Quo vadis, America? To where are we headed? by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Two things we need in America, three actually.
First on my agenda would be a national compulsory voting law. The second and third would involve compulsory course requirements in K-12 public education, being compulsory and neutral civics lessons beginning around the sixth grade and continuing annually. In grades 8 through 12, I would want to see classes that teach critical thinking. The details are always debatable and mutable according to need and to design, but the essence is there.
Governments that are structured as representative democracies rise and fall according to the quality of their electorate. While democracies may be more inclined to thrive in terms of equality, human rights, and liberty… they are also the most vulnerable… and, as we have seen in recent years, susceptible to a profane level of inequity through corruption and control by an organized oligarchic entity.
This is by no means a quick fix, but is a long term and necessary solution to much of what is wrong about our political structure in America today, something in which we need to invest as soon as practicable.
I don’t hear anyone talking about this in political leadership and the only way they ever will would be if the American people demand it. It would be cynical to suggest that the leadership in both parties would not be willing to champion the idea of this particular threefold approach to reform, but I think there’s an element of truth in that kind of cynicism today.
I’m not an academic, nor am I a political leader by any stretch of the imagination, but if someone with a validating resume were to put this forward, give it a name, and make of it a movement and an issue, they would likely be remembered kindly in the history books henceforth and in a gradually more progressive America.
If you are that person… this is your cause and maybe your destiny. Seize it.
….when the people lack the will or the wit with which to make intelligent decisions concerning representation and leadership? In an age of unprecedented bias in corporate-owned media, in which the underlying premises of accepted, proven facts can be utterly questioned and even altered in a constant drumbeat of propaganda, can the electorate be so fooled that they begin to believe every packaged lie that is given them?
The election of Trump and his subsequent and unbelievably bad behavior in office challenges the basic assumptions of our Constitution. What happens when… even after this behavior proves consistent and troubling… the public refuses to remove him from office in an election that may or may not be as reliably honest and secure from subversion as we have come to expect? After all, it appears that the constitutional remedies provided in the Articles of impeachment and the 25th amendment are not being seriously considered by the President’s cabinet or the leadersahip of the House and the Senate. What will happen if the “peaceful transfer of power” we have come to expect following our elections is finally challenged?
These are questions that seldom if ever came to mind before the Trump administration began to display an inherent and troubling disregard for both the moral constraints his predecessors respected and the mandates defined by our Constitution. The men who designed our government carefully structured its elements to ensure its lasting applicabilty, with every regard to providing constraints against the possibility of institutional corruption and the danger of autocracy, but they put down a rather large bet upon the idea of a democratic republic. That gamble hinged upon a participating and intellgent electorate.
In 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to William C. Jarvis, “I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
I believe this is the priority in response to our present dilemma, but like good wine, an educated electorate able to respond to the dangerous and anti-intellectual trends of authoritarian populists takes time.
If we start today……………