[from John] I am going to initiate this as a new Topic although it is an extension of the Some Interesting Comparisons Topic. The following is the last comment from Ira Glickstein from that Topic [in italics]. I am also going to show my comments in blue for clarity.
Thanks, John, for your comments. You probably noticed that I chose King Solomon "dividing the baby" as the image at the head of your posting. The Bible presents him as a benevolent dictator skilled at determining who was the true mother of the baby. For a Capitalist Republic to stand, we need a process that moderates, like Solomon, between the immediate needs (and wants) of the people and the long-term solvency and stability of the government. Somewhere in my studies I was told the reason the Constitution is so hard to change is to prevent impetuous change to address an immediate problem which in the long term may be deleterious to the nation. What comes to mind is the amendment banning alcohol. I would amend one word in your statement …stability of the government to … stability of the nation.
In a pure democracy, once the majority of the voters figure out they can vote for candidates who pay them benefits out of the national treasury, the country is guaranteed to go bankrupt sooner or later. That is the "tipping point" - when fewer people are, on net, paying-in and more are, on net, on the dole. If you tax those who work and give benefits to those who don't, you should not be surprised when more and more people don't work (or don't work very hard)! Unfortunately this also applies to a republic – our Republic!
I think history, as far back as Greece and Rome, and up to more modern times in the UK and USA, shows that the most stable governments are multi-party, where two (sometimes three) major parties coexist and take turns at the head, with the legislature and judiciary and state governments sometimes in the hands of the opposition. I agree with the exception of the judiciary. To the degree humanly possible the judiciary should be exempt of politic especially the Supreme Court whose sole objective should be interpreting the Constitution. Even though we may not agree on all of the choices for the Supreme Court members or all of their decisions I believe they have done a good job over the years.
Looking at the historical record, it is amazing that power is handed over peacefully when a different party wins 52% to 48% or even closer. The only reason that happens in the US is that both major parties have more philosophical and geographic overlap with each other than basic differences. Therefore, both strive to find the middle to pick up the independents and cross-over voters who make the final decision.
I don’t agree. GW Bush’s second election proves my point. Our nation was up in arms and divided through his full last term and has carried over into Obama’s first term. The reason that power has been handed over peacefully is we are a nation of law. We respect and trust the law. Even though there was great resentment when the Supreme Court ruled in that election it was accepted because we trusted them. I might add our nation is stable and economically well to do. While we have pockets of poverty the majority of the people are relatively comfortable economically so there is no underground outpouring of resentment toward the government. Comfortable people do not want to upset the apple cart.
In countries with a larger number of smaller, more narrow parties that are sometimes quite regional, change of government can be threatening and may lead to national strikes and riots. Afghanistan is a good example - tribal law dominates. There is no effective central government or central legal system. Additionally Afghanistan is a poor uneducated nation. Tribal grouping find the optimum stability for the people.
In your original posting, you seemed to be unhappy that candidates are "chosen by two political parties rather than by the people", and, in your most recent comment you ask "How else can an elected representative or senator be almost guaranteed of retaining his seat indefinitely as long as he remains a true party hack?" Well, IMHO, that system promotes balance and compromise within the structure of each party and between them. I personally think things were better when party hacks in the proverbial "smoke-filled room" hand-picked candidates prior to our primary election system. As I said in my previous comment I do not have a better system although I might recommend a change to the present system. I wonder if a tri party system would work better. Our system, as it operates today does not promote balance it promotes partisanship . It is this or that. A principal goal of a party is to seize and retain control. Compromise and balance exists only to the extent that a party must kowtow to the middle to retain power. A tri party system, on the other hand, would tend toward cooperation and compromise because a party’s hold on government would be tenuous, insecure and dependent upon cooperation. The re-election cycle as stated in the constitution would remain.
My other concern about our present system is the ease for an elected official to retain his seat forever thus creating a career path for professional politicians to hold the seats of government. I would prefer term limits. We could argue upon the length of the terms. We would want to give them enough time to understand the needs of our national government without providing a career for elected officials.