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Trawling over the net as I do for this blog, I came across Ramesh Ponnuru and Richard Lowry’s article for National Review  entitled “An Exceptional Debate; The Obama administration’s assault on American Identity ” You catch the article at

http://nrd.nationalreview.com/article/?q=M2FhMTg4Njk0NTQwMmFlMmYzZDg2YzgyYjdmYjhhMzU=n

It’s been spotted by New Republic too

It was an extraordinary polemic worthy of the great days of the Soviet Union when it too was the workers paradise.  But to my albeit foreign eyes, one phrase above all jumped up at me from the dense wadge of overwritten prose.

“ It (the USA) is freer, more individualistic, more democratic, and more open and dynamic than any other nation on earth”.

Wow!  I thought, really?  Can this be true?  Now I can’t fault individualistic, and it sure can be dynamic but open?  This blog is dedicated among other things to show how closed oligarchical and exclusive the upper reaches of US public life are so “Open”?  I think not.

But worse was to follow with the bit about “freer” and “more democratic” than literally every single society on Earth.

To get there in the argument  these guys wheeled out a lot of old quotes from the Founding Fathers and then fell back on their Lincoln in a rather school debating style. It was long on romance and rhetoric, strong in the faith, but a little short on facts. 

 Now on the rough view it might be that on political rights, which could be analogous to “democracy”, or “civil liberties” which might equate to “freedoms”, the good ol US of A might score right up there with those tattered battered European countries it seemed to sneer at.  But when it came to things like electoral processes, rules of law and freedoms of expression -those nitty gritty building blocks of society- you might want to take a look at a site called Freedom House.   There is a table no less!

http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=414&year=2008

This compares each country against all the rest.  The USA is right down there, miles down there, grubbing about in the slurry with Uruguay and Uzbeckistan and eighth from the bottom and Zimbabwe.

The problem, as I see it, is the oligarchical nature of the American system which drives all those flaws we see around us – the influence of big money on the electoral system, the gerrymandering which renders voting uncompetitive, the stitch up of the two party system that blocks the rise of any third choice, and of course the granddaddy of them all – the electoral college.

As to fairness in offices well from the great days of Hughy Long in Louisiana, to Spiro in the White House corruption has long held hands with power –too often to be dismissed.

As for those outside the fairy castle walls those who are Black or Hispanic, then they find their economic freedoms curtailed and diminished by not being able to unionise because the laws crush these, and their voices are undermined.

But if you are looking for a tangible example, something of today, with someone’s name on it well you could do worse that look at Senator “Jay” Rockefeller IV Senator from West Virginia.  Democratic too! 

 

Last week on February 22nd he had chosen not simply to speak out in the current healthcare debate but to say that he will likely not support a Public Option reform through the reconciliation process and thereby single handedly destroy the push to allow heathcare reform by Public Option.

And who is this guy, this voice of the common man this veritable tribune of the people who has sprung up from nowhere?  Why he is the great-grandson of Rhode Island Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, and a nephew of banker David Rockefeller.  He is also nephew of United States Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and son-in-law of Charles H. Percy Senator for Illinois and cousin of Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Winthrop Paul Rockefeller.  An oligarch to his bones deciding for you the people, what is best for you and your families.

As his great grandfather was one John D Rockefeller I don’t suppose the good Senator will be in much difficulty of fixing his own health care and – well bugger the rest of you.

Freer, more democratic, and more open and dynamic than any other nation on Earth?  

I think not.

Copyright David Macadam 2010

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