The history and politics of America
Since the independence in 1776 the agents have been playing a pivotal role in constructing a sustainable structure based on shared values, unity, and democratic norms in the new born political civilization-the United States of America.
Mazumder tried to reveal that how the activities and role of the founding fathers influenced the socio-political, constitutional, and electoral history of the USA in order to deepen the roots of American democracy. The main purpose of the book is to provide an in-depth analysis focusing on the United States' history, tradition, society, liberation war, constitution, democracy and democratization, electoral system, government, administration, geopolitical setting etc.
In order to write this book the author followed historical, comparative, and analytical methods as well as critical paradigm to design the US order since the colonial period to the latest US presidential election of 2016 and to visualize the future challenges of democratic sustainability dividing the piece into eight chapters.
Since the migratory as well as colonial period the USA inherited a society, political system and cultural order based on shared values, unity, civic participation, election, freedom of expression as the roots of US democracy. The migrated people from Britain and elsewhere from Europe enjoyed self-governance in their colonies and took their decisions following participatory dialogue in the USA. The colonies consisted functional legislature and the US colonies experienced its first election in 1619.
In comparison with the US colonies, Mazumder argued that the British Indian colonies were not self-governed like the US colonies rather controlled by the British authorities centrally. Even the author revealed a similarity between the USA and Bangladesh focusing the liberation war to achieve their independence though their modes and duration of liberation struggle were different.
The USA started its liberation struggle following 'The Stamp Act 1765' (a new law imposed by the British to increase tax)under the leadership of George Washington whereas the Indian subcontinent started its liberation movement since 1757 (the year when the British East India Company won the battle of Plassey) and the subcontinent achieved its independence in 1947 along with a division of India and Pakistan based on religion; but Bangladesh achieved its liberation from Pakistan following a series of bloody events since 1948-1971.
The founding fathers strongly shaped the history of US federalism and electoral politics in order to provide equal politico-economic shares to every citizen as well as each state.
*The author also revealed the dynamics of migration and slavery in the US colonies following a comparative perspective. The strength of the US colonial and slavery system, according to Mazumder, is that almost every decision was taken following an electoral tradition of participatory deliberation. The culture of leadership selection through a participatory electoral process roots back to the age of migration and colonialism, which was hardly found elsewhere around the world including the Indian subcontinent.*
For a greater national integration, they that is Washington, Madison and Hamilton were against of forming any political party considering a greater politico-national division. The first president Washington introduced a tradition of neutrality having no affiliation with any political party as well as of refusal of holding the presidential office for third time installing a culture of holding the office of president for two times before Franklin D Roosevelt who held the office for four times due to the turmoil of World War-II. Considering Roosevelt's such denial attitude the USA promulgated a law prohibiting the holding of presidential office for third period through the 22th amendment of the US constitution. This kind of electoral tradition has deepen a culture of tolerance, transparency, evaluation of others opinion, deliberation, and participation equally since the independence even after the formation of political parties in the USA along with a two party based electoral order.
The author also revealed the dynamics of migration and slavery in the US colonies following a comparative perspective. The strength of the US colonial and slavery system, according to Mazumder, is that almost every decision was taken following an electoral tradition of participatory deliberation. The culture of leadership selection through a participatory electoral process roots back to the age of migration and colonialism, which was hardly found elsewhere around the world including the Indian subcontinent.
The US people had not to engage in war for establishing democratic norms and values because already they had that tradition rather to uphold their motto of migration- rationalism- in this new world. Even they inherited the psyche of electoral politics from the colonial powers though they designed the electoral system of the US federalism with their unique order of 'electoral college'- a mechanism established by the US constitution for the indirect election of the US president and vice president.
The culture of movements for upholding democratic order based on shared values in the USA was also institutionalized following a civil war (1861-1865) in order to annul the slavery system where the situational and farsighted leadership style of the then president Abraham Lincoln deepen the roots of the US participatory democracy. Following these events dark-skinned people and women got the right of voting gradually.
The book reveals the beauty of American intra-party democracy highlighting the nomination process of president candidates in the party caucus or primary, role of 'electoral college', and party's role in presidential electoral canvass. The functional local democracy and role of swing states in the USA also plays a key role in determining the electoral destination for the presidential candidates.
Sometimes these institutional arrangements cause a different type of electoral result as majority electoral vote due to 'winners take all order' but less popular vote causing a candidate to win the presidential election. As the US electoral system rests upon the voting of 'electoral college' the recent election of 2016 also marked same kind of dilemma where the Republican candidate Donald Trump, winner of the presidential election, got more electoral vote but less popular vote than the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
One of the major strengths of this book is that it tries to reveal and analyze the causes of Trump's victory as well as Hillary's defeat visualizing future impact and challenges for the US democratic fabric, electoral system, federalism, governance, greater national unity, national security, migration based civilization portrait, rights and freedoms of the people in a nutshell.
In order to know and recap the historical and institutional foundation of the US democratic order this book is one of the masterpieces. The author rightly highlighted the strengths of the oldest as well as the most successful federalism sustaining along with an increasing beautification for 229 years. Here the author tried to draw his basic proposition emphasizing more on the role of early leadership in order to create a tradition of participatory decision-making process based on elections, accountability, transparency, and liberalism.
Throughout the history of the USA, the leadership plays a pivotal role in the process of nation building and state building, national security, greater unity, unique electoral and governance culture for presidential office, and decentralization at every level of the state. This piece only tries to highlight the historical image, role of agents and structure, and internal geostrategic setting where we found less analyses of the USA's global role, geopolitical setting within the international order, diplomatic fabric and so on. Here the tone of book provides a narrow scale descriptive analysis of America's historical and political development because without the politics and dynamics of multilateralism and diplomacy the USA's historical and political analysis would be a weather of one session only. Nevertheless, the piece is a unique one for its neutral analysis and comparison of the historical and political developments widely.
Abu Sufian Shamrat, a social activist, writes regularly in
several native and foreign journals and newspapers