America's Institutional Decline

Image: Valeria Possos


The democratic establishment finds itself reduced, by its own will and blindness, to the threadbare project of more of the same, only improved.

“And now our government / a bird with two right wings / flies on from zone to zone while we go on having our little fun & games / at each election / as if it really mattered who the pilot is / of Air Force One (They 're interchangeable, stupid!)” (Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bird With Two Right Wings)

The institutional decay of the USA, an indisputable fact, interacts with the other internal faces of the general crisis that is getting worse, a process that goes back a long way, at least since the 70s. pejoratively called, looking at Latin America, a banana republic – tends to gain pace, China through. It promises to follow leaps and bounds, leaps and bounds. Perhaps it is already an irreversible process. At least, so it seems to me.

the extremism tout court of the party that was once inspired by Lincoln, allied to the other, even more complete one, personified by Trump and his barbarism, crystallized by generating a polarization with no way out. On one side, the Republicans; on the other, everyone else. This is because the Republican extreme right – the Yates-like center is almost non-existent today – has amalgamated, at the other ideological extreme, the Democratic party and the still fragile left which, with Bernie Sanders and the younger people who animate the movement, finally gained lasting expression.

Meanwhile, the establishment The democrat sees himself reduced, by his own will and blindness, to the beaten-up project of more of the same, only improved (?). And, yes, it is the same that is proclaimed, by arts of rhetoric, as the new gravedigger of the old republicanism-Trumpism, a new one as the last flowering of the failed Clinton strategy. This, the essence of the Biden-Kamala bet, plus all the false civility of the imperial world.

Despite being electorally defeated, the extremist movement, its two main wings mutually reinforcing each other, puts on a lineup of daily demonstrations of force, shows its blocking power, explores new authoritarian limits, which are immediately surpassed. It is not noticeable, in what conforms the daily news, anything that indicates that they are the speeches and gestures of Trump and the leadership of what was once great, but which today is just an old party, limited conjunctural exercise, tactical maneuver, preface, in the world from abstract reason, would say the phenomenologist of the Spirit and the unhappy conscience, to the second dialectical moment, much less destructive.

On the contrary, the shape The republican republic that emerges from the turmoil that is the US erupts as a figure of well-crafted permanent mobilization strategy of the extreme right, that is, high fever, broken thermometer, loose social pathologies, lasting chaos. The goal that guides this organized madness reminds us of the one that makes us unhappy... But, given the impossibility of the show, despite continuing, changing the reality defined last November in the electoral plan, the republicans resort to a double movement, to something with double character (or lack of…): that of guaranteeing, by resorting to explicit savagery, the return of the party to the White House, four more years; and at the same time to keep the passionate relationships of the Leader with their zombie bases.

If this is the panorama seen from the bridge of the long term, in the very short term the determination of the correlation of forces in the Senate depends on the results of the January 5 elections in Georgia. The scoreboard of the dispute for the two seats will define who will dominate the upper house, whether the Republicans, as now, or the Democrats, in this case for Minerva's vote to be systematically exercised by Kamala Harris. In the Chamber of Representatives, telegraphic message to the forgotten, the Democrats maintained the majority, but they were somewhat diminished. Of the Supreme Court, better not to speak. Finally, with regard to state governments, the elections were favorable to candidates who, in both parties, are divided into conservatives, reactionaries and arch-reactionaries.

I don't see how the dynamics of this problematic reality, whose impossible perfect balance tends to catastrophic, will change substantially, to the benefit of the Democratic party, during Biden's term. What incentive is there for republicans to go back to the golden years of gentlemen's understanding, mythical times that after all, well examined, reveal much more nostalgia of the imagination than the matter of historical memory needs?

We know, surprise and miracle happen. Surprise, no doubt; miracle, abolition of Newtonian laws of nature or somewhat philosophical history, a Spinozist would say, much more difficult to occur, not to say impossible. But if at least for sobriety we leave one and the other in the background, Biden's proposal – pragmatic reconciliation within the legislative framework in loyal dialogue with the executive, rational understanding between patriotic republicans and enlightened democrats, a unity government in the last resort – at least arouses healthy skepticism.

This vote of the generous heart, this unstable composition between opposites, goes against the real course of the world that vibrates and imposes itself inside what those of Washington DC simply call BeltwayEdit, addicted space, the most powerless, in power politics. Returning to what was not is equivalent to laying the foundations for the future resorting to the proclamation, always current, of the urgency of the “common good”, without knowing even approximately how to overcome the distance between the ethical-moral duty to be and the coldness of being historical, inevitably permeated by the realism that goes back to Machiavelli.

To avenge, Biden's angelic proposal asks for much more than the surprise event. It will require the miraculous suspension of the natural laws of political calculation, whose own and predominant tendency, in this era of long-term polarization into which the US has entered, is to ruthlessly dilute discourses and erode practices founded on pious vows. Interesting times await us all.

*Tadeu Valadares is a retired ambassador.


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