Updated: Jul 13, 2022
In part 2 of our What Makes America Unique? series, we will explore another phenomenon of our great country: the peaceful transfer of power.
“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT)
America has enjoyed a relatively stable government since the ratification of our Constitution in 1788. Our founders understood that only a free, self-governing people can experience peace and prosperity.
The presidency is transferred in the United States every four or eight years when the sitting administration systematically hands over authority to the next one. To avoid one political party seizing too much power, a president's run is automatically capped at two consecutive terms.
For many Americans, it’s difficult to understand just how rare of feat the peaceful transfer of power is. Below are three points to ponder about the relationship between political stability and peace:
1. All governments eventually fall.
The tragic truth is that societies are fragile ecosystems that can fail.
Even the mighty Roman Empire—the superpower encompassing much of the known world for over 500 years—suffered defeat. According to historians, Rome’s fall was precipitated by centuries of political corruption. Eventually, mass immigration created a welfare state that bankrupted the once-powerful kingdom.
In recent days, the number of governments on the brink of collapse is dramatically expanding. India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Argentina, France, Netherlands, Ethiopia, Azerbaijani, Belarus, and Turkey—to name a few—are experiencing turmoil.
Ecuador represents just one recent example of civil unrest and violent protests. Ecuadorians ousted President Rafael Correa to protest the state of emergency lockdowns imposed by his government (Reuters, 2022). American visitors were strongly urged to leave the country earlier this month due to threats of violence.
Argentina's government also faces mounting pressure. Citizens protesting inflation of over 60 percent stormed the palace in Buenos Aires earlier in July and demanded the resignation of President Alberto Fernandez, Aljazeera reports.
Dutch farmers took to the streets on July 4 to protest their government’s intrusive mandates aimed at lowering carbon emissions amidst concerns of global warming, according to Reuters. The farmers fear the unrealistic demands will devastate the food supply and agricultural industry in the Netherlands.
Citizens of Sri Lanka stormed the presidential palace on July 9 and announced plans to occupy the residences of the president and prime minister until the current government vacates. Sri Lanka is running out of fuel, food, and other essentials. The New York Post noted that recent shortages mark the greatest economic collapse since the country declared independence from Great Britain in 1948.
2. Even free countries can experience political instability.
Many nations with developed economies, as seen throughout Europe, don’t enjoy the same stability and longevity as the United States of America. For example:
Israel has had 13 different political parties actively vying for power since the 2021 elections, making it all but impossible for a single party to obtain the 61 seats needed for a majority government (Venus, 2022). As a result, a new government is formed roughly every two years.
The United Kingdom’s government has changed 26 times over the past 60 years, often falling into collapse.
Italy has suffered 69 government transitions since the end of World War II, according to The Economist. Their constitution has changed 65 times during that period. Italians blame ineffective election laws for the chronic instability.
France has experienced seven major regime changes since 1789, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Its government instability among European countries is only surpassed by Italy.
More troubling still is that nations around the world are seeing a sharp decline in democracy. In 2022, fewer than a fifth of the world’s population lives in free countries. India’s status, for example, has recently downgraded from Free to Partly Free.
What happens when a government collapses? A nation “falls” when it loses centralized control over a region; the government can no longer enforce its laws and the military can no longer defend its territory. The administration typically faces bankruptcy because of, among other reasons, widespread corruption and over-spending. When money is no longer available to support government programs, the people suffer because of rising inflation and food shortages. Eventually, the citizens of that country demand a change in leadership.
Because political power creates a vacuum, this weakness invites a more powerful regime to impose its own will. At this point, the old leadership is forced to step-down or face mutiny—open rebellion again constituted authority—led by the military, political opposition, and/or civilian militias.
Just last week on July 7, 2022, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned under a cloud of personal and policy scandals, according to the Washington Times.
3. Authoritarian rule has tragic consequences.
At the other end of the spectrum from these chronically unstable governments are rulers who refuse to step down, despite civilian protests—as recently seen in Cuba.
Tyrants are able to keep a firm grip on power because an unarmed population doesn’t pose a credible threat to their authority, and their own military doesn't oppose them out of fear. The more brutal the leader, the more loyal his soldiers are to him.
“Dictators,” according to a CNBC article, “generally hold complete autocratic control, often hoarding wealth for themselves while leaving little for their people. Inflation, the rising cost of food, wealth disparities, and poor standards of living have been at the heart of unrest in the Middle East [and other regions], and these leaders have been the focus of blame.”
The mass-political movement known as Arab Spring began in 2011 when then-President Obama backed protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt and encouraged them to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak. Rather than continuing to work with Mubarak to facilitate a peaceful transition of power, Obama went on television the night of February 1, 2011, and said the transition “must begin now” (Ignatius, 2016). The Muslim Brotherhood—the strongest opposition force in Egypt—moved in to take advantage of the chaos.
The uprising in Egypt sparked unprecedented turmoil in the Middle East. This new awareness that revolutionary forces could topple even seemingly stable regimes swept through Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Tunisia. Ruthless dictators “[clung] to their privilege at any cost, including brutal police and military repression, and massacres of their own populations” (Gabon, 2020). The World Bulletin publication estimates that as many as 180,000 were killed in these revolts, and 6 million were displaced. This movement destabilized the region for decades to come.
One study compiled a list of “Dictatorships by Death Toll” (Kimpab, 2020). Would you be surprised to know that the Nazi Holocaust which systematically killed an estimated 17 million Jews, Poles, Serbs, and other vulnerable groups ranks only third on this list? Stalin's regime tops even the Nazis. The death toll for crimes against humanity committed in the USSR between 1922-1953 has been estimated as high as 60 million.
Tragically, genocides are far more common than one may imagine. For example, a purge of the Uyghur population is currently underway in China, according to The BBC. More than one million of this mostly Muslim population have been confined to “re-education camps” and hundreds and thousands of others to prison terms. In essence, the State wants the land that the Uyghurs currently occupy.
This isn’t the first time that China has exterminated masses using land reform campaigns and other tactics. Under Mao Zedong, China holds the loathsome record of killing as many as 70 million from 1946-1976 through famine, labor camps, and violent political cleanses.
Surprisingly, the Rwandan Genocide in 1992 which saw over 800,000 men, women, and children brutally murdered didn’t even make the list of the top 10!
Please don’t be fooled when you see politicians in our country pushing for “Gun Control.” It’s not what you think. Under the guise of public safety, individuals in power are looking to take guns away from us, not the criminals. The State will still have weapons but you, a law-abiding citizen, will not. Disarmament NEVER ends well.
The greatest atrocities in the history of mankind have always been committed by governments against their own people.
Americans, by distinction, enjoy more legal protections than any other nation—courtesy of our Constitution. Although our legal system is undeniably flawed, even the idea that a citizen could be guaranteed equal protection under the law is only a dream to millions around the world.
In sharp contrast to collapsing governments and brutal dictatorships, The United States has experienced a stable government since the 18th century. Americans benefit from the peaceful transfer of power (Pelissero, 2020), a concept foreign to the rest of the globe.
Although new information pours in daily regarding fraud in our elections, and Antifa and Black Lives Matter are actively working to undermine our political stability, Americans still witnessed a peaceful, non-violent transition at the highest level of our government. The United States has never experienced armed insurrection, as is common in many parts of the world, regardless of what CNN says.
The short answer to what makes America unique is our CONSTITUTION. Our founders understood how tyranny, not self-governance, is the default setting for every government. As a result, they placed many safeguards in our law to prevent our nation from becoming a dictatorship. The outright genius of the men who wrote this amazing document is on full display—even in 2022.
As we continue to celebrate the birth of our great Nation this month, may God bless you and may God bless America.