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Politics And Economics, Reconciliation, E Pluribus Unum, Global Democracy Project, Saving Liberal Democracy,
Authoritarianism, Identity Politics, Inequality, Racism, Sexism, Dystopian Societies

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A “toxic soup” of injustice; unfairness; racial, gender, and class inequality has been festering in America for decades, its extent and portent have gone unappreciated. Although the seeds of these negative circumstances and sentiments have been festering in America for decades, in the 2016 Presidential Election season, the nature and extent of these problems exploded onto the national stage and the national consciousness. The popular response to these problems was sentiments characterized by rabid populism; anti-establishment furor, and right-wing authoritarianism, nativism, and Identity Politics. Of these problems, the ones that garnered the most attention was the alarming levels of racial, gender, and class-based inequality which had risen so much that the middle class, the poor and the nation itself were at risk. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson have found that often, nation states fail because they rot from the inside as inequality becomes rampant thus making them vulnerable to internal populist political insurgencies and the machinations of external anti-state actors. Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page have found that the process of “rotting” has begun in America that an oligarchy has taken control of American government and is siphoning off the lion’s share societal benefits to the detriment of the masses.

A large body of literature has found that the causes of these inequalities range from blaming the victims to blaming rigged political and economic systems. For example, the explanations for racial inequalities range from purported genetic and cultural deficiencies of black and brown peoples to discrimination against them by whites. The explanations for gender inequalities range from purported genetic and cultural differences of females to male domination. The explanations for class-based inequalities range from technology and globalization to oligarchy. In response to the alarming levels of inequality, A wave of nationalistic populism swept the world. Everywhere the masses seem to be rebelling against “establishment economics and politics” as they sense that the political and economic systems are “rigged” in favor of corporations and the rich. Populists believe this because they see the lion’s share of the benefits of their societies were going to the top percentile(s), although many of those same wealthy individuals and corporation pay little to no taxes at all. A growing majority of Americans believe that globalization, technology, oligarchy, bad trade agreements, deindustrialization, loss of jobs the system combine to “rig” the political, social, and economic system. The notion that the system is rigged leads to three essential questions, who rigged it? How? Moreover, for whom?

An alternative explanation for the causes of the various inequalities in America (and elsewhere) lies in the realm of “politics.” The current America democratic ethos is chacterized by the deleterious combination of Majoritarian Democracy combined with zero-sum politics and economics (often called “winner-take-all politics”). In the American political system, the winner of political contests, those who get 50.01 percent of the vote, gets to define the agenda of the state. Adding Identity Politics to the mix makes a bad situation worse. This worsening of the situation is caused by unscrupulous politicians who seek to combine Identity Politics (race, gender, and class) with unprincipled efforts to manipulate the political process to rig the system to the benefit of their particular reference group (defined by race, gender, or class). When pursued in this manner, Majoritarian Democracy is driven by what is called “Base-Plus” electoral strategy. The Base-Plus Electoral Strategies require its purveyors to solidify support from one’s base and then seek to drawn support for other groups by advocating policies that appeal to them to put together a winning coalition (50.01 percent of the electorate). Embracing a Base-Plus” Electoral Strategy requires that signals of fidelity be sent to one’s core constituents (base) to keep them energized and motivated to go to the polls at election time and by adding discrete deliverables aimed at enticing voters that normally do not vote with one’s base. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have used Identity Politics” as an electoral strategy for a very long time.

While Majoritarian Democracy is not by definition tyrannical, the way it has operated in America since the inception of the Republic has often been tyrannical as it has often included a heavy dose of zero-sum politics and economics. In its American expression, politicians who are adherents of Majoritarian Democracy seek to garner as many benefits for their followers and to deny as many benefits to the others as possible. There is belief that the winner will gain control of the levers of government and rig the system in favor of its supporters and against those who did not vote for them. Therefore, winners and loser often end up being defined by race, gender, and class. The possibility of a spectacular win or a catastrophic loss has turned American politics into a “blood sport.” Majoritarian Democracy is inextricably linked “Identity Politics,” and it functions in the midst of a hyper-partisan and polarized environment. Opposing sides in these contests seem willing to do almost anything to achieve victory and even more to stay in power once power has been gained. Some even seem prepared to repudiate the values of democracy itself, break laws, subvert the Constitution, and embrace America’s enemies so long as they win.

For most of America’s history, the “majority” was coterminous with the white race. However, due to demographic changes, by 2043, whites will no longer be in the majority. It is unlikely that they will want to continue to play Majoritarian Politics under those conditions. The other two alternatives are to make a deal (a new social contract) while it is still possible to make one or to make one last push at gaining control of the machinery or government and rigging the system to hold back the demographic tide. The former is a long-term strategy, but it requires a willingness to share power, and societal benefits. The latter is a short-term strategy and doomed to failure. The struggle over which strategy will be predominant is polarizing and alienating. We have been on this path for so long, it may be difficult to change course, but there is a need to unify the country because as the two groups become more equivalent in size, the tensions will increase. The change in the demographic makeup of America is a time bomb that invariably destined to detonate. It will go off. Therefore, the transition must be must managed with great care, or it could result in catastrophic collapse into anarchy. Therefore, we entered the 2016 election cycle left with three options pursue one the following: Type 2 Majoritarian Democracy, the ethos of Representative Consensus Democracy, or Anarchy.

While this is not the way America’s Founding Fathers envisioned the system they invented working, Americans, having experienced it for so long, have come view it as the norm. There is an old expression in American Politics that “elections have consequences.” However, America is undergoing a demographic transition that will alter nature of the “majority” for the foreseeable future.  Fear of the “other” and desire to promote the interest of one’s group even at the expense of the others is not a winning strategy in this time of transition. If we maintain the status quo, we could spark internecine warfare the likes of which America has not seen since the 1860s. It could tear the country apart as each offense would spark retaliation from the offended group(s) looking for some “payback.” The political coalition that supports the Democratic Party is ascendant, and the coalition that supports the Republican Party is on the decline. These demographic changes are immutable and inevitable. Identity Politics leads to discrimination and racial, gender, and class inequality. To continue down the path risks escalating from harassment to confrontation to violence. Our norms, laws, Constitution, and democracy are at stake.

This bleak prognostication need not be inevitable. There is a way out of this miasma. In 2004, an unassuming black man with a strange name, a life story that bespeaks a willingness to persevere in the face of adversity, and a varied and impressive skill-set, exploded onto the national and world stage. That man, Barack Hussein Obama’s debut in the limelight was in 2004. He gave the Key Note Speech at the Democratic National Convention. That speech would catapult him all the way to the White House, and it presaged what would become his electoral and governing mantra: America should embrace Majoritarian Democracy and embrace Representative Consensus Democracy and it should embrace should embrace justice, fairness, and inclusion. It is notable that President Obama was among the first to appreciate that Majoritarian Democracy when combined with populist sentiments and Identity Politics leads to zero-sum politics and economics, which are divisive and at the end of the day are deleterious to our democracy. Dating from the time he first ran for President (2008), Barack Obama has called for making the changes necessary to make American institutions work for all Americans per the principles of Representative Consensus Democracy, justice, fairness, and equality.

After his election, the aforementioned principles seemed to be the North Star for President, Barack Obama and his administration. His administration has promoted legislation and put in place executive orders designed to pull the American economy out of the Great Recession while also ensuring that as many Americans as possible benefited from and contributed to that growth and development. If not for historic levels of Republican obstructionism, President Obama may have more fully realized his vision for America. Moreover, if that had been the case, the effect of this strategy could be profound. We would on our way to addressing many of the problems we gnashed our teeth and pulled our hair over in 2016. Despite the obstruction, There is reason to believe that Barack Obama’s message will cut through the political “fog,” and they were/are profound enough to persist for a long time. Representative Consensus Democracy, justice, fairness, and inclusion, and the repudiation Identity Politics is what the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution call for and are what the American people are demanding.

Despite how popular these ideas may be among the American people; our two major political parties have been slow to make full-throated avocations of these principles or put them center-stage in in their electoral and governing strategies. The reason why both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party’s seeming to be floundering regarding what they stand for and what comprises their agenda is the core electoral and governing agendas of both parties have been hollowed out, have become irrelevant, and are no longer tenable. Neither party’s agenda is salient to where they can continue to run on them. They are out of synch with the needs and demands of the people and are out of synch with popular sentiments in this populist age. Both parties seem unwilling to do the hard work to reform their parties and adjust their agendas to the new realities. Both parties now run campaigns characterized by more than a little obfuscation, and if they win, they declare that they have a mandate to do whatever they want. Playing “bait and switch” between one’s electoral and governing mandates flies in the face of the whole notion of “representative government,” which advocates that one’s “electoral agenda” should equal one’s “governing agenda” for there to be a mandate. Therefore, there is a wave of populism in the United States and around the world. Representative Consensus Democracy has broken down in many countries, including America if it ever existed at all. Neither political party has an agenda they can profess and run on without turning off the at least one-half of the American people. The core of each party’s electoral agenda lies in how to handle distributive justice “equality,” treating everyone the same, “need,” giving special treatment to those most in need,” and “equity,” treating some differentially, “for-cause.”

America has been at a social and political impasse for so many years that the social, political, and economic sectors have become polarized and partisan. We are at an impasse on nearly every front. The social contract that held the country together, albeit tenuously, since the 1930s is now moribund. Americans have divided themselves off into competing tribes each unwilling to suffer the other, and all are looking for completive advantages over the other. Theodore Lowi, Bruce Ackerman, James DeLong, and Michael Lind have found that America has gone through several distinct democratic republics. The work of Lind is particularly illustrative in that it makes the case that America is now entering its fourth democratic republic and that each republic is around 77 years long. Using Lind’s typology as an example, metric yields the following: Democratic Republic periods: (1) 1777–1860; (2) 1860–1932; (3) 1932–2014. Each republic had two halves, a “Progressive Era” (or half) which sought to promote justice, fairness, and inclusion, followed by a “Regressive Era” (or half) in which the forces of reaction sought to roll back progress.

Lind also makes the case that during each democratic republic the social contract associated with it was never accepted by all the people. Carole Pateman offers one major reason why America’s original social contact and all the subsequent iterations of it were problematic. She says it is because the first social contract did not include women and subsequent ones did not correct the shortcomings of the first. Similarly, Per Charles W. Mills maintains that America’s original social contract did not include minorities and subsequent ones did not correct the shortcomings of the first. In America’s original social contract, and in subsequent ones the white men to have enjoyed the full panoply of societal benefits that has had to offer. Of particular interest to us now is Lind’s assertion that the social contract that tenuously bound the republic together during the Third Democratic Republic is showing signs of being rent asunder.

There have been attempts to rectify the shortcomings associated with America’s original social contract. There have, in fact, been two comprehensive attempts to expand its original social contract to facilitate justice, fairness, and inclusion. The first was the 1860s after the Civil War, during the Reconstruction Era, in which the blacks were freed from slavery by the 13th Amendment, granted the right to vote by the 14th Amendment and granted the rights of full citizenship by the 15th Amendment. The elevation of blacks provoked a furious backlash from southern whites who used every means at their disposal, including resorting to violence, to undo black advances. Extremely violence groups like the Ku Klux Klan sought to intimidate and blacks through beatings, destruction of black-owned property, murder, lynching. Black subjugation was further ratcheted up through virulently discriminatory laws. At the end of the Civil War, the North enforced the rights of blacks and protected their property and persons billeting Northern soldiers in the south who kept reactionary forces at bay. Ultimately, Northerners lost interest in protecting blacks in the South, and they cut a deal to with Southerners that gave Northerners the Presidency in exchange for the withdrawal of the Northern Army from the South. Without Northern protection, white supremacy reasserted itself throughout the South and Blacks found themselves in a social, political, and economic situation not too far removed from slavery.

The second effort to expand the social contract to facilitate justice, fairness and inclusion came almost 100 years after the first. Beginning in the 1960s, in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, American lawmakers promulgated affirmative action. As with Reconstruction, affirmative action provoked a furious backlash from whites and the Republican Party as they sought to ban the policy sector by sector in the courts and comprehensively state by state through plebiscites which called for amending state constitutions to ban the policy. Pro-affirmative action contested these banning efforts, as well as they, could, but they were fighting what was, at best, a holding action. The current state-of-play finds that affirmative action in America is no longer considered to be fully legal, moral, or ethical. A raucous debate has erupted over the ultimate disposition of affirmative action policies. Both sides of the debate agree on the policy “ends”—color blindness and the level playing field.” However, they have vehement disagreements about the best method of achieving these ends. The affirmative action problem is no longer a legal or constitutional problem; recent court rulings have defined the policy parameters that affirmative action must conform to and that is the requirements of “strict scrutiny.” Thus, the affirmative action problem in America is now a “management problem.” It is a problem of “means.” It is a problem of “how to do” what the courts say we must do.