A brief eulogy for the great American experiment.
|With the 2014 midterm elections just around the corner, it may well be time for concerned Americans to come to terms with the fact that great experiment that was launched by this country’s founding fathers has failed. It’s no one’s fault. A two-party system was simply not meant to be. Especially when those two parties cannot agree on anything.
There was probably no one in that room in 1776 who could ever have conceived of the political environment that exists today. And why should they? Those great men were dealing with an issue as deadly serious as separation from the British Empire and were able to set aside their differences and declare their independence. Then several years later, they were able to agree on a constitution that is still in existence today. How could they have possibly been able to envision the ridiculous things that their successors would be stymied by today? But can the death of that wonderful idea of the eighteenth century be blamed exclusively on politicians?
Not long ago, this country’s federal government was shut down. While both sides of the aisle were busy casting stones at their colleagues on the other side, the American people were being slapped in the face with the inescapable fact that their lawmakers cared far more about partisan foolishness than they did about being grownups. What those lawmakers did back then, however, cannot be blamed on them. They were put in office by the voting public. The fact that they are forced to completely abandon the will of the public the moment they enter those hallowed halls on Capitol Hill and replace it with the will of the party’s hierarchy is simply the price of holding elected office. If they weren’t willing to pay that price, it is not very likely that they would be around for a second term. Where members of Congress are concerned, a popular saying among the urban drug trade fits very well: “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” In the case of partisan politics, the government shutdown caused most Americans to hate the game. The reason for the death of the great democratic experiment, then, is that not enough of them were able to hate the players.
In November’s midterm elections, there are only a small handful of congressional seats that are in play. The overwhelming majority of House and Senate seats will be easily won by the incumbent. And in this instance, those incumbents were responsible for allowing the government to shut down. That great document that the founding fathers came up with spoke of “we the people.” In November of 2014, the people will reelect a bunch of the representatives and senators who allowed the government of the erstwhile greatest country on Earth to shut down!
Those remarkable men of the eighteenth century came up with a means through which the people could maintain control over this government of the people. But a couple of centuries later, the people responsible for that government are doing exactly what their politicians want them to do—sending them back to congress to continue doing exactly what they have been doing for the four or five or six terms that they’ve been in Washington. The belief that having the same party in control of both houses of congress is a misguided one given the fact most of those 535 members are part of the problem not the solution.
So, who is responsible for the death of the great experiment? It’s not those 535 members of the legislative branch. Neither is it any member of the executive branch. And it’s certainly not anyone connected to the judicial branch. Indeed, no one in Washington D.C. who works for the federal government can be directly blamed for the nation’s demise. The fault lies squarely on the shoulders of the American electorate, who can virtually be counted on to continue sending back to Washington those who consistently prove incapable of getting anything done.
A great man once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In accordance with that definition, the American electorate as a whole is insane. That being the case, the American people are guilty of the death of their own democracy by reason of insanity. There can be no solace, however, in this mitigation, because the sentence will be every bit as severe as if the verdict had been premeditated murder.