E pluribus unum (Out of many, one). This is the motto of the Great Seal of the United States. 50 states in one. A country with over 56 thousand governments.
Yes, truly, over 56 thousand! With thousands of governmental units divided into 36 thousand cities and towns, and 35 thousand separate districts! A mesmerizing reality for any other country but not for the US, that this diversity and multiplicity has united into one government, one nation and one flag!
“Out of many, one" is a unique American hallmark! An inter-century reality that is not found anywhere else! Immigrants from all over the world have come and continue to come to the land of freedom and plenty, but despite language, cultural and racial diversity, they are one. They are Americans! They live the American dream and try to be "good Americans," another concept that belongs only to America.
“Out of many, one" is also seen in American society, a society that has reached an extraordinary harmony of the relationship between individualism and community. Two opposite binomials that perfectly and naturally merge into one. The individual fully reserves his/her personal rights and yet is free and responsible in community, and part of a wider national affiliation.
"Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835 in his classic book Democracy in America. Even today, regardless of origin and affiliation, everyone is equal before the law! And every individual is offered the opportunity to be whoever he or she wishes to be. Every individual is treated as worthy and valuable to society.
The US is progressive in implementing ideas and avant guarde in human rights, equal gender and opportunities, committed in combating racism, prejudice and discrimination at every link of the society chain!
The US also has the most unique system of government in the world. The Constitution and the system of government were drafted precisely to prevent any individual from becoming king or tyrant.
Just as there is dynamics in the lives of Americans, so there is dynamics in governance. This is evident in the equation of rotations of the congressmen, senators, electoral colleges, and the mandate of Supreme Court judges. The framers of the Constitution determined that the legislative power, i.e. Congress, consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each state sends a number of representatives to the House of Representatives according to the population of each state. While in the Senate, two representatives from each state regardless of population size. The purpose is to maintain the balance between direct representation and the leadership of the elites.
Furthermore, the Constitution stipulates that elections for the House of Representatives be held every two years, for the President every four years, for the Senate every six years, and for the term of office of Supreme Court judges to be permanent, in order that judges may not be affected by political rotations. This way the Constitution ensures the circulation of elites and the rotation of power.
Even the manner of electing senators or the President goes through an even more filtering rotation process. Article 1, Section 3, of the US Constitution states that: “(The Senate) shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year.” While the President, with a four-year term, is not directly elected by the people but by a group of representatives, known as the Electoral College, from each state.
America is a Republic and yet Democracy! Again, an American hallmark!
The political and governing system in the US is balanced and unique. The horizontal division of power in the United States is completely different from other countries. No other country is so obsessed with the separation of powers as in America. In presidential and parliamentary systems, in terms of horizontal separation of powers, or the trias politica, it is the President, the Assembly or the Prime Minister who has more power over the others branches. Even a collegial institution like the Assembly can be turned into absolutism as both the Prime Minister and government ministers are elected at the Assembly by a simple majority. A parliamentary government in any other country does not face as many difficulties as American Presidents do in turning their proposals into laws. Typically the government presents its legislature directly to the Assembly. It is the government that controls the calendar and legislative agenda.
This is completely different in the American system. The legislative agenda is not controlled by the President. Most laws that are passed are mostly a product of negotiations between the two chambers of Congress, rather than between Congress and the President.
This system of balances at any level has made the US the most transparent, democratic, developed and leading country in the world.
And the Constitution?
America's most important export has been it’s Constitution. It was drafted as the first one-document constitution. It is the document with the longest lifespan. And over the last two centuries every nation has recognized the need and value of having a constitution. And in cases where countries have drafted one of their own, the reference has been precisely the American Constitution.
There have even been many attempts to import the US Constitution and system of government, and implement them in other parts of the world, but they have been unsuccessful. This has been due to the fact that the American Constitution and system of government are a reflection of the American mentality, values and identity.
Many countries, especially those in Latin America, tried to imitate the US government and Constitution, but they failed. Bolivia tried it, and as a result suffered sixty revolts, ten rewritten constitutions, and six presidents assassinated between 1826 and 1898. Simon Bolivar (1783-1830), known as the George Washington of South America, died a disappointed idealist from the failure to implement the constitution of his country, modeled after the American one. The reason for the failure was nothing but the fact that the American Constitution was drafted for the American people and society, which stands on certain principles.
The US Constitution has a series of special amendments for human rights known as the Bill of Rights. The framers and ratifiers of the US Constitution taught the world that there can be no constitution without a special section listing the individual rights.
As a Republic built on the rule of law and a consolidated and inspiring democracy, America has served as a beacon of light and hope around the world. Albania, a country occupied and oppressed in history for many centuries, till the fall of the dictatorial regime in 1990, but also during the last three decades of democratic transition, has always seen America as a symbol of freedom. Albanians, as a liberating people with a western vocation, are among the most pro-American peoples in the world. They have a special bond with the United States, a bond that goes back to the founding of Albanian state.
During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the United States were decisive in preserving the sovereignty of Albania. US President Woodrow Wilson opposed its partition, hence he is considered Albania's great friend. Fan Noli, a prominent figure of Albanian state, praised him as "a name that has won the gratitude of all Albanian hearts,” while another important figure, Faik Konica emphasized that, “All Albanians should erect in their hearts an immortal monument to President Wilson."
Albanians suffered for almost half a century under the Enver Hoxha dictatorship, the crulest regime in Europe. In 1955 Albania joined the Warsaw Pact, an alliance of Communist countries standing against NATO, but thanks to the support of the US, in 2009 Albania joined the North Atlantic Treaty, entering a new era and siding with the western countries in defense of peace and freedom.
There is a large Albanian diaspora in the United States, with great contribution to the American society, culture, politics and entrepreneurship. These talented and hard working people strengthen even further the bond between the two peoples.
It is sure to say that the “American Dream" has became the dream of Albanians, in their homeland or wherever they live abroad. It is an ideal that in fact has inspired the nations!
Happy Independence Day America, the city upon the hill, the living dream!
Dr. Bledar Kurti
Lecturer of US History, Albanian University
Visiting scholar at New York University, New York, USA
Photo by Jnn13, Wikimedia commons.