The occasion of July 4th
By Joseph Randolph
Given the predicament of the American present, Americans would do well during this week to consider living in the past. Our past is certainly not pure—nor is that of any other nation. The problem with my suggestion, however, is that so few Americans, thanks to our American schools and textbooks, know anything substantive about our glorious past. Students do know, however, about treatment of the native Americans, Christopher Columbus in a new vein, Salem witch trials evidencing the horror of real religious belief in action, slavery permitted by the American Founding Fathers, Joseph McCarthy permitted inquiry.
Given this predominant reading of American history in the classroom and coming out of the academies that trained our teachers not to think for themselves—but to obediently think like the academics who instructed them in what to think—one is prompted to ask if anything laudable can be discerned about America on this reading of American history? Any positive answer to that question can scarcely be found in the works of Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky, to name a couple. Little better are the words and works of those individuals more publicly on parade and who piously clamored about the jeopardized world of their grandchildren, particularly during the George W. Bush presidency—former President Carter, Bill Moyers of PBS, and Michael Moore, to name a mere three.
What reveals the real divide in America about America today is the fact that while Carter and Moyers and Moore and the like ratcheted up their rants during the Bush years—because the nation appeared to be losing its way according to these observers—today we have not a dissimilar situation. That is, today conservatives believe, like the aforementioned, that the country is headed down a precipice, except, of course, it is a precipice toward dangers that scarcely Zinn or Chomsky or Carter or Moyers or Moore could even acknowledge as dangers.
The individuals mentioned see no present evil now, though they had opined about one earlier, because they acquiesce in the belief that currently Washington—meaning government—is now going to set America straight. America is being rightly purged in such minds.
The current state of the state of America, however, is not for conservatives by any stretch of the thinking mind, still respecting government by the people or for the people, but wrongly insisting upon respect for politicians in charge of purging the people. To such politicians, there is everything for the country to gain by having them in power and so many enemies of their state to punish. To statists, moreover, the Reagan-Bush years and then the George W. Bush years were a retreat from the real task of government, with President Clinton's lamentable pragmatism evoked by the presence of Republican majorities.
What does this say about the current state of America on the occasion of celebrating this July 4th? The often talked about culture wars are enjoying no peace talks these days and in fact are alive and well and sending high flames into the air. With the media largely in the pockets of liberal sympathizers for decades, yesterday the rants of Zinn or Chomsky or Carter or Moyers or Moore were somberly showcased as rightful citizen "concerns." By contrast, the current conservative criticism of a statist America is categorized as the invention of "alarmists" imagining that the people should have some say in how politicians who govern them should govern. Meanwhile, the statists know the people are incapable of ruling themselves, much less a country.
Thus, on this 4th of July, real democracy is imperiled by being purged. To find out what our Founding Fathers meant by real democracy, one can read their writings. To find out what the current regime in Washington thinks of the Founding Fathers and democracy, in light of the prior reading, watch the actions of all the President's men and women. A picture is truthfully worth a thousand words in this case.
Joseph Randolph is an academic and writer living in Wisconsin. His 2010 book Debilitating Democracy: Power From The People, is available from Wasteland Press and Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.