Flexible and just systems and societies always have two types of social contract – Laws (that you have to abide by as per the letter) and Traditional Guidelines (that aren’t set in letter but abided by in spirit). Democracy is a system that needs both. But more than the rigid written laws, it needs all the governing arms to understand and carry on the tradition of the spirit of the foundational social contract.
Many a times, a democratic country gets corrupt and bad rulers. Countries where democracy is strongly ingrained, use the system to change the corrupt Governing elite, even when it is at the short term cost to the country. One can witness this maturity in the system very clearly in India, as in other countries.
Then there are countries, where the powerful or the frustrated populace looks for a quick fix to the issues of bad Governance. They engineer collapse or overthrow of the Government at any cost. Sometimes this overthrow is orchestrated because the philosophy of the Governance does not agree with the ideological construct of those eager to bring about the change. Pakistan has seen this happen quite a lot. The Pakistani Army is the overbearing power center that dictates the Morality of that country’s Governance. So, even though Pakistan is a “Democratic” nation, at least in PR material, it has hardly been so.
Central to democracy is the tradition to debate. Debate. Not Stall or overthrow whom you don’t like. Even when you can. That is the social contract of a democracy. The unwritten rule. The tradition.
If you want to change the Government, there is a time and place for that. And, that is called Elections. If you want to do as per your Ideology. Then, you win the elections. Which organizations like Pakistani Army couldn’t. So, they do it the way of a Bully.
Having laid down the basic landscape of governance parameters in a democracy. Let us look at the current US crisis. Here is what has happened.
US Government, given its various obligations – social security, medicare, Government’s social programs, wars, Army etc – has provide virtual “IOUs” to seveeral parties. There comes a time to pay up. At that time, the Government has to pay its debt. Congress has set an artificial limit, which is used to traditionally debate the pros and cons of the obligations that the state has entered into and to see whether it was the right direction, given the bill that is on the table now. It is a compass for the FUTURE deals and working. NOT to repudiate the PAST deals and workings. The past obligations have already been committed and completed. A responsible Government needs to pay that up.
If there is a debate, it has to be of the future. Not the past.
But we had Republicans, who like the Pakistani Army, could not win the last two elections. They were frustrated and snubbed. But they have strong Ideological Agendas. And, in their world, these agendas have been ratified by no other than the Son of God, Jesus, if not the God Himself! So, who the heck is Obama or any other President to do it any other way than the “God Ordained Agenda”??
They didn’t like Obama. So Obama’s legacy creating Health Reform bill – Obamacare – was the best thing to rally around to beat him up for… well.. .winning the elections, that Republicans couldn’t!
So, they do a Pakistan Army on the US. They can’t do a coup. They can’t overthrow him, albeit they have tried hard. So, they stall him up.
Republicans want to do a Pakistan Army on this country, but unfortunately for them, and fortunately for the US, they are a “Poor man’s Pak Army”! They have its ambitions but not its power.
This nonsensical situation – where the tool created to debate the past obligations to set the future right; is being used to stall the present, because a group of Americans don’t like the guy who has beaten them. Not once, but twice!! But even more nonsensical is the point that we are now at a stage that America is the joke of the International economies and is going to default due to the “Poor man’s Pak Army of the US” – the Republicans! The economy has been brought to its knees and its credit rating would be downgraded!
This is the current fiasco. Which has scary ramifications from itself.
But this is the easier part. Or the lesser evil. What it will unleash will be even more terrible.
In India, for example, due to the corruption, a group of individuals wanted to bring about a bill that was to give unprecedented powers to a authority which could override all other Government bodies. Completely ignoring the fact that system that planted corrupt people in the Prime Minister’s chair could plant corrupt people at the helm of that body as well!
This response was a classic response where the Traditional Guidelines of integrity were by-passed in absence of any automatic law, because the Governing bodies had been undermined.
The rigid law replaces social guideline.
This takes away the flexibility in a society and brings in rigidity. Which adds to the already prevalent inertia in a democracy because of all sorts of processes needed to bring rule by consensus.
So, what this situation will bring upon this country is even more polarization to begin with. Followed by introduction of rigid laws to replace the unwritten but respected guidelines. Where ability to debate is a privilege of democracy and not an instrument to bring about a coup!
The current debt crisis, if the Republicans (Poor man’s Pak Army of US) – cannot mend their ways, will serve as the beginning of the end of Democratic values and system in the US. Maybe they will no longer remain “Poor man’s Pak Army”.. they will actually shoot for its full status. All guns blaring. (pun intended)!