11 years after the United States declared independence from the British Kingdom, 55 people representing 12 colonies gathered in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787. Their aim was to make a constitution that would shape the new state, which had been in the form of a loose confederation for 11 years. These 55 men did not have a republic administration that could set an example in the world of those days. They learned by painfully experiencing the arbitrariness and tyranny of a system in which the governors of the colony were the ‘governor of their majesty’, the judges’ the ‘judge of their majesty’, and the law was the ‘command of his majesty’. However, the experience of “democracy” in the colonies within 11 years after the declaration of independence did not turn out very bright. In many places of the colonies, only decisions based on majority vote had arbitrary and overbearing pressure on the minority, as much as the governors of their majesty. They were looking for a system that would not allow arbitrariness and abuse of power, but also guarantee equality, freedom and rights for each individual. For this reason, it is understood from their correspondence and discussions in those days that they have studied all the management experiences in history since Ancient Greece. French lawyer Montesquieu was also one of the names that he was most impressed with. The theory of separation of powers expressed by Montesquieu in the Spirit of Laws published in 1748 was one of the most important guides in shaping the new American state.
James Madison, one of the architects of the US Constitution, wrote in the Federalist article No. 51 published in 1788: Regardless of whether he came with reign or election, giving the same hand is the definition of tyranny. ”
After the Constitutional Assembly, which lasted 3 months and 23 days until September 17, 1787, the world’s shortest constitution with 7 articles (including 27 additional articles to be added in the following years) emerged. The first three articles of the Constitution guarantee the separation of powers. They preferred to put the chairman, the executive, not the executive, the legislative power, in the center of the state. The first article held the Congress, the second the presidency and the third the judiciary.
During the approval of the Constitution at state congresses throughout 1788, some criticized that the first three articles of the Constitution did not bring a pure separation of powers. For example, the president had the power to veto a law passed by the Congress. This was the exercise of legislative power by the president. The Senate also had the power to reject the president’s appointments to federal institutions. This was executive power. These people were right in their criticism. As a matter of fact, James Madison, one of the most important actors in the creation of the new Constitution, would write that “a pure separation of powers is practically not possible and this is not the intention of Montesquieu.”
But what would prevent the state’s legislative, judicial and executive powers from gathering in the same hand, and thus the disappearance of the republic, if it was impossible for them to be completely separated?
The essence of the American constitutional state system emerged in this search for a solution: ‘Check and Balance’, namely ‘Balance and Supervision’. In fact, although there are some primitive practices in the British monarchy, Madison is also referred to as the “Madisonian Model” because it was the idea pioneer of applying it to a republic for the first time. In the balance and supervision system, the powers that make the law, enforce it and interpret the law will be independent from each other, but they will also have the power to control each other when they exceed their authority.
After the Constitution was adopted, despite these mechanisms, the feeling that state power continued to pose a potential threat to the rights and freedoms of citizens. Madison and Thomas Jefferson also joined this concern. Madison expressed concern that an oppressive majority could easily violate minority rights, and submitted an additional 10 amendments to the Constitution, called the ‘Bill of Rights’ in 1789. The constitutional amendment was approved in 1791. First Amendment, which restricts the freedom of expression and assembly of the congress or prohibits making laws against / against any religion, included the three powers of the state as well as the public in the system of ‘balance and supervision’. In other words, media, non-governmental organizations or ordinary citizens also gained the right to control, criticize, disclose and campaign against all kinds of activities of the state.
The retouch that Montesquieu is the real separation of “separation of powers” will come from the US Supreme Court on February 24, 1803.
In the case of William Marbury, who was appointed as a judge but whose appointment was not processed due to a lack of procedure; the case-law of the Supreme Court regarding the role of the judiciary rather than the content of the case was the beginning of the age of “separation of powers”.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that, in the decision of the case called ‘Marbury v Madison, there should be a man to protect the constitution; both against the executive and the legislature, and that it was the judiciary. That is, the courts were judged to have the power to cancel the laws, presidential decrees and practices they found unconstitutional.
President of the Supreme Court, John Marshall, wrote on the grounds: “The constitution is either a superior law that cannot be easily changed like ordinary laws, or it is the same level of savings as ordinary laws that the legislative power can change at any time. If the first of these options is true, the legislative body’s unconstitutional savings cannot qualify as a law. The second point is that written constitutions are like a meaningless attempt by nations to limit a force that is inherently impossible to limit. ”
Marbury v 1803 of the Supreme Court. The main purpose of this judicial control, which he reinforced with the case law in the Madison case, was to prevent the establishment of a dictatorship in the country by the executive or legislative power, or the denial of the constitutional order by law, and to guarantee the survival of the constitutional order of the republic.
Since this jurisprudence, both the federal district court and the Supreme Court have been able to revoke a law made by the Congress on the grounds that it is against the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton would write that the judicial control, which he described as the “legislative powers’ barrier against abuse”, was “the most shaping of the character of the American state system”.
The American system is of course not a perfect system. It also produced many problems. However, this system is the most important reason why the USA has not had a dictatorship experience for 227 years, has not witnessed a democracy cut, and is known as the ‘country of freedoms’. In political history, it continues to be the most effective mechanism for preventing abuse of state power.
In the USA, the term “presidential system” is a statement used for executive power in the context of the relationship between legislature and executive powers. It is not a concept that describes the American state system. In fact, this false perception occurred in the 20th century with the development of mass media. For example, Abraham Lincoln, who was considered the most important president of the USA by historians, was a name he did not know throughout the world, even in Europe. The first world-renowned president was Woodrow Wilson, president of World War I. The fact that the US presidential elections became the center of attention started in 1960 with the election of John F. Kennedy. The importance attributed to the president in the American public has increased in the last century. The position of the presidents, especially in foreign policy, strengthened relatively during the Cold War. However, the President is still not the power at the center of the system. It’s not the only power. The name of the American state system is not the “presidential system” but the “balance and control system”.
A state equipped with control mechanisms
The system of balance and control produces constant tension and strife among the three powers of the state. But this is exactly what constitutionalists want. Madison would record, “the passion of every man breaks another man from exceeding his authority.” This conflict, which mostly produces results for the benefit of America, is found all over the American system at the local or federal scale.
The President of the USA has the power to veto the law made by the Congress, but Congress has the power to pass the veto by two-thirds of the votes and enact the same bill.
From the ministers, ambassadors, the CIA and FBI presidents to the heads of federal institutions such as NASA and the Central Bank, the president chooses the candidate for all the important authorities of the executive, but only if the Senate approves.
Candidates for the vacant membership of the Supreme Court and judges to the federal courts elect the president, but they can start their duty only if the absolute majority of the Senate approves. Federal judges and members of the Supreme Court can never be dismissed and amended against their personal rights unless they retire voluntarily after they have taken office. This prevents a single government from completely filling the judiciary with its own staff within the mandate. Nevertheless, Congress can dismiss judges whose heavy penalty criminal crime is fixed from their duties.
The president and ministers sign international treaties on behalf of the US state, but the approval of two-thirds of the Senate is required for these treaties to take effect. The judiciary can also revoke the administrative decisions of the head of state or international treaties by finding it unconstitutional.
The Congress has the power to dismiss the President of the USA, the rulers of the federal institutions. During the dismissal, the House of Representatives acts as the admissions authority of the indictment and the Senate as a court. In these sessions, the President of the Senate is chaired by the Senate. The Assembly has exercised the power to initiate the process of dismissal about the president twice so far.
Through its committees and subcommittees, federal institutions have the authority to examine, investigate and, if necessary, refer to all decisions, policies and procedures. One of the ex-presidents, Woodrow Wilson, would state that the Congress has this legislative power over administrative functioning.
Congress can annul the Supreme Court case-law by amending the Constitution. But the constitutional amendment can only take place with the two-thirds vote of both wings of the Congress and the approval of three-quarters of the 50 state congresses. In other words, it is impossible for a party to change the Constitution alone, no matter how strong it is.
Democracy Or What? – And Then Climate
Most of us were appalled to see what happened in Washington a ten days ago when a ‘mob’, incited by Donald Trump’s address, stormed the Capitol building to prevent the presentation of Joe Biden as the next President. He gave voice to a possible fraudulent (in his mind) election, by putting suspicion on the postal ballot long before the election took place, and tried to ‘engineer’ the ballot by putting his ‘own’ man in control of it. He tried to manipulate the Supreme Court by replacing vacancies with people he expected to follow his lead and must have been disappointed, if not shocked, to find that the court unanimously rejected his claim that the votes had been rigged and should be thrown out. His unruly term of office saw the greatest turnover of people of any previous presidential term as staff could only hack the unusual behaviour of a disordered mind for so long. And so on and on. Much will be written about the 4-year aberration that was Donald Trump. On a lighter note, his escapades in golf have given rise to a book, ‘Commander in Cheat’!
Concerned people have written and spoken about the state of democracy today. Those of us who have spent some time stateside appreciate the immensity of the country, how one is made welcome, but also the prejudices that one finds and the general unknowing of the world we live in by large swathes of the population. Some are still steeped in attitudes that pre-date the civil war. Donald Trump played to all of those and gave them voice. That is a big challenge facing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to get America back on track and if not ‘great again’ to stand up and join the rest of us and share and appreciate that there are billions of other people that are working away with hopes and dreams and looked to the US as a beacon.
That should be the meaning of ‘great again’, and if they can look up and truly be the land of the free and welcome the weak and downtrodden who are fleeing war and violence, as was once the way, then we can say that once more ‘you have earned the right to be the leader of democracy’, and democracy, for all its imperfections, is still the least bad form of government. It is well that the US re-joins the world as totalitarianism, in all its forms and at all levels, is on the rise again. Countries that espouse democracy and heed its precepts need to speak up loudly and be heard once again.
In November of this year is the World Climate Meeting, COP21, in Glasgow, Scotland at which the latest news on climate will be debated. Hopefully, the coronavirus will be on the decline and the US election will no longer be an issue. We can then get together on the one matter that should concentrate all our minds and separate the wheat from the chaff because there is some said that is wrong that muddies the waters, and leads the politicians to make incorrect decisions. But change is around us.
Climate is a highly complex issue, arguably the most complicated, that not all the modelling can get right, but study must go on. It is strange that it has only come to our notice since the population of the world over the past 60 years, has increased dramatically from approaching 3 billion to 8 billion. Mankind has thus significantly increased breeding himself, and thus his use of natural resources, for example cutting down trees, which need carbon dioxide to live, and vastly increased the pollution of the seas and the seas cover 70% of the planet. It has only been in comparatively recent times that we have started to pay attention to the seas and are alarmed at what we see.
However, we have the tools to put things right. We just need the will and ability to spend money wisely.
A Disintegrating Trump Administration?
If Donald J. Trump wanted a historic presidency, he certainly seems to have achieved it — he is now the only president to have been impeached twice.
According to the rules, the House impeaches followed by a trial in the Senate. There is precedent for the trial to continue even when the office holder has left office. Should that trial result in conviction, it prevents him from seeking any future elected office. Conviction is unlikely, however, as it requires a vote of two-thirds of the members present.
It has been reported that Trump wanted to lead the crowd in the march to the Capitol, but was dissuaded from doing so by the Secret Service who considered it much too dangerous and could not guarantee his safety.
Various sources attest that Trump’s mind is focused on pardons including himself and his family members. Whether it is legal for him to pardon himself appears to be an unresolved question. But then Trump enjoys pushing the boundaries of tolerated behavior while his businesses skirt legal limits.
He appears to have been greatly upset with his longtime faithful vice-president after a conversation early on the day of the riot. As reported by The New York Times, he wanted Mike Pence to overturn the vote instead of simply certifying it as is usual. The certification is of course a formality after the state votes already certified by the governors have been reported. Pence is reputed to have said he did not have the power to do so. Since then Trump has called Vice President Pence a “pussy” and expressed great disappointment in him although there are reports now that fences have been mended.
Trump’s response to the mob attacking the Capitol has also infuriated many, including lawmakers who cowered in the House chamber fearful for their lives. Instead of holding an immediate press conference calling on the attackers to stop, Trump responded through a recorded message eight hours later. He called on his supporters to go home but again repeated his claims of a fraudulent election.
Aside from headlining the US as the laughingstock among democracies across the world, the fall-out includes a greater security risk for politicians. Thus the rehearsal for Biden’s inauguration scheduled for Sunday has been postponed raising questions about the inauguration itself on January 20th.
Worse, the Trump White House appears to be disintegrating as coordination diminishes and people go their own way. Secretary of State Pompeo has unilaterally removed the curbs on meeting Taiwanese officials put in place originally to mollify China. If it angers China further, it only exacerbates Biden’s difficulties in restoring fractured relationships.
Trump is causing havoc as he prepares to leave the White House. He seems unable to face losing an election and departing with grace. At the same time, we have to be grateful to him for one major policy shift. He has tried to pull the country out of its wars and has not started a new one. He has even attempted the complicated undertaking of peace in Afghanistan, given the numerous actors involved. We can only hope Biden learned enough from the Obama-Biden administration’s disastrous surge to be able to follow the same path.
Flames of Globalization in the Temple of Democracy
Authors: Alex Viryasov and Hunter Cawood
On the eve of Orthodox Christmas, an angry mob stormed the “temple of democracy” on Capitol Hill. It’s hard to imagine that such a feat could be deemed possible. The American Parliament resembles an impregnable fortress, girdled by a litany of security checks and metal detectors at every conceivable point of entry. And yet, supporters of Donald Trump somehow found a way.
In the liberal media, there has been an effort to portray them as internal terrorists. President-elect Joe Biden called his fellow citizens who did not vote for him “a raging mob.” The current president, addressing his supporters, calls to avoid violence: “We love you. You are special. I can feel your pain. Go home.”
That said, what will we see when we look into the faces of these protesters? A blend of anger and outrage. But what is behind that indignation? Perhaps it’s pain and frustration. These are the people who elected Trump president in 2016. He promised to save their jobs, to stand up for them in the face of multinational corporations. He appealed to their patriotism, promised to make America great again. Arguably, Donald Trump has challenged the giant we call globalization.
Today, the United States is experiencing a crisis like no other. American society hasn’t been this deeply divided since the Vietnam War. The class struggle has only escalated. America’s heartland with its legions of blue-collar workers is now rebelling against the power of corporate and financial elites. While Wall Street bankers or Silicon Valley programmers fly from New York to London on private jets, an Alabama farmer is filling up his old red pickup truck with his last Abraham Lincoln.
The New York banker has no empathy for the poor residing in the southern states, nothing in common with the coal miners of West Virginia. He invests in the economies of China and India, while his savings sit quietly in Swiss banks. In spirit, he is closer not to his compatriots, but to fellow brokers and bankers from London and Brussels. This profiteer is no longer an American. He is a representative of the global elite.
In the 2020 elections, the globalists took revenge. And yet, more than 70 million Americans still voted for Trump. That represents half of the voting population and more votes than any other Republican has ever received. A staggering majority of them believe that they have been deceived and that Democrats have allegedly rigged this election.
Democrats, meanwhile, are launching another impeachment procedure against the 45th president based on a belief that it has been Donald Trump himself who has provoked this spiral of violence. Indeed, there is merit to this. The protesters proceeded from the White House to storm Congress, after Trump urged them on with his words, “We will never give up, we will never concede.”
As a result, blood was shed in the temple of American democracy. The last time the Capital was captured happened in 1814 when British troops breached it. However, this latest episode, unlike the last, cannot be called a foreign invasion. This time Washington was stormed by protestors waving American flags.
Nonetheless, it is not an exaggeration to say that the poor and downtrodden laborers of America’s Rust Belt currently feel like foreigners in their own country. The United States is not unique in this sense. The poor and downtrodden represent a significant part of the electorate in nearly every country that has been affected by globalization. As a result, a wave of populism is sweeping democratic countries. Politicians around the world are appealing to a sense of national identity. Is it possible to understand the frustrated feelings of people who have failed to integrate into the new global economic order? Absolutely. It’s not too dissimilar from the grief felt by a seamstress who was left without work upon the invention of the sewing machine.
Is it worth trying to resist globalization as did the Luddites of the 19th century, who fought tooth and nail to reverse the inevitability of the industrial revolution? The jury is still out.
The world is becoming more complex and stratified. Economic and political interdependence between countries is growing each and every day. In this sense, globalization is progress and progress is but an irreversible process.
Yet, like the inhumane capitalism of the 19th century so vividly described in Dickens’ novels, globalization carries many hidden threats. We must recognize and address these threats. The emphasis should be on the person, his dignity, needs, and requirements. Global elites in the pursuit of power and superprofits will continue to drive forward the process of globalization. Our task is not to stop or slow them down, but to correct global megatrends so that the flywheel of time does not grind ordinary people to the ground or simply throw nation-states to the sidelines of history.
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