America’s democracy designed to survive Trump crisis


Today in The Australian

The genius of democracy lies in converting adversaries into rivals, channelling their enmity into organised and orderly political competition. But because that competition relies on passions as much as on interests, there is always a risk that the antagonisms it mobilises will spiral out of control, unleashing the violence that democracy itself is intended to avoid.



About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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51 Responses to America’s democracy designed to survive Trump crisis

  1. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    I doubt the American democracy will survive Biden. The Democrats have that ole time religion, and they think only they can save the world (even though climageddon isn’t happening). And they’ve now learned that they can blatantly steal a Presidential election and get away with it, so they will always find pressing reasons to steal the next one, and the next one, and so on.

    The problem with theocracies is evident in Iran. They take over to save the people then turn into oligarchical corruptocracies where the elites are completely degenerate and the repressed people are in desperate poverty.

  2. Archivist says:

    America’s democracy designed to survive Trump crisis

    That is true…. if Trump’s allegations of electoral fraud are groundless (which they may well be).
    We’ll find out when the Supreme Court hears the various state-by-state cases during 2021.

  3. Albatross says:

    Imagine believing this.

  4. Albatross says:

    “Competition” in the face of massive anti-trust behaviour and institutional corruption. Got it. This is just sad.

  5. Albatross says:

    Also, Henry you’re a smart guy and I like what you write, but the Australian is not getting one more dollar from me.

  6. stackja says:

    Survive Biden and Pelosi crisis?

  7. Eyrie says:

    American democracy is already dead. Finished, kaput, tot. It is all over. The USA will lilely disintegrate into several countries.

    Australia – we’re screwed. Can’t see ANZUS being any good anymore.

  8. Chris M says:

    Henry, Henry… the USA is not a democracy and never has been. It’s a constitutional republic, politics 101 if you are in the US education system.

    Besides all that a democracy hinges on elections which in the US are no longer valid (15m dumped ballots) so it’s already over. Check the photos of the troops in the Capitol building – it’s a military junta now.

  9. cuckoo says:

    they think only they can save the world (even though climageddon isn’t happening)

    I’m watching the various people in my circle who suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome, to see where they will put their energies now that he’s out of office. I’m seeing early signs that they will convert it to climate change derangement syndrome. Hardly a surprise. The one guy I know who has the worst case of TDS is also someone who has never said a word about climate change. Now, the last two times I’ve seen him, he’s suddenly talking about climate change.

    And anyway, 2020 was the third hottest year on record, even despite a La Nina! Or so the ABC keeps telling us.

  10. 1735099 says:

    And they’ve now learned that they can blatantly steal a Presidential election and get away with it,

    Nonsense, and you know it.
    This lie and its aftermath, energised by a failed president, is the greatest single danger to the Republic, and by extension, to the free world.

  11. Woolfe says:

    No mention of vote theft in the article. This fact must now be unfacted by our elite overlords.

  12. min says:

    On record that’s the key as global temperatures were never measured and still”problematic. However what we do have a observations going way way back so we know about warming periods ba k in Roman times , mini ice ages also appear in paintings like skating on a frozen Thames in the 18th C .

  13. Delta says:

    America’s democracy designed to survive Trump crisis

    Oh yes? Well read this: Technocrats Have Turned America Into “Ship Of Fools”

  14. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    BBC eh Numbers?
    Do I believe them or my lying eyes.

  15. incoherent rambler says:

    The US survived the assassination of JFK (and RFK).
    Just.
    This is different sort of assassination. I doubt the US will survive it.

  16. Up The Workers! says:

    Heil Twittler!

    Way to go, Leftard Luvvies!

    $51 Billion wiped off the share price of both Twatter and FarceBook in just 2 days after they imposed their Nazi-like free-speech ban on the President of the United States and the 80 million people who voted for him.

    They waved goodby not only to their biggest, most popular customer, but also to $51 Billion of their share price and 80 million of Trump’s followers.

    Gee, just imagine what these geniuses could do to their own share price if they ever put some real effort into it? I wonder what their shareholders think of it all? Do they value the petty hatreds and Fascist Leftard bias of the C.E.O.’s at greater than $51 Billion of their combined company value?

    With brains like that, they should be in Deadly Dan’s Cabinet of Performing Leftard Morons in Mogadishu-By-The-Yarra.

  17. Roger says:

    The genius of democracy lies in converting adversaries into rivals, channelling their enmity into organised and orderly political competition. But because that competition relies on passions as much as on interests, there is always a risk that the antagonisms it mobilises will spiral out of control, unleashing the violence that democracy itself is intended to avoid.

    The antagonisms that beset US politics are deeply rooted in irreconcilable views of the country’s past and what its future should be. At that point democracy is unworkable. The Founding Fathers, looking back on the English civil war(s) of the 17th C., feared the rise of factionalism in the USA. If they could see the state of the union today, they would deem it broken.

  18. Andreas says:

    You’d think Australian commentators would point out that if what happened to scrutineers in the US happened here the election would be being re-held. But no, suddenly poll watchers are just an optional extra and not a key part of the democratic process.

  19. Baa Humbug says:

    How is this a “Trump Crisis”?

    When you have untrustworthy election results and a 2 tiered justice system, you can call it a ‘Democracy’ all day long but it doesn’t make it so. Venezuela calls itself a democracy and it holds elections too.

    America is broken already. The question is, can it be put back together again as it was after the first civil war.

  20. Bruce says:

    Their ABCess is already running hard with Climageddon.

    Expect that to be the next “crisis”, and with the usual suspects having polished up their totalitarian sociopathy during the Chinese Plague lockdowns, “interesting times” are ahead.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule. – H. L. Mencken

  21. candy says:

    Not a broken America, but a different America. Socialist – very controlling government, where people are afraid to speak freely and elections are manipulated and the Supreme Court will be increased with more liberal voices to crush out the conservative side.

  22. nb says:

    If things go according to the plans of the forces of darkness, the new dark age commences 20 January 2021. An historic moment; a day when the world descends into darkness. But for how long?

  23. Professor Fred Lenin says:

    US politics has always been deeply rooted in patronage ,the lobbyist corrupters rule , we will finance your ucrative political career if you do as you are told , and give you a great life after you leave politics to spend more time with your family ,(when your corruption looks like being exposed ) .
    The best Real Demcracy would be one where a 2 term limit would apply , with no pensions or perks , that way lobbyist bribery would be eliminated . Another would be cessation of donations to political parties , if you can afford to give money to these sleazbags you are not paying enough tax .
    That way the peoples influence would increase .

  24. Mark M says:

    If only the people who demonstrated to “count every vote” also demanded that every vote be recounted.

    Immediately.

    If you didn’t cheat you would be on the front foot with that request.

    Problem solved.

    The fact they didn’t says it all.

  25. Professor Fred Lenin says:

    Another point ,how is the globalist communist clique going to disarm the populace ? Do you think they are really going to try the confiscation trick?they have to disarm the populace as guns are a threat to their ongoing power and guns kill communists ,that surely will be a problem .
    Perhaps banning ammunition might be their first move ? Then they only have to contaend with the billions of rounds in peoples hands ,that will be one of the ratfaced paedos nightmares .

  26. nb says:

    Policy, Australia-style:
    Professor Gilda Tachedjian: “That’s for us to know and you to find out.”

  27. Paul says:

    Tell that to the Venezuelans. The democrats have now opened that Pandora’s box, they will never lose again, no matter how many people vote against them

  28. thefrollickingmole says:

    Even if Trump did not call for an assault on Capitol Hill, urging an inflammable crowd into an extremely dangerous situation is plainly incompatible with the prudent exercise of those presidential duties.

    Nope, that a capitulation to the “dog whistle” narrative the left love to play games with.

    And the circuit breaker preventing unrest is supposed to be free/fair elections backed up by an open media.

    The media actively censored to assist one side. In addition half a billion was “Zuckerberged” into facilitating vote harvesting.
    Lastly we still have no explanation as to the reason all the key states stopped counting, only to resume with massive surges to the challenger.

    Its banana republic stuff and will, at best, result in a lot of random outbreaks of violence from those who have had their votes voided by fraud.

  29. Paul says:

    Professor Fred Lenin
    They don’t need to ban guns they have viruses and the threat of viruses to cower the population into submission and compliance. We already see how effective dictator Dan’s jackboot policing is.
    We are already being told about the next pandemic, they are already planning it.
    The Great Reset is all about population control and culling over population, to make the World nicer for the marxist elites . Pol pots killing fields will be nothing in comparison.

  30. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV) says:

    Trump crises?? there is no Trump crises, it’s a socialist coup. How any of us can recover from this is anyone’s guess. The socialist malaise will spread globally.

  31. Paul says:

    The fbi have already collected evidence of left wing antifa fascists causing the violence at the capitol building
    So when will the demorats take responsibility and take the blame for framing Trump and his supporters?
    Antifa Protester John Sullivan Brags About Posing As Trump Supporter, Breaking Window At US Capitol Building During Riots

  32. Cassie of Sydney says:

    “Paul
    #3725032, posted on January 15, 2021 at 11:11 am
    Tell that to the Venezuelans. The democrats have now opened that Pandora’s box, they will never lose again, no matter how many people vote against them”

    Correct…..Donald Trump was the last Republican president. Moving forward I also doubt that the GOP will ever again gain control of the senate.

  33. Baa Humbug says:

    candy
    #3724993, posted on January 15, 2021 at 10:45 am

    Not a broken America, but a different America. Socialist – very controlling government, where people are afraid to speak freely and elections are manipulated and the Supreme Court will be increased with more liberal voices to crush out the conservative side.

    If it’s that different, then it’s not America. Maybe in name only.
    America isn’t just another ye old country. It is rather unique. That’s why they refer to themselves as an experiment.

  34. incoherent rambler says:

    How about the democrats create a few more states, get rid of the electoral college, polish up the vote rigging procedures and call another immediate “free and fair” election in which, of course, only democrats are elected.
    Who could argue with the result?

    This is not far-fetched.

  35. Eyrie says:

    If the patriots are going to get accused of insurrection, might as well make it true. Next time the Capitol might be burned to the ground with the swamp creatures inside.

  36. PB says:

    Watching how the trash and legacy media (think Yahoo News, CNN and such) are actively priming fears of greater unrest surrounding the inauguration. You would think, with the psychological preparation being put in, that they had something planned in order to spring the next leg of the crackdown.

  37. PB says:

    “This is not far-fetched.”

    Nothing is anymore. Hasn’t been for a good 20 years, but its finally in the open and obvious now to anyone with eyes to see.

  38. Alex Davidson says:

    I haven’t read the article because I don’t subscribe, however the paragraph quoted made me think of Brad Hazzard and his response yesterday when asked to comment about the way force was used against two individuals who did not consent to the ‘guidelines’ compelling them to wear muzzles while shopping: “Just wear the damn mask!” In other words, just obey us, and everything will be fine.

    Democracy is a type of collectivism, which if allowed to grow legs will eventually morph into a communistic tyranny. It is one thing to vote on whether we should drive on the right or the left, but something completely different when voting is used to justify everything from banning the use of certain words, to prohibiting many productive uses of land, and on to outright looting of those who create wealth.

    The idea that democracy avoids the use of violence to resolve disagreement is somewhat facile and self-serving, especially when those with the winning numbers claim for themselves the sole right to use those very means, or the threat of it, to achieve their ends.

  39. Chris M says:

    How is this a “Trump Crisis”?

    Exactly. It’s important to note the votes were not stolen from Trump but from the American people.

  40. Terry Andrews says:

    The stolen election proves democracy is already dead in the USA. The media, democrats. big tech, the FBI and the DOJ all conspired to kill it.

  41. Dave Blake says:

    Christopher Caldwell’s ‘Age of Entitlement’ charts the development from 1964 of a ‘second’, ‘rival’ courts-based ‘constitution’, which has eroded and effectively superceded the USA’s ‘primary’ constitution. If you read his analyses and arguments then the ascent to power of cronies, neo-Leninists and other feudalists, along with many recent events (but starting in 2016), are of no surprise. I am just not sure when the US middle class will be gutted, in what has been a long-term, sophisticated attack on its values and wealth.
    I don’t think its fanciful to see the mainland American states divided into four smaller federations, an Eastern poverty stricken zone (a Stasiland), a Mid-America Alliance, one based on the moribund northern states, and finally a rejuvenation of the Confederacy.
    Migration will drive this (already begun), as well persistent declines in living standards and quality of life.
    It will also be driven by incompetence in Washington. Buy a thick jotter to record these daily disasters.

  42. Boambee John says:

    Dave Blake

    I don’t think its fanciful to see the mainland American states divided into four smaller federations, an Eastern poverty stricken zone (a Stasiland), a Mid-America Alliance, one based on the moribund northern states, and finally a rejuvenation of the Confederacy.

    Where does the west coast fit into this? And which area is the Stasiland?

  43. Dave Blake says:

    Pardon moi! West Coast is the Stasiland: California, Oregon, Washington State. You could argue the north east could be another Stasiland. Blue states become Stasi states. Could debate this more. There would be hard borders. We know now that sovereign states within federal systems hold sovereign powers, sich as the conduct of elections in the US. We now have template for a divorce playbook, courtesy of Brexit. It will be about the benefits exceeding the costs. If Texas, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana split, then thats a sizable independent country of about 60 million, or more if the immigration trends are strong and Georgia also liked the idea. If the new administrators of the USA are as bad as I think they will be then talk of secession is bound to flare, as one edict after another from the General Secretary of the Soviet of American Republics (SAR) sours the milk day in day out.

  44. Leo G says:

    Nonsense, and you know it.
    This lie and its aftermath, energised by a failed president, is the greatest single danger to the Republic, and by extension, to the free world.

    Nonsense according to a defensive statement released in the days after the election from the elections division of the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber arm- the same cyber arm that failed to detect a massive, 9-month long intrusion campaign into government agencies, private companies and critical infrastructure entities. An intrusion possibly only detected because the cybersecurity chief was replaced after publicly disputing Trump’s claim of election fraud.
    A statement denying election fraud claims without any formal investigation of the cited evidence of irregularities and before the majority of specific claims had even been collated.

  45. max says:

    Impulse of American democracy toward totalitarianism was observed early by Alexis de Tocqueville.

    I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

    Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

    After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned them at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided: men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting : such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

  46. max says:

    I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described, might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom; and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people. Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions; they want to be led, and they wish to remain free: as they cannot destroy either one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once. They devise a sole, tutelary, and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people. They combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty; this gives them a respite; they console themselves for being in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians. Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons, but the people at large that holds the end of his chain. By this system the people shake off their state of dependence just long enough to select their master, and then relapse into it again. A great many persons at the present day are quite contented with this sort of compromise between administrative despotism and the sovereignty of the people; and they think they have done enough for the protection of individual freedom when they have surrendered it to the power of the nation at large. This does not satisfy me: the nature of him I am to obey signifies less to me than the fact of extorted obedience.

    I do not however deny that a constitution of this kind appears to me to be infinitely preferable to one, which, after having concentrated all the powers of government, should vest them in the hands of an irresponsible person or body of persons. Of all the forms which democratic despotism could assume, the latter would assuredly be the worst. When the sovereign is elective, or narrowly watched by a legislature which is really elective and independent, the oppression which he exercises over individuals is sometimes greater, but it is always less degrading; because every man, when he is oppressed and disarmed, may still imagine, that whilst he yields obedience it is to himself he yields it, and that it is to one of his own inclinations that all the rest give way.

  47. max says:

    For my own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones, if it were possible to be secure of the one without possessing the other. Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day, and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that obedience, which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions, only exhibits servitude at certain intervals, and throws the burden of it upon a small number of men. It is in vain to summon a people, which has been rendered so dependent on the central power, to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity. I add that they will soon become incapable of exercising the great and only privilege which remains to them. The democratic nations which have introduced freedom into their political constitution, at the very time when they were augmenting the despotism of their administrative constitution, have been led into strange paradoxes. To manage those minor affairs in which good sense is all that is wanted – the people are held to be unequal to the task, but when the government of the country is at stake, the people are invested with immense powers; they are alternately made the playthings of their ruler, and his masters – more than kings, and less than men. After having exhausted all the different modes of election, without finding one to suit their purpose, they are still amazed, and still bent on seeking further; as if the evil they remark did not originate in the constitution of the country far more than in that of the electoral body. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive how men who have entirely given up the habit of self-government should succeed in making a proper choice of those by whom they are to be governed; and no one will ever believe that a liberal, wise, and energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient people.

  48. Kneel says:

    “If only the people who demonstrated to “count every vote” also demanded that every vote be recounted.”

    If only we could.
    You see, with the machines, what happen is the paper ballot is scanned. If the machine rejects it and sends it to adjudication, then once it is adjudicated the original scanned image is replaced by a generated image with the ballot marked as per the adjudication. And since the paper ballots are destroyed, the only possible hand count involves printing the scanned images, many of which are no longer the original ballot as the voter fillled it out, but the “adjudicated” image.
    This means there cannot be a count of the original paper ballots – they no longer exist.
    There are counties where more than 80% of votes required adjudication in 2020.
    Re-counts are “baked in” to always reflect the original count – you won’t get a significantly different result, ever.

    Hey, when these people cheat, they make sure you can’t “uncheat” the result!

  49. Kneel says:

    “This is not far-fetched.”

    There is the filibuster – for a lot of stuff, you need a two thirds majority (67 senate votes).
    Some is excluded, like budget items, but the filibuster itself, new states, packing the court etc all require a two thirds majority in the senate to pass.
    Meanwhile, redistricting by mostly Republican state legislatures (based on the 2020 census) will take place, with CA losing at least one house seat, maybe three, and NY is in the same boat as people who can, flee D shitholes. Texas will gain at least one, as one place where all those CA and NY residents fled to. Maybe Florida too. Interestingly, most who have so moved do NOT intend to vote D.
    Come 2022 midterms, R’s should take back the house and probably the senate – maybe Biden will be the first Pres impeached three times!

  50. Gyro Cadiz says:

    Seriously, Henry? Seriously?

    The oligarchs took over in 2008 when 76% of the population opposed have to transfer what was it, $1.2 trillion from the working and middle classes to the oligarchic elite to replace the wealth they lost in the GFC.

    Their supposed representatives told them they did not matter or count and transferred the wealth anyway.

    America’s “democracy” has been dead for 12 years.

    The middle class revolted with the tea party and the oligarchy crushed them, led by the Republican Establishment.

    The working and middle classes revolted again in 2016 – and the oligarchy fought them for 4 solid years and (just barely) beat them this time by using everything they had AND ignoring all the medium and long term damage that resulted.

    Now they are deliberately grinding the faces of the working and middle classes into the dirt, deliberately punishing and humiliating them to prevent further revolt by them, and to disempower and reduce them to serfs.

    You MISSED this??

    What I cannot believe is that here we have verminous people like that 1735099 creature, who is cheering on the oligarchs, the top 0.1% and creatures like Clinton, as they make open war on the US working class.

    This will not end well in the US, not now.

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