Opinion

Our ‘democracy’ not living up to founders’ ideals

Contained within the words of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence is a fierce indictment of the English king based upon what Jefferson referred to as “a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” Those days saw a fever in the country nurtured by a desire, raw within the multitudes, for autonomy from what they saw as the dictatorial rule of a king ostensibly theirs. Though in truth they were subject to the whims of a body composed of many, it was the one upon whom the crown laid that drew their fury.

Independence from that detested monarch was a goal reached after several years of bitter fighting had come to a momentous end. On the nature of the rejoicing that occurred, we today can only speculate, yet on the fact of that rejoicing there can be no dispute. Citizens of the United States achieved something close to independence. Those residing within the boundaries of the new state were given the opportunity to participate in an oft-failed social experiment dragged from the dustbin of history under the name of democracy. They could rule themselves and, skeptical though some were, most were happy about that prospect.

Such an apparatus as was needed to secure the liberty of the ruling people was put in place. Yet that apparatus was to rule only with the consent of a certain majority of the people, as expressed through their elected representatives. It was to carry out the daily functions of government in place of the people with the understanding that public opinion would act as the true head of state.

Between that day and this new and different age the American citizenry arrived at the conclusion that true self-rule was simply too difficult. Instead of trusting the representatives they elected to carry out the policies that they had concluded were most advantageous for the country’s welfare, they ceded all decision-making power to those they placed in office. Those for whom the status quo was disadvantageous could not organize to make their voices known, so the beneficiaries of stagnation could spend each year making sure that they put petty tyrants into office across the land. The apparatus now makes our decisions for us. We need only choose what faces we will have present us the decisions of the tyrant Washington.

September 14, 2008

Reporters

Andrew Hamner

Opinion Columnist


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