Thursday, 3 August 2017

US checks and balances working

There are things wrong with electoral systems in the US, like being wedded to first-past-the-post ballots which most progressive nations have dropped and being dominated by big money. However, the checks and balances built in to the system by the founding fathers, who recognised that both dictatorship by one man and rule of the mob were detrimental to the common weal, have served the nation well and continue to do so. There was an example earlier this week when President Trump was compelled to sign a renewal of sanctions against Russia among others.

President Donald Trump signed a sweeping sanctions bill Wednesday that is intended to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. [...] The new law limits Trump’s autonomy with respect to Russia policy in a provision that requires congressional approval for any revisions. Bipartisan support in Congress ensured a veto-proof majority, effectively forcing Trump to abandon his conciliatory approach toward Russia by signing the legislation. The law, which also levies sanctions against North Korea and Iran, targets Russia’s energy sector by granting Congress the authority to sanction individual investors in Russia’s oil export pipelines. This measure has drawn significant criticism from European investors in a pipeline project, known as Nord Stream 2, that would transport Russian oil to Germany. The legislation also brings new sanctions against Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors in an effort to obstruct weapons exports.

Imagine the danger to Europe if the US president had complete executive power unchecked, and was happy to let his partner in crime eat his way westward. This is the sort of power which Erdogan in Turkey and Maduro in Venezuela seek - dictatorship with a servile, nominally-elected parliament rubber-stamping their oppressive measures.

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