Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mr. President; Why the Change?

A Historical Perspective.

Before I start, I need to lay a little historical ground work. Please bear with me, the purpose for it will become clear a little latter.

Below is a list nations, sorted by when the current type of government was formed. Please take care reading the list. I'm not talking about how long a country by that name has been around, the list is sorted by the FORM of government. For example, in Iraq the FORM of government was changed with successful invasion and removal of Saddam Hussein. The FORM of government in an existing nation changed. The form of government is distinct and separate for the country, keep that in mind.

A couple of notes to keep in mind, the term “Republic” has a wide range from near anarchy to virtual totalitarian, Parliamentary is similarly wide ranging. Monarchy also ranges from totalitarian to Constitutional. The classification for the Form of the government is only a one word approximation to capture the general form, not specific.

With those notes in mind, pursue the list from the country with the newest Form of Government to the oldest. You might be surprised.

Source: CIA World Fact Book, and various others.

Kosovo

Republic

Independence

2008

Mauritania

Junta

Coup

2008

Thailand

Monarchy

Constitution

2007

Montenegro

Republic

Independence

2006

Serbia

Republic

Independence

2006

Afghanistan

Islamic Republic

Constitution

2004

Iraq

Republic

Regime Change

2003

Venezuela

Republic

Constitution

1999

Albania

Emerging democracy

Constitution

1998

Burma

Military Junta

Coup

1998

Hong Kong

Limited Democratic

Transfer

1997

Andorra

Parliamentary

Constitution

1993

Cambodia

Monarchy

Constitution

1993

Czech Republic

Parliamentary

Independence

1993

Eritrea

Transitional

Independence

1993

Slovakia

Parliamentary

Independence

1993

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Emerging democracy

Independence

1992

Armenia

Republic

Independence

1991

Azerbaijan

Republic

Independence

1991

Belarus

Dictatorship

Independence

1991

Bulgaria

Parliamentary

Constitution

1991

Croatia

Parliamentary

Independence

1991

Estonia

Parliamentary

Independence

1991

Ethiopia

Republic

Regime change

1991

Georgia

Republic

Independence

1991

Haiti

Republic

Coup

1991

Kazakhstan

Dictatorship

Independence

1991

Kyrgyzstan

Republic

Independence

1991

Latvia

Parliamentary

Independence

1991

Macedonia

Parliamentary

Independence

1991

Moldova

Republic

Independence

1991

Romania

Republic

Constitution

1991

Russia

Federation

Independence

1991

Slovenia

Parliamentary

Independence

1991

Tajikistan

Republic

Independence

1991

Turkmenistan

Authoritarian

Independence

1991

Ukraine

Republic

Independence

1991

Uzbekistan

Authoritarian

Independence

1991

Lithuania

Parliamentary

Independence

1990

Namibia

Republic

Independence

1990

Yemen

Republic

Unification

1990

Poland

Republic

Regime Change

1989

Sudan

Authoritarian

Coup

1989

Aruba

Parliamentary

Constitution

1986

Marshall Islands

Constitutional

Independence

1986

Micronesia

Federation

Independence

1986

Brunei

Sultanate

Independence

1984

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Parliamentary

Independence

1983

Anguilla

UK Territory

Constitution

1982

Antigua and Barbuda

Parliamentary

Independence

1981

Belize

Parliamentary

Independence

1981

Vanuatu

Parliamentary

Independence

1980

Zimbabwe

Parliamentary

Independence

1980

Iran

Theocracy

Revolution

1979

Kiribati

Republic

Independence

1979

Palau

Constitution

Independence

1979

Saint Lucia

Parliamentary

Independence

1979

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Parliamentary

Independence

1979

Somalia

Transitional

Constitution

1979

Dominica

Parliamentary

Independence

1978

Solomon Islands

Parliamentary

Independence

1978

Spain

Parliamentary

Constitution

1978

Swaziland

Monarchy

Independence

1978

Tuvalu

Parliamentary

Independence

1978

Djibouti

Republic

Independence

1977

Seychelles

Republic

Independence

1976

Angola

Republic

Independence

1975

Cape Verde

Republic

Independence

1975

Comoros

Republic

Independence

1975

Mozambique

Republic

Independence

1975

Papua New Guinea

Parliamentary

Independence

1975

Sao Tome and Principe

Republic

Independence

1975

Suriname

Democratic

Independence

1975

Sweden

Monarchy

Constitution

1975

Timor-Leste

Republic

Independence

1975

Grenada

Parliamentary

Independence

1974

Niue

Parliamentary

Independence

1974

Guinea-Bissau

Republic

Independence

1973

The Bahamas

Parliamentary

Independence

1973

Bahrain

Monarchy

Independence

1971

Bangladesh

Parliamentary

Independence

1971

Qatar

Emirate

Independence

1971

United Arab Emirates

Federation

Independence

1971

Fiji

Republic

Independence

1970

Oman

Monarchy

Legal reforms

1970

Tonga

Monarchy

Independence

1970

Bermuda

UK Territory

Constitution

1968

Equatorial Guinea

Republic

Independence

1968

Mauritius

Parliamentary

Independence

1968

Nauru

Republic

Independence

1968

American Samoa

US Territory

Constitution

1967

Barbados

Parliamentary

Independence

1966

Botswana

Parliamentary

Independence

1966

Guyana

Republic

Independence

1966

Lesotho

Parliamentary

Independence

1966

Cook Islands

Parliamentary

Assoc. with NZ

1965

Gambia

Republic

Independence

1965

Maldives

Republic

Independence

1965

Singapore

Parliamentary

Independence

1965

Malawi

Democratic

Independence

1964

Malta

Republic

Independence

1964

Tanzania

Republic

Independence

1964

Zambia

Republic

Independence

1964

Alegria

Republic

Constitution

1963

Kenya

Republic

Independence

1963

Burundi

Republic

Independence

1962

Jamaica

Parliamentary

Independence

1962

Monaco

Monarchy

Constitution

1962

Rwanda

Republic

Independence

1962

Samoa

Parliamentary

Independence

1962

Trinidad and Tobago

Parliamentary

Independence

1962

Uganda

Republic

Independence

1962

Kuwait

Emirate

Independence

1961

Sierra Leone

Democratic

Independence

1961

Akrotiri

UK Territory

Constitution

1960

Benin

Republic

Independence

1960

Burkina Faso

Parliamentary

Independence

1960

Cameroon

Republic

Independence

1960

Central African Republic

Republic

Independence

1960

Chad

Republic

Independence

1960

Cote d'Ivoire

Republic

Independence

1960

Cyprus

Republic

Independence

1960

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Republic

Independence

1960

Gabon

Republic

Independence

1960

Madagascar

Republic

Independence

1960

Mali

Republic

Independence

1960

Niger

Republic

Independence

1960

Nigeria

Republic

Independence

1960

Republic of the Congo

Republic

Independence

1960

Senegal

Republic

Independence

1960

Togo

Republic

Independence

1960

Cuba

Communist

Revolution

1959

Guinea

Republic

Independence

1958

Malaysia

Monarchy

Independence

1957

Morocco

Monarchy

Independence

1956

Tunisia

Republic

Independence

1956

Ghana

Democratic

Independence

1955

Libya

Authoritarian

Independence

1951

Nepal

Republic

Invaded

1950

China

Communist

Constitution

1949

Hungary

Parliamentary

Constitution

1949

Laos

Communist

Independence

1949

Israel

Parliamentary

Independence

1948

Sri Lanka

Republic

Independence

1948

India

Republic

Independence

1947

Pakistan

Republic

Independence

1947

Jordan

Monarchy

Independence

1946

Philippines

Republic

Independence

1946

Syria

Authoritarian

Independence

1946

Germany

Republic

Regime Change

1945

Indonesia

Republic

Independence

1945

Italy

Republic

Regime Change

1945

Japan

Parliamentary

Regime Change

1945

Korea, North

Communist

Independence

1945

Korea, South

Republic

Independence

1945

Vietnam

Communist

Independence

1945

Lebanon

Republic

Independence

1943

Saudi Arabia

Monarchy

Unification

1932

Holy See

Ecclesiastical

Independence

1929

San Marino

Republic

Electoral Law

1926

Turkey

Parliamentary

Independence

1923

Egypt

Republic

Independence

1922

Honduras

Democratic

Independence

1921

Ireland

Parliamentary

Independence

1921

Liechtenstein

Monarchy

Constitution

1921

Mongolia

Parliamentary

Independence

1921

Austria

Republic

Constitution

1920

Iceland

Republic

Independence

1918

Finland

Republic

Independence

1917

Taiwan

Democratic

Chinese Revolution

1911

Portugal

Republic

Republic proclaimed

1910

South Africa

Republic

Independence

1910

Bhutan

Monarchy

Independence

1907

New Zealand

Parliamentary

Independence

1907

Norway

Monarchy

Independence

1905

Panama

Democratic

Independence

1903

Australia

Parliamentary

Independence

1901

Switzerland

Federation

Constitution

1874

Luxembourg

Monarchy

Independence

1868

Canada

Parliamentary

Independence

1867

Argentina

Republic

Constitution

1853

Denmark

Monarchy

Constitution

1849

Liberia

Republic

Independence

1847

Dominican Republic

Republic

Independence

1844

United Kingdom

Parliamentary

Reform Act

1832

Belgium

Parliamentary

Independence

1830

Greece

Parliamentary

Independence

1829

Bolivia

Republic

Independence

1825

Uruguay

Republic

Independence

1825

Brazil

Republic

Independence

1822

Ecuador

Republic

Independence

1822

Costa Rica

Republic

Independence

1821

El Salvador

Republic

Independence

1821

Guatemala

Parliamentary

Independence

1821

Nicaragua

Republic

Independence

1821

Peru

Republic

Independence

1821

Netherlands

Monarchy

Constitution

1815

Paraguay

Republic

Independence

1811

Chile

Republic

Independence

1810

Colombia

Republic

Independence

1810

Mexico

Republic

Independence

1810

France

Republic

Regime Change

1790

United States

Republic

Independence

1776

Yep, that's right the United States has the oldest form of government currently on the planet.

That's important, but first let's deal with a few of outliers on the list, that could be used to argue the point.

Oman:

It's been a hereditary Monarchy since 1650. I will agree at high level the system in Oman has been in place longer than ours. But my counter argument would be when the law is embodied in the person of a Monarch, that the form of the government is therefore dependent upon that person, the character of the government results from a person, not a body of law, and changes depending on the morals, character, goals and actions of the monarch.

San Marino:

Gained Independence in 301, and lays claim to the title of oldest Republic. San Marino has been occupied on at least 3 occasions. In 1906 the Arengo (council) met and took positive steps toward democracy. During the period leading up the WWII Fascism took over the government of San Marino. San Marino held to a turbulent neutrality during the the war. In the post war era the communists gained control until 1957 when they fell from power.

Switzerland:

The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291. During the reformation a heavy theocratic influence held sway in the government. Napoleon conquered Switzerland and made it part of the Helvetic Republic in 1789, regaining independence in 1815. In 1847 a civil war broke out Catholic and Protestants, as a result a Federal Constitution was adopted in 1848 and modified in 1874.

Sweden:

Gained its independence in 1523. With the reign of Gustav Adolphus Sweden established a dominated empire in the region until its collapse in 1721. In 1809 the Eastern portion of Sweden was lost to Russian, at the same time Gustav IV Adolf was deposed in a Coup d'etat. In 1866 parliament was reformed into the current form. The Constitutional Monarchy adopted in 1975

United Kingdom (England):

Since the Magna Carta to recent times England's government has been slowly evolving from pure monarchy to Parliamentary with a figure head monarch. The monarchy as we now consider it could be said to have started with the Tudors. However the form government in England needs to be understood in the relationship between the Monarch, the Parliament which consists of the House of Lords and House of Commons. The English Civil War of the 1640's led to the establishment of the Commonwealth of England in 1649 under Oliver Cromwell with the Parliament having little real power, and the House of Lords being abolished. In 1660 the house of Lords and the Monarchy was restored. Throughout the 19th Century the balance of power remained in flux between the monarch and the houses. In 1784 the Prime Minister emerged as the “First among Equals” with William Pitt the Younger. In 1830 the first “modern” prime minster Lord Grey took office and what followed was “The Great Reform Act” in 1832, followed by two more reform acts which settled the democratic tradition into English politics. Power struggles continued into the 20th Century between the houses of Parliament.

It's difficult to place a date on Englands current form of government, suffice it to say it settled into it's current form between 1832 and the 1911.

A note on France, since the French and America Revolution are often compared. Although the revolution occurred in 1790 shortly after that the Neoploenic era began and the Second Republic was established in 1848.

Another point of historical interest and comparison; the Greek democratic era lasted about 500 years, the Roman Republic lasted around 450 years.

Sources: Various.

So here we are at 233 years, longest continuously existing form of government currently on the planet.

Historical context is important, it's a trait of conservatism to look back at history, and study the lesson contained therein.

Which brings us in a round about way to President Obama and Change.

His campaign theme was Hope and Change, below are just a few quotes.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

"I’m in this race not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation."

Hope is what led me here today--with a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas; and a story that could only happen in the United States of America. Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have courage to remake the world as it should be.

It's not just enough to change the players. We've gotta change the game.

Whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it.

If we want this country to succeed in the 21st century, we've got to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity.

… [The Constitution] didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in Constitution at least as it has been interpreted and the Warren Court interpreted it generally in the same way that the Constitution is a document of negative liberties it says what the States can't do to you, [it] says what the Federal Government can't do to you, [it] doesn't say what the Federal Government or State Government must do on your behalf.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

Obama see our founding document as flawed, that we are a young country needing to set aside childish things, that fundamental change and transformation of our government, economy and cultural is required to remake the world as it should be.

In retort to the President I would ask:

Mr. President Why the Change?

The success of that form of government is inarguable. Pick virtually any metric and in those 233 years we've become the worlds leaders. We dominated the world economy, provide uncounted scientific and commercial advances. Our culture is admired (and reviled) worldwide, but you can go to even remote corners of the world and find American culture.

Our military has a historically unmatched dominance, which hasn't been used to enrich us, it's been used to liberate others. Look up at the list, see that cluster of independences occurring around 1991? That was us, without firing a shot, 10's of millions liberated. 1945? A continent liberated, and all we ask for “was ground to bury our dead.”

Domestically we have unmatched liberty, standards of living, or just about anything else you can think of. Bill Whittle asked “which way are the rafts headed?” How many leave America for greener pastures compared to the number who risk everything to come here?

Look again at the list, how many Republics, Parliaments, or Democracies existed in 1776? The world for the last 233 years has been following our lead. Throwing off all other forms, to in various ways follow our lead.

We lead the world politically, economically, militarily, socially, culturally, not through conquest, force, coercion, and certainly on through empire. We lead because of who we are and what we represent and because other desire what we have attained and choose to follow.

Our government that has lasted for 233 years, where the executive power has changed hands 43 times, twe continually seeks to improve itself, and have repeated done so from elimination of slavery to civil rights. Such a Government is undeniably a success.

Simply put, we have be doing the whole government, economic and social, “thing” longer and better than anyone else. I would argue socially also, but social mores are more a matter of taste.

Yet President Obama sees little of this insisting on changing the foundations of our Republic.

We are not perfect, but always seeing a more perfect union. But that that perfecting doesn't not come through wholesale fundamental change it comes through improvement. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;” Perfecting, improving, and yes even change can be undertaken with prudence, but systems long established should not be changed for the small things.

And that's what we are faced with, the small things, the light and transient. No one's fundamental liberties are usurped, there is no pressing crisis that would shake the foundations of the nation. There is nothing to support President Obama's call for fundamenta transformation and change.

In fact history, events and prudence dictate just the opposite. A reasonable, thoughtful, consider evaluation of the issues and problems, and thorough examination of the possible effects and consequences , and then improvements made in increment steps, evaluating at each step.

5 Comments:

At 3:45 PM, Blogger PaladinPhil said...

*applause* Well stated, and well thought out. They are trying to change the big things because the small things aren't perfect. Keep up the good work.

 
At 3:46 PM, Blogger Callahan23 said...

Thanks JCM!
A prudent and gradual change is always for the better and far more humane as all revolutions and quick fixes 'n changes have left death in their wake.
I love the slow evolutionary process, 's friendlier to us mere humans.

 
At 5:09 PM, Blogger doppelganglander said...

Well done, jcm. As unhappy as I was on November 8th, I was proud that I live in a nation where we've had a peaceful transition of power 43 times (not to mention more than 100 Congresses).

 
At 5:12 PM, OpenID 6p00e55005f9c78834 said...

WOW - what a truly fine article JCM, I mean really well thought out and written.
Now how can we get President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority leader Reid to all read this article and ruminate on it?
AND how can we reach a MUCH wider audience with it?
Thank you for writing this.
realwest

 
At 12:37 PM, Blogger Lucius Septimius said...

Nicely done.

 

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  • “How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”

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