Why does the Atlantic pay Shadi Hamid? He’s like the King of Wrong on both American government and Islam. The only thing i can figure out is that Hamid is the token soi disant muslim. Here is the latest affront to our intelligence.
Presidentialism can work fine when there is basic consensus over what it means to be a citizen and what it means to be a nation. But the United States no longer enjoys such a consensus. The country is now polarized along cultural, ethnic, and ideological lines. There are, quite literally and not just figuratively, two Americas.
The consensus in a presidential system depends on electoral parity, which is increasingly a thing of the past in America.
In a complex adaptive system like US government the Cooperation/Competion Paradigm is critical for an equilibrium system. (note: all CA systems are either equilibrium systems, in transition, or non-equilibrium systems– what the legendary Hungarian mathematician John Von Neuman called “non-elephants”)
Finally, there is one more property of complex systems that concerns all of us very closely, which makes it especially interesting. Actually it concerns all social systems, all collections of organisms subject to the laws of evolution. Examples could be plant populations, animal populations, other ecological groupings, our own immune system, and human groups of various sizes such as families, tribes, city-states, social or economic classes, sports teams, Silicon Valley dotcoms, and of course modern nations and supranational corporations. In order to evolve and stay alive, in order to remain complex, all of the above need to obey the following rule:
Complexity involves an interplay between cooperation and competition.
Once again this is an interplay between scales. The usual situation is that competition on scale n is nourished by cooperation on the finer scale below it (scale n+ 1). Insect colonies like ants, bees, or termites provide a spectacular demonstration of this. For a sociological example, consider the bourgeois families of the 19th century, of the kind described by Jane Austen or Honore de Balzac. They competed with each other toward economic success and toward procuring the most desirable spouses for their young people. And they succeeded better in this if they had the unequivocal devotion of all their members, and also if all their members had a chance to take part in the decisions.
When the US had rough electoral parity there was incentive to compromise. But as the GOP remains lily white and the percentage of non-hispanic caucasians continues to drop, a presidential system devolves towards a zero-sum game, and the only way for republicans to “win” is to cheat (Sinner in TFT), or not to play. This was apparent in the republican house over the last eight years. Going forward the GOP has to worry about demographic doom, coming not just from the death cross with majority minorities, but from the increasing correlation between liberal voting patterns and educational attainment, revealed in the 2016 election
. Currently 70% of the US adult population doesnt have college degrees, but that number decreases by millions every year, as even conservative families push their children into degree programs. Does anyone really believe that good 21st century jobs wont require college? And young people go to college for the most part– not the olds. A tribe without reps cannot survive.
In the EEA it was beneficial for h. sapiens sapiens to evolve 2 distinct phenotypes (call them red and blue) to maximize benefit from competion/cooperation (note: this is not genetic determinism because the four paths of heredity include environment). Like our self-destructive lust for sugar and fat these two phenotypes are still with us. But the red phenotype is losing relative fitness in modernity, causing the system to dis-equilibriate. So Hamid is wrong when he says this is “culture, ethnicity, and ideology”– the polarization is phenotypical. The two sides are literally incomprehensible to each other, the polarization gap
is so wide.
I agree with Hamid that the only way to preserve democratic values going forward is to create a parliamentary system– but the Founders made it extremely difficult to change the constitution. Good luck explaining that to the republican base, people wholly incapable of understanding how health care, evolution, or climate change works.
Unlike most Americans I do believe in evolution though: