Don't follow me. Follow your conscience.
I'm far from perfect and certainly don't have all the answers to the Nation's most pressing questions. Join me on my quest for solutions that have plagued humans since time immemorial.
Starting with that premise, the next question must seek answers from the ancients. What did they know that we’ve forgotten?
First, they knew that democracy was ephemeral: here today, gone tomorrow, depending upon who controlled the propaganda machinery of the day. 1930s fascists understood this idea and used it to their advantage while pro-democracy forces struggled to easily define themselves. In the end, the World went to war against those two opposing forces: democracy vs despotism.
Ancient philosophers could have predicted this modern schism. They already saw it thousands of years ago…and such has been the case ever since the world over. But why did it happen? That’s the larger question. Why were so many Europeans people susceptible to Hitler’s or Mussolini’s anti-semitic & other deplorable messages about other ethnicities acceptable?
Paul Joseph Goebbels posited that if you state a position often enough, people will come to believe it. For example, if some irrelevant source pushes a story that proto-humans once existed on Mars (crazy, right?), and that story is picked up by other networks, say Fox News or OANN, and pushed out even further into the media ecosystem, what are average Americans to think? On average, they’re going to say “Martians once existed on Mars.”
That’s exactly what Hitler & crew as well as many others who followed them and continue to follow his playbook do today, regardless of objective truth.
The crime that Socrates was sentenced to death over was the crime of telling the truth. In America today, we face a similar choice: ought we tell the truth and bravely face political death at the hands of anti-democracy opponents or cowardly bend the knee to those who would destroy our liberal democratic Republic? That is choice to which far too many Republicans chose to bend not just the knee but to kowtow (bow with forehead to the ground) to Trump’s lies rather than defend both democracy and our Constitution. Even Bill Barr, Trump’s lackey at DOJ, found Trump’s election fraud claims & federal violations of election laws a legal bar too far to descend under, declaring his DOJ found no election fraud.
Yet, a mob of Trumpists, encouraged by wealthy, self glorified elitists & oligarchs, encouraged and funded a violent revolution against a newly elected government…a revolution that closely mirrors the Civil War.
Not long after the election of 1800 when Aaron Burr was thrown out of office, he chose to create a revolutionary uprising in the West to return him to power. He ultimately failed in his mission and was condemned as a traitor. But the lesson of Burr’s attempt to overthrow the legal government ought to be clear even today: the American people cannot allow even a charismatic despot to control the levers of power for his own personal or political benefit, as we see in so many other countries today from Orban to Bolsanaro to Putin to Erdoğan to MBS and so many others around the world. As Franklin said, we have a republic if you can keep it, meaning we have a nation of laws by, for, and of the people. Throughout the Constitutional Convention and beyond, Americans argued what the shape of the Nation ought to be. Hamilton’s & Madison’s Federalist Papers largely laid out the scope of the Nation & government they foresaw as being the most reasonable & logical way to proceed forward with a National government. While both men disagreed on many issues, they both agreed the doctrine of States’ Rights not only created disharmony among the states but led to actual violence on a variety of financial & legal issues. The states, in fact, were tearing each other apart.
Madison wrote to Jefferson, saying that after discussion with numerous other political leaders up & down the states he was convinced that the Confederation of States had to change. He argued in his letters that the Confederation had failed & a new Constitution was required. Even Washington, who was brought into the discussion, agreed along side Jefferson, Adams, Geo. Mason & Randolph.
Initially, their idea was a national Republic, with a lower house elected directly by landowning me based on populaton. The upper house, the Senate, however was a compromise to satisfy less sparsely populated state where white male land owners demanded equal representation to that of large state populations like MA & VA. In essence, lesser populated states demanded equal representation in the new Congress. The Founders compromised & thus the Senate was born. Everything that occurred during the Constitutional Convention that created the Constitution was the result of compromise. For example, Adams hated slavery but many Southern delegates defended it. Knowing he couldn’t win over those slave holders for an America in which all people are free and equal, he settled on a compromise he hated but held the potential to change, thru legal processes, to become a better, more equal nation.
Today the US must stand for a higher morality, a higher sense of decency, and in the final analysis the rule of law. “The US is not a nation of men but of the law.” The US is not unique because of our wealth but because of our independent judicial system as John Marshall (https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Marshall) first proscribed against his political ally, Thomas Jefferson, and our ultimate belief in the rule of law.
Those beliefs make America greater than Xi’s China or Putin’s Russia or any other dictator. Even Trump, regardless of his criminal autocratic desires, could not destroy this Nation built upon the rule of law, much as he tried. 805 years ago, British rule proved for democracy still wins the day among all constituents, regardless of the number of counties involved.
Liberty is a meaningful word for underprivileged people the world around. But it only if it has real, experienced meaning if it helps in folks every day lives. Otherwise democracy is nothing more than a slogan. Our founding generation understood this precept, and from their writings prior to the ratification of the US Constitution showed their belief in government for, by an of the people when the public was informed (their 1st Amendment guaranteeing press freedom).
Secondarily, the founders understood political passions might be strong especially among directly elected representatives in the lower House. So to cool those passions. they chose an Upper House. the Senate. The Senate was designed to be a deliberative body that represented the entire state rather than one or another district. The Founders goal was the Senate would cool emotions. Obviously that failed to work before the Civil War and again now as right wing conservatives seek to tear the Nation & Constitution apart for reasons unknown and antithetical to the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence.
Sorry if I sound overly dramatic, but this is what my teachers and independent reading taught me over decades regarding liberty and freedom. Democracy is not a slogan. It is a reality of our lives, our beliefs, and our Constitutional duty to this Nation.
Those who seek to uphold what our founders created over months of hard bitten fights during extreme heat must be appreciated and defended against all those who seek to destroy the democratic Constitutional Republic they created and put their lives on the lines for.