of England, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy, China, Japan, etc., all function much differently today than they did two centuries ago. So, in fact, the US is the “old man” among republics, none of which has existed more than 300 years. The sad example it sets does not bode well for its own people or the people of the world.
In Canada, the situation may be even worse because it lacks American self-righteous arrogance and seems to prefer wallowing in self-doubt. The 1993 elections showed the near panic that existed among the nation’s voters as they rushed from one side of the ship of state to the other, desperately looking for a captain. It doesn’t take a lot of political acumen to see something is seriously amiss when the majority leader in Parliament not only loses his seat, but his entire Tory party almost ceases to exist, not because of a military takeover, or a political coup, but because of voter dissatisfaction with their performance.
The Liberals under Chrétien and Martin did not do any better. Stephan Harper, while able to resuscitate the Conservative Party, did not gain a majority in Parliament until his fourth election in 2011. He lost the snap election he called in Fall 2015. All now await the changes promised by the new Liberal PM, Justine Trudeau.
Some observers feel Canada is simply ungovernable. Recognition of this surfaced when a parliamentary commission was formed to write a new constitution. Its efforts seem pitiful, however, in face of the problems before the nation. If the shrill demands for provincial autonomy are met, the federal government will become powerless to deal with most internal problems. Quebec is only one of several provinces periodically willing to see the nation breakup. With the country permanently on the verge of self-destruction, who has time to deal with such things as 15-20% structural unemployment?
The Mexican government, in an effort to save itself in the early 1990s, did a fascinating about-face on relations with the US and stopped trying to frighten people into support with talk about the Colossus of the North threatening the nation’s existence. When President Salinas de Gortari became convinced that neither Europe nor Japan was ready, willing, or able to invest on a scale large enough to pull Mexico out of its deepening economic and social morass, he decided to push for Mexico’s inclusion in the North American free trade agreement. He knew he could control the Mexican establishment, but he did not count on the racism and ignorance that fire so much of American politics.
A great deal of hope went into the July 2000 victory of Vincenté Fox, which broke the stranglehold on government by the 71-year reign of the PRI. He promised fundamental reforms in the constitutional structure of the country, starting with a new openness to the processes of government. At his first press conference, Señor Fox even spoke of enlarging NAFTA to go beyond the free movement of capital and goods, and strive also for a freer movement of people. But in the aftermath of 9/11, these ideas went up in smoke.
The very contentious election of 2006 that brought Felipe Calderón to power also saw the outbreak of the current drug wars with more than 80,000 people killed, 65,000 drug suspects arrested and the kidnapping, torturing and murdering of hundreds of police officers and soldiers. Fear among Mexican voters seemed the motivating factor in their return in the mid-term elections of 2009 to the PRI. This apparent swing back to PRI was no clear mandate for in the 2012 presidential race, the PRI candidate and winner, Enrique Peña Nieto, received only 39% of the 49 million votes cast. A lame-duck at the moment of his inauguration, President Peña Nieto has been bogged down with government complicity in the killing of scores of university students, rumors about pay-offs in the construction of his multi-million dollar home, the capture, escape and recapture of drug lords, e.g. El Chapo, and now the charge that he blatantly plagiarized, word-for-word, almost 30% of his law school thesis.
Like all North Americans, Mexicans know full well that a fish rots from its head down. The rarefied stratum of presidential politics in Mexico saw an ex-president go into self-exile while his brother went to prison for arranging an assassination and dealing in drugs. The level of corruption is so high and blatant that journalists who try to investigate and expose it are simply killed. In some of the most lawless areas, we see the formation of vigilante groups. There is an armed rebellion in the south and a near war zone has developed along the nation’s northern border, where a wall, barbed wire fences, helicopters flying nightly sorties, surprise raids, and mounting casualties have become normal. How can a government keep silent in face of such indignities, injustices and discrimination? Or, is this the trade-off for access to the world’s richest market? What was not foreseen was Mexico’s role in supplying the insatiable US market for drugs or the phenomenal increase in firepower and money that would ooze south. President Calderón did not succeed any more than President Fox in bringing serious change to the lives of the Mexican people, especially the 70 million living at or below the poverty level. President Peña Nieto’s campaign rhetoric seemed to be overshadowed by multiple personal and political scandals until the recent rise of Mexican nationalism, stirred by Trump’s demagogic moves to extend the wall.
The narco-gangs and government “death squads” that randomly terrorize people in three republics of Central America have become instruments of control for political structures that have lost even the pretense of popular support. The crises of this region are so enormous that quite a few people periodically reach for their guns to change things or go out in a blaze of glory. Others find themselves in the grip of a palpable, benumbing fatalism that cheapens life. The coup in Honduras is a recent indication of the area’s continuing instability, as are the deaths and disappearances of thousands, stretching from before the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero to that of filmmaker Christian Poveda. The fact that more than 460,000 Central American refugees, mostly women and children, have sought safety in the US, speaks to the dangers of everyday living for everyday people in the area. This refugee crisis has not been a shinning example of how to deal with a humanitarian tragedy with its core policy of “Quick Repatriation,” especially when compared with the EU’s dealing with more than 1.5 million refugees.
Even before the terrible earthquake in Haiti, estimated to have killed 240,000, pictures of people being forcibly returned spoke volumes about the degradation of life that has caused hundreds of thousands to try almost anything to flee misery in the Caribbean. Less dramatic, but not less disturbing, is the general poverty of millions in Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and so on. The case of Elian Gonzales is very illustrative of the hypocrisy that pervades so much of US foreign policy. If conditions were too terrible in Cuba to send the boy back, weren’t they the result, in some measure, of US trade and travel restrictions? What about the 11.5 million who live there day-to-day? Now Obama, still unwilling or unable to close Guantanamo, has moved to normalize relations with the island, but was not ready to expend any political capital to get Congress to scrap the 50-year-old embargo that some favored US businesses have for years been able to get around to the tune of more than $1 billion annually and that families completely ignore in remitting more than $5 billion a year.
Our Republics: Disasters All
This unrelieved picture of crises from Alaska to Panama has created a cottage industry for insightful people to write brilliant pieces describing and diagnosing the large and small ills of our various societies. Yet, it is worth noting that these societal “diagnosticians” are very weak when it comes to prescribing cures. We always seem to be left in a quandary: What are we to do? How are we to remedy these obvious problems given our existing government systems?
Suggestions for tinkering with or adjusting our systems really miss the point. An expansion of voter registration, or a limitation on terms of office won’t create a system that can solve the health care or educational problems in the US. The creation of an elected and effective Senate won’t solve the abiding federal or economic problems of Canada. The decentralization of power won’t clean up corruption or create a trusted judicial system in Mexico. A constitutional amendment won’t do it. A new leader won’t either. The problem is not the personalities in government. It is much more basic. The fundamental problem lies in the institutions and processes of our republican forms of government.
Simply put, our republican governments have nowhere and at no time shown themselves able to achieve political stability, economic security, and social justice.
THE UNIFICATION OF NORTH AMERICA
A reasonable answer to many of our most acute problems is unification of our continent’s ten nations. A greater America, stretching from Alaska to Panama, embracing Arctic ice and tropical sand, occupying 9,368,000 square miles, and uniting our nearly 500,000,000 people, is really the logical culmination of our history, geography, technology, and economic development.
The tremendous market and productive capacity of the European Union’s 28 countries seemed for some time to turn quite a few North Americans green with envy and cause others to shudder at the potential competition. But instead of evoking fear, envy, and demands for protection, the advances of Europe should spur us to a new vision of our own continent’s future.
As people of the New World, we are all immigrants, whether our forefathers walked across the Bering Strait or came by ship or plane. We share common experiences whether we speak English, French, or Spanish. We escaped the deep-rooted racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious animosities that plague and divide most of mankind. We accept the values and institutions of Western civilization. This common past makes it realistic to envision a common future.
The natural unity of North America is seen in the geographic oneness of our continental home. San Diego, El Paso, and Miami are all closer to Panama City than they are to Chicago, Boston, and New York, respectively. The absence of any natural frontier among the nations of North America emphasizes the artificiality of their various borders. Those straight lines on its map do not reflect climatic zones, flora or fauna, languages or culture, religion or race. They are merely self-inflicted scars, arbitrarily dividing what nature united. Technology already binds the most distant parts of our continent tightly together, emblematic of which is the Internet. Air, land, and water links have been complemented by electronic communications which put most North Americans within instantaneous touch of one another.
Our economic interdependence is demonstrated by our labor, trade, and investment patterns. Tens of thousands are currently employed in the three or four thousand US companies located in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Many more migrants from these areas work in the US, especially in agriculture and construction. The United States is the natural customer for the products of Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. In turn, they get most of their imports from the US. The market potential of Mexico alone for US products is greater than that of Japan. Home Deport, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC, Pepsi and Coca Cola are just a few among the many farsighted corporations that already treat our continent as a single market- a $21 trillion market!
Currently, Canada, China, and Mexico are, in rank order, the three largest trading partners of the US. The total yearly volume of trade among Canada, Mexico, and the US exceeds $450 billion. The US takes almost three-fourths of everything Canada and Mexico export. In turn, Canadians and Mexicans get close to 75% of their imports from the US.
Direct investment supplements the inter-penetration and inter-connection of trade. Approximately one-third of all US foreign investment is in the other nations of North America. The US, on the other hand, is a magnet for the region’s capital. Canadians have invested more than $200 billion in the US, and Mexicans approximately half that again.
Many of the most serious issues that we North Americans face do not limit themselves to the frontiers dissecting our continent. Far from isolating us from one another’s problems, our borders often make them more difficult to solve. For example, from the Canadian point of view, the 49th parallel has allowed the United States to ignore serious ecological threats. From the US perspective, it has allowed Canadians to bottle up the physical resources of half the continent. The abundance of those resources has given rise to the same mentality of waste among Canadians that dominated the US for more than a century, bringing the buffalo to near-extinction. And as that waste continues on the Canadian side and shortages occur on the US side, the latter is starting to think and speak of continental, instead of national resources. The great rivers of the North have been talked about for some time as if the US has some claim on their waters.
The US, however, has a very poor record of sharing its resources. For example, the mighty Colorado River that carved the Grand Canyon, now rarely reaches the Sea of Cortez; 90% of its water is diverted before it even crosses into Mexico. Border cities, like El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, are fast becoming industrial cesspools. Cholera has broken out in Brownsville and Matamoros.
From the perspective of Mexico and Central America, the US and Canada have frequently attracted both talent and capital and thus hindered efforts at self-development. From north of the Rio Grande, Hispanic America is seen by many as a reservoir of cheap labor that businesses can use to undercut US workers’ demands. The continental nations surrounding the Caribbean basin value its islands primarily for their rest and relaxation possibilities, while the people of those islands are frustrated at being so close and yet so far from a tantalizing continental market.
One of the most pernicious effects of dividing the North American continent into ten nations is the resulting smugness and false sense of security, of being able to escape the problems of others. The inescapable similarity of suburbanites trying to ignore the plight of inner-city ghettos comes to mind. Instead of shock and outrage, our frontiers give rise to attitudes that range from indifference and toleration to acceptance and even justification of subhuman living conditions and gross violations of human dignity suffered daily by millions of our fellow North Americans. Our national boundaries help compartmentalize social injustice at an unconscionably high level.
The borders that divide Europe are older and more “natural” than any in North America. Yet, European visionaries saw the potential of a continent without boundaries and set to work to realize their dream. It has taken them about 60 years to chip away at their historical animosities and suspicions, their legal and linguistic differences, their economic and political disparities so that today their vision of a united Europe is on the verge of being realized. Europe’s integration will undoubtedly increase in both degree and tempo now that the UK has decided to exit.
The magnificence of Europe’s achievement should galvanize us to action on our own continent. Because the divisions among North Americans are so much fewer, because our commonality is so much greater, because our experiences are so much closer, and because our hopes are so much more realizable, we stand upon the threshold of continental unification, without even knowing it.
THE ROAD TO NORTH AMERICAN UNIFICATION
The pace and order of integration must be entirely open. The unification of North America is a dynamic process that will create its own momentum and its own centripetal force, drawing in even the world’s largest island, Kalaallit Nunaat, better known as Greenland.
The present divisions of North America break the process of unification into several logical steps. The first is to create a common home for the people of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. We are so similar in thinking, culture, attitudes, lifestyles, and expectations that the boundaries separating us are totally artificial.
Canadians number fewer than Californians. Their nation, the second largest in the world, comprises one of the earth’s most valuable storehouses of natural resources. Canada’s problem is that it does not have the work force, the money, or the market to get its enormous wealth out of the ground and into the pockets of its people. The nation’s underdevelopment has not escaped the notice of China, Russia and others that have begun gobbling up industries and huge areas, especially in the Arctic, through their state owned companies or “sovereignty funds,” thus creating serious security problems for Canada and Canadian industries.
Selling off the nation’s resources and sovereignty, which includes importing Chinese workers because there are not enough skilled hod carriers in Canada, who speak Mandarin and are willing to work in direct violation of labor laws, has opened a back door for these same “funds” to enter all of North America, particularly the US, through NAFTA, thus spreading the security problems to the whole continent.
Despite the hoped for stimulus this “open door” policy sprang from, Canada is marching in place economically. In terms of gross industrial product, it has slipped to third place in the Western Hemisphere, behind Brazil. The country has an entire generation with almost no prospect for meaningful work, which is a tragedy on both a personal and national level. It is the kind of situation that can stifle the work ethic in many.
Politically, Canada is unsettled. Not long ago, one of its leading intellectuals opined that Canada has never really come together as a nation. In 1965 a new flag was hoisted. In 1980 a new anthem was adopted. In 1982 a new constitution was written. Political parties continue to divide and merge with almost every election. But despite such efforts at nation-building, aversion toward the federal government in Ottawa has fueled a localism so vociferous that it could be called neo-feudalism.
In the wake of the failures to ratify either the Meech Lake or Charlottetown accords it became commonplace to find articles in Canadian newspapers about the breakup of the nation and the separation of the provinces with datelines that read British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, as often as Quebec.
Internationally, Canada devotes extraordinary energy to carving out a niche to differentiate itself from the US. These attempts often seem to take more time, effort, and money than they are worth. Not too long ago, we read of a proposal to build 10-12 nuclear submarines in order to create a strong military presence in the Arctic.
Psychologically, the nation perceives itself as ignored and boring, where talented people are expected to gravitate south. Wayne Gretzky, Peter Jennings, Morley Safer, Robert MacNeil, Donald Sutherland, Anne Murray, Pamela Anderson, Dan Aykroyd, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Neil Young, Stana Katic, Missy Peregrym and Justin Bieber are just among the better-known. Since 1975, more than 500,000 Canadians have immigrated to the US.
Unification will change all this. Economically, Canada will boom. Reciprocity will replace submission in relations with other nations seeking to invest in North America. A common currency for all North Americans will give Canadians an immediate increase in purchasing power. The multi-billion dollar balance of payment problem will be eliminated forever. Superseding the idea of a mere free trade area, the political unification of our continent will create an undreamed of demand for Canadian products and raw materials resulting in such a labor shortage that not only will unemployment disappear but wages will rise substantially.
With all North America open to their skills and talents, Canadian workers and professionals can go wherever the jobs are. Labor will again be honored. Every family, from St. John’s to Vancouver, will immediately feel the price effects of substituting the present artificial “East-West” movement of goods for a more natural “North-South” one.
As an integral part of one, great North American nation, Canadians must be full participants in decision-making. Their appreciation of quality and tradition, in a word, Canadian “class” will help assure them the respect their views deserve. The dynamism of the continent will leave no room for the vestiges of snobbism that so grate the proud people of Quebec. Cultural diversity has always been one of the great hallmarks of empire.
A common North American home will mean that the exasperating problems of acid rain and environmental protection will be taken off the diplomatic ping-pong table. The knotty issues of softwood lumber, fishing quotas and investment policy will disappear. The emotionalism of cultural dominance will be eclipsed by cultural movement. With a continental stage, the abilities and talents of the nation’s artists, actors, dancers, musicians, writers, academicians, filmmakers and so on, will be challenged as never before. We stand at the dawn of an artistic and intellectual golden age. (See Diane Francis’ new book Merger of the Century, Why Canada and America should become One Country.)
Optimism is the reverse side of fear. And the optimistic supporters of uniting Canada and the United States can only fear what would happen if the integration process were to stop without including Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. When the northern two-thirds of the continent begin to reap the innumerable benefits of unification, the political instability hanging over the southern third could become a storm.
The human misery and social injustice that stem from Hispanic America’s economic underdevelopment, political corruption, and social stagnation may well result in a series of eruptions which could put unbearable immigration pressures on the new nation’s southern border. It does not take a crystal ball to predict that we will then face some hard and unattractive choices.
One alternative might be to give Hispanic America massive aid on the scale of another Marshall Plan. But this would be unpalatable politically and probably result in an economic fiasco. Such aid would not be directed toward resurrecting the war-torn infrastructure of traditional and solid economies, but rather represent an attempt to build prosperity on the sands of political corruption.
A second possibility is expanding NAFTA. But the announced intention to draw out the simple reduction of tariff barriers over a 15 year period meant even its most ardent supporters have not been able to drum up much excitement for the project. Its opponents still have many opportunities to poke holes in it, secure special privileges, or even derail it. The fruitlessness of this approach is well-documented in Dr. Robert Pastor’s The North American Idea.
Without the aim of developing this “common market” into a political union there is little incentive to overcome the problems of coordinating economies at vastly different levels of achievement. In any purely economic association it is hard to avoid a “second class” status for Mexico, not to mention Central America. This unavoidable situation could easily become a source of political friction and provide much grist for the mills of demagogic politicians.
A third alternative, seemingly preferred by President Trump, is a wall and deporting millions of Mexicans. Turning the traditional Good Neighbor Policy on its head means creating a hostile frontier. Proponents of building a wall seem oblivious of the fact that Mexico is a sovereign nation and can also fortify its frontier, nationalize US owned businesses and deport millions of US property owners, including those retirees living on their social security pensions, who moved to Mexico because they can not afford to live in the US.
The US has already shown one way to create an hostile frontier with its expansion of NATO to the Russian frontier. A sovereign Mexico could divide its 2000 mile frontier with the US into four segments of 500 miles each and invite Russia, China, Iran and North Korea to occupy a 10-15 mile deep strip with their latest missiles and technoloogy. The pop-gun militias that now patrol the border each night against desperate and fearful men, women, toddlers and teenagers would have to be replaced by regular US military units with equal or superior destructive power to that facing them, which could, of course, be countered with Russian navel bases in Veracruz and Chinese ones along the Pacific coast.
Depriving millions of Mexicans of their property and investments in the US would create an economic depression and generate generational hatred, one manifestation of which might be more than just a rise in Mexican nationalism, but a policy of revenge demanding the return of the 55% of Mexico that was taken as a result of the 1846-1848 war. Disregard of Mexico’s national interests and disrespect of people of Mexican origin could make it quite easy to turn loyalty into disloyalty among many millions of US citizens of Mexican decent. If the US could put 120,000 US citizens of Japanese decent into concentration camps in 1942, its possible post-wall response is mindboggling.
The consequences of these three scenarios make them equally unattractive and unacceptable to most people. The only realistic alternative is unification of our continent. (See Jorge G. Castañeda, Mañana Forever?)
The Panama Canal, a unique engineering marvel, is 100 years old. Parallel to it, frantic work has been going on for the last several years to build new locks to handle today’s larger cargo vessels. But a serious security question arose in the middle of 2013, when the Nicaraguan National Assembly voted unanimously to allow China to build a third trans-isthmus canal. Planned as the largest construction project in Latin America, it will take six years and cost an estimated $40 billion. This kind of “in your face” investment is part and parcel of the same Chinese strategy seen in Canada.
Central America, smaller than Texas in area and larger than California in population, is the most abused part of North America. Its seven nations have suffered at the hands of home-grown dictators as well as more than a century of criminal activities of the United States, from Teddy Roosevelt, instigating revolution in Panama only three years before he received the Nobel Peace Prize, and William H. Taft, sending marines to the original Banana Republic, Honduras, to secure the property rights of the United Fruit Company, to Allen Dulles, overthrowing an elected government in Guatemala, to Ronald Reagan, claiming he did not remember financing two civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua by selling $500,000,000 of arms to Iran, and to George H. W. Bush, invading Panama to arrest Manuel Noriega, a paid agent of his own CIA.
When left to its own devices, Central America is, on paper, the most integrated part of the continent. The Central American Integration System has for more than two decades sought to supplement several supranational institutions such as the Central American Parliament, the Central American Court of Justice, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, and the Central American Common Market. Unfortunately, the people of the area have not really felt many positive results beyond those of the Central American Four in removing duties on most products moving among its members and creating a common external tariff.
North Americans usually have their attention drawn to the region only by natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes or such political disasters as the 1969 football war between the two largest nations of Central America: Honduras and Nicaragua. Eco-tourists appreciate the rain forests, retirees- the low prices, and businessmen- the investment opportunities, just some of the abiding advantages found among the region’s more socially progressive nations, especially Costa Rica and Panama.
Central America is clearly primed for integration with the rest of the continent. Its psychological harmonization is visible in several national flags, three stripes symbolizing the region positioned between two oceans, which harken back to the flag of the Federation of Central America and the Federal Republic of Central America (1823-1838).
Geography, history, economy, and psychology are four powerful arguments for the incorporation of Central America in a single North American nation.
Unifying the rim of the Caribbean Sea will create an irresistible force drawing all the islands of the basin unto it. Thus, another important step in amalgamating North America will join together those other 26,000,000 North Americans inhabiting some of the most exotic spots on the face of the earth. This Caribbean phase of continental unification is as natural as it is logical.
Even Cuba is already beginning to re-unite with its environment. Castroism, built on a personality, was never institutionalized. Now that Castro is gone, the Cuban government is basically rudderless. Faced with the option of more dictatorship, minus the panache of Fidel and a widening economic gap or the innumerable benefits that would come from economic and political integration with its neighbors, there can be no doubt about the path Cuba will choose.
Any people, from Greenland to Trinidad - Tobago, who choose to join greater America must be welcomed with the open hand of friendship. Possessing a single, common citizenship, the 500,000,000 people of North America will be able to live, work, and travel, wherever they like within their continental home.
DOUBTS, FEARS, AND BENEFITS
Though geographic proximity, economic rationalism, and social justice all support the concept of a united North America, we must acknowledge that real apprehensions exist. Among Canadians, fears center on the twin themes of losing their national independence and social welfare net, lowering themselves to the US level of social services, particularly in the areas of health insurance, unemployment benefits, and retirement pensions.
These issues must be faced squarely by everyone involved. Since the spring of 1989, when the Canadian government bowed to public opinion and dropped the idea of building a nuclear navy, there can be little argument over the proposition that Canada’s national independence stems less from the sacrifices of the Canadian people than from living under the umbrella of the US. However disagreeable this may be to some flag wavers, the fact remains that until Canadians are willing and able to pay for their own defense, their independence is largely a by-product of their relationship with the United States.
This focus on money brings us to a similarly unpleasant reality regarding the acknowledged superiority of the Canadian social welfare net. The general willingness of people to accept something for nothing has been used by cynical politicians to buy support for the Canadian political system. The cost of expanding the welfare net has been blithely shoved onto future generations. The fact that Canadians are not paying for their vaunted social welfare programs is reflected in their annual budget deficits and the phenomenal growth of their national debt.
These realities, of course, do not mean that Canadians are ready to stop being Canadians, nor would that be desirable. The point is rather that the fears Canadians often express have to be looked at realistically. Canadian attachment to independence and welfare superiority would seem stronger if they showed a greater willingness to pay for them. Since they do not, their fears may be more apparent than real. As practical people, Canadians have shown themselves to be open to practical arrangements. If the unification of Canada and the United States can be achieved in a way that is at once sensitive to Canadian feelings and can produce clear and tangible benefits for the vast majority of Canadians, there is every reason to assume it will enjoy wide support.
This is especially true for the nearly 8,000,000 people of Quebec. Their heated emotions seem cyclical with peaks and valleys. Though there is talk of yet another referendum, the majority of Quebecois have made it clear many times that what they really want is respect, not separation. Since 1608, they have played an integral part in the development of North America. If their cultural and linguistic distinctiveness are recognized, they will undoubtedly want to be active participants in building a greater America.
For North Americans living south of the 49th parallel continental unification will be the biggest boost since independence. It will mean much more than a solution to our natural resource problem. Doubling the size of the nation will create a new self-image, the effects of which can not be measured with certainty, but three important elements will undoubtedly be pride in our accomplishment, confidence in our future, and strength in our resolve.
Combining the treasure house of Canada with the productive capacity of the United States will create an awesome industrial and technological might. It will unleash a flurry of entrepreneurial activity. It will create an enormous market that reflects a unique standard of living. It will provide ample opportunity to demonstrate that we have learned the lessons of resource management and environmental protection. Our combined agricultural output will be decisive in a world of hunger. Our near self-sufficiency in raw materials may even produce that feeling of surety, so indispensable to real political maturity.
The dreamer may be taken by this vision of a united America, but the realist must deal with the many serious problems that will have to be solved in creating a North American nation coterminous with the North American continent.
Apprehensions about uniting Anglo and Franco-America reach an even higher pitch when the need to include the Hispanic third of the continent is broached. Most fears center on undeniable economic, social, and cultural disparities.
But, like a half-empty glass, Hispanic America can be seen in terms of opportunities, instead of problems. The crying needs of Mexico and Central America make the area an investment paradise. No greater evidence of this can be found than the recent phenomenal growth of the Mexican stock market. Foreign investment in Mexican stocks increased tenfold in the last decade, from $4 billion to more than $40 billion.
For the region as a whole, however, substantial progress is stymied by widespread political corruption and graft within the multiplicity of inept political structures and bureaucracies that help keep the region divided.
The fear that Hispanic America’s underdevelopment would be an economic drain on a continental nation clearly ignores the region’s human and natural resources which are quite sufficient to ensure that it can pull its own weight. We need only remember that Mexico’s oil deposits, which are estimated at about 50 billion barrels and probably exceed those of Saudi Arabia, provided the basis for a booming economy in the 1970s and can do so again.
Hispanic America’s need for economic stabilization will be achieved with the adoption of a common currency, which will put an immediate stop to the flight of indigenous capital. When we add to monetary stability an unfettered continental market for the area’s privately produced goods and services, rapid and sustained economic growth is guaranteed. Political stability, economic integration, honest administration, and fiscal responsibility will quickly demonstrate the artificiality of poverty in this land of plenty.
According to a pre-Trump survey, 64 percent of Mexicans favored becoming one country with the US, if it would mean higher living standards. With its long history, rich culture, distinctive music, delicious foods, incomparable tourist attractions and super resorts, Mexico is North America’s Italy.
The benign indifference many North Americans now extend to the social injustice that is the springboard for much of the unrest in Central America would become politically unacceptable as an internal problem. Jobs, land reform, clean water, paved roads, medical care, an improved diet, good schools, independent unions, impartial courts, reliable police, civilian controlled military, expansion and upgrade of the Pan American Highway and building a truly international railway system allowing people to travel by highspeed trains from Panama City to Anchorage, or New York, or Toronto without a passport or visa are only some of the benefits that will accrue to Hispanic America and serve to raise the standard of living and lower the level of political rhetoric. The non-violent revolutions that every sector of society will experience can introduce hope into a presently near hopeless situation.
Politically conscious people, sensitive to the many advantages that will be Hispanic America’s from remaining a key part of North America, must also appreciate the many benefits to be gained by Anglo-America.
Some of the most hotly debated issues of the moment simply evaporate by moving the border south to Panama’s Darien Isthmus: no more Noriegas, no more Contras, no more Sandinistas, no more coyotes, no more illegals, no more sanctuary movement, no more fear of Mexico defaulting on its debt, far fewer problems coordinating the war on drugs, and, of course, the embarrassing detention and probable deportation of tens of thousands of Central American children and mothers who have crossed the border seeking the asylum promised on the Statue of Liberty.
Creating continental economic, administrative, and legal systems will certainly have a profound effect on the desire of people to move. One of the most important consequences of uniting North America would be a decline in northward migration. In fact, the tremendous growth potential coupled with the pleasant climate of Hispanic America and the Caribbean will undoubtedly mean an eventual population shift toward both regions, reminiscent of that from the snow to the sunbelt in the US.
Not to be ignored are the innumerable benefits of cultural and intellectual breezes blowing without borders. With Hispanics numbering about 170,000,000 or about one-third of North America’s population there would be no more room for racism and its many subtle and not so subtle manifestations. Purging Anglo-America of this centuries-old toxin would be a profound spiritual transformation.
There is no doubt that by embracing Hispanic Americans in the spirit of brotherhood and ensuring all the people of North America legal and political equality with economic opportunity, Anglo-America will open the door to a radically new relationship with all Latin America. This is one of the many important mutual benefits that are linked to the concept of a united North America.
Another self-evident truth is that the unification of North Ameica will create the largest nation in the world, which will unleash a dynamic economy, decisive in terms of political and military affairs. The physical, ecomonic and psychological influence of a North American empire on international affairs will ensure a more peaceful world for all.
FROM HERE TO THERE
While many may find the concept of transforming North America into a single nation attractive and wish for its undeniable benefits, it may seem quite impractical to our so-called realists. They can point to the fact that not even the first step toward continental unification is being publicly discussed. The unification of Canada and the United States is not a plank in any party platform, nor the subject of newspaper editorials, no politician has mentioned it and no think-tank is pushing it. But it is important to remember that realists do not choose goals, their forte is commentary on the means.
The idea of a united North America is not on the public’s agenda because it requires a fundamentally new vision of our future. Few people can envision a room with a different wallpaper or decor, and fewer still can imagine a house on a vacant lot or a city where there is only wilderness. Only an artist can see a picture on a blank canvass. So, without some great catastrophe, war or famine, forcing us to consider North American unification, it would be surprising if it were at the center of public attention.
Clearly, lack of imagination plays a role, but a more serious obstacle is the self-interest of our existing political systems. Continental unification would mean the elimination of our present national political systems and parties, thus they find the issue impossible to deal with. If Ottawa were to broach the subject, it would be characterized as capitulation, a sell-out, and the government would fall in a no-confidence vote. If Washington were to push for it, unification would be branded an imperialistic takeover and there would be mass demonstrations on both sides of the border.
Even if the rhetoric were somewhat calmer, and the issue of annexation could somehow be skirted, there is still the practical question of who would join whom and whose governmental system would dominate. The systemic problems inherent in the United States government’s separation of powers plus its miserable environmental and social track records do not make it at all attractive to many Canadians. From the US point of view, the feudalism inherent in the constitution of Canada and its limited list of civil rights together with the uninspiring history of its parliamentary government and constant talk of breakup offer little worthy of emulation.
A second approach might be via an economic union. But this kind of “back-door” unification, so widely discussed in recent Canadian elections, has shown itself to be totally unacceptable to a majority of voters and has become the target of increasing criticism. The goal of raising GNP by 5% clearly has little appeal beyond a few corporate boardrooms.
The European model of creating supra-national institutions and gradually strengthening them has yet to prove its ability to submerge national sovereignties and create a new focus of loyalty. It will be decades before its success can be judged. Moreover, the forces that created it do not exist in North America. Our political soil and atmosphere are so different it is doubtful that this European approach could be transplanted.
Realism certainly shows why continental unification is not being discussed. Realism indicates that our existing government systems can not achieve such a gigantic project. In fact, realism makes it abundantly clear that nothing short of transforming our present political systems can bring about continental unification. But realism stops at this point. It is unable to suggest the needed alternative. Perhaps, this failure stems from the fact that realists, like most of us, have unexamined prejudices, biases that reject some ideas without really investigating them. But continental unification is too important to allow any possible means to go unexamined.
A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE SYSTEM- MONARCHY
All human experience shows there is only one system capable of uniting and governing a continental empire - monarchy.
Monarchy has seldom been examined in terms of its many advantages, much less as an alternative for the future of our continent.
Monarchy, in one form or other, has very deep historical and psychological roots among all the peoples of North America. Many indigenous peoples - Toltecs, Mayans, Aztecs, et al. - developed their own unique monarchies.
Spanish monarchy financed the earliest voyages of discovery, established civil government, and united most of Hispanic America. English monarchy colonized and laid the political foundations of the United States and much of Canada. French monarchy established Franco-America in Quebec, Haiti and other islands of the Caribbean. It was also instrumental in achieving US independence.
Russian monarchy began the European settlement of Alaska. Mexican Empires existed under the self-proclaimed monarch Agustin I (1822-23) and the ill-fated imperial pair of Maximilian and Charlotte (1864-67). Monarchs ruled Hawaii until 1893. Only five years later, the Spanish monarchy lost Cuba and Puerto Rico, its last American outposts. The Virgin Islands were under the Danish crown until 1917 and Greenland still is.
Today, Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Canada, Jamaica, Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, St. Christopher-Nevis, Trinidad - Tobago and the British West Indies. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is the sovereign of Aruba, Curaçao, half of St. Maarten, and the other islands of the Netherlands Antilles.
The magnetic force of monarchy remains both strong and popular. The sophisticates of Madison Avenue are fully aware that monarchy embodies all the superlatives most of us find desirable: excellence, quality, tradition, beauty, elegance, professionalism, security, efficiency, justice, and power.
We repeatedly encounter attempts to scratch through our veneers of realism or idealism, conservatism or liberalism and tap into that abiding and ubiquitous reservoir of monarchism that exists within most of us. Open the telephone book or drive through almost any city and to the left and right we see the Palace Cafe, Crown Cleaners, Royal Repairs, Monarch Rentals, Empire Motors, Imperial Savings, Regal Gasoline or the Majestic Motel.
Thousands of “democrats” and “republicans” put up every night at Hyatt Regencies and sleep like royalty on queen and king size beds. Fairy tale kings, queens, princes, and princesses fill our fantasies from childhood. Mardi gras is unthinkable without its king. Every parade has a queen and her court. Doting parents gush about how tiny daughters resemble little princesses. How many tiaras adorn how many royal courts at homecomings and proms! We talk about the kings of sport and the queens of the silver screen. A crown is tacked on everything from wine coolers to cigarettes. And billboards try to coax us to buy vodka fit for a czar.
The belief that a czar can and will use the great power of government for the benefit of society causes us to create one whenever our overlapping republican institutions and our democratic committees grind to a halt. Recent history records an “energy czar” to get us through the oil crisis of the early 1970s; a “security czar” to ensure safety of athletes at the Los Angeles Olympics; Lee Iacocca turning thumbs down on any government post short of “economic czar;” and William Bennett became “drug czar” to save us from our own drug addiction. There was talk of an AID’s czar to coordinate a national effort against the disease. California appointed an environmental czar to save its redwoods. Obama created more than a score of czars to implement his programs for change.
Monarchy, despite its undeniably close connection with all the peoples of North America, has seldom been examined in terms of its institutional advantages, or even less as an alternative system for the future of our continent. The fact that, even with our “freedoms of speech and press,” we find the mere concept of monarchy somehow beyond the pale of rational, intelligent discussion, has more to do with the “republicans” who write history and control our intellectual agenda than with the subject of monarchy itself.
Ignoring and ridiculing one’s opponent are timeworn techniques among those who find themselves on shaky discursive grounds. By early arrogating to themselves “politically correct” speech, republicans have succeeded in marginalizing monarchy, but they have also impoverished us intellectually and politically.
Undeniably, a major problem in asking North Americans to consider monarchy as an alternative to our present systems is the carefully crafted perception of it as an old fashioned, outdated relic of a bygone age. The socializing agents of our societies: leaders, media, schools, teachers, textbooks, etc. have inculcated the firm belief that the founders of our republics consigned monarchy to the dustbin of history, so it can not possibly have anything to do with our modern world, much less our own future.
Admittedly, monarchy is old, older than the wheel. And, like the wheel, monarchy has a long and variegated history evidencing an almost infinite variety. Thus, there is no more reason to think of fixing some old form of monarchy on our modern society than there is of trying to put the wheel from a peasant’s cart on a Corvette or Lamborghini.
Automotive engineers continue to perfect the wheel of the future and with no other way to achieve our goal it seems appropriate to give serious thought to perfecting monarchy as the only vehicle able to get us from here to there, from national fragmentation to continental unification.
MONARCHY or REPUBLIC?
Those who might, at this point, throw up their hands and shout “We overthrew King George III and now you talk about re-instituting a monarch!” should remember that out of an estimated population of 2.5-3 million, in which 600,000 were slaves, George Washington’s Continental Army never numbered more than 24,000 and at most times was in the 10-12,000 range. So, the “we” who revolted against the king were far from a majority. It might also be remembered that all of the complaints listed in the Declaration of Independence stemmed from laws passed in Parliament, not royal decrees.
Looking at the course of US history, we see the “successes” of our few non-dud presidents always flow from strong, monarch-like leadership. George Washington seems to have single-handedly put down the “Whiskey Rebellion.” Thomas Jefferson doubled the size of the country when he bought the Louisiana Territory without the approval of Congress. Abraham Lincoln suspended the constitutionally guaranteed right of habeas corpus trying to save the Union and issued the Emancipation Proclamation without a vote in Congress. Teddy Roosevelt built the Panama Canal. His cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, acceded to building the atomic bomb in total secrecy, even from his own Vice President. Harry Truman stopped the westward march of communism with the Berlin Airlift. John F. Kennedy, in the halcyon days of Camelot, did not bother to secure Congressional support when he negotiated with Khrushchev to avoid war over Cuba. And, what do you suppose that “button,” which has never been more than a few feet from the president for several decades, gives him the power to do? Talk about a concentration of power, absolute power!
The fact is that in survey after survey, Americans hold in highest esteem those of their 45 presidents who acted for the nation’s well-being like unfettered kings. Almost any list of presidential accomplishments shows two constants: little or no Congressional input and that most have been in foreign affairs, where a president can act most fully as commander-in-chief, the quintessence of a monarch, but a role so undefined it seems to have been subject to 45 different interpretations.
Generational succession is of no small import to the American presidency. John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, exemplified it early on. Theodore Roosevelt opened the way for FDR. After Bush I and Bush II, Jeb was waiting in the wings ready to carry on the family tradition. We were only mildly surprised to know that President Obama and Vice President Cheney are blood relatives. Some opponents of Hillary Clinton complained that her possible presidency would be just eight more years for Bill.
The concentration of power in the Oval Office is not the fundamental problem with the US presidency, but the fact that when a president speaks, at least half the listening audience voted against him and refuse to be lulled or swayed by any sweet words, rational argument or situational urgency. The Left hated Bush, the Right hated Obama, and now, Trump is the focal point of the Left’s hatred, all mirroring the adversarial cornerstone of the American system.
Given the permanent fragmentation of the US electorate, it is pure fantasy to believe and irresponsible to postulate that voters can and will, at some point, rise up in righteous anger to take back their government from the oligarchs who run things. Our political dreamers might keep in mind that continuing to do the same thing, but expecting a different outcome is one definition of insanity.
No one would have predicted, at the beginning of the 21st century, that one day soon we would be forced to choose between two candidates well-passed retirement age. Though the US is a strong nation and will survive, the important question remains, where will we be in three or four more election cycles?
Living in North America, we know that corruption is a hallmark of all our republics. The best defense of our existing system, the status quo, is to mock the idea of monarchy. History shows that if an aristocracy is to be tamed, only monarchy can do it. Democracy never has and never will.
This proposal of monarchy for the future of North America brings to the fore the principles of good government in the 21st century. A new constitution must ensure a limited government with a strong system of oversight, checks and balances, and guarantees for the exercise of individual rights through which people can freely express themselves to demand office holders be responsible for their decisions and conduct. An independent and reliable court system helps realize the stability and predictability all members of the community prize.
Confusion about monarchy begins with its popular definition as “rule by one.” This is extremely misleading because no nation has ever been or can be ruled by “one.” Even the pretentious claims of would-be absolute monarchs in the seventeenth century, like Louis XIV, did not begin to coincide with reality.
In fact, rule by one has never existed any more than has rule by the people. The words “monarchy” and “democracy” and their snappy definitions come from a few ancient Greeks who, long before the time of Jesus Christ, were philosophizing about ideals, abstractions, theoretical constructs beyond their actual experiences.
From more than 4000 years of history arise more accurate definitions of a monarch: “personification of a people,” “ultimate arbiter,” or “final decision-maker.” But these are still inadequate because they fail to indicate the limitations imposed on all monarchs by tradition, precedent, public opinion, church, natural and positive law, pretenders, claimants, dissidents, intriguing aristocrats and opposition groups, popular assemblies, parliamentary factions, fear of revolt, other nations, etc., not to mention the perennial problems of time, distance, money, communications, and technology.
History reveals monarchy to be essentially a concentration of power in experienced hands. We can find monarchical elements in almost all systems that seek finality in decision-making. Reason dictates that when decisions must be made, they are usually best if made by an experienced authority, seasoned by knowledge and temperment.
This “monarchical” principle can be seen from families to businesses, to the armed forces, to the papacy, in fact, to any hierarchical organization where a “chain of command” exists and decisions must be made in a timely fashion, where there is a focus of authority and decision-makers are responsible and accountable for their actions.
Monarchy has always been a means, a means to focus power. For us today, monarchy is the means to continental unification, the means to tame our “aristocracies” and overcome their parochial interests. This “essence” of monarchy should not be confused with some of its outer trappings. Monarchy is not gold scepters and ermine robes. It is not carriages and coronations. It is not powdered wigs and deep bows. It is not pomp and ceremony. It is not theater.
Monarchy is not, as republicans are wont to claim, a throwback to a romanticized past. It is, rather, an institutional arrangement that stands in direct contrast to a republic. A republic fragments power, creating innumerable centers resembling feudal sovereignties, strongholds that are constitutionally established and invite baronial authority to battle for turf.
Republics are an institutional arrangement designed to hamstring government. Even their strongest advocates admit that republics are inefficient when it comes to doing anything. But if republics are not designed to do anything, what is their reason for existence? Before answering that question, we must first ask: Who benefits from republican institutions? Who benefits from the fragmentation of government power? Who benefits from their instability?
Separating power among three branches of government, dividing power among federal, state, county, and city governments, splintering it among innumerable departments, bureaus, agencies, and offices is an institutional invitation to fight, and war for authority, budget, and prestige. The beneficiaries of such a system are obviously those who get bits and pieces of power: the power holders.
Because these fragments of power are insufficient to do much, they perforce turn into negative power, the power to slow, to stymie, and to stop. The people who pay for the system, the people who need and expect the system to serve, help, or protect their interests soon get lost in its maze of overlapping jurisdictions. Unable to receive much from such a system, people become disillusioned about it, question its authority, and become mired in heated arguments about where authority should reside.
A republic is a chimera that always and everywhere degenerates into oligarchy, where the rich get richer and the poor - poorer! Justice is bought and sold and society is continually agitated. The beguiling promise of equality is daily honored in the breach.
A republic is not a means, but an end. Its principal purpose is to create innumerable office holding opportunities for society’s natural elite. Not surprisingly, its strongest supporters are its office holders or those who aspire to hold office. The oft quoted, remark “Ours is the worst form of government, except for all the rest.” is patently self-serving, for essentially it says “No matter how poorly the government performs, you should be happy. Things could be worse.” The result is things do get worse and the public turns off, but the office holder remains, and so the purpose of a republic is achieved.
By parceling out power and creating countless little fiefdoms, republics are unquestionably the favored governmental form of the aristocratic elite. Today’s aristocrats, exactly like the aristocrats of yore, need to be assured of a comfortable place in the social pecking order. To maintain their places, aristocrats have always been willing to sacrifice the common good to their own concerns. Their principal problem has always been to disguise their self-interest as the national interest in order to reduce, if not eliminate, concern over the price society has to pay for their private advantages.
A few years before GM was bailed out by US taxpayers, one of its presidents boldly declared, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America!” Charlie Wilson’s brazen statement still epitomizes the thinking of today’s elite, today’s aristocrats, today’s oligarchs, the primary beneficiaries and thus the primary supporters of the republic, those who almost always portray their own interest as a public good.
Monarchy stands in direct opposition to aristocracy. It always has. The many clashes and struggles, graphically portrayed in the history of every epoch, between the centralizing, national views of monarchy and the more parochial, local interests of nobles prove beyond a shadow of doubt that monarchies and aristocracies are two very different, often antagonistic, phenomena.
One of the principal themes of history is the growth of justice as monarchs repeatedly protect their people from abuse and exploitation by local lords and petty aristocrats. This protective function of government was completely ignored by the aristocrats who crafted the American experiment for 13 colonies strung for 1000 miles along the Eastern seaboard. The idea of social justice is not mentioned in the Constitution, which like its aristocratic progenitor, Magna Carta, sought primarily to create a playing field for elites. It encouraged social Darwinism 100 years before the term appeared.
Government should not be so institutionally hamstrung that it can not act. Government should not be reduced to providing positions for the ambitious or sinecures for the elite. Government founded on the idea of a social contract must fulfill its part of the bargain, its responsibilities, or it can not expect the people to keep their side of the agreement and support morally and materially governmental institutions.
Dispersing power does not make it safe any more than concentrating it automatically makes it dangerous. The spread of nuclear weapons does not make the world safer. Fragmenting a diamond does not increase its value.
AUTHORITARIANISM, DESPOTISM, & DICTATORSHIP vs MONARCHY
Authoritarianism, despotism, and dictatorship: these emotionally laden words are not synonyms for monarchy, as some republicans would like to pretend.
Authoritarianism, which seems often to arise in the wake of financial crises, rides roughshod over all independent institutions and subordinates all branches of government and all institutions of society. It sees no need for consultation or consensus. Monarchy, in sharp contrast, seeks the support of all traditional social, political, and economic institutions. The only way to gain such support is to listen to their points of view and consider their needs and desires before decisions are taken. Being utterly devoid of totalitarian instincts, monarchy has never aspired to and could never approach the authoritarian systems that twentieth century republics produced.
Despotism is the disregard of law, of civil liberties and human rights. The history of monarchy shows it to be just the opposite. Monarchs have always respected the rights of others for that was the only way they could demand respect of theirs. Those few instances where this imperative was ignored, as when Enlightenment philosophes, like Voltaire, attempted to make coercion a respectable option and proposed despotism to the French monarchy as a means of overcoming entrenched interests and ignoring historic rights, the results were disastrous. Despotism has been and always will be an invitation to revolt.
Dictatorship is the glorification of a person, a party, or program. Its legitimacy rests upon superior strength or knowledge, crisis or ideology. Dictatorship is thus totally alien to monarchy. Monarchy does not know and has no need to learn the demagogic language of the saviors on white horses who periodically gallop into republics and take them over. Historically, dictatorship is a phenomenon much more closely connected with republics than any monarchy.
Clearly, it is a distortion of fact and a falsification of history to identify monarchy with the distempers of republics: authoritarianism, despotism, and dictatorship. The last century offers damning evidence of this political truth. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Ho and all the other great and petty tyrants we have suffered arose from the failures of republics. Much of the popular support for Donald Trump stems from deep disillusionment with the American system.
Monarchy is and always has been a bulwark against authoritarianism, despotism and dictatorship. It is an important safeguard against the unconstitutional or extra-constitutional usurpation of power. Monarchy stands in direct opposition to totalitarianism.
Monarchy protects the weak because they are weak. Thus, from the point of view of both Franco and Hispanic America, monarchy is their best protection against the dominance of the Anglo majority, which would be unavoidable in any continent-wide system based on majority rule.
A monarch, speaking equally well in English, French and Spanish, becomes a living example of our potential and a personification of the mutual respect all North Americans must develop for one another.
Monarchy is not a shot in the dark or a short term experiment, but a long-term commitment. Its sole justification, its legitimacy comes from the extraordinary service its cumulative experience can give a nation.
North American monarchy could do things that no other system can. Only monarchy could overcome the institutional obstacles blocking continental unification. It could obviate the gridlock of the Canadian, Mexican and US governments, unable to get beyond the emotionalism of annexation or capitulation. It could bypass the question of who joins whom, by amalgamating three great nations into an even greater one. And, it would make unnecessary the dilemma of choosing among their existing inept systems of government.
Like the moon, monarchy’s glory is reflected, reflected in the happiness, health, prosperity, and security of a nation. Ignoring this systemic truism has been the downfall of individual monarchs. But these exceptions to the rule of good government constitute no more argument against monarchy than a flat tire means all wheels should be discarded.
RIGHTING OLD WRONGS AND OTHER BENEFITS
Calls for fundamentally restructuring a nation’s government have always been connected with a broad range of needed legal, social, economic, and political reforms that the current system can not or will not produce. The unification of North America is merely one of many great services monarchy can perform for us.
One nation must have one system of law. Monarchy would bring order out of the balkanized chaos of American, Canadian and Mexican federalism and localism. No longer would it be possible for some parts of the country to have those “quaint” local laws that support discrimination and racism. No longer would it be possible for different levels of government to shift responsibilities from one to the other with unfunded mandates and then spend years fighting about federal preemption and who is going to pay and how programs should be implemented and administered.
Monarchy could never tolerate machine politics, city bosses, “red neck” sheriffs, or the overlapping jurisdictions that allow lawyers to forum shop and organized crime to buy protection. A national police force, modeled on that of Canada, is a rational and infinitely preferable alternative to everyone buying a gun to ensure personal safety and carrying assault rifles into restaurants and department stores. Criminals must come to understand there are no city, county, or state lines behind which they can hide or fall through the cracks. Eliminating jurisdictional bailiwicks means that law enforcement officials can stop protecting turf and give full attention to protecting people.
Another area that is currently going from bad to worse is public education. Only monarchy is strong enough to overcome the entrenched powers of local control. Consolidating the 17,000 school districts of Canada and the US into a single system, nationally directed and locally administered, could free over $120 billion, enough to double teacher salaries. A national system of education, with a rigorous, standard core curriculum, would ensure every North American child the education he or she needs to live a happy and productive life, regardless of his or her zip code.
These are just three examples of the fundamental changes that our present systems can not produce, but monarchy can. They also serve to highlight a very important feature of monarchical government, as an agent of and for change, it is not limited to incremental steps.
Monarchy has a unique ability to make radical change acceptable. More than forty years after most of the civilized world forbade slavery, the United States fought a bloody civil war to tame the feudal pretensions of 11 southern states and freed 3 million slaves. Five weeks before that war began, the czar of Russia freed 23 million serfs with his signature.
Monarchy could never have tolerated the high level of legal discrimination against its own citizens suffered by African-Americans with Jim Crow laws, share-cropping, peonage, and the outrages of the KKK in the 19th and 20th centuries. The blatant racism, exemplified by the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 and the concentration camps for Japanese-Americans in 1942, would not have sprung from the deep roots it did. If the Canadian experience is any guide, it is more than doubtful that Native Americans would have been subjected to ethnic cleansing, à la the Indian Removal Act with its shameful dislocation to reservations memorialized for many in the Trail of Tears.
Because monarchy is not beholden to pressure groups or special interests, it can take a consistent view of the whole society, and of the common good. Almost every problem, from tax and judicial reform to health care and corporate greed, that seems insoluble under existing conditions becomes susceptible to logical and efficacious answers within the framework of monarchical government.
A multiethnic and multicultural monarchy does not need and can not use attacks on outside groups to solidify its position. Such demagogary is endemic to republics.
CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY IN NORTH AMERICA
The only way monarchical government can be established in North America is with the consent of the people, which makes it nothing less than government by the people, its deep roots in history and the human psyche make it government of the people, and its dedication to community service makes it government for the people.
When the Founding Fathers of the US created their version of a government Lincoln later called one of the people, by the people and for the people, they sought to protect their interests with a written constitution. In creating a North American monarchy, we must also establish its institutions and procedures within a constitutional framework strong enough to permit us both to control and benefit from this most powerful and efficient form of government that man can devise and historical experience sanction.
A new, North American constitution could strengthen our democracy, defined in terms of popular sovereignty, personal freedoms, and public participation in policy making by enlarging the people’s franchise with provisions for referendums and the recall of all elected officials. Clearly, monarchy and democracy are compatible concepts that can be institutionally structured to reinforce one another.
The North American constitution is the source of our monarchy- giving it legitimacy, creating its structure, prescribing its functions, and limiting its power.
North American monarchy does not come with a lot of historical baggage. It does not emerge from a background of warring clans. There is no hint of a Tudor England, Bourbon France, Habsburg Austria, Romanov Russia, Hohenzollern Germany, Tokugawa Japan, or Saudi Arabia.
There is no fierce competition among various claimants with a final choice signified by a coronation with some archbishop using holy oil to anoint and then place a crown on a particular head in full expectation that his church will be advantaged over all others. The patristic mumbo jumbo of Divine Right stays in Europe, alien to the rationalism of constitutional monarchy in North America.
Based on the experience of the last two hundred years and the needs of today, our new constitution must direct government into areas and activities that did not exist in 1787. It must establish explicit limits on executive, legislative, and judicial power. It must correct the abuses we have suffered, streamline organizational structures, and ensure a far more representative and deliberative Congress with clear investigative and oversight responsibilities and vest it with broad and explicit powers. It must establish an equitable tax system, require fiscal responsibility, and strengthen our civil liberties in light of technological encroachments.
The whole question of civil liberties is one more major reason for North Americans to move immediately to establish a constitutional monarchy. Institutions created more than two hundred years ago have proven themselves unable to protect our rights and liberties in the present organizational and technological age. Not only has the government of the United States shown itself incapable of protecting its citizens from invasion of their privacy, it has become an active participant in the onslaught. Whatever the motive, there is no doubt that we have all been data-banked, violating any right to be forgotten and severely limiting any ability to start over.
Our acquiescence in and acceptance of the formation of huge government data banks, wherein we are traced from the cradle to the grave, have laid the groundwork, both psychological and technical, for the next step - ID numbers, exhibiting, of course, the cutting edge of electronic and chip wizardry. But identifying, locating, eavesdropping on, and tracking the activities of ordinary, law-abiding citizens is not the mark of a government that respects individuals or their rights.
It is regrettable, but not surprising that our elected government, more responsive to the desires of special interests than devoted to the preservation and expansion of our historic freedoms, has been unwilling and unable to stop private organizations from a similar massive collection of data, which has opened the very lucrative business niche of data mining: personal searches, behavior and habits, the essence of a new kind of totalitarianism - Surveillance Capitalism. With promises of quick and easy service, Big Business has positioned itself as the Siamese twin of Big Government to assume the mantel of Big Brother, which has already acculturated millions to this new era of surveillance, causing some observers to conclude that surveillance on Americans is greater than surveillance of America’s enemies.
Apparently, there are no boundaries, no limits, and no ability to set any. Our loss of privacy has been like boiling a lobster, gradual but sure. We don’t need regulation of this process, but protection from it. Monarchy, spurred by its intrinsic need to foster a mutual respect of rights, is the only institution strong enough to stop this trampling on our historic freedoms. To those who never before considered the service that a monarch can render, it may seem ironic that constitutional monarchy can become the first and best line of defense in protecting our democratic society.
Constitutional monarchy is a logical and understandable form of government that can focus the public’s attention, capture the popular imagination, and arouse deep emotional commitment. It can build tradition with its respect for the past and responsibility for the future. In lending great dignity and solemnity to state occasions and government functions, it is an obvious trend setter, establishing a standard of excellence for the entire community.
Constitutional monarchy can instill public confidence in government and give government an acknowledged and accepted role in society. It can evoke and satisfy the human need to live for something greater than one’s self. By making public service both fashionable and attractive it can stop the revolving door phenomenon. It can introduce a high degree of professionalism into government and its durability can overcome the reluctance of bureaucracies to respond.
Constitutional monarchy is a system that significantly increases the likelihood laws will be connected with a genuine public need. Omnibus bills riddled with loopholes, legislative riders, and signing statements can finally be consigned to the Congressional museum. Chronically unbalanced budgets, continuing resolutions, and filibusters along with unread bills, vote trading and procedural maneuvering will no longer be accepted and expected legislative behavior.
Constitutional monarchy, a focus of responsibility, finally gives meaning to the notion of accountable government. No longer would the public be confused and bamboozled with an institutional arrangement that allows one branch or level of government to blame another for not meeting problems.
Constitutional monarchy can eliminate pork-barreling, logrolling, and legislative maneuvering. It can overcome the deadlock inherent in our present separation of powers. Fusing executive and legislative functions means decisions can be timely. A few can no longer shut down the government or block or subvert action for their own benefit.
Constitutional monarchy is not addicted to the short term fix or the cosmetic improvement. It rightly consigns the concept of “Not on my watch!” to oblivion.
Constitutional monarchy is systemically unequaled in its ability to make and follow long range policies both at home and abroad. Domestic and foreign policies have an institutional chance, at last, to become coherent and complementary.
Constitutional monarchy is immune to capture by special interests or the pressures of political action committees, lobbyists, multi-national corporations, finance capital, or the military-industrial-congressional complex. It does not need their money or influence. Nor does it need to contest the power of these groups; it simply makes their power superfluous for policy-making purposes.
A constitutional monarch, standing above political tumult and the marketplace, the fat cats, the power brokers, the usurpers and the manipulators, is the only power strong enough to break the symbiotic relationship that has developed between business and government.
Constitutional monarchy, separated from the economic system, makes it easier to see that business activity is only part of what constitutes a healthy nation.
Constitutional monarchy can offer social justice without threatening the nation’s social and economic fabric. It makes radical change acceptable by bringing back into political discourse the long ignored concept of “the common good.”
Constitutional monarchy provides political and social stability- strong sides to the “sand box” where politicians can play without destroying our achievements and hard-won gains. Turning the clock back is not an option.
Constitutional monarchy is not based on a coalition of forces wherein each seeks its own advantage. It does not need to find defenseless “out” groups to blame or attack. It does not need to make election style promises and then pay off its supporters with offices, programs, and benefits. It has no innate need to harness the institutions of government or manipulate policy to prepare for the next election.
Constitutional monarchy must be founded on heredity. An elected monarch could easily become a dictator. With an electoral mandate it would be very difficult, if not impossible for Congress to oppose much less check monarchical power. Besides, experience shows how easily elections are and can be manipulated.
Hereditary succession means there is an equal chance that the monarch will be male or female. With a known line of succession, the heir(s) can be trained from birth, educated for the duties and responsibilities of office. Hereditary succession helps develop a tradition of service to the nation.
The traditional phrase, “By the grace of God,” emphasizes the fact that it is not merit, achievement, or popularity, but mere chance that bestows the crown on a particular head. Without having done anything to earn the position, a hereditary monarch must continually prove his/her worthiness.
Hereditary succession has the added benefit of reducing political uncertainty and ensuring continuity. The stability it provides is enhanced by decades-long tenure which permits experience to have its cumulative effect on both knowledge and temperment.
As part of an unambiguous and effective system of checks and balances, Congress, given the constitutional responsibility of protecting the nation from an unworthy monarch, can be vested with the power to remove a monarch and/or change the order of succession. The investigative powers of Congress can be given teeth with the power to strike down part or all of any law, order, decree, regulation or treaty, as well as the power to remove any appointed official from office with a simple No Confidence vote.
ESTABLISHING MONARCHY IN NORTH AMERICA
Questions naturally arise as to how to start a monarchical system where there is no throne, no claimant, and no generally accepted history of monarchy.
The first step is to adopt a new constitution. The method used more than 200 years ago to ratify the US Constitution sets a precedent that means the legitimacy of a new North American Constitution could be established with the approval of specially elected constitutional ratification conventions in 35 US states and/or 7 Canadian provinces and/or 22 Mexican states. This time honored method could be accelerated by a simple majority vote in the lower or more numerous house of state or provincial legislatures.
With a new Constitution in place, the second step is to choose a constitutional monarch. Here history again shows the way. For more than 3000 years popular assemblies have established monarchical dynasties. In our case, this means a newly constituted House of Representatives would have as its first major task the selection by secret ballot of a monarch for North America.
This awesome responsibility of the House brings into focus the many qualities that must be combined in a monarch. These can better be ascertained and prioritized by a relatively few who have the confidence of the people than by the people themselves.
The history of popular elections is replete with too many examples of packaged candidates virtually sold to the public like soap to consider seriously any alternative to selection by the House of Representatives.
This selection process gives substance to the three important concepts that North American monarchy is created by the people, that its powers are derived from the Constitution, and that it exists only within a system of institutional checks and balances.
AN EMPIRE OF LIBERTY
Fashioning a vast empire of liberty on the North American continent is a notion that evaded even the dreamers of previous generations. Creating one nation from the Pole to the Gulf, as well as from the Atlantic to the Pacific, is an idea so logical, so strong, so futuristic that only the jaded or dull can be unmoved. It is an enterprise so majestic it can give meaning to a time that has consistently failed its potential, an enterprise so huge it can use all our diverse talents and abilities, an enterprise so sublime it can overcome the parochialism of region, the antagonism of race and the rancor of class.
Our existing political structures can not unite our continent, they can not open the potential that lies before us, they can not meet the challenges facing us, and they can not achieve the social justice needed for us to live creative lives. Thus, we are forced to institute a new form of government, a government limited in what it can do to us, but unlimited in what it can do for us. There is only one time tested form of government capable of achieving our goals while respecting our rights: Constitutional Monarchy. Combining mankind’s experience and our hopes, we understand now why liberty always wears a crown.
Richard Lane, Ph.D.