posted on 16 November 2016
Written by Frank Li
I have just published my new book "American Democracy" at Amazon.com. In this article, I will highlight it as follows:
I. Book Reviews
Dr. Li writes about American democracy, a very complex and politically sensitive subject, boldly and artfully with scientific logic, engineering accuracy, American straightforwardness, and Chinese sophistication, in plain English with great clarity.
This book should be a sober reminder to think seriously about what we Americans are and have been at our best: a republic (not a democracy) in which the widespread opportunity to own property and succeed economically has historically been our strongest suit. Dr. Li warns of our increasing tendencies to overregulate ("democratic socialism") and to think like an increasingly militarized empire paying too little attention to our effects on others ("democratic imperialism"). Ironically, he points out that we could learn a lot from China, theoretically still communist, that has resuscitated its own long tradition of business achievement and now embraces the kind of capitalism we pioneered.
Overall, this definitely is a book worth reading.
I find in the book a very insightful analysis of the progress and effects of two governing systems that are of most major importance to this civilized world. Dr. Li has actually lived within both systems and is passionate about understanding and explaining the strengths and weaknesses of each, for both now and the future. I highly recommend it to anyone truly interested in understanding the systems that govern the world's two most important countries.
Frank Li did not go through the brainwashing process of those educated in the USA. His views are less emotionally based. Dr. Li presents a more balanced view of the known universe of facts. You do not have to agree with his positions, but you are at risk if you reject what he presents. This is a good companion reading for high school and college democracy classes. I hope parents will gift this book to their children to open their minds to broader perspectives.
As America's politics becomes crazier by the day, there is no one
Much has been written by many people concerning democracy in America, yet none has done so as concisely and accurately as Frank Li. In these pages, you will find provocative but thoughtful analysis of the most severe problems facing the U.S. today, followed by the solutions that would help us preserve our democracy into the future. This book will make history!
It's hard to write a book. It's harder to write a book on a popular subject like democracy, which many think they understand. It's hardest to write a book on a complex subject like American democracy, telling everybody that "[almost] everything you think you know about American democracy is wrong." But that is exactly what this book is.
This is my third book and the work of my life, for which I am deeply indebted to many.
First and foremost, I would like to thank my best pen pal Jon Stimpson, President of National Scale Technology. Jon became a customer for my business in 2005, but he and I clicked right away on many issues far beyond business. As a result, over the past decade, Jon has not only proofread most of my publications, but also significantly improved them. Yes, Jon has proofread almost all the chapters in this book.
A big "thank you" to Dr. John Lounsbury, Managing Editor of GEI (Global Economic Intersection, Econintersect.com), for writing a passionate foreword for this book!
I would like to thank both Steve Hansen, the publisher of GEI, and Dr. Lounsbury for giving me a platform of publication at GEI in May 2011, which has immeasurably made me a better writer.
A world of thanks to all the readers and followers of my work! Your interests and feedbacks have helped me become a much more concise and popular writer.
Thanks to the following individuals for providing book reviews prior to the publication:
I would like to thank my late father Li Dexin (Chapter 121) for giving me the good genes and upbringing that define my interest in both politics and writing, although I am an electrical engineer by (Ph.D.-level) training.
Finally, I would like to thank America, my adopted country, as well as China, my native country, for the opportunity of realizing my "American Dream" (Chapter 120), thus enabling me to additionally pursue a higher calling such as political commentary.
III. Foreword by Dr. John Lounsbury (Managing Editor, GEI)
Frank Li is a man of many talents, not the least of which is his unique worldview, based on his unique life experience, expressed with exceptional skill.
In this book, Dr. Li writes about American democracy, a very complex and politically sensitive subject, boldly and artfully with scientific logic, engineering accuracy, American straight-forwardness, and Chinese sophistication, in plain English with great clarity.
Dr. Li joined GEI (Global Economic Intersection, Econintersect.com) as a weekly columnist in May 2011. Since then, he has published more than 300 articles, without missing a single week, which demonstrates his resourcefulness in thought and writing. More importantly, his main theme remains unchanged over the years, while his writing has dramatically improved. Today, his monthly readership at GEI is 20,000 page views.
What, then, is his main theme? Democracy has never really worked well in America and will never work to its potential, unless his suggestions for change are adopted. In contrast, China's system, which he calls "capitalism plus autocracy," is actually slightly better than America's, as it exists today.
Dr. Li brings a unique life experience to the page. Born and raised to early adulthood in communist China, he personally experienced with his family the rigors of the Mao purge in the Cultural Revolution. Frank began his university education in 1977, which ultimately resulted in degrees earned in China, Japan and the U.S. Frank elected not to return to China after receiving his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University and subsequently lived in both Europe and the U.S. before becoming a U.S. citizen in 1997.
Frank's personal story is a fascinating one, but I will not pursue it further because he provides many details in various parts of this book. I have emphasized it because he brings a plethora of personal experience to his analysis of the politics of America, China and the rest of the world that is seldom found except for a very select few in academia. And those few academics are mostly lacking in his 'real world' experience.
Dr. Li starts this book, very interestingly, with a comparison of his effort to the early 19th century book by Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America". While the comparison is apt, in some regards Tocqueville's tome lacks the insight of an insider - Tocqueville wrote of his observations as a visitor, while Dr. Li writes as resident citizen and from a more worldly experience base than the earlier chronicler.
American readers will find that Dr. Li's criticisms of his adopted country are very crisply defined and framed within the contexts of what he sees as America's strengths. Some readers may take offense that an adopted "outsider" is being so critical in some areas. For example, he is quite critical of some U.S. Presidents (e.g. John Kennedy), whom many regard quite highly. But I would suggest that the wise will look beyond the emotion and consider the logic of the presentation. They may still disagree but only after having found the logic is sound. Dr. Li does not criticize emotionally but with incisive logic.
Non-American readers will find viewpoints that are different in many ways from much of what the world has come to expect as "American". Yet, Dr. Li is writing very American thoughts and many of his followers in his adopted country consider him to be a true "patriot", to use a term that has special meaning to Americans.
Throughout the book, Dr. Li draws historical references, both for the U.S. and for China, to illustrate why his thinking has developed the way it has. This is, in my opinion, one of the many fine features of his work. Political arguments without historical perspective can be quite narrow and lacking objectivity. This book is strong on objectivity.
The strength of this book, as with all Dr. Li's writings, is political. His comparison of the strengths of the Chinese authoritarian government with those of the U.S. republican structure gets right to the core of the basis for global competition between the two countries. While he has not gone into discussion of how China might improve its governance structure, he has strong opinions about how the U.S. could improve with such ideas as term limits and more stringent age and experience requirements for President.
Dr. Li has identified some critical failings of America. Among these is the mutation of an idealistic vision of a democratic republic into an oligarchy-supported cadre of career politicians focused on self-promotion rather than competent governance. He refers to the defective condition of American government as operating with political leaders who have a primary focus on "getting re-elected ad nauseam" rather than working for the country. This observation is at the core of his arguments for term limits for all elected officials.
His proposal that the American Presidency should be limited to one term (e.g. six years) is particularly refreshing and compelling, supported by his strong analysis, "Sherlock Holmes style", of Presidents Kennedy, Bush (W), and Obama.
There are arguments made for the need for more experience qualifications for senior government positions, especially the American Presidency, which he claims to be "absolutely essential" for the "competitive world like ours today."
For example, Dr. Li proposes a minimum age (55) for entering the oval office, as well as a maximum age limit (65), of which there is none today. He also proposes a requirement for having completed at least one full-term as a state governor.
Given these two new requirements, neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama would have been the President. Specifically, George W. Bush was not 55 when he became the President, while Barack not only was too young, but also had never served as a state governor.
This book presents a unique view of America with a truly global understanding. All Americans should read this book, as should all non-Americans who desire a well-reasoned and precisely presented review of what American democracy is and how it can be improved. It is an unabashedly capitalist argument from a documented communist source. What greater scope could such a book encompass?
America is deeply in trouble, not only economically but also politically!
Economically, three examples:
Politically, after two of the arguably worst Presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Americans faced an even worse choice in 2016: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Most Americans liked neither, but had to settle on the lesser of two evils: Donald Trump!
Will America's gamble on Trump pay off? I certainly hope so (Chapters 118 and 119)! Should American democracy have come down to betting on one God-like figure? No!
What, then, is the root cause for America's trouble? "It's the political system, stupid!"
I believe I have the most accurate diagnosis for America, as well as the best solution. To best appreciate them, you must better understand democracy, America, China, and the world in which America is merely a part. Let's begin with Alexis de Tocqueville.
1. Alexis de Tocqueville
In 1831, a 26-year-old Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville visited America. He traveled widely throughout the country, taking extensive notes about his observations and reflections. He returned to France in less than two years, and published a book entitled De la démocratie en Amerique, as a summary of his American tour. The book was translated into English entitled Democracy in America. Today, it is considered an early work and a must-read on democracy, sociology, and political science.
In his book, Tocqueville writes:
What a generous assessment of America by a young Frenchman at that time!
While Tocqueville was obviously impressed with America, especially its tremendous potential, he was oblivious to the plight of America's many problems at that time, to the point that I doubt whether he truly understood America and democracy. Two examples:
To best understand Tocqueville and his book, let's better understand both contemporary France and America ...
2. France and America
America has been tightly linked with France since our founding days. Three examples:
What happened to America after the American Revolution? A republic was born! George Washington, a military leader in the revolution, was elected its first President. America thrived ...
What happened to France after the French Revolution? An emperor replaced her King! Napoleon, a military leader in the revolution, not only named himself the emperor, but also acted like one by waging wars against France's many neighbors, only to be ultimately defeated (Battle of Waterloo). After that, France endured one "lost century" (France in the long 19th century (1815-1914)) ...
It was during the first quarter of France's "lost century" that Tocqueville published his famous book "Democracy in America". No wonder he was so impressed with America, in stark contrast with his homeland France at that time.
Tocqueville was not the only Frenchman who adored America during France's "lost century". Here is a grander example: the French gave us the Statue of Liberty (dedicated on October 28, 1886)! It has been the most recognized symbol of freedom throughout the world ever since.
Unfortunately for the world, Tocqueville mistakenly over-credited America's newfound success to democracy, hyping it, a tried but failed doctrine throughout human history without a single example of lasting success, as a new and valid form of government, with disastrous consequences to this date! Two examples:
3. America and democracy
Despite many problems at the inception, America rapidly thrived to become the largest economy in the world by 1890 (surpassing China), and has not looked back ever since! Very notably, without America's contributions throughout WWII, today the French would likely be speaking German, while the Chinese would likely be speaking Japanese!
After WWII, America thrived so spectacularly that by 1989, when the Cold War was destined to end with the collapse of the USSR in 1991, an American scholar named Francis Fukuyama published an article entitled End of History?, hyping democracy as possibly the permanent winner of mankind's social evolution!
What a bunch of short-sighted authors, from Tocqueville to Fukuyama, with a complete misunderstanding of America, democracy, and even humanity!
4. American Democracy
Democracy, by my simple definition of one person, one vote without discrimination (e.g. race, gender, or religion), did not exist in America until 1965 (Voting Rights Act of 1965)! It appeared to have succeeded until the turn of the 21st century, when the bottom fell out. Since then, America has been failing so precipitously that it has become questionable whether American democracy will even out-last Soviet communism (1917 - 1991) in longevity (Chapter 71).
5. What's wrong with democracy proponents?
The biggest mistake by Tocqueville, as well as Fukuyama and most other democracy proponents, is to mix democracy with America's superb capitalism combined with America's exceptional richness in natural resources.
Democracy and capitalism are actually independent of each other. Two examples:
Furthermore, it is obvious that modern democracy is just as bad as ancient democracy. For example, democracy is failing in modern Greece for the same reason it failed in ancient Greece of more than 2,500 years ago: debt.
Finally, it is becoming increasingly obvious that no abundance in natural resources can adequately compensate for progressively worsening self-destruction, not even for America, thanks to both Democratic Imperialism (Chapter 39) from the right and Democratic Socialism (Chapter 40) from the left!
6. Tocqueville vs. me
Overall, Tocqueville did a good job for his time. But the passage of time is the best judge for everything, including his book, America, and democracy.
Unlike Tocqueville who came to America in 1831 as a tourist, I escaped "communist China" for Japan in 1982, and came to America in 1985 as a Ph.D. student with an intention to stay. Furthermore, unlike Tocqueville, who saw his country France lose her way during his lifetime, I not only have watched my native country China rise astronomically over the past three decades, but also have been fully taking advantage of it by running an import-export business between China and America over the past decade. Most importantly, unlike Tocqueville who spent less than two years in America as a tourist, it has taken me, a U.S. citizen since 1997, some 30 years to begin to truly gain some insight into the intricate relationships among communism, socialism, capitalism, democracy, China, America, and the rest of the world. Finally, I write in English, while Tocqueville wrote in French, with some, at least, lost in English translation ...
In short, I have much more experience than Tocqueville when writing about America. Older may indeed be wiser in this case. So perhaps it's time for the world to replace Tocqueville's book with this one - You be the judge!
Now, let me highlight my diagnosis and solution for America.
7. Highlight of my diagnosis and solution for America
The image below highlights my diagnosis.
Here is the highlight of my solution: term limits for Congress, with the American Presidency being strictly limited to one term (e.g. six years). For more, read on!
8. Organization of this book
This book presents a holistic view of American democracy. It consists of 122 chapters, logically organized into a coherent whole in 34 parts.
Yes, it does have more parts and chapters than most books, as it is my way to write about such a complex subject artfully - You are the judge!
Here are my three key beliefs:
Available in both e-book and paperback, this paperback is different from its sister e-book in two major ways:
Now, please just sit back and enjoy the book ...
The interminable 2016 Presidential election is over, finally! Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Donald Trump won the election, thanks to a big safeguard (against pure democracy) embedded in our system (by our Founding Fathers): the Electoral College!
This election speaks loudly about today's America: Americans are so disappointed and angry at the existing political establishment that we are willing to try something, anything, different, even with a very flawed candidate and a non-politician like Donald Trump!
America is desperately in need of a great President to turn things around. Can Donald Trump fulfill that need? Yes, he can! But will he? Time will tell, very soon! Two examples:
Overall, it's sad that America has come down to this: teetering on the edge, we must be rescued by one individual: a great President!
Is this what democracy is supposed to be? Yes, by definition, democracy is mob rule, as proven by our insolvency, unless America proves itself to be truly exceptional by reforming our failed political system, now!
President Trump, we need you to be great for America! The path to greatness has already been shown to you (Chapters 118 and 119)! For all our sakes, please listen and just do it!
Here is a question I have been asked a few times: "if America is so hopeless and China is so hopeful, why are you still here?"
Here is a simple answer: I am actually more American than Chinese, as I have lived in America far longer than in China.
Here is the ultimate answer: I love America, and I am concerned about America's future for my children and future grand-children - They are all Americans, living in America, the greatest human experiment in the history of the world!
VI. About the Author
Frank (Xiaofeng) Li (厉晓峰) is the Founder and President of W.E.I. (West-East International), a Chicago-based import & export company.
Frank was born in Hangzhou, China, in 1959, and grew up in the horrible days of the Cultural Revolution. He was a hopeless teenager when China re-opened its universities in 1977, after closing them for more than a decade. He was lucky enough to have made into Class 77, which is widely considered the best class, ever, in China, for no reason other than the huge number of applicants!
Frank received his B.E. degree 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 in Europe and America until 2005, when he founded his own company W.E.I. Today, W.E.I. is a leader in the scale industry, not only in products and services, but also in thought and action.
Frank loves both America, his adopted country, and China, his native country. He lives in America, and has been traveling to China, on average, twice a year, for the past decade. His main purpose in life now is to serve as a bridge between the two countries by any and all means. One of them is to use his pen (or keyboard, to be more precise) to help both the Chinese and Americans understand each other much better.
Frank started writing on business and politics in 2006. He has been a weekly columnist at GEI (Global Economic Intersection) since May 2011, where he has already published more than 300 articles. Today, his monthly readership at GEI is 20,000 page views.
Politically, Frank considers himself a Libertarian, with a GOP-leaning voting record.
Frank’s motto in life: “Aim high and shoot for the Moon. That way, even if you miss, you will end up among the stars.”
Frank is passionate about dancing. In July 2016, he was certified as a Bronze-level dancer (Ballroom and Latin).
Frank is also an avid Go player, ranking amateur 5d (5段).
Hopefully you like this overview and will proceed to read the book.
With your help, this book will not only help truly “Make America Great Again”, but also make history!
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