At least, Americans have a choice

There is a word, you know, to describe precisely this sort of political system. I’ll give you a hint: it starts with a ‘D'

Nine months from the next US election, Joe Biden and Donald Trump are desperately trying to reach out to minorities
Nine months from the next US election, Joe Biden and Donald Trump are desperately trying to reach out to minorities

Ok, let me get this straight. The United States of America has a population of roughly 340,000,000: which is not even all that large, when compared to other Continent-sized land-masses like India and China (both topping 1.4 billion)… or even Europe (which is home to over half-a-billion, despite being a fraction of the USA’s size).

But still: 360 million remains a pretty impressive head-count, for what is ultimately a single, self-contained country. And top of the sheer number of Americans who actually inhabit it: the USA must also rank as one of the most ethnically, culturally, and politically diverse nations, of the entire planet.

Nowhere is this diversity more plainly visible, than during election years. Right now – nine months from the next US election - American newspapers are awash with stories of how Joe Biden and Donald Trump are desperately trying to reach out to all that country’s untold millions of disenfranchised, unrepresented (and at all other times, forgotten) ‘minority demographics’.

African Americans; Italo-Americans; Hispanic Americans; American Jews; American Muslims; American Catholics; American Pastafarians; American members of the Inter-Galactic Jedi Council… you name the ethnic/religious denomination, and it will certainly exist, somewhere within the fabric of the USA’s social landscape.

And that’s just the start. Each of those communities will be further subdivided into any number of (as a rule, deeply polarised) factions: ‘conservative’ versus ‘liberal’; ‘pro-life’ versus ‘pro-choice’; ‘gun-lobbyists’ versus ‘gun-control activists’; ‘fans of Megadeth’ versus ‘fans of Slayer’… the permutations are practically endless.

Ah, but when it comes to GOVERNING this incredibly rich tapestry of ethnic, cultural, and ideological diversity… how many parties actually step forward, to take on the challenge?

Two. That’s right, folks! Just like tiny Malta – with its measly (and much less varied) population of just half-a-million – the United States of America has locked itself up into a ‘bipartisan’ political system: which reduces every American election into a simple, binary choice between the same old Republican and Democratic Parties…

… which, in turn, only field one (1) candidate apiece, for the all-important job of ‘President of the USA’.

But wait, there’s more. Unlike other bipartisan systems elsewhere in the world (our own included) – where the two parties may resemble each other in some respects,  but distinguish themselves in others – there is, let’s face it, precious little difference between the USA’s Republican and Democratic Parties, when it comes to the policies/ideologies they actually support.

And until recently, anyway: there’s been even less difference between the Presidents they’ve ever actually produced. With only one exception (Barack Obama) every US President to date has belonged to the same general ethnic grouping; they have all been male; and in most cases, they all even went to same old Ivy League colleges (not to mention support the same old baseball teams, etc.)

Simply put, the American political system has – with the occasional hiccup, here and there – produced nothing but ‘clones’ of the same general Presidential model…. a model which seems designed to represent nobody at all, in the entire country (except, perhaps, the same old ‘clique’ of elitist oligarchs, who invented it to begin with).

Erm… sorry, but how a system like that even work, in practice? How can such a vast panoply of different, and often conflicting viewpoints, possibly be accommodated by a choice of only two (2) possible modes of administration (which, for reasons already explained, always tend to morph into ‘only one’)?

The short answer, I suppose, is that… it DOESN’T ‘work in practice’, at all! Indeed, it may even explain the enduring popularity of at least one of today’s candidates: Donald Trump, the Republican contender who (whatever his other faults) is very clearly NOT a ‘clone of the same old Presidential model’; and very clearly does NOT represent the same old interests, of the same old ‘clique’, that is now so utterly terrified of him…

But, oh well. I guess I’ll leave that digression for another day. For while America’s 340 million inhabitants may have been short-changed, by a political system that straitjackets their country into the same old policy-direction, every single time… they do at least have a ‘choice’ of sorts to make, every four years.

And that’s already a heck of a lot more than we can say for ourselves, here in (equally diverse, but much more populous) Europe.

Right: let’s take a step back, and look at the European Union through the same lens we just used for America. Naturally, I won’t bore you with a full list of ALL the ethnic/cultural/religious/political demographics that exist on this continent – there are far too many to even count – but we all know how many contenders step forward, once every five years, to actually GOVERN this vast tapestry of European cultural diversity.


Yes, folks, you read that correctly. (And no, I didn’t hit the wrong button on the numberpad.) As in ‘Highlander’, there really is ‘only one’ candidate, for the all-important job of President of the European Commission.

And unlike the United States of America – where the same old Presidential clone has to at least ‘win an election’ (actually two, if you also include the nomination bid) to get the job – our own single, solitary Commission President hopeful, simply gets handed the appointment, on a silver platter… without any form of ‘contest’, whatsoever!

Unless, of course, you include the fact that the Council of Ministers - including all European prime ministers - get to ‘choose’ the new Commissioner, in true Papal Conclave fashion (i.e., behind closed doors, and with no transparency whatsoever)…

But this hardly counts, does it, when you also consider that – again, unlike the case with America (or even Malta) – there is no other opposing candidate for them to actually ‘choose’ from, anyway...

No, indeed. The EU’s political system, it seems, is based on a ‘uni-partisan’ system… even though the same EU is actually home to dozens – no, probably HUNDREDS – of different political parties: representing literally the entire spectrum of political ideologies (all the way from Far Left, to Far Right, and back again.)

Sorry to repeat the same question I asked earlier, but… seriously? Are we to understand that a collective population of half-a-million Europeans – with all their indescribably multi-faceted interests, and concerns – is to be governed, for five years at a stretch (and unopposed, too!) by just ONE (1) single, solitary individual? And even then: representing the interests of only ONE (1) of the myriad political parties that Europe actually has to offer?

‘C’est pas possible’, I’m afraid…

And sure, the identity of that one party may even change, from time to time (depending, it seems, on which of Europe’s political groupings controls a majority in the European Parliament)…

… and yes, there may occasionally be some ‘horse-trading’, behind those closed doors (resulting in occasional last-minute ‘surprises’, like Ursula von der Leyen in 2019)…

But let’s face it, folks: in practice, we all know that it is a system designed to produce the same old result, every single time. The imposition of a single, arbitrarily-appointed, ‘Supreme Leader’ for the entire European Union… and with it, the imposition of whatever ‘values’, or ‘ideals’ (translation: ‘political ideology’) that Supreme Leader unilaterally decides to foist on its 27 unsuspecting members (as a rule, without any warning whatsoever; and certainly, without any form of ‘consultation’, with the bloc’s 500,000 inhabitants.)

Now: I’ve left myself with far too little space, to expand on why this is such a problematic – indeed, dangerous – state of affairs, for the EU to be in. Let’s just say that the situation would be bad enough, even if the ‘President of the European Commission’ were a purely ceremonial, non-executive role… along the same lines as ‘the President of the Maltese Republic’, for instance.

But… it isn’t quite like that, is it? Oh, no. The current Commission President, it seems, wields enough power to unilaterally commit the entire EU bloc to always reflect her own, private opinions regarding policy-direction, in any circumstance…

… with the result that entire segments of Europe’s citizenry are now mobilising AGAINST Ursula von der Leyen’s chosen pathways, on several major issues.

The war in Ukraine, for instance: some Eastern member states (especially Poland) are openly rebelling against her Ukrainian food-importation policies; others, disrupting her plans to finance the Ukrainian war effort. Either way: her initial plan to wage ‘economic war’ on Russia appears to be backfiring, two years into the conflict. (Now, it looks more like a case of European economies struggling, while Russia remains unfazed…)

When it comes to Israel, on the other hand - and even the Red Sea crisis, for that matter - European citizens are taking to the streets, to protest against the von der Leyen’s unconscionable decision to involve the EU in what they describe as a ‘genocide’.

Not to mention, of course, the European farmer’s revolt: which resulted, inter alia, in the Commission President simply backtracking on her entire ‘Green Deal’ agenda, from one moment to the next (making Robert Abela’s many U-turns look somewhat tame, by comparison…).

In other words: not only are Europe’s 500 million citizens condemned to be ruled, for the next five years, by a single plenipotentiary ‘Supreme Leader’ (whose own supporters, no less, now describe as ‘The Queen of Europe’…)

… but on top of that, it turns out that she isn’t even all that great at the job, to begin with!

There is a word, you know, to describe precisely this sort of political system. I’ll give you a hint: it starts with a ‘D’ (and no, it isn’t ‘Democracy’…)