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President Carter Says America Has No Functioning Democracy
President Jimmy Carter. (Photo: Utenriksdept / Flickr)

President Carter Says America Has No Functioning Democracy

President Jimmy Carter. (Photo: Utenriksdept / Flickr)

At an Atlantic Bridge meeting on July 16th, a former US President called out one of the dominating, global elephants-in-the-room, saying “America has no functioning democracy. “

These words came from President Jimmy Carter, and continue the trend of Carter’s clarion-call lucidity on world affairs, especially when it comes to truth telling in and on America.

Although Carter’s quote has been tweeted by Glenn Greenwald, and by Wikileaks and others, as of July 18th, in doing a Google News search, it appears Carter’s statement about America’s non-functioning democracy has not been a headline for major news outlets in the US, including broadcast journalism, which I find quite telling and revealing—further proof of the denial surrounding this very obvious fact that Carter is so bold to point out, unflinchingly and unambiguously.

In recent days, President Carter is also on the record speaking in defense of NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden, saying to CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux that “Snowden’s acts may have some positive impact.” Also in his dialog with Malveaux, Carter said “I think the American people deserve to know what their Congress is doing,” and that “the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive.”

Carter went on to slam the dubious nature US democracy saying that in regards to wholesale, unwarranted surveillance he believes the “bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.”

Now, isn’t that curious? As at the same time Carter is saying that about our democracy and the importance of whistle-blowing , our current US president, Barack Obama, who is, by-the-way, a civil liberties attorney, is on the record repeatedly expressing an opposing sentiment about US democracy, and the NSA’s Snowden Affair—here and here, for instance.

The US is often accused of nation-building and exporting democracy, yet how can that be if we have no real democracy to export? Holding this in mind, one must then ask: what is it that we are actually exporting, and what kind of governance do we really have stateside?

As Nick Turse wrote last year about America’s nation-building, which is yet another huge elephant-in-the-room, is this question of our own rebuilding. Of this said Turse, in the “final days of the presidential campaign, President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that it was time to reap a peace dividend as America’s wars wind down. Nation-building here at home should, he insisted, be put on the agenda.”

Turse quoted Obama in the article, entitled “America’s nation-building hypocrisy,” as saying: “What we can now do is free up some resources, to, for example, put Americans back to work, especially our veterans, rebuilding our roads, our bridges.”

Five years into the Obama presidency, clearly that has not happened.

Constitutional lawyer and the author of 20 books, John Whitehead, told me in a recent phone conversation that “representative governance” is almost a thing of the past, and that in truth Americans now live in an “age of authoritarianism.”

That seems an accurate summation, and from my observations what’s clear is that some kind of “New American Confederacy” has definitely taken hold, and threatens to become permanently rooted unless it is fully acknowledged, and neutered.

It’s a tall order, indeed, and more pie-in-the-sky promises from President Obama won’t make it real, nor will wishful thinking, killing the messenger, or any other actions resembling buried heads in the sand.

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