America: It’s the Political System, Stupid!

June 24th, 2011
in Op Ed

mao-zedong  Guest Author:  Frank Li (Bio at end of article)

I have already identified the root causes of America’s decline as (1) the rise of China and (2) the incompetence of our political system, especially when compared with China’s. (See Diagnosis for America:  Cancer!).  While (1) is out of our control, (2) is not.  So let’s study a little bit of China’s political system, shall we?

Follow up:

I. What is the political system in China?

Here is an excellent article: “Who will be China’s next leaders?  It tells you everything you need to know about China’s political system as well as its next leaders.  Here are four highlights from the article:

(1)       System: “It is a dictatorship without a dictator.”

(2)       Leadership:  The next leaders (in 2012) will be President Xi (57) and Premier Li (55).

(3)       Politicking:  “In this system, everyone is acting, everyone is fake, so we cannot really tell.”

(4)       Class:  “In the 1950s, Mao was trying to forge a classless society, but in the Beijing compounds where the families of senior officials lived, there was a highly stratified sense of status – the schools you went to, the shops you could visit and the car your family drove all depended on your exact-position in the bureaucratic hierarchy.”


II. The Chinese system explained in an American way

(1)       System: Imagine we have a 1-party system in America, with the Republican Party in charge and without the burden of any election outside the party.  It’s not ideal at all, but will we be better off that way?  This, roughly put, is China’s system today!  Now, what was China’s system under Mao (1949-1976) with the country being dirt poor? Imagine the same 1-party system in America, but replacing the Republican Party with the Democratic Party!

(2)       Leadership:  The next leaders in China have been long prepared by the current leaders, in a way similar to the GE way.  How can the fortuitous leaders in America (e.g. President Obama and Sarah Palin) possibly compete against these Chinese leaders? Showmanship aside, President Obama is far shorter in experience and track records!

(3)       Politicking:  This point may look ugly and foreign to an American, until you hear Joe Biden talking …  On July 10, 2010, Joe appeared on the Jay Leno show and said something like this:  “Over the years, I have learned not to question people about their motives - just look at the things on the table (e.g. a proposed legislation) and deal with them.”  I was stunned upon hearing that:  Joe is unreal, because motivation is often where I start in analysis (as I learned from CBS’s CSI).  Then I realized Joe could have been telling the truth (as he often does, awkwardly):  There is only one true motivation among Joe’s friends and foes:  getting themselves re-elected and everything they do is motivated by this!  So if they would all question each other about the motivation, life would have stopped right there and right then!  In other words, it is the “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing in American politics that Joe accidentally revealed to the world!  How long shall we allow our politicians to fool around like that?  Still unconvinced?  Listen to Mayor Bloomberg:



(4)       Class: Mao’s class structure in politics still exists in China today. But it matters a lot less to the ordinary Chinese because of the new opportunities created by capitalism.  Oh, America today is a class society more than China in many ways.  Three examples:

a.         Lying to Congress:  It’s a serious crime.  But some Congressmen (and women) routinely lie to us, with no repercussion whatsoever.

b.         Cop killer:  Cops are more precious than ordinary people.  So a cop killer deserves a more severe punishment than a murderer killing ordinary people.

c.         Permanent welfare recipients:  They get a living, without work, from those who work for a living.  Called “parasites” in China, they can vote in America!


III. Closing

Everything is relative, including the political systems.  While the Chinese system has many endemic problems of its own (e.g. lack of basic democracy), it has fared far better than ours over the past two decades.  As a result, unless we adapt and change soon, China will surpass us as the largest economy by 2030, thus ending America’s leadership not only economically, but also politically.

How can we avoid that?  Recognize and accept my diagnosis of cancer and start treating it seriously!

Related Articles

What’s the Real Cost of the Iraq War?  by Frank Li

10-Point Democracy Manifesto by Frank Li

Tiananmen Square by Frank Li

The Answer is Democracy; The Question is Why by Frank Li

My Country is in Trouble by Frank Li

Diagnosis for America: Cancer! by Frank Li

About the Author

Frank Li Frank Li is the Founder & President of W.E.I. (West-East International), a Chicago-based import & export company. Frank received his B.E. from Zhejiang University (China) in 1982, M.E. from the University of Tokyo in 1985, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988, all in Electrical Engineering. He worked for several companies until 2004, when he founded his own company W.E.I. Today, W.E.I. is a leader in the weighing industry not only in products & services, but also in thought and action. Dr. Li writes extensively and uniquely on politics, for which he has been called "a modern-day Thomas Jefferson" (see page 31).


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