Now that the election cycle truly is underway for 2016 based on the vitriol the candidates are spewing, I am going to be commenting in the next few weeks on today’s politics as viewed through the lens of history.
Some of you won’t like it.
I’ve already heard some disparaging remarks when I suggested television news was show biz not journalism.
So here’s another one: we say we live in a democracy, but history shows us otherwise.
Just going back to the foundation of the “United States” of America when there were 13 colonies lashed together in a common cause, freedom from English rule. Through grit and determination, and more than a little help from our friends French King Louis XVI and others of the French nobility, we broke free from the tyranny of the English throne.
In fact, when the Revolutionary War ended and a new government was contemplated, it was assumed there would be a monarchy established here. But after a decade-long debate under a loosely governed conglomerate of “sovereign” states, it was decided that there would be a parliamentary government minus the noble titles.
The unopposed election of George Washington as president and not king laid the groundwork for modifications to the U.S. Constitution, which were euphemistically-labeled the “Bill of Rights.”
Despite all of our breast-beating, misty-eyed reverence to The Constitution, if one bothered to read the document, it excludes nearly everyone but the rich from having any rights. Women have no rights at all. They can’t own property, can’t vote, can’t enter into contracts, and on and on.
Same is true for any man who didn’t own property. He can’t vote either, nor can he hold office. Only white property-owning men have what we would call “rights.”
Under the original Constitution, slavery is the law of the land and encouraged as a property issue. A majority of those who signed the Declaration of Independence and later took part in the Constitutional Convention were slave holders. Two of our most revered Presidents were slavers—George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Surprisingly, and shamefully true, 13 presidents owned slaves, most even as they served as president. Before the Civil War, even Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant were slave-holders.
In the Civil War, more than 300,000 Union soldiers died fighting against slavery, but 300,000 Southerners died defending it. That may sound simplistic, but the outcome is the reality.
And servitude didn’t end with the 14th Amendment, only changed form. For the past 150 years or so, we have replaced chains with economic bondage. The masses are beholding to the oligarchs for every aspect of their existence—if the moneyed gentry withdraw their sustenance, those dependent on it become destitute.
The democracy we cherish is an illusion because it goes against everything the rich power brokers desire. They certainly don’t want us, the unwashed masses to sully their struggle to control the universe. Our ideals of fairness, equality, and justice are not sustainable accomplishments if the billionaires don’t want it.
More to follow!