The ups and downs of US ‘checks and balances’

The recent shutdown of the American government, along with the accumulation of many other internal and external political problems should prompt U.S. decision-makers to seriously consider the premise that politics is not only about a functioning ruling mechanism; politicians’ attitudes and approaches play an equally essential role in shaping and influencing political challenges and viewpoints. The ruling mechanism in the U.S. may be functioning smoothly – but there is a clear deficiency in American politicians’ attitudes and approaches.

There is no doubt that the U.S. has a good functioning ruling mechanism, defined by its system of “checks and balances”. Nevertheless, its political system is not immune to being exposed to an infection that could destroy this mechanism completely. The current alleged source of infection lies in the deterioration of U.S. political values. This ‘bug’ may be spreading so effectively that the entire nation is unaware of its propagation, resulting in a decline in the crafting of sound decisions.

Nations generally go through waves of ups and downs. The success of nations should not be measured only by their global political power or the strength of their economies – plenty of other factors influence their progress. The United States is clearly riding a significant downward wave, widely attributed by its media and by Democratic Party members to the election of the President Trump. Nevertheless, this decline could stem from a substantial deterioration of American social and moral values that has clearly affected U.S. politicians generally, regardless of their political affiliation.

Citizens tend to compare their government mechanisms with those of other nations with the aim of endorsing their own mechanism or justifying their political acts. The United States clearly has a well-functioning ruling mechanism. Nevertheless, U.S. politicians’ attitude and approach may constitute a weakness in the system; their overconfidence and their belief that their decisions are always correct result in a substantial decline of values, even in the presence of the “checks and balances” system.

Democrats believe that American citizens made a mistake by voting President Trump into office, period. Thus, their sole mission is to correct this error by impeaching the President. Republicans, on the other hand, consider impeachment a clear defeat and want to avoid it at all costs. Since this struggle is occurring while the “checks and balances” principle is functioning fully, American society may be undergoing a substantial decline in overall morality, whereby “checks and balances” is serving as an instrument for compromise, a means for ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’.

Moreover, the United States often defines its foreign policy based on three clear elements: interest, leverage and value. While its superpower status may stimulate its global interest and work on strengthening its leverage, this could be happening at the cost of deteriorating values. The weaknesses of the U.S. internal ruling mechanism may be affecting its foreign affairs policies and actions, even though most of these take place at a distance from its “checks and balances” mechanism.

The U.S. did not achieve the status of superpower and largest world economy solely by its efforts, but also with the endorsement of many nations that have been willing to import its products and accept its role as political mediator in their respective regions. The United States still needs to maintain its alliances with these nations, which is certainly not the case at present. U.S. arrogance is leading it to believe that it can easily overcome its challenges without walking the extra mile to ‘bond’ with other nations.

The United States is projected to continue to be the world superpower for years to come – but even a superpower can easily be trapped into domestic and international conflicts that impact its status. The U.S. may even become engaged in international conflicts to overcome its internal political disputes – a possibility that many distant nations fear. Thus, it is imperative for the United States to understand the need to revisit its current challenges, which go far beyond the election of its president.





The “Me Too” Syndrome: Questioning Western Values!

Apologizing and asking for forgiveness has been the common cautious response of western men facing sexual misconduct allegations inspired by the current “Me Too” campaign. Westerners, who generally know how to turn their unpleasant pages speedily to refocus on their daily routines, should not consider themselves cleansed of these allegations; living in an advanced nation does not automatically qualify them as moral citizens.

The Pandora’s Box of sexual misconduct that was recently opened in the United States raises clear questions concerning Westerners’ professed moral values! The fact that some of this misconduct occurred decades ago highlights a serious deficiency in Western society; the likelihood of living with shameful acts for years. Meanwhile, those who, convicted of sexual abuse, were forced to resign due to the publicity of the campaign would certainly have kept their jobs had their respective scandals not been revealed.

The West tends to define moral values based on its society’s evolution! Westerners praise or condemn their citizens’ behavior according to their personal perspective and what is culturally acceptable to them. Sexual misconduct is completely unacceptable in Western society; nevertheless, Westerners are able to maintain their transgressions as long as their power accords them the necessary immunity. In the West, apparently, power grants huge privileges to citizens, enabling them to behave immorally in public with impunity.

“When in Rome do as the Romans do” portrays how many Westerners think and behave! They tend to abide by the rules of the game in their host countries, even when these rules sometimes conflict with the moral values they claim to hold. Regardless of its nature, as long as there is a safe channel for their misconduct – or even illegal activity – many Westerners will pursue it! Powerful men, such as celebrities, politicians and the wealthy, are the ones most repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct – because they know that their power grants them immunity.

Western nations are often proud of their ethical work policies (gender equality, obligatory hiring of a percentage of people with disabilities), yet they may actually be forced to apply these policies by their governments’ regulations, rather than because they are morally driven towards less fortune citizens or truly believe in gender equality. Other work related misdeeds, such as the promotion of incompetent executives or the firing of qualified ones, may be widespread but unnoticed due to lack of monitoring.

That sexual abusers manage to commit their offences (of which their peers and superiors are aware) for years, that many women prefer keeping quiet about being sexually abused rather than risk losing their jobs, as well as the financial settlements that some women accept in exchange for their silence are clear indications of Western society’s defects and the low moral values that many abide by.

Furthermore, those who have been accused of sexual misconduct are celebrities in their societies who certainly help to shape social norms! It has become obvious that not only does power matter in those countries, but also that, in the United States, the relative political superiority of Democrats vs. Republicans is of more value to the ruling mechanism than morality. It is clear that Western politics empowers politicians to defend their convicted colleagues! Thus, the claim made by many Westerners that moral values are natural Western values is completely flawed!

We non-westerners believe that Western society applies a double standard to moral values! To a great extent, Westerners adhere by what they claim as “Western values” within the context of their internal disputes; however, when it comes to external politics or business, they are happy to distance themselves from the values they tend to abide by in their countries! Most of the current sexual misbehavior allegations concern powerful men who knew that they could get away with their wrongdoings at home. The same class of men could easily disengage further from their moral values when abroad.

Western nations tend to measure their success by the fact that they are far ahead of the rest of the world in terms of freedom and modernity. However, these attributes have nothing to do with moral values, which are more personally driven obligations – an area in which the West is still behind. The supremacy of Western society is revealed in its ability to establish an efficient and functioning ruling mechanism and in its effective application of law enforcement. The “Me Too” campaign should prompt Westerners to revisit what they so often claim as Western moral values.