I wrote this article – with pleasure – at the request of VNExpress, a top 10 media outlet in Viet Nam. (Looking forward to the Vietnamese version.) I kick off the essay with this quote from J. William Fulbright’s 1966 book The Arrogance of Power:
There are two Americas. One is the America of Lincoln and Adlai Stevenson; the other is the America of Teddy Roosevelt and the modern superpatriots. One is generous and humane, the other narrowly egotistical; one is self-critical, the other self-righteous; one is sensible, the other romantic; one is good-humored, the other solemn; one is inquiring, the other pontificating; one is moderate, the other filled with passionate intensity; one is judicious and the other arrogant in the use of great power.
Note: I haven’t played the two-party game in decades. I’m in full agreement with Gore Vidal (1925-2012), who once wrote, “There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.” This is truer now than ever. In 2014, researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University concluded that the US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite, a system that is by definition an oligarchy not a function democracy, at least at the national level. (This did not come as a surprise to those of us who were familiar with the US system.)
Here’s how the researchers explained it: Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. In other words, it is the rich and powerful not the average citizen who have the greatest influence on legislation and policy. The income and wealth inequality that afflicts the US is best illustrated in the sobering fact that three US Americans are as wealthy as 50% of their fellow citizens.
Having said that, small progress is still progress. The bold part of this sentence in the second to last paragraph was deleted (censored) in the online article. It drives home my point about progress. Their supporters, a majority of US voters, solved one pressing problem, the removal of a malignant narcissistic and authoritarian president and his cruel, corrupt, and incompetent administration.
Shalom (שלום), MAA