Wednesday, June 6, 2012

FORSOOTH, THOU GETTEST IT WRONG


JUne 6, 2012

Groan. Here we go again with the battle cry of the unenlightened: “It’s a republic, not a democracy.” Ta-rah! So now these cockeyed town criers want us to ditch the democratic principles this nation fought so long to achieve and plump instead for a...
A what? An oligarchy? Governance by exclusion. Local tea party secretary Mike Crone and Mr. Bob Doster are two gentlemen desperate to have us believe a democracy is the opposite of a republic, which it most certainly is not. Today we elect representatives in a democratic republic.
Complaining about “liberal socialists” who teach that America is a democracy, Mr. Doster shrieks: “Thank God we are not.” But we are, Mr. Doster, do pay attention. It isn’t 1776 anymore. Please adjust your wig and set your timepiece forward 236 years.
That’s the tea party for you, though. And anyone who doesn’t agree with this blinkered bunch must be some kind of communist. Bring back 1950s-style McCarthysim and belch “socialist” and “liberal” like cusswords when their real meaning is “free” and “just”. I can’t let them get away with this. George Orwell warned against  “words used in a consciously dishonest way.”
A Constitution that began “We, the People...” really meant “We, Only Some of the People”, because those who crafted it feared decisions made by the general populace. Therefore they blackballed the underprivileged.
So we want to return to the Framers’ original principles do we? Let’s then examine what the guys in the knee britches laid out and see if it flies today. Here goes:
Votes for white male landowners and wealthy merchants – absolutely! Votes for blacks – absolutely not! Votes for women? No ma’am. No votes for native Americans. No votes for Catholics, Jews or Quakers. No votes for white guys under 21 or any white males who didn’t own land, usually at least 50 acres, or property worth £40 - upwards of $5,000 in modern money. How many of today’s tricorn hat crowd, waving those mis-spelled, grammatically tortured, signs would qualify?
Strict adherence to the Constitution of 1776, is this what we really want? In 2012 that would be unjust, un-American.
No votes for anyone except to choose a representative for Congress. The president selected by electoral colleges (of rich guys) senators elected by States (rich guys again) and Supreme Court appointed by the president (a rich guy). 
In the revolution, the cry for liberty was taken up vigorously by many working Americans but once the British had been shaken off they got a nasty surprise. They were shut out. And the wealthy who now had total control set about grabbing more land from the indigenous tribes and preserving the institution of slavery, both of which had been outlawed by the British.
The American Dream is one of freedom, equality and opportunity. But not in John Adams’ book; he denied poor citizens the vote, musing: “Every man who has not a farthing will demand an equal voice with any other.”
Therefore Mr. Crone is correct this time.  “Our founders,” he writes “despised democracies whether direct or indirect and they said so on many occasions.” Despised? Well, what is true is that once free of British meddling America’s rich new masters feared majority rule and took steps to prevent working Americans from having a say. This is what he wants to go back to? Lady Liberty, tell them keep your tired, your poor...
It fell to Andrew Jackson to end what he called the monopoly of government by elites. He railed against “any prostitution of our Government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many."
And over the following 200 years emancipation reached us all...
Um, should have, but not quite. In Georgia and elsewhere some legislators and pressure groups are setting up hurdles to deny certain sections of the public a voice. Old people, black people, young people, poor people, tired people...
Late at night during a House session last month local extremist candidate Paul Broun attempted to sneak through an amendment to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Bill and curtail the ballots of these Americans. He got caught and publicly shamed. Among those crying foul were his Republican colleagues Frank Wolf of Virginia and California’s Dan Lungren. Broun withdrew his amendment with a sniveling non-apology apology.
They’ll cite “voter fraud” as a reason for erecting barriers against the poor and it’s total baloney. In a recent study, New York University’s Brennan Center For Justice looked into all the listed “vivid anecdotes” and found no credible evidence. Individual voter fraud is as rare as rocking horse manure.
Conversely, the secretive right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) seeks to limit the individual’s rights in many states, although, once spotlighted, funding companies like Coke, Pepsi and Walmart hurriedly opted out.
My question: How insecure are you to feel threatened by the opinions of others? And if you’re using dirty tricks to skew the electorate you must be afraid you’d lose in November.
The electoral college system is way outdated. America is a country of people, not chunks of land or money. One man one vote is the only fair way and those clamoring for “states’ rights” are silencing citizens’ voices, robbing the individual of his freedom. In 2000 the people elected Al Gore but the government elected George W. Bush. No matter the obstacles, we must vote.
Let’s close with that Winston Churchill quote: “Democracy is the worst form of government - except for all those other forms.”

© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.