Tuesday, September 28, 2010

These Are The People You Want Leading Us?

As the rabble that is The Tea Party continues to shake the political trees, voter apathy reaches new lows, and partisan bickering and gamesmanship replaces governance, it is probably best to reflect on just what it all means to you and I and our fellow Americans. Perhaps the gravity of the electoral process has lightened over the centuries, to the point that -- in an age of instant communication and the global village -- we feel more disconnected from our leaders than at any time in the past. When the nation was formed, it still had a very close-knit and neighborly feel, but with its expansion in size, distance, and population, perhaps the differences between us are more stark than they were at the time of the Revolutionary War.

Congress, which is the linchpin of Federal Government, being the place where laws are incubated, hatched, and set free to provide all Americans with the protections afforded us by the Constitution, is certainly the most important branch of our tripartite government. The President has very little unitary power, owing to not being a monarch. He/she can only work with what is given to them by Congress. Even a declaration of war, though the purview of the Commander-in-Chief, must still be ratified by Congress. It is by working together, that the Legislative branch and the Executive branch, under the watchful eye of the Judicial branch, bring our nation alive, provide all Americans liberty, protect our freedoms, and protect us from those things which might harm us. The intent of the system was to give average citizens a means to ensure balance and fairness in legislation, by leaving the ultimate responsibility for the composition of the House, Senate, and Presidency to the voting public.

The Republic which we inherited from our ancestors is still basically no different than that they crafted, with some additions and re-engineering to smooth out inequities and fix some basic flaws. No one would claim that the United States and its government are perfect, but then the Founding Fathers knew that when they created the Constitution, and made provision for the American people to make the necessary changes to allow our government to grow and change with the times. Even as the Revolutionary War was being fought, science and technology were beginning to change things, and the Founders knew that a future nation would have to adapt to the changes brought about by these forces. It would also have to deal, eventually, with those short-comings they, themselves, had written into the Constitution.

So, despite the misgivings of some, the composition and functioning of the Federal Government were left in the hands of the citizens. They would have to find the most capable among them to represent their interests at the capitol, and do that not only for the local constituency, but for the country as a whole. Congressmen would have the daunting task of listening to what the home folks said, and keeping in mind the general welfare of all Americans at the same time. This balancing act would require only those of the most open minds and greatest character, for to go to Washington, D.C. with a personal agenda, bent on making legislation only to benefit themselves and their cronies, would be a mockery of and a perversion of, the legislative process.

It cannot be said that the history of Congress and the Presidency has been filled with only the most stellar and erudite minds; the problem with leaving the decision as to whom will represent them, to the people, is that a great many of the people can be swayed by words that resonate with how they feel, even where those words do not represent the truth. Rhetoric and obfuscation can make a king of a pauper, and as the centuries pass, free government has become less a function of the citizenry and more a function of the power brokers. Party politics has led to rampant abuse of a system meant to protect the citizens of America from the very excesses practiced in Washington, D.C., and the saddest part is that this is done with the tacit approval of Americans, who vote the same barons back into control of their fiefdoms, then are shocked when nothing changes.

It is not enough, however, to simply vote out the incumbents, though that is definitely a start. What is more important, is that the incumbents be replaced by people of good character, who are concerned for general society, and are willing to subsume their personal views to the needs of the country as a whole, and to the Constitution which they serve. Sadly, despite the fervor that has swept the nation, stoked by cries ripped pell-mell from the history books, the citizenry has missed the mark, trying to replace the tyranny of the politician with the tyranny of the ignorant. By subsuming themselves to personal messages and talking points, they have failed to take a good look at the candidates they would support, and find them, as so many of us do, wanting.

Whether it is by racist overtones, through misappropriation of campaign funds, rejection of established fact or convention, or the desire to override the personal liberty of all Americans with their vision of what is right and wrong, these candidates reveal themselves to be unfit to represent all America and provide the kind of leadership required to lift Congress from its muck and the miasma of partisanship. They would simply open up a new front, to create even more stagnation and chaos, and would lead to even less action. They would spend more time on trying to reshape the social structure of America, and less time doing what was necessary to keep the country moving forward and becoming strong again. They would attempt to sow their religious beliefs and have them bloom into new laws, restricting the freedoms and liberties of all Americans, forcing a confrontation with the Supreme Court.

It isn't about talking points. It's not about political gain. It's not about who controls what. In the end, it is about how we govern ourselves, and who we ask to take on the responsibility. Only by choosing wisely and thoughtfully, do we show the world the strength of democracy built by the people, for the people.


  1. It is an interesting and unsettling thought. Even though the United States has not gained in actual size in many years (since the addition of Alaska? Forgive me, I'm horrible at history and geography both!) it has expanded in so many ways: population, knowledge, ignorance, the information super highway....In trying to manage a country of such vast proportion, it seems that government keeps trying to make us all fit in a manageable box, rather than cater to each piece or part, and why wouldn't it? Maybe the governing of the USA is too vast for one government.

  2. The idea is not to have us fit into convenient boxes, but to establish a set of rules that protect all Americans over the widest scope. You have to admit that the Constitution does not seek to pigeon-hole us, but provides all Americans with equal protection under the law. That is what Congress and the President are also supposed to be doing -- ensuring the broadest possible level of freedom for all, while at the same time protecting us. Unfortunately, this is not what is being done nowadays; certain factions in this country are trying to impose their will on all Americans, even where that will is based on tenets which are in clear violation of Constitutional statutes.

    We must do better in selecting our public servants. Democracy can only be preserved where we cast aside partisanship and do what is best for everyone; this means removing those elements which are seeking to dominate the political narrative to their own ends.