A truly functioning democracy requires an informed, educated and proactive citizenry. A vigilant and free press and leaders with a modicum of integrity are necessary condiments to concoct this utopian brew. In America all are missing. The continued prosecution of illegal, immoral and preemptive wars by the Democratic House, Senate and President despite campaign promises to the contrary reveals that there is no difference between the Democrat and Republican twins totally under the thumbs of the military industrial lobbies.
The horrendous economic meltdown has brought little or no relief to the average citizen under crushing economic strains of joblessness, indebtedness and lack of healthcare, while trillions are being spent to rescue crooked banksters, insurance fraudsters and irresponsible car company robbers. That is naturally what one should expect from the Summers, Rubins, Geithners and Obamas who receive huge financial support from the robber barons they are supposed to regulate. The defense budgets continue to balloon despite an economy spiraling downwards and monthly budget deficits of nearly 200 billion dollars.
The absence of public outrage at this unnecessary spending proves that you can fool most of the people, all of the time, as long as you divert their attention with bread and circuses like trashy television and baiting them with race, religion, xenophobia and other inconsequential trivia.
It requires massive public unrest as in Iceland, Latvia, Greece, Ukraine etc., before entrenched governments selectively responsive to the usual vested interests, alter course. This happens only when economic malaise leads to severe deprivation and starvation.
Two examples pertaining to Iran serve as useful examples.
The Shah during his tyranny and delusions of grandeur agreed to and persuaded the rubber stamp Iranian parliament to pass a SOFA (status of forces agreement) with America, which exempted US personnel from prosecution by and jurisdiction of Iranian law. Khomeini in his one (if not only) brilliant argument publicly proclaimed that if the Shah (ruler of the country) or the Chief Shia Ayatollah were to run over an American dog unintentionally, they would be subject to prosecution under American law in spite of being located on the soil of Iran. On the other hand if an American cook ran over the Shah or Ayatollah, even deliberately, he would be exempt from prosecution by Iranian law in spite of being on and having perpetrated the crime on Iranian soil. This is not mere idle speculation.
Such agreements exist today between the US and Japan and the US and South Korea. They have led to riots and protests in Okinawa and Seoul because of rapes of Japanese women and running over of Korean women by US soldiers. Yet democratically elected parliaments have done nothing to nullify this unjust law.
When Khomeini overthrew the Shah and a democratic government was installed, he manipulated the fear of American coups and the Iraq war to revise the constitution to give unchallenged supreme power to the unelected religious leader, mis-titled 'Faquih'. He also changed the law regarding legal consummation of marriage to reduce the girl's age to NINE, because that was the age at which the prophet deflowered his newest and youngest bride Ayesha. No wonder that Bush, Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner, Summers, Dodd, Barney Frank enacted the TARP, TALF and other FARTs (Federal Arrangement Rescuing Tricksters). Little wonder that Manmohan Singh, the Indian puppet prime minister refused the details offered by tax havens like Switzerland, Lichtenstein etc., to reveal the names of Indians holding illegal money abroad. It wouldn't look good for those who pull his strings to be publicly reviled. It is consistent with the unelected puppet's refusal to stand for coming Indian parliamentary elections or debate his opponent, who at age 80 espouses Hinduism, but minus any renunciation of worldly power as prescribed by the fourth and final 'Sanyas Ashram'
My rant should not be misconstrued to mean that pandering to popular will is always good. Take the case of Canada, which had a minuscule to non-existent Japanese population at the time of Pearl Harbor. It still followed the US policy of interning its Japanese citizens wrongly like the US with an even lesser or no threat from them. It also has claim to the unique distinction of disallowing Punjabi immigrants part of the British kingdom and Commonwealth it touted membership in, on the flimsy grounds of a hastily elected law, which barred immigrants who boarded a ship from a country other than their country of origin to land in Canada. The Indian immigrants came on a Japanese ship and were refused landing despite having British passports while the British monarch was the head of state in Canada and its currency and passports bore the same monarch's authority or visage.
The noble words of Madison to funnel the popular will of the people as reflected by the annually elected and rapidly responsive to changing sentiments represented by the House, through the filtering wisdom of the more deliberative Senate, subject to the more farsighted veto of the non-partisan President was really a subterfuge to finesse the power of the electorate previously winnowed by restrictions of race, gender and possession of property. The only continuum of the original intentions is the power to filibuster which meant 'the use of irregular or obstructive tactics, as exceptionally long speeches by a minority in a legislative assembly to prevent the adoption of a measure generally favored or to force a decision almost unanimously disliked', but now is reverting to its other meanings in the dictionary. They are 'an irregular military adventurer, freebooter or buccaneer (as in Iraq)', or 'one who engages in an unauthorized military expedition into a foreign country to foment or support a revolution (as in Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Guatemala Georgia, Granada, Greece, Guiana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Kosovo, Kyrghizstan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Moldova, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Philippines, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Russia, Somalia, Spain, Surinam, Tibet, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, to name a few). As Chris Hedges, Andrew Bacevich, Chalmers Johnson and James Carroll point out in their books, war is America's obsession or gives meaning to its life. It worked well till WW2, but since then stalemates and defeats are leading the country to ruin and debt from which even our own veterans are not spared.