For those of you that don’t appreciate reading my long-winded writing, here is the tl;dr version. We all have the responsibility to be an informed citizen. We need to understand the principles behind the founding of our nation and we need to stay involved if we truly want to change it. The rest is basic pandering to various interest groups and the odd funny aside. For those of you wondering, tl;dr is shorthand for “too long; didn’t read”.
For those of you still with me, this is long, but, hopefully, worth it. Leading up to Veteran’s Day, an event my coauthors and I celebrate and one which I am sure will be addressed appropriately, I wanted to engage in a little intellectual discourse about history, responsibility, and their relation to current events. In an effort to keep things brief (at least briefer than it would be if I poured through all of my readings), I narrowed my historical look to the Russian Revolution, which occurred in October of 1917 and the election of 2016. I am not implying an equivalence, but hopefully my points will ring through.
There is a widespread misunderstanding that the Russian Revolution was the lower class rebelling against the upper class. While there are many, many nuances, and many reasons and actions taken, one key point, and one shared by most, if not all revolutions, is that is was of the middle class versus a permanent, impenetrable upper class. During this revolution, much like the events leading to the fall of the Roman Empire, the fall of monarchies across Europe, and, indeed, the US revolution, there was a permanent upper class that was fixed in its position. If a commoner was successful, they may have means, but not the access and respect accorded to the nobles. This led to unrest and discontent among the middle class (those with some means, but no access), which ultimately eroded the pillars of the upper class and forced a sociological change.
One year ago, the United States, for better or worse, elected the first President who is truly an outsider in every sense of the word. He has no foreign policy, government, nor military experience. He is crude, thinks differently, and doesn’t respect the established norms of what our government has become. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect the intent of the constitution to have the three branches separate, but equal, which is evident in his putting pressure on the Congress to actually legislate, but it is safe to say that he, at the very least is a wild card, and at worst, a ticking time bomb threatening to blow up the status quo. (Disclaimer to the NSA and Secret Service, this is a metaphor/simile. The words I used are not indicative of a threat, rather an attempt to provide a mental picture to my readers, however few they may be.)
While by no means the same, both the Russian Revolution and the 2016 election indicated an extreme dissatisfaction with the status quo. Whether valid or not, many, many middle class personnel expressed their desire that the “nobles”, whether Tsars or legislators, change their behavior or be thrown out (okay, in the Russian Revolution is was not so benign). Frankly, my (and only my) read on the election was that most of America finally got sick of both parties and wanted somebody to start to fix things.)
Now, most people working in government are good, honest, hardworking people, no different from you and me. The business they work for is the government, but they have the same goals, desires, and ambitions of us all. There is no us vs. them, and they should not be demonized for their service. As with any company, there are the slugs that everyone points to as bad, but that is just not true for the bulk of the workforce, and thought difficult, the slugs can be gotten rid of.
One of the great aspects of our history is that our founding fathers understood that small groups in control of everything was a bad idea, so they actively sought to put in place a system resilient to those weaknesses…not a perfect system, but a hedge against abuse. Our founders understood that power consolidated in a few hands leads to tyranny. Their intent was that our government leaders would serve rather than rule, which is a point that has been minimized and lost as we have moved from unpaid leaders to career politicians. Our founders never considered that future leaders would use the power of governmental authority to become part of a permanent ruling class, which could be every bit as divisive as a monarchy. Yet, today we see Legislature, the Presidency, and, in some cases, the Judiciary, become family businesses, similar to monarchies or oligarchies around the world. These were all shaken by the election of 2016, and are still shaken today.
So, why did I call this “An Informed Citizenry”? Frankly, it is because there is a very critical need for the citizenry of the US to not just absorb content generated online and through other media, but to UNDERSTAND. We need to understand the reasons for the decline of cultures of the past. We need to understand the concepts, ideas and motivations of both the left and the right. Most of all, we need to understand why the United States is different from the historical super-powers.
I will finish this post tomorrow, but I want to challenge those of you still with me. READ the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and the works of John Locke and Francis Bacon. Too many people cite them without ever knowing what is in them. Don’t be “that guy”. Second, despite your own biases (yes, we are all biased), read both left and right news sources in an effort to discern the truth, which generally resides in the middle. In short, do the real work. Ask the hard questions. Challenge your own beliefs. Truth will ALWAYS be revealed and is always better than believing or following a lie. There is a desperate need for an “informed citizenry” today. People who are not making decisions based on the Kardashians, the Twitterverse, or Facebook friends. Their is a critical need for people to evaluate (not just encounter) opposing thoughts and to have the strength to stand up for what is true an right. We have plenty of examples of good people doing nothing. We were founded by good men doing the right thing.
To be continued tomorrow…plan your time accordingly.