That's right. The great age of democracy is about to be over.
That thought first came to me when I attended a lecture by Thomas Friedman, a bleeding liberal New York Times columnist. There he was, in all his walrus-like glory, blubbering about carbon taxes, when something profound came out of his mustachioed face. Unsurprisingly, he was quoting somebody else, a guy he'd met in Singapore. The guy told him that when it comes to reacting to changes in the world economy, Singaporeans live in a thatched hut with open windows and open doors. They feel every little change, and react accordingly. The U.S. government, in comparison, lives in a brick house with central heating.
That guy was right. Look at the U.S. national debt. It's at over $14 trillion, which is about the same as our yearly gross domestic product (a measure of the value of the goods and services a country produces). And yet, as of March 22, 2011, the U.S. government still can't find a way to pass a yearly budget that doesn't increase the debt. They're squabbling over a couple billion dollars in the U.S. Congress as projections show the country running up trillions more in debt over the next 2 years.
Singapore has been run by the People's Action Party (PAP) for over a half-century. In that time, the PAP brought Singapore from the third world (undeveloped) to the first world (developed). Only by uniting under a one-party system could Singapore achieve the single-minded determination it needed to rise in the hypercompetitive capitalist world economy. And that spirit has not died in the new millennium. In 2010, the Singapore government cut the nation's debt down by 20%, a figure the U.S. two-party system could only dream of.
Fact is, you can't run a nation of over 300 million effectively democratically. Every dissenter gets a voice, from Ivy League grads to high school dropouts, and you end up with a government that represents the worst of all worlds. It's too complex to be sustainable. Even if a lot of people don't vote, they still influence the people that do. The level of bureaucracy increases almost exponentially to meet the many wishes of voters, and real action takes too long as the two parties argue over petty issues. What kept the U.S. model working for so long was the nation's dedication to its original Puritan work ethic and strict Protestant morals. When those ideals were attacked through the well-meaning names of socialism and tolerance, the U.S. was sapped of its strength. Its citizenry became too fractured, its politics too divisive. All the U.S. has now is a strong military, a steadily eroding constitution, intellectual property (which is valuable but easily stolen), debt, and "scrap and trash", which is our third leading export.
As the U.S. teeters precariously on the brink of economic depression, its citizens will look for stronger leadership. Democratic ideals will be abandoned "temporarily" to deal with the most pressing economic issues, never to return, because the American Republic has failed to fix those problems. History will repeat itself. The Roman Republic lost its power the same way as the Roman Empire expanded and its issues got more complex and global in nature.
I hate to say it, but I honestly believe that the U.S. will become a one-party system. It'll never become a one-party system in name, just as the Roman Empire never stopped existing as a republic even as it was ruled by ironfisted tyrants, but it'll be a one-party system in practice. And I think that's for the best. It's the Chinese model, which has proven to be the most economically sound in the modern age. It's an oligarchical system (rule by the few, as one-party systems tend to silence dissenters), and it's the only practical way to run a country in a united world economy that suffers from overpopulation. Overpopulation and the unsustainable demands of the traditional American lifestyle on a global scale are taxing the world's resources to their limit. Only the fast decision making power of an oligarchy can navigate such troubled waters. The U.S. Congress, as mentioned earlier, can't even effectively address obvious problems, like the U.S. national debt.
Ultimately, it's my dream, which is shared by others, for the world to unite under an oligarchical one-world government. It's probably the only realistic way to bring overconsumption under control. Yes, that could conceivably be done democratically. But could the masses, under a democratic system, ever muster the sense of sacrifice needed to vote for the difficult measures necessary to bring humanity back to a sustainable course? Or to hurt their standard of living and pay extra to buy U.S. produced goods over imports? I'd vote no.