It is precisely this idealized vision of the Founding Fathers, seen through rose-tinted lenses, that has chained us to an out-moded system that prevents us from creating liberty and justice in our society. Some of the FFs had vision, and employed inspiring rhetoric. Great! But we can begin to achieve liberty, justice, and equality (why have conservatives abandoned the ideal of equality?) using their methods. They passed race-based laws and owned slaves. They kept half the population disenfranchised because female, and most thought that only those who were self-employed or business owners should vote. The Founders devised a system that admirably represented acres, but people not nearly so well. -— They did think that legislators should stay close those who were voters. In 1790, each member of the House represented about 8,000 qualified voters; today each member represents about 400,000 qualified voters. The Founders thought it impossible to govern a nation of 4,000,000, fewer than 800,000 of whom were qualified to vote, in one single unit. Hence federalism. California alone now has 38,000,000; 25,000,000 of whom are qualified voters. If we want Congress to represent the people the way the Founders intended, we will have to break the 50 states up into at least 300 states, giving us a Senate of 600 members; and increase the House of Representatives to at least 5000 members. Unwieldy and impractical? Of course! We have long since abandoned the FFs’ vision, but we refuse consider a new one. Benjamin Franklin said “The Golden Age is never the present age.” He definitely got that right. Read the writings of the time, and you find them constantly denouncing the selfishness, venality, and incompetence of their contemporaries. Just like today. Jefferson said that he did not expect the laws to remain unchanged for a hundred years any more than he expected a grown man to wear the clothes he wore as an infant. “The world belongs to the living, not to the dead,” he said. The United States government was created “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Majority rule tempered with respect for individual rights is the essence of that. All the rest are means to those ends. And we should be emulating the FF in this: we should be thinking for ourselves what means are NOW best adopted to those ends, rather than revering the means adopted in a different age. “Many Americans feel that our government has lost the capacity to be the servant of the people as intended by the Founding Fathers, and is now malevolently intent upon making all the people subservient to its will.” Sorry, IT doesn’t have a will, or an intention, malevolent or otherwise. IT is not a person. IT is a collection of many many people, each with his or her own agenda, creed, purpose. IT is a system of laws and practices. If IT isn’t working the way people in general want it to, then they have to change it and its personnel. I don’t quarrel with that. But when considering those changes, modern reality must be taken into account. We are not going to again become a nation of mom-and-pop businesses, yeoman farmers, and independent home-town enterprises. Part of that reality is that we all have to live together with people who don’t agree with us. NONE of use get to have it all our own way, NONE of us get to have the government do what we want in all things. Or is that what you call being “subservient to an all-powerful state”? - We are infinitely more interdependent and intertwined in our affairs than we once were. - A citizen militia will not defend us. Laissez-faire capitalism will not make us prosperous. Neighbors getting together with picks and shovels will not maintain our road system. A well and a bucket will not supply our water. Nature will not sustain us as it did our ancestors unless we sustain nature in ways that they didn’t have to. We are vastly more powerful than our ancestors. Our power will be wielded by someone, it is not going to go away. We are much more free, in so many ways, than were those who lived in the age of the FFs. In other ways, we have sacrificed some of our liberty in the name of justice, some in the name of security, some in the name of equality, but sacrificing our equality, justice, and security on the altar of liberty will not preserve freedom. Quite the opposite.
Apr 12, 2017