I think that whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or are of some other political persuasion we can all agree that there is much to be desired in our current government of chaos. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to agree that our government has strayed far from the vision our Founding Fathers had for this nation. Conservatives claim that the government is far too large and liberals claim that the needs of the middle class and poor are not being served.
So what can we say was the vision of our Founding Fathers? Of course we can’t be certain and not all members of the 2nd Continental Congress had the same vision but there is documented evidence of arguments and discussions that occurred among its members from drafts, notes, and letters. Some wanted a government that somewhat resembled British rule and others who wanted the exact opposite.
The Declaration of Independence and the framing of the Constitution and Bill of Rights amendments set forth the consensus that the new government should have distributed powers consisting of very cleverly conceived checks and balances allowing no single person or branch of government too much power. The other consensus was that the government should promote the best overall well being of all citizens through elective representatives who would do exactly that, represent the best interests of their constituents. The Bill of Rights was later added to the Constitution to make sure that All People are guaranteed their “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (quoted from the Declaration of Independence).
The primary objective of this new government was to correct all the inequities the colonialist had suffered under British rule and to make this government perfectly represent the rights and will of all its people. In order for this to work elected representatives needed to have the interests of all their constituents at heart and the government needed to be transparent. Their erroneous assumption was that this nation would consists of leaders who would place the nation’s interests and the interests of their constituents above their own.
How wrong they were. As a matter of fact our current representatives need huge amounts of funding for their campaigns to get elected. This funding is the lifeblood of modern elections which primarily comes from wealthy individuals, organizations, and corporations with far more money than ordinary voters can give to campaigns. Thus candidates are obliged to support legislation that represents these special interests. As for transparency the government secrets exposed by Edward Snowden on WikiLeaks revels that our government is largely about secrecy. What we people know is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg of what our government wants us to know. Often one department of government does not know what the other is doing.
250 years after the founding of this nation it has evolved into a far cry from the vision of our Founding Fathers for a just nation representing the equitable interests of all its citizens. Cleaver legislators and resourceful people of influence and power have found workarounds the Constitution to enact self-serving legislation which has no consideration of the spirit by which this nation was founded. The will of wealthy special-interests usurps the interest of the many less well off. Elections are ALL about big money and big money interest. Recent Supreme Court rulings have given corporations the right to make political contributions and allowed the wealthy to contribute up to $3.4 million in political contributions (read post Free Expression by Personal Wealth).
This nation is clearly about representing the interests of the top 1%. Professional lobbyist speak freely to legislators to convince them to pass legislation that benefit the interest of their wealthy clients. The common citizen is bombarded by deceptive political ads paid for by huge political contributions to vote for or against this candidate or that issue. There are also large union lobbies and small environmental lobbies which more closely aligned to the interests of the common person but they are becoming fewer in numbers and influence while corporate lobbies continue to escalate with endless funding. Who has the money or interest to represent the common citizen any longer?
The resolve of corporations to reduce benefits and freeze wages for employees contrast to the explosion of bonuses, benefits, perks and salaries of corporate executives from money thus saved. The inequities between the top 1% and everyone else continue to exponentially increase as daily expense in food, fuel, healthcare, daycare, education, housing and all the other daily necessities of life continue to escalate. Pensions are gone, health benefits diminished, and bonus and other perks rapidly becoming extinct. Yet Congregational representatives progressively represent the interests of corporations and the rich with the Court’s support of political free speech by enormous contributions.
Soon contribution limits for candidates will be essentially abolished making government all about absolute power by the absolute rich. Absolute power corrupts absolutely as the saying goes. We are very close to that absolute power for which our Founding Fathers were so overwhelmingly opposed.
If the Founding Fathers could see 250 years into the future they would be pulling out their hairs (or wigs) and wondering what they were missing when formulating the Constitution. The 1% rich and powerful will soon become the 0.1% then the single most godly powerful individual, then what?
Or perhaps we the people can refocus our allegiance to the vision “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” (the end of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address)