This year’s election and democracy are bringing out the worst…in all of us. Myself included. It all goes to prove the Transcendentalist view that society and in particular religion and politics corrupts the basic good in man.
But we need to put things into context. We must understand history…ours and others in order to truly comprehend the present…and especially to improve the future for our children.
The truth of our history…shared history of the UK and USA…is that we are not democracies at all. We never have been. It was not the intent of the Founding Fathers or the reformers.
You want to know WHY…
Because they did not TRUST the common man. That is why you have an electoral college, that is why the constitution counted black slaves as 3/5ths a man and that is the underlying reasoning that allows for super delegates. It is the truth…and our heritage.
Now, let’s put it in a historical context…
Europe and in particular England is tiny. It has limited resources, including land. With a system of land gentry, nobility and primogeniture, this was a recipe for disaster. In a time before antibiotics, when the plague or even a virulent flu could decimate whole families, it was important to have an heir and more than one spare. The problem became what to do with those spares?
The answer for all of Europe was colonialism. A movement, which was born of entitlement masked at times with religion and ‘benevolent paternalism’. They considered themselves superior to all other races. So of course they had the ‘god’ given right to spread their religion, like their diseases, to other worlds and cultures that had been in peaceful co-existence (if not with each other always) with their environments. When land in England…France…Spain…Portugal…and others were exhausted, then no continent or island was safe from their greed.
Those second sons…and thirds…fourths…and daughters too were shipped to foreign lands to ensure that the first son would inherit ALL that was his. Of course, those sons were not alone…they sent prisoners…and religious zealots. Do you begin to see the roots of this election here anyone?
Of course, like any teenager, eventually there was rebellion against their mother land. But do you for one single moment think that those men (and they were ALL men…the only thing a woman was good for was sewing a flag and taking water to the soldiers on the battlefield) believed that ‘ALL men are created equal’?
Hell, NO! What they meant was that second…third…fifth…tenth…sons of the educated elite ought to have the same rights as first sons. While they fought the tyranny of a king thousands of miles away, they imprisoned not just black men, but women and the poor through ‘apprenticeships’ and indentured servitude.
So when it came time to form a new government…honestly, folks, all hell broke lose with the individual states each seeking a better position one over another. We failed once under the Articles of Confederation as thirteen petulant teens fighting one another.
The Federalist (in favor of a strong central government) and the Anti-Federalists (later called states rights) already formed a divide that ‘four score and seven’ years later would tear the country apart. Which is why the 3/5ths ruling on black slaves and all non-white males…which basically gave those slave owners much more power in terms of voting…in congress…and the electoral college.
Speaking of which…we have twice in recent years ‘elected’ a President that actually LOST the popular election. In other words, he had less than fifty percent of the votes…and still became President. Bitch all you want about that, but the truth is that the Republic…the autocracy…that the Founding Fathers wrote…worked to keep rich, white men in power…over two hundred years after they died.
Shit, in the original Constitution, the U S Senate was made up exclusively of the gentry, the educated, upper class. To ensure that people did not even directly vote for their Senators. No, they voted for local officials to the state legislature (usually the wealthiest, most powerful person), a collection of which then voted for one of their own to represent THEM in the U S Senate.
Of course, historically, a few common men…and women…slipped through this system and into power. BUT NEVER ENOUGH OF THEM TO BE A MAJORITY…to make real changes to that system.
And if England thinks it is so much better (and trust me…they do)? They still do not allow their people to vote directly for the Prime Minister at all.
That is the brutal TRUTH of my country. (Both of them.)
Does that all sound pessimistic? Fatalistic even?
I don’t mean to. The truth is that I love and miss my country. Further truth is that I do believe that most people are basically good and genuine. But like my Transcendentalist brethren (and those original Wild Women Sisterhood) Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dicken, Louisa May Alcott and so many others, I believe that politics and religion divide us…bring out the absolute worst in each of us.
And this year is the worst…at least that I have seen (oh please sweet goddess don’t let it get any worse).
But there is good too in that Constitution…ideals worthy of another, closer look. Because the truth is that those Founding Fathers too did not fully trust government or one another.
That there be prefixed to the constitution a declaration that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from the people.
That government is instituted, and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.
You see the whole ideal behind that Constitution was one of…the SMALLEST government possible to get the job done.
What job was that you ask?
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
America was founded on the idea of SMALL central government with LIMITED power…the rest was left in the hands of the states…and THE PEOPLE.
That is the TRUTH. The question is…what the hell happened to it? And how much worse is it going to get?