Who IS to blame?
late life pete says "so who is to blame," for the deception, the power-grabbing, the failure to serve the people's needs in our democracy?
I have never taken on the task of answering that question before. Most of the answers thinking people come up with are symptomatic, and don't get to the root of the problem. Is our Constitution a failure, since clever, driven, politicians can neutralize the Separation of Powers, the Checks and Balances, and actually carry on something of a dictatorship? If they can, then we are subject to the playout of every weakness of every leader we chose.
For the better part of four decades, I taught American History to upper elementary level kids. I taught it proudly, and made every effort to instill in them the attitude that they owed their predecessors big time for the nation that had been handed down to them. I would be at a loss for what to say in the classroom today, how to explain what is going on presently, and what we have discovered only too late about what has taken place in the past.
Consider a few examples:
1. the acquisition of Panama: when we say it was a steal, we mean
precisely that. Under pretense of a faux revolution, we grabbed
the Isthmus of Panama from Colombia.
2. the Wilson presidency: in his waning days, decisions were being made
by his wife, and the nation none the wiser.
3. the Tonkin Gulf Resolution: a war-powers measure based on a total
fiction. Think of this as you meditate at the Vietnam War Memorial.
4. the War Powers Act: designed to require oversight and appro-
val of Congress for any war-making by the President, is, in fact,
5. so-called "signing statements:" Presidents have, (and the present Pre-
sident has made a practice of it,) added "sidebars" to legislation after
signing, to indicate to Executive Departments which lines to not be
overly concerned about enforcing or executing, thus usurping the very
power specifically assigned by the Constitution to the people's rep-
So, WHAT TO DO?
Whereas, our Constitution has been frequently abused by the very people we elect to enforce it and protect it, and,
Whereas, these abuses have endangered the very continuance of our democracy, and,
Whereas, we have a responsibility to our children to pass on to them the democracy promised to them in the Constitution, and,
Whereas, the influence of our democracy has been so critical to the establishment of democracies all over the world, thus giving us a grave responsibility as caretakers of this great gift which was given to us,
Be it resolved that, through the next six years, we shall endeavor to elect Congressmen rigorously committed to reform of the Executive and the Congress, and,
Be it resolved further, that, once a viable democratically chosen Congress shall be in place, Amendments to the Constitution shall be offered for the people's consideration that will, in effect, return our government to the function and service it was originally intended to provide.
(It is possible.)
A private note: as I concluded this piece I have been listening to a recording, on BANJO, of My Country 'Tis of Thee. (In musical truth, a rendition written by Bach of variations on God Save The Queen, played by Bela Fleck. What a piece of work by Ludwig, and Bela. As a child, My Country Tis Of Thee was the patriotic song we knew best, and I have great memories of it. How strange!
End of Ruminations for today, 5.30.06