Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America! How's that workin' out for ya?

As this 4th of July begins I find myself in an interesting position on the present state of our country. I don't live there. Recently,when discussing being asked by an editor to look at a story on the release of Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, a writer and pro-Democracy advocate here Vietnam, a British friend reacted, "Ha, Democracy, how's that workin' out for us these days?" And that's a more than reasonable retort considering the world's economic changes over the past 10 years or so. Is it democracy that makes people happy, or economic prosperity and the peace of mind that their government is doing the best job they can on behalf of all of its citizens?
Promoting the wealth and prosperity of citizens doesn't seem to be a hallmark of democracy alone. Does it really matter that countries have one party, or two, or tens - or a monarchy, or even a benevolent dictatorship? The United States supports any number of monarchies throughout the world, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia with nary a lecture on 'democracy' to them and our history of supporting dictators of the non-benevolent variety and then not supporting them later is spotty at best.
And when was the last time anybody voted on a war, or an economic stimulus package or anything else that mattered to their daily lives? We just voted for the people who made those decisions. And did that make the decisions better? Over the last 10 years, democracy has been behind the evaporation of a federal surplus left to us by President Clinton, two new war fronts we didn't have (or need) previously, and the single worst 10 years in the stock market ever. How's that workin' for us? Need we credit or discredit democracy?
Democracy had nothing to do with any of that. And our efforts in Vietnam over 50 years ago to "stop the spread of communism" didn't do much in our favour either. So it seems that labeling governments by their brand of politics has little to do with the policies those governments produce. China has endured harsh western criticism of its human rights record in the past but has also doubled its GDP, twice, in the last 30 years, bringing modernity and prosperity to the greatest number of people on the planet ever. Somehow now, with our new enormous debt to that country, I suspect there will be a lot less diplomatic finger wagging towards them in the future. A very democratic decision, for sure.
So Happy Birthday America. That's 236 years of Democracy and freedom from British taxes - now, if we could just pay those Chinese taxes.
A suspension of disbeliefs is a desirable delusion when watching a film or play, but a less desirable one with regard to participating in the politics that shape our lives. Once this anniversary party is over it's time for Americans to get back to the real-life game plan of providing appropriate jobs and social welfare on a standard with the top countries in the world (which we currently don't). The question is, what can you do to help?

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.

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D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.