American Government in Perspective: Theory versus Practice


Charles Mercieca, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

We may develop a good perspective of the United States government if we were to have a clear concept of its structure and modus operandi. This is very important since in theory this government is very different from the way it is in practice. Since World War II ended in 1945, the USA has invaded more than 30 nations. Each time this great nation justifies its belligerent policies by telling us that the primary purpose was to bring freedom and democracy to as many nations as possible.

Analysis of Freedom

In his writings, St. Thomas Aquinas revealed to us that nemo dat quod non habet – no one can give away something that one does not have. If we have only $100 dollars we may give $80, $60 or less but we cannot give $130, $150 or more. Our challenge here is to explore how the USA views freedom and democracy in theory and in practice. In theory, our moral freedom refers to our ability to perform anything we want that proves to be beneficial not only to ourselves but also to other people as well from every walk of life and profession.

The way the majority of US government officials talk of freedom, they seem to identify it with anarchy that is in the ability that anyone can do what one really likes as long as it is in one’s best interest. As long as there are good intentions everything seems to go and should be acceptable fully by the rest of the population. This was clearly verified in recent years in allowing people to purchase all kinds of guns they want in spite of tragic consequences.

Needless to say, we know the rest of the story. Thousands of good-law abiding citizens are killed every year including women, children, the elderly and the sick. Instead of amending portions of the US Constitution which have become fully obsolete, detrimental and outdated, like “the right to bear arms,” many US government officials continue to enforce them to the detriment of the very vast population as a whole.

The question that needs to be raised in this regard is this: If some 5,000 people are sitting in an auditorium watching a show, what would make each one of them safer, if all of these people are carrying a loaded gun or if no one in the audience is carrying any gun at all? The answer is obvious and does not need any comments. However, we need to bring to our attention here that the United States is a capitalistic nation whose ultimate goal is to pile up money and wealth without limit. In fact, one of the leading mottoes of some of the Chambers of Commerce goes as follows: The sky is not the limit!

Money as Ultimate Objective

This means the real objective in the American nation, which is deeply rooted in the minds of the vast majority of the members of Congress, is for the people to devise any plan they want that would give them as much money as possible. In view of this, we may begin to realize and fully understand why the United States has emerged to become one of the most violent nations on earth domestically to say the least. This explains why the USA tries to sell as many devastating weapons to every country that would give the right price.

Since World War II ended in 1945, the weapons industry and the military industrial complex have become very lucrative. Their job is only one, namely, to sell as many weapons and war equipment as possible as to make money without limit. This means they must create scenarios that would force the people to believe that such lethal ammunitions serve as the hope of their eventual salvation from destruction! This is outrageous because it is full of deliberate deceit. The people do not seem to have a way to know the truth.

The primary purpose of the average politician in the USA who works in Congress is not the welfare of the American people that elected them, but the boosting of the eventual products of those industries that financed their political campaign. Unfortunately, the bulk of such industries produce deadly products that threaten human lives everywhere. Very arrogantly, most US political figures defend the right for any industry to produce any products it likes, no matter how detrimental they may be to human lives, under the guise of “freedom.”

This explains while in practice the United States uses freedom in a way that is synonymous to anarchy, that is, to the ability to do what one wants regardless of how detrimental it may prove to others. As we have seen clearly, the USA does not have in practice the proper concept of freedom and, hence, it cannot promote it. This is proved by the fact that whenever the USA tries to infiltrate a nation, it always ends up bringing anarchy in that global area with numerous people suffering immensely as a consequence.

In view of this, how come the United States continues to express its will and determination to bring freedom to the people of other countries when, in essence, it has not procured its own people with that real freedom they all wish to have? As the Romans used to say: Aliud est theoria, aliud as practica – one thing is theory and another thing is practice. As long as the American nation continues to be fully controlled by big industries, it can never have freedom for its own people and far less for others. We now need to analyze the US concept of democracy as it is in theory and in practice.

Analysis of Democracy

Democracy is derived from the Greek words: demo + kratia – people + government. This concept originated in Greece more than 2,000 years ago. It meant that in a country everyone had a right to run for a political office along with the right to receive adequate publicity by way of information to prospective voters. The news media has the moral obligation to fulfill this duty among all the natives. In the United States democracy evolved to become something else. It became a tool in the hands of the rich to control the thinking of people.

The rich, along with big industries, have emerged to become fully in control of all the nation’s news media. To this end, they will only advertise those who have plenty of money at their disposal, while dumping all the rest. The phenomenal monopoly the big industries have developed over all of the news media brought about literally the death of democracy as it was always meant to be over the past two millennia. The process of the so called American democracy is characterized deliberately by well-organized elaborate fraud or deceit.

The American three branches of government have increasingly become agents of deceitful guidance in their dealings with the entire nation. It does not matter as to whether this misleading guidance stems from genuine good faith or from deliberate or intentional deceit. As far as the people are concerned, they have all become victims. As a result, they undergo great frustrations and sufferings. If your friend, say, is killed intentionally, his life is gone forever; and if your friend is killed accidently, his life is equally gone forever.

To understand and realize as to whether we have genuine democracy in the USA, we simply need to go not to the statements of politicians, but rather straight to the eventual results of their actions, especially on a long range basis. As the traditional saying goes in the USA, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This cannot be taken lightly any longer because the harm it has produced is beginning to get out of control. Let us try to bring this into perspective by evaluating some actions of the three respective branches of government.

These three US branches of government consist of the Supreme Court, the US Congress and the Whitehouse. The members of the Supreme Court consist of nine individuals nominated by the US President and then confirmed upon acceptance by Congress. They are appointed for life, that is, they may be there for ten, twenty or thirty years. No matter how they perform, the entire nation is literally stuck with them. Fairly recently, the Supreme Court declared that corporations are people! This was a very strange decision since each corporation is always referred to as “it” and never as “he” or “she.”

Wrong Directives Exposed

In the political sphere, this means that big industries could now give to candidates running for election millions of dollars without limit. This way such politicians may advertise themselves in all of the news media for their political campaign. Since in the USA people tend to vote for those with whom they feel familiar with their name, the corporations make sure that those candidates that would afterwards promote their product would be put in the office they seek. Such office is usually that of US Senator or US Congressman.

We may here group the US Senators and the US Congressmen together since, once they are elected, they tend to function identically the same. As a whole, they tend to work from the very day they take office not for the welfare of the people that elected them, but for the promotion of the products of the corporations that financed their political campaign. As a result of this vicious philosophy, we may understand many of the problems we notice periodically in the entire nation, the recent one being the governmental shut down.

If you were to spend days and months listening to the vast majority of US politicians talking, especially about reducing the phenomenal debt the USA is in at present, you hear them making all kinds of proposals, all of which are harmful to the American people. To quote some examples, they speak of cutting money from the health care system, cutting down social security, eliminating food stamps in addition to other vital items. They never speak about cutting down the elements that really created the enormous debts the USA faces.

When President Clinton left office, he left $800 million surplus. However, when his successor, President George W. Bush left office he left $2 trillion deficit!

This was due to his involvement in the Iraqi war, which was viewed as illegal and immoral, in addition to the US war involvement in Afghanistan. Yet, we hardly hear political figures talking about solving problems through diplomacy and dialogues. Instead, they keep on resorting to weapons and wars as to continue to provide the military industrial complex with millions of dollars.

The United States took the initiative to attack Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to a few other nations, supposedly to bring to the people of such nations freedom and democracy. In reality, what they brought to the people of such countries was the destruction of the infrastructure of cities while wiping out homes, schools, hospitals and churches. Besides, they also created millions of refugees and killed tens of thousands of innocent people including women, children, the elderly and the sick. No wonder why the people of these invaded nations were highly critical of the American presence among them!

Showing Respect for People

In his speech at the University of Kansas in 1966, General Westmoreland who directed the Vietnam War said: I cannot understand how while we use the most sophisticated weapons, the Vietnamese come to fight us with rifles we use to shoot pigeons and yet we cannot win them. Then he added: From my experience I have to say that the best way to conquer a nation is to gain the support of the people of such a nation from the outset. And we know the rest of the story, the US military did not win in Vietnam.

Very few years ago General McChrystal who was the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan made a similar statement. That alienated US government officials in Washington, DC to the extent that President Obama had him replaced without further delay. During the middle of the war in Iraq, some humanitarian organizations visited many families there and asked them: How do you feel with the Americans here? Without hesitation they said: We were better off before they came here than after.

Within the context this means that the people in Iraq felt better under Saddam Hussein than under the US military. This humanitarian group felt somewhat curious and quickly asked: How come? The reply was again unanimous: Because before the Americans came we had our homes and we enjoyed seeing our children playing and growing. Now our homes are destroyed, while some of our children were killed or maimed. For them the presence of Americans did not signify freedom nor democracy at all.

Confronted by such realities why does the US government continue to promote struggles and wars when such elements have already destroyed the American economy for all practical purposes. Let us keep in mind that what makes a nation strong is the people revealed in their good health, quality education and adequate home facilities. It is not revealed in the military through devastating weapons and the constant waging of wars. As Pope Pius XII stated on the eve of World War II: In a war everyone is a loser, no one a winner.

During the last presidential elections, Representative Ron Paul from Texas run for the Republican nomination to become the next US President. He said that if elected President he would proceed immediately to close 50% of the American foreign military bases. He confirmed that the United States would still have more foreign military bases than all the nations of the world combined. Besides, he added, the billions of dollars saved every year could be used to provide free health care for all Americans, along with free education from the cradle to the grave. Also, he would provide all people with adequate home facilities.

Honesty the Best Policy

In dealing with each other we need to keep in mind that honesty is always the best policy. This means when we communicate with people we must make it a point that our message is always crystal clear. The Italians have a proverb which says: Chiama pane (con la parola) pane e vino (con la parola) vino – Call bread (by the name) bread and wine (by the name) wine. This is perhaps also one leading weakness in the US government that is revealed in the expressions it uses to communicate with its people and the world at large.

When the USA uses the expression national defense and security, in practice it means preparation for the promotion of wars anywhere in the world. This explains why the world is polluted with US foreign military bases that tend to make millions of people in the vicinity threatened and resentful of their presence. Besides, the USA maintains that its strong military is there to keep the American people well protected and safe. Many Americans are homeless. What is the US military doing to provide them with homes? Nothing!

What does the military do to give Americans free health care? Nothing! What does the military do to enable Americans have free education through university? Nothing! What does the military do to repair most of the bridges across the country? Nothing! The time has arrived when the objective and purpose of the military must be radically changed. If the military assumes such stated roles, most of the financial problems would be solved and the American people could then concentrate on becoming more productive in many ways.

We still have one more governmental element to handle, the Whitehouse, which is the seat of the US presidency. In almost every case, the US President is primarily concerned about the kind of image he wants to project to the nation and the world at large. Hence, the eventual dire needs of the American people do not really occupy priority. This explains why, in spite of the de facto resistance the American people show to wars, the US President may still proceed to deal with other nations through threats, struggles, and wars.

Even in the domestic sphere, when it comes to his modus operandi, the President tends to formulate policies that he believes are more popular among the American people as a whole. In quite a number of instances what seems to be the most popular does not necessarily mean that it is the right thing to do. When it comes to matter of sacrosanct principles the President is expected to have the courage to defend them the best he can without ever caving in. We may illustrate this by some example taken from the so called Obama Care, which basically deals with the vital health needs of the American people.

Problem of Abortion

In the USA there is a strong movement, especially among women, that favors abortion, which is mildly referred to as women’s reproductive rights. This means that the ultimate decision-maker in this regards is neither the government nor the church but the individual pregnant woman. Needless to say, this goes against the teachings of virtually every religion, which views the content of the Ten Commandments with great respect. One of which states: You should not kill. This generally applies to human life from conception to natural death.

In the structure of the Obama Care, the President took the initiative to enforce on the entire nation the philosophy and beliefs of the abortion movement by promising to cut off financial assistance from church-related hospitals that view abortion as the deliberate termination of human life at its early stages. In spite of the fact that the US Constitution speaks clearly on the separation of church and state, the US President took the initiative to put the church in its modus operandi fully under the control of the state.

In view of this, we may begin to understand clearly why the United States is faced with so many problems. The three branches of government – the Supreme Court, the US Congress, and the Whitehouse – do not tend to act on a clear set of rules that are in the best interest of everyone without exception. Quite a number of decisions are made by an influential minority to protect itself. This explains why the concept of freedom and democracy has been virtually lost and we need to take constructive steps in this regard.

Freedom and democracy would then become a tangible reality and the US government could then concentrate on helping the nations of the world not by providing them with weapons and military equipment but by providing them with good medical equipment and excellent educational facilities. Instead of sending them soldiers to train them for struggles and wars, we would be sending countries everywhere teachers and well trained experts in a variety of good professional fields where everyone would be a winner and no one a loser.


Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.:
– President, International Association of Educators for World Peace, Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education, Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament.
-Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University.
-Hon President & Professor, SBS Swiss Business School, Zurich.
-Member, TRANSCEND-A Network for Peace, Development and Environment.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 28 Oct 2013.

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