[ExI] Is the USA doing too much to prevent COVID-19?

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Mon May 4 20:34:28 UTC 2020

On May 4, 2020, at 1:35 AM, Stathis Papaioannou via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> On Mon, 4 May 2020 at 15:04, Dan TheBookMan via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>> On May 2, 2020, at 5:55 AM, John Clark via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>> That's not entirely fair, the American people never supported Donald Trump, not before the election during it or after it. The American people made it clear they wanted Hillary Clinton to be the next president, but under our system the wishes of the American people don't matter. Only the 538 members of the Electoral College are allowed to vote in the only presidential election that matters, and 304 of them decided that what this country really needed was a president who was an imbecile; and so like it or not that's exactly what the American people ended up with in addition to unconventional suggestions on where to place Clorox to cure viral disease.
>>> Meanwhile the German people picked somebody who has a doctorate in Quantum Chemistry,  Angela Merkel, to be their leader, and because Germany is a more democratic country than the USA the people got what they wanted. And today only 80 people out of a million die of COVID-19 in Germany but in the USA 199 die.
>> You must know more about the current German political system then me because I was under the impression that like in many parliamentary systems the prime minister (or, in this case, chancellor) is not chosen by direct election of the “people,” but us instead is chosen by members of the parliament (or, in this case, Bundestag). And I believe this is how Merkel was chosen.
> In such systems, the people still effectively elect the leader, because the leader has already been chosen by the parliamentarians whom they elect. The parliament can change the leader by vote at any time.
>> If the US adopted something like that, it would be more like the Congress choosing the president. (And maybe the president only serving as long as they had majority backing in the Congress.)
>> Also, another wrinkle on how the US president is chosen. They must first go through their party choosing them. And that often involves popular elections in primaries (usually limited to party members). I bring this up because Trump didn’t just go straight to the Electoral College. He was vetted via a nomination process that did involve a popular vote (amongst his party members in most places) at some points. Though later on what happens is delegates vote in a convention.
>> I’m no saying this because I agree with either having Trump in office, with the specific presidential election process, or with having a president. (Clinton, by the way, went through a similar but slightly different process mainly because of superdelegates.)

Yes, but they don't directly elect the leader, so that's similar to the Electoral College in the US: the voters elect the electors and the electors choose the president. Thus, John Clark was wrong here, in my understanding about how Merkel became and remains chancellor.

I do agree, though, that the parliamentary approach is a bit more responsive since there can be things like votes of confidence pretty much whenever parliament is in session. In the US, once the president is elected, it's very hard to remove them from office -- something anyone can see with the current president.

By the way, though I'm an anarchist, I've often told my non-anarchist friends that I believe a parliamentary system like the UK's might be better in the US than the presidential one -- better at restraining executive power. It wouldn't be foolproof, but it would likely discipline the executive better than the current system. Of course, it might not given how the Congress here, over the decades, has basically handed presidents ever more power. No reason that can't happen with slightly different political systems -- and the UK and Germany aren't known for having weak prime ministers. (Part of the problem here is thinking that constitutional restraints are real restraints. In effect, here the 1789 Constitution doesn't much control the real power because its restraints don't match the real power relationships. For instance, separation of powers doesn't mean much if one faction controls enough of the supposedly separate powers -- as now the presidency and the federal courts are dominated by the GOP. You'd want a court that isn't allied with the branch it's supposed to restrain, no?)


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