We are sure and have been sure since our American beginning that we are a republic. Yet, our political attitudes toward being a democracy and honoring human rights and exactly what that means have been ambivalent all along. The rhetoric of freedom and liberty is used to this day to mean different things to different people.
To some if not many on The Trump Right, freedom is the right to not wear a mask in a pandemic. As prominent a figure as the Attorney General of the United States believes that lock downs during a pandemic are the equivalent of slavery. Moreover, any attempt at universal public health care or, for some, even public schools, are Extreme Left Socialistic and an attempt to create 1984. And then, there is the tax issue, of course. No need here to go into that in any detail. Yet, something called: free enterprise and free markets are sacrosanct.
On the Left, democracy means that voting should be universal for all adults and not tampered with. And then, depending on exactly where you sit on the Democratic Party political spectrum from Bernie's Left to the Establishment's middle of infinite compromises, there is a combination of high minded anti-racist rhetoric and practical and Progressive proposals in economics and for social services.
So, to the mind of much of the electorate who occassionally get enthusiastic, say, the Trumpster Lemmings before they go over the pandemic cliff, or The Democrats who are justifiably angry at Trump making America backwards again, truly there is not much that anyone gets too excited about in American politics. It is stagnant actually, the same old, same old ideas; the Republicans wanting the Gilded Age return of Carnegie, Rockefeller and Taft; the Democrats yearning for a New Deal — make it green this time — and a Progressive agenda to make America great again.
Both parties are just spinning over and over again ideas and proposals from the past. So, the frustration has built up over time and in the richest country on the planet with more ways of making people satisfied that anywhere else, the people of this country are horribly divided and knees are at throats in more ways than one police officer's. Frustration!
It seems to make no sense; and, yet it makes total sense. Politically we are going nowhere fast, just as circumstances, that is, pandemics and global warming hit us below the belt; and gross income inequalities, an infrastructure that is falling apart and racism and .... hit us all in the body politic. The moronic Donald Trump who flails about from one untruth to the next is a perfect expression of the current scene; just as Sleepy Joe Biden is a perfect expression of reason and intelligence and compromise inadequate to circumstances. Trump and his Trumpsters head backwards over the cliff, as Joe and his minions watch in horror, but then simply walk along themselves by the edge of the abyss with a tsk tsk, a see you later and now what do we do?
Now, the reason for my essays and this website is to begin to not only build a bridge over the abyss, but to build it to another side where America fulfills its better destiny and perhaps not only heals itself but the whole of the planet. I believe that that destiny is a human rights democratic ecological cooperative one — to put it into a few words. I believe the key is: democracy, that term that the Founding Fathers found a bit frightening — given what the French Revolution had done with it — but also found inspiring, as they found The Enlightenment inspiring.
The justifiable Founders fear — some, not all, by the way — was that even in a democracy, the majority could become as oppressive as any King of England. Damned from above, damned from below. What is a virtuous elite to do? Although, by the way, who is going to protect the majority from the hidden interests and oppressiveness of the superficially virtuous elite? So, under the Founders, democracy just went so far and no further.
Yet, they eventually agreed to an amended extension of The Constitution that included human rights. I am forever grateful! Bills of Rights should protect everyone from the misuse of power by Kings, Parliaments, Congresses, governments and other people, whether majorities or minorities. Human Rights establish limits in relationships, governmental and private.
Equal protection of the law, 14th amendment. Are black men and women currently afforded equal protection of the law? Hardly. Not only police brutality that makes the news, but much of the whole of the criminal justice system is not equal. So, these issues of human rights are still very much around.
And beyond human rights and the discussions and disputes around them, including the right not to wear a mask or the right to leave your house or the right to mine and frack and spill oil where you want, there are umpteenth items of rights on the agenda of the country. There is much need of reasonable and civil discussion around all of these.
However, I believe that one right that we all have is the right to control the institutions of our society whether they be government, corporations or banks or schools or health care institutions. Newt Gingrich sees your fundamental right is to be a consumer; after that, not really much in the way of rights. That appears very limited to me. Newt is a great admirer of corporate tycoons. He believes they should rule. Freedom of enterprise; free markets. I like free enterprise and free markets, but there is so much more to freedom. I believe you have a fundamental right if you are worker in a company to control that company. I believe that as a member of a community and society, that you have a fundamental right to control your banks, schools and health care.
There is need, as far as I am concerned, for a new democratic revolution. You are better than just being a passive consumer of the goods of big corporations. Nothing wrong with being a consumer, but we are all as citizens far more than that; and the control of all of that can and should make the country and the world greater again.
Of course, read the essays from this website and the proposals in some detail how to do that.