Tag Archives: election

WHO WILL MAKE THE BEST PRESIDENT?

Bernie Sanders

A bearded stranger came to the door this evening, a young man who turned out to be campaigning for Bernie Sanders. Michigan has a primary tomorrow, Tuesday. This is an opportunity for both Republicans and Democrats to choose the person they would most like to be their parties’ nominees for the presidency in the general election, still eight months away.

In a brief conversation on our porch, I asked the campaigner why he was supporting Mr. Sanders.   He answered truthfully and I listened. He said there is no hope in the present situation. Millions of young people like him are struggling financially, saddled with enormous student debt but finding it difficult to get a job. Additionally, they are bearing the brunt of Obamacare.  Only “democratic socialism” can solve the problem.

I asked him what he meant by “democratic socialism.”  He replied that’s where the people control their government.  I said that’s what a republic is supposed to be.  He responded by saying that the present system (a republic) has led to 1% taking everything, leaving 99% with nothing.

I told him that I do have a certain level of respect for Mr. Sanders but that I cannot vote for him.  I respect him because he is fighting to win the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton, who has the advantage of great personal wealth (the Clintons’ combined income in 2014 was $30 million, placing her firmly in the 1%) and the financial support of Wall Street.   She also has most of the media behind her.   Although her husband seems bewildered when she is described as part of the Establishment, she truly is a member of the “ruling class.” The Clintons have done well out of the system and want to preserve the status quo. They do not want change.

Bernie started out with little hope of being nominated but has led a very successful campaign against his opponent.   He has a great deal of support from young people, including our young visitor.

But, I added, I could not vote for Mr. Sanders because I’ve been there before.

I’ve experienced the democratic socialism that has been embraced by European countries. High taxation is needed to pay for all the “freebies,” the benefits that most people want. The result is that hard work is often penalized and, now, millions of migrants are attracted by all those benefits, resulting in a veritable invasion of their countries.

He asked me if I would be voting tomorrow.  I said I didn’t think so.  I’m not happy with any of the candidates, but I find the election fascinating.

What I can say is that I DO understand those who support both Mr. Sanders and Donald Trump.  These are both anti-Establishment candidates.

Conservative columnist Monica Crowley said on television, commenting on the primary results coming in on Saturday evening: “a major theme of this whole campaign is rejectionism . . . rejecting decades of the ruling class, the Establishment”  — “they have disappointed and betrayed this voting base for decades on end . . . ”

Others have described what is happening this year as a “revolution” without the bullets.   Donald Trump may be causing panic among Establishment figures, the “ruling class” that Monica Crowley talked about, but at least his supporters are still willing to aim for change through the ballot box.

If the desire for change is thwarted, then there could be trouble.

Consider the following observed by Sean Hannity on his program on February 29th:

“95 million Americans are out of the labor force

“50 million live in poverty

“46 million are on food stamps” (actually, 47 million is the usual figure quoted).

Additionally, it was revealed the following day that 51% of Americans are now earning less than $30,000 per annum.

These are reasons why people are so frustrated and turning to anti-Establishment figures like Trump and Sanders.   Clinton and Rubio are Establishment figures, wanting more of the same.   Ted Cruz is somewhere in-between. John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, seems an honest and decent man, often described as “the only adult in the room,” but, again, representing an Establishment that has been in power for fifty years. It’s time for a change.

The problem is that nobody can deliver what people want.

The challenges are daunting –

A falling standard of living;

Government spending out of control;

Uncontrolled immigration that’s threatening the American way of life;   (conservative commentator Tucker Carlson described this as the top concern on “Fox and Friends” on Sunday morning);

Terrorism;

Domestic violence.

The same problems afflict other western nations.

These are the end result of five decades of leftist-liberal thinking.

A reaction is coming, either peacefully at the ballot box, or through other means.

It might not be pleasant.

Jesus Christ said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Christians should not be naïve, thinking that any presidential candidate can make all the changes needed.   Rather, we should remember the admonition He gave us to pray fervently “Thy Kingdom Come” (Matthew 6:10).

 

 

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OUTSIDE OF THE US

EU Flag

During a US presidential year, it’s possible for people living in the United States not to realize anything is happening outside of the country.   News programs, including even 24-hour news channels, seem to talk about nothing else but the election.

Watching CNN, Fox or CBS (which now has a 24/7 internet news channel) a viewer would have no idea of what’s going on in Europe at this time.   Mention of the Middle East would only be covered briefly when talking about America’s role.   America is fixated on itself – and it happens once every four years!

Al-Jazeera has given up and is closing its US channel.  You would think Americans would be very interested in news from the Middle East, having played a major role in the region in recent decades.  Not so.   Now there will be one less source of news for those who are interested.

Few people, a very few, will be aware that Washington wants Britain to remain in the European Union.   Even fewer will be aware that President Kennedy pressed British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan to join the EEC (predecessor of the EU) over 50 years ago.   The United Kingdom applied to join but was turned down when French President Charles de Gaulle uttered his famous “Non!”

After de Gaulle, Britain applied again and was accepted.   The EU went from six to nine members on January 1, 1973.   Now it’s 28 member countries.  It might soon be 27 if negotiations between the UK and the rest of the EU don’t go well.  Today, Friday the 19th of February, is a crucial day for talks between the parties.   British papers this morning show that Mr. Cameron is not doing well in trying to achieve his demands for Britain to remain a member.

The European Union is a big government project, with increasing numbers of well -paid bureaucrats who pay no attention to what the people want.   Although members have to be democracies to join, there’s little democracy in the organization itself.   The people have no more say in government than they did in feudal times, although they can now move around from country to country thanks to the EU’s Schengen Agreement.  Even that may go in order to deal with the massive flow of migrants.

Americans would not like to be subservient to foreign bureaucrats, so why are they so keen on keeping Britain in the EU?  The answer is the same as it was when Kennedy and MacMillan were in power.  Americans want a pro-American voice in the EU.  They also want free trade, which Britain encourages, rather than the more controlled economies that the French and Germans prefer.

In theory, the British people could reject the proposals put forward today.   However, it’s not just the British voting.  There are millions of migrants from the continent of Europe who live in the UK – they will vote to support continued membership, regardless of the terms. Many of them depend on generous British welfare payments.   There’s also millions of voters from outside of the EU who have no knowledge, understanding or appreciation of British history.

This is a mess – but it’s a mess the British themselves made when they decided to turn their backs on the Commonwealth and seek economic salvation courtesy of Germany and France.   History should have taught them the folly of such an enterprise.

The Bible shows that a European super-power is coming.   “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.  These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.  (Rev 17:13-14)

This will inevitably be led by Germany.   This is likely to resemble the Holy Roman Empire more than the United States.   Britain was never a part of the HRE.   That might be an indicator of Britain’s future role, or non-role, in the new Europe.

Germany is key here.  The front page headline in The Mail on Sunday summed it up well:   “Germans:  You can’t survive without us!”   Intimidation, anyone?

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Europa Rape

Nationalism is on the rise in Europe.   The cover of a Polish magazine this week has brought condemnation from around the world.   It shows an attractive white woman dressed as “Europa” being groped by  dark skinned men, representing the male Islamic migrants who have moved into European countries in the last few months.   Reports of sexual assaults on white women have been a constant in the daily papers from various European countries.

At the time of the migrant crisis, television news programs implied that most refugees were women and children; it turns out that most were actually young men who left the women and children behind in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Now those young men, brought up in a culture where women have to cover themselves from head to toe, are taking advantage of the West’s more liberal ways.   From their religious perspective, women exposing a lot of flesh are “whores.”  They have no respect for them and will take advantage whenever they can.

It’s a classic example of a clash of cultures.   The only way to solve the problem is to keep the cultures separated.  Rather difficult now, when so many western leaders are bending over backwards to accommodate them all.

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Donald Trump is clearly more supportive of the idea of separation, so much so that he advocated building a wall between the US and Mexico.  Pope Francis, visiting Mexico, made some negative comments about the wall.   He expressed the opinion that Donald Trump, in advocating a wall, showed he cannot be a Christian.

It should be noted that the one square mile Vatican City has a high wall around it!

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Last week, I included the name of the man who attacked four diners with a machete in Ohio.

I love the following comment from Mark Steyn looking back on the week’s news:

“On Thursday a machete-wielding man called Mohamed slashed four diners in an Israeli-owned restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. As is traditional, police professed to be utterly baffled. “ (Steyn Online, Sunday)

PROBLEMS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT

Bill and Hillary

Former President Clinton looked bewildered a couple of nights ago, when trying to refute accusations that his wife is part of the “Establishment.”

He asked how can she be when she’s a woman running for an office no woman has ever held.

The former president misses the point.

The Establishment generally denotes a dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation or organization . . .  In fact, any relatively small class or group of people having control can be referred to as The Establishment . . . ”  (Wikipedia:  “The Establishment”)

Based on this definition, the Clintons are a part of the Establishment.  They have spent years promoting their liberal ideals, from abortion and same-sex marriage to big government programs, multiculturalism and political correctness.

I was amused a few days ago when a prominent female supporter of Hillary Clinton enthusiastically talked of her candidacy.  She said that if Mrs. Clinton doesn’t make it, then former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, will run.   This would mean that Americans would have two billionaires to choose from, Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg.   What would the rest of the world think of American democracy if two billionaires were running for office?   She did not mention that Mrs. Clinton is a multi-millionaire.  Nor did she express any concern about donations made to Mrs. Clinton that are clearly a conflict of interest.

This is turning out to be the most interesting US presidential election since 1968.   At that time, I was a teenager living in England.   Britain had its own radical government at the time, the second post-war Labour government led by Harold Wilson.

It seemed like everything was changing.   Abortion and homosexuality were both legalized, while the death penalty was abolished.  There were also radical financial decisions taken, including nationalization of some industries (others had already been nationalized).  The left-wing financial decisions were reversed under Margaret Thatcher over a decade later; but the other reforms stayed the same.

Other countries were going through the same radical changes.

Fifty years later, like it or not, the liberal-leftists who have dominated the western world are now the establishment, an establishment that has clearly failed the country.

What we saw in New Hampshire was a political earthquake.  The headlines were dramatic — fittingly so:  “Sanders, Trump Stun America,” CNN declared on its website.  The American Prospect summed it up with a tidy statement:  “The Establishment Sinks.”   The look on Bill Clinton’s face took me back to 1989 when Rumania’s President Nicolai Caucescu first realized the people were rising up against him.   There was shock and horror together with bewilderment – how could the people reject me was written all over his face.

This is not an American phenomenon.  We see the same thing happening in other western countries.   “Extremists” (as far as the media is concerned) of both right and left are challenging the established center.

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Meanwhile, the following report appeared on the BBC’s website yesterday, one day after Janet Yellin’s testimony before Congress warning of the worsening international financial environment:

“Analysts said US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s gloomy economic assessment on Wednesday had added to investors’ worries. In testimony to Congress, she said that financial conditions in the US had become “less supportive” of growth and warned of the “increased volatility” in global financial markets.  Rabobank European strategist Emile Cardon said the worst could still lie ahead:  “The bad news in now coming from everywhere – China, Portugal, the US, the commodity sector, the banking sector.  It’s like several smaller crises could combine into one big crisis.”

It’s not just the global economy that’s a worry.

German Foreign Policy reports that we are going to see more wars this year.

BERLIN – In an article published by the leading German foreign policy journal, an influential diplomat predicts that worldwide, there will be a further increase in the number of wars and their victims, this year.  “The number of conflicts, their victims, and their refugees” has been increasing worldwide, for the past five years and this development will “most likely continue this year.”   The
journal, Internationale Politik, substantiates this assumption by presenting an overview of the current wars.  Today’s deadliest wars (are) in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and South Sudan.

When Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples what would be the sign of His Second Coming, He replied:

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”   (Matt 24:6)

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Thursday evening, less than 24 hours ago, an individual attacked customers in a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, with a machete, injuring four, one of whom is critical.   First reports assured people this was not terrorism; then they announced the name of the man responsible, Mohammad Barry.

Meanwhile, the Pope, on a visit to Mexico, will stand with migrants at the US border, symbolically demanding the US let more migrants in.   It’s not just the politicians who don’t get it!

 

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IS THIS HOW DEMOCRACIES PERISH?

us-government-we-need-a-tow

It’s election season in both the United States and the United Kingdom.   People on both sides of the Atlantic are enduring the nightly trauma of electioneering.

The good news is that, in the UK, the election will be over in two weeks.   On the other side of the pond, we have another nineteen months and a few days to go.

Watching both elections on television, I’ve been asking myself:  Is this how democracies perish?

Every politician seems to promise the moon, while at the same time avoiding any issue of substance.

There was a time when government had only two responsibilities – national security, without which there would be no country, and the maintenance of a stable currency, without which there would be financial chaos.

That’s all changed in the last hundred years.   Now governments have their hands in everything – and the electorate responds by holding out their own hands begging for more.

Can we ever turn the clocks back to the big two?   Life would be a lot better all round if government got off our backs and concentrated on nothing but defense and currency stability.

For all its claims to be a “people’s republic” (a communist term), China’s government doesn’t seem to do anything except defend the people and ensure the stability of their currency.   Of course, the role of the military in China involves a great deal of oppression.   But, when it comes to the economy, they have a free enterprise system that is working a lot better than any of ours in the West.

The British government boasts of a growth rate that is less than 3%, while China laments theirs is down to only 7%.   Whose system works best?

The Chinese government is not likely to look to the Bible for inspiration, but they should heed the lessons contained in I Samuel, chapter 8.  In this chapter, the people asked Samuel for a king, like all the other nations.

God was not pleased with this and warned the people of what to expect:

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king.   11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you:   He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.   12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.   13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.   14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants.   15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants.   16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work.   17 He will take a tenth of your sheep.   And you will be his servants.   18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.” (vs 8-18)

You get the idea.   This is the first recording of Parkinson’s Law, that government inevitably expands, costing the tax-payer more and more money.   The problem in the US and UK is democracy, with the people wanting more and more.   Inevitably, this leads to government expanding.   It’s a warning to China not to democratize!

We have a special election in Michigan in a few days.   A proposal is being put before the people to raise the sales tax by another 1%.   It may not sound like much, but if you buy a used car for $10,000 right now, the tax will be $600.   After the vote, it would be $700.

The money is to be used to fix our roads, which would be a disgrace even in Africa.

While many will vote “yes” because they are tired of their cars hitting massive potholes, they are failing to look at the bigger picture.   Where has all the money gone that was previously allocated to roads?   If they look closely, they will find that it’s expanded the bureaucracy and given employees higher salaries and greater benefits, in the form of pensions and healthcare.   It has also been revealed that the state department responsible for roads has lost the warranties on roads that were previously fixed by private contractors, meaning that the taxpayer will have to pay again for the same repairs!

Additionally, the state has been wasteful.   Detroit was bailed out to the tune of $191 million.

A new “Welcome Center” is being built at the Capitol, costing an estimated $100 million.   A new State Police headquarters was built for $38 million, when the previous building was quite adequate and rented for $1 per year thanks to a generous donation.   The list goes on and on.   Waste, waste and even more waste.   It’s easy to spend other peoples’ money.

Government is inherently profligate.   The less we have of it the better.   Our ancestors understood that, which is one reason why Great Britain and the United States rose to great wealth and power.

Sadly, their descendants think that more government is the solution to every problem.   As we go down this road, the burdens on the taxpayer will only increase until we collapse under the weight of our own excess.

Perhaps we should all learn a lesson from HSBC, the world’s third biggest bank.   The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation moved its headquarters to London when Hong Kong reverted to China.   They are now thinking of moving back, to either Hong Kong or Singapore, both run by ethnic Chinese.   Taxes are lower and there is far less government regulation in these two city-states.

If they do move, it will be a big blow to London’s status as the world’s primary financial center.

This is one of those major issues the politicians are likely to avoid, as no government will stick its neck out to defend the banks.

How long our democracies last will be determined by how much government the people want.   On that score, things are not looking good on either side of the Atlantic.

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UK TV ELECTION DEBATE

British election candidates

In case you haven’t noticed, the United Kingdom is in the middle of a general election campaign.   The election itself takes place on May 7th, which does not leave much time for campaigning.

On Thursday, the seven leaders of the seven major parties held a televised debate on national television.   The debate was two hours long.   I watched it on “BBC World News” where it was shown live. There was only one brief commercial break in the middle.

The parties clearly divide into right and left.   The three parties that are supportive of austerity are the ruling Conservatives led by David Cameron, the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg, and UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) whose leader is Nigel Farage.   The Liberals are more in the center, but when it comes to spending, they believe in a balanced budget.

The ruling coalition since the last election in 2010 imposed austerity measures on the country, but has found it difficult not to overspend.

The other four parties represented are all to the left of the political spectrum.   All leaders were in favor of more spending on this or that and seemed to have no concept that all government spending is dependent on the success of the private sector, which they are inclined to want to clobber with more and more punitive taxes.   A favorite in the debate was a “mansion tax” on homes worth over two million British pounds ($3 million).   They do not realize that wealthy people have the option of moving to other EU member countries and can take their money with them.   They would also enjoy a better climate!

The four leftist parties are the Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband. To his left are Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru (the Party of Wales) and Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.   All four kept demanding more money for their pet projects.   Apart from the suggestion of a tax on mansions, the three ladies also insisted on defense cuts, notably that Britain not modernize Trident, its nuclear weapons system.

No commentator pointed out that the ladies’ demands would cost the English taxpayer more money.   Already, the English bankroll the Scots and the Welsh – and, together with Germany, the EU.   As Mr. Farage pointed out, the subsidy to the EU amounts to ten billion pounds per day ($15 bn).

This is one reason why Nigel Farage wants Britain to pull out of the EU.   He constantly focused on this one issue when answering questions.   The EU does not allow Britain to govern itself.   On immigration, for example, a major issue in the UK, London cannot do anything because of treaty obligations with the rest of Europe, which allow for the free movement of people.   The Germans are insistent that this remains the case, even though it costs the UK tax-payer a great deal of money.   Immigrants from the rest of the EU can claim British welfare benefits upon arrival in the country and can use the free health service.   They can even claim family allowances (a weekly child benefit) for children they left behind.

When Mr. Farage pointed out that last year 7,000 people were diagnosed as HIV positive and that 60% of these are foreigners, he added that each one will cost the taxpayer 25,000 pounds a year ($37,500).   Nicola Sturgeon came right back accusing him of being “heartless,” saying that his comment was “shameful.”   For this she received loud applause.   Yet the liberal “Independent” newspaper reveals in a poll that half the British people support him on this issue.

Ms. Sturgeon seems adept at spending other peoples’ money.   She reminded me of Margaret Thatcher’s famous dictum:  “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples’ money.”   If any of these three ladies has a major role in the next coalition government, the country could follow Greece toward financial ruin.

Polls after the debate said that Nicola Sturgeon did best.   If her party wins a lot of parliamentary seats in Scotland, they could enter a coalition with Labour and spend to their heart’s content – or, at least, until they run out of other people’s money!

It’s difficult to imagine a right of center coalition that includes the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and UKIP.   It may happen.   But if David Cameron needs UKIP to get the 318 seats necessary to form a government, he will have to give Nigel Farage what he wants, which is a referendum on EU membership by the end of the year.

Everything is up for grabs – anything could happen at this point in time.   But the most likely outcome will be a return of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, which has ruled the country for the last five years.   Noticeable during the debate is that the two leaders of these parties did not seriously attack each other, allowing for a continued marriage of convenience after the election.

With this election, it can truly be said that Britain is at a crossroads.   Everything achieved over the last few years of austerity could easily be lost, throwing the economy into a downward spiral; relations with Europe are also at stake at a time when the continental nations that comprise the EU are drawing closer together, with Germany very much in the driving seat.

DEATH OF JORDANIAN PILOT

 

Wheel of Fortune comic

The situation in the Middle East seems to get worse each day but you wouldn’t know that from watching the main American networks.

I felt for sure the news Tuesday night would have led with the death of the Jordanian pilot, horrifically burned alive.   His ordeal was filmed and posted on the terrorists’ website.   Beheadings and, now, burnings are meant to shock and instill fear in opponents.  Every pilot sent to bomb ISIS knows now what will happen if he gets shot down.  Even worse punishments may lie ahead.

The lack of attention to this news may reflect a fear of copy-cat murders, at home in the US and other western countries, as much as in the Mideast.   If that’s the case, the restraint is commendable.

But it may have more to do with the fact that networks are no longer sending journalists in to dangerous areas, where they could quite literally lose their heads.   Additionally, it’s election time.   Well, not exactly.   The election is still 21 months away, but it’s already the focus of a great deal of media attention.

Another factor is that the president himself seems to be trying to ignore the ugly reality of Islamic terrorism.   Or, rather, terrorism that’s not Islamic.  It was fascinating to watch the recent press conference given by the president and the British prime minister.  Mr. Cameron mentioned Islamic terrorism or Islamic extremism more than once, while the president could not bring himself to use the “I” word.

While the burning alive of the pilot seems to have failed to wake up the media in the United States, it’s turning into a game changer in the Middle East.   Jordanians, divided over support for the US led coalition against ISIS, are now rallying around their king, calling for vengeance.   The Egyptian Foreign Minister, interviewed on Sky News, said the incident has galvanized support across the region for the total defeat of ISIS.   The terror group threatens upheaval across the entire Middle East and overseas.

 

THE WORLD’S OLDEST DEMOCRACY

Indian artist Harwinder Singh Gill shows off his creation, an image of US president Barack Obama carved on a duck's egg shell with the national flags of India and the United States, on January 24, 2015. Mr Obama is due to arrive in India on January 25, 2015.  Munish Sharma/Reuters
Indian artist Harwinder Singh Gill shows off his creation, an image of US president Barack Obama carved on a duck’s egg shell with the national flags of India and the United States, on January 24, 2015. Mr Obama is due to arrive in India on January 25, 2015.
Munish Sharma/Reuters

All nations have an inflated view of themselves and their place in the world.

The Times of London famously carried a front-page headline over a century ago that read:   “Fog in Channel.   Europe cut off.”   The reality, of course, was that Britain itself was cut off from the much bigger continent of Europe.

This morning (Monday) I heard something similar on CBS.   It was a news item on President Obama’s visit to India.   It went something like this:   “The leader of the world’s oldest democracy is meeting the leader of the world’s largest.”

Now, I’ve heard this before . . . but this time I want to comment.

How can the United States, barely 200 years old, possibly be the world’s oldest anything?

It certainly isn’t the world’s oldest democracy.

I googled this, asking where the idea comes from.   The answer, it seems, is the politicians.   In recent years, they have been claiming this is the case, when it isn’t.   Ignorance of history never stopped anybody from attaining office.

For the record, one of the first things the original colonists did when they landed in Jamestown, was hold an election.   Elections were regularly held in the colonial period.   The turnout averaged 90%.   On this basis alone, you could say that colonial America was more democratic than what we have now, when participation is usually less than 50%.

When the colonists held that first election, they were not inventing democracy.   Their country of origin, Great Britain, already had a democratic system in place.   Not since 1215 had English kings held absolute power.   For centuries after that date, parliament was gradually becoming more powerful at the expense of the crown.

The first parliament was summoned in 1264.

Part of the problem is that “democracy” can mean different things in different countries.

The North Koreans call themselves “The Democratic Peoples Republic” of Korea but they are neither democratic nor a republic.

When I googled the word “democracy,” this is the definition it came up with.   Democracy is “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.”   “All the eligible members of a state” does not necessarily mean that every person has the vote.

Today, in the year 2015, we in the West think of a democracy as a country where every adult has the vote.   But this has not always been the case.   It wasn’t in ancient Greece, the birthplace of democracy, where women and slaves were not allowed to vote.   A universal franchise, where everyone has the vote, is a fairly recent thing.   It did not exist in the United States until at least 1964 when the Voting Rights Act guaranteed the right of all adults to vote.   Even then, there were some who missed out until more recently.   In England, women got the vote in 1918, but they had to be 30, whereas men could vote at 21.   Ten years later, the law was changed to make women fully equal with men.

Forty years ago, we lived in Rhodesia, which had a qualified franchise, similar to what the United States had in its infancy.   Actually, Rhodesia was more generous as women had the vote equally with men, something America didn’t have until 1920.   Rhodesia had five qualifications for voting.   Diane and I did not meet all five, whereas many Africans we knew did.   Once everybody got the vote, a dictatorship came to power and has remained there for 35 years.   Rhodesia was far more democratic than its successor state.

Anyway, forget England and America.   Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the Isle of Man all have a parliamentary system that goes back to the ninth or tenth centuries.

There is no basis for claiming the US is the world’s oldest democracy. But what would you expect from a bunch of lawyers in Congress? After all, they are wrong on most things!