It has been my considered opinion for many years, that democracy requires a certain political maturity to pull off. I came to that conclusion as we wasted so many thousands of lives in Vietnam, all in pursuit of exporting democracy.
The neo-cons cannot “get” this. So we have continued to go about the business of “nation building” over the years, with little success.
Texas is busily trying to rewrite history to suit its collective religious notions. So out goes Jefferson as part of the Enlightenment, and out goes the Enlightenment in favor of “other ideas.” Caesar Chavez is dropped. What is in, is that the Founding Fathers were all Christians and their purpose was to establish the “City of God.”
Bunk, but what can you do against such mindsets? In fact, our Founding Fathers, (FF) knew quite a bit about government and had a pretty clear idea of what they did not want. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is one of the truest phrases ever spoken.
Democracy comes after all the other forms have been tried. I’m not sure if we ever gave Aristotle’s “philosopher king” much of a chance, but then such persons are mighty hard to come by. So we ended up with a strange seemingly unworkable structure that was based on the premise of “trust no one.” We established three branches, and were careful to give no one branch too much power, and plenty of veto power over the others. (Yes, before you start, I know the difference between democracy and federalism–we can treat them the same for this analysis.)
Yet, even then, we knew it was risky. Complicity still paced along the horizon. I mean the in’s in Washington could agree that at least they WERE the powerful rulers and could AGREE to at least protect themselves against the great hordes of ordinary citizenry. And of course that is pretty much what has happened today. Almost nobody in Washington gives a hoot about the American “people.” Remaining in their little fiefdom is the point today.
I contend that the FF actually saw this as a possibility and that the Amendments to the Constitution were really the last ditch defense against the return of tyranny. Seen in this way, we can I submit make a better choice as to how to break apart this log jam of inaction on crucial social issues we find today.
Freedoms of speech, assemble, and press insure that citizens can gather, discuss, organize and plan the ouster of those who are not doing the public good. No jail for dissidents. Freedom of religion is a direct response to the legitimacy that a “national” church can lend to a corrupt regime, and the tit for tat forced legitimacy of a particular faith interpretation. (Look to Latin America as a perfect example of a tyrannical government working hand in hand with a church to keep the status quo alive and well.)
Seen in this light the right to bear arms has zero to do with people having the right to amass personal arsenals. Rather it has to do with the fact that the people, thwarted by a government who enlists its personal army to defeat dissidents, don’t have to show up with pitchforks and shovels to war against tanks and machine guns. It is our final and most dangerous alternative to a government run amok.
Such an alternative is usually not necessary when trial rights, peers, and so forth are protected constitutionally. We can’t be jailed for opposing our government. We used to think we couldn’t be tortured into telling on ourselves (now open to wonder). We realized the importance here of liberty from tyranny, devoting half of our amendments to protecting the opposition.
None of this sounds very like the idea of creating a City of God. It seems more a sober reflection of how dangerous power is, and that we must remain ever vigilant to its excesses. Those who try to pervert the amendments into something else, either singularly or in groups are dangerous and must be watched carefully. Those who would suspend them even temporarily, even for “security’s” sake, must be opposed.
Texas is so appallingly wrong. It already has about the worst record in terms of graduating kids in the country. It has avoided what 48 other states have agreed is proper–minimum national standards of learning–and it’s increasingly at the beck and call of religious bigots who are determined to establish what the FF abhorred–a theocracy. Sadly, no doubt it will prevail at least within its borders and continue to turn out ill-educated backward and bigoted new adults ready to enter the voting booth.
Patrick Kennedy went ballistic the other day calling up the national media to stop its insane laziness and start to focus on real news. He was utterly right. If the press cannot or will not do it’s job, then it is up to us. It’s up to you. And me. Or we can kiss this find experiment goodbye.