Plato, quoted the prosecuted Socrates, who famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates’ spurious offense viz., empirical thought, and analysis, we trust, is no longer prosecutable. Indeed, modern thought holds, inarguably, to be fully human, is to apply man’s precious facility of thought, to the responsible aspiration of the elevation of his life and improvement of his understanding. Yet, of late, it appears that so much of value has been threatened or destroyed, not the least of which, has been our respect for truth; leading to the forfeiture of our previously, established role, as global leader.
Accordingly, it seems appropriate, perhaps existentially urgent, to employ available wisdom, and exercise the flexibility, necessary to objectively, examine ourselves as an organic National society. With the apparent collapse of social amity, and resulting divisiveness and clash of intra- national tribalism, an apparent decline in respect, for learning and for human advancement, aesthetic and scientific, the intransigent, racial and gender injustice, the casual and irresponsible, denial of global damage, it seems that a truly candid comparison between our avowed, democratic-republican aspirations, and the world of empirical, reality would, on the advice of the wrongly prosecuted, Socrates, be worth examining.
A re-visit to the times and the prevailing thoughts of the Founders of our Republican Democracy, fosters an appreciation and understanding, that the conceptual, political enterprise, was unique and experimental. No longer, as in the case in England and Europe, was there to be privileged birth, and resultant class differences; the radical Founders loudly, and historically, proclaimed, that “all men were created equal.” Basic freedoms, like speech, religion, the press, ownership of property, and the pursuit of happiness, were now, to be protected, by Constitutional mandate, from interference by the government. The three separate branches of government, Executive, Legislative and Judicial, were given the power, respectively, to check abuses of authority, by the other.
Relevant to the (soon to be stated) principal theme of this writing, it is of relevant interest, to cite Benjamin Franklin’s, prescient admonition: “It is a Republic if you can keep it.” Another such guarded reservation was made by Thomas Jefferson, who declared that an educated and informed citizenry, is necessary if a democracy is to succeed. It is not as well known, that Jefferson also, pessimistically, stated, “It would just be a matter of time, before the American system of government, degenerates into an elective despotism.” The future, unhappily, proved to confirm the latter statement.
The undesirable outcomes of the Founder’s optimistic and creative, venture have, in large part, been delineated in the second paragraph of this mini-essay. The undeniably fundamental reason, for such undesirable outcomes, and others listed hereinafter, is that the new Nation, in fact, did not mature into a society, largely composed of educated and informed citizens. This anticipated failing, we believe was, the etiology of Jefferson’s, less known, prescient foreboding, “I will be just a matter of time before the American system of government, degenerates into an elective despotism.” Clearly, the fact that serious reservations, about the nature of the average American voter, were undeniably evidenced, in the Founders’ creation of the (undemocratic) Electoral College.
We trust that it is not overly presumptuous, to observe, in this modest blogspace, the deeply distressing observation, that the idealistic dream of America’s founders has, instead, morphed into a nightmare. The outcomes, tragically, reveal the realization of the pessimistic predictions of Jefferson, and the sage admonition of Benjamin Franklin. We do not, in fact, have a generally literate and informed society, and, so, have not been able to sufficiently, realize and keep the envisioned, republican democracy.
The short-lived hope and optimism, created by the election and re-election of the wise, intellectually gifted, and capable, President Barack Obama, gave this essayist, hope that the American Society, in general, had the nascent, capability of manifesting good judgment, and was on the mend. We, however, experienced but a brief hiatus from the usual, groundhog day repetitive Presidential rule, in sync with the populist, flat-earth, and semi-literate, citizen mentality.
The President that succeeded this, unusual avatar of character and capability, was a former glitzy host of a sub-standard television game show, and a despised real estate gonif, lacking any useful education or capability, whose international acts, quickly rendered the United States, formerly, the respected and undisputed moral leader of the free world, into an embarrassment, and an incoherent enigma. This President, previously assessed by experts, to lack any capability, whatsoever, for executive rule, has broken every societal standard of professional morality and decency, with impunity. It is not possible in the space of a mini-essay, to recount all of the acts of gross professional negligence, as well as the intentionally wrongful acts, of this detestable, egotistical miscreant; inarguably, preeminent, among which, is his regular mendacity. Pursuant to the Constitution, America is blessed with such a leader, for a full term of four years, such frustrating endurance, constituting the basic impetus of this writing.
There is far too much Trump horror to relate, (in addition to those set forth, above, in the second paragraph), including the illegal profiteering from his position, his admitted, immoral assignations, with, and pay-offs to prostitutes, his “winking” encouragement of the White Nationalists, his unconstitutional attacks on the free press, his attempted assertion of despotic power…we just cannot, as a practical matter, include all of his acts of miscreant, ignorant and arrogant behavior. In any event, they would be merely redundant, and unnecessary, to the demonstration that the elevation of such an individual to the Oval office, for a period of four years was a sheer, unmitigated disaster.
We do feel the necessity to include Trump’s egotistic and ignorant behavior relative to the current pandemic. Early in Office, he had irrationally, dismissed Obama’s, responsibly created, government group of expert health officials, whose assigned task was to act as an early warning system as to any worldwide disease break-out, led by a physician, who is a Navy Admiral. This prudently foresighted and responsible, Obama, entity, was egotistically and irresponsibly dismissed by Trump, ironically, not very long before the unforeseen, advent of COVID-19. It was completely unforeseen and we were caught unprepared, because the medical watchdog group had been irresponsibly, and egotistically, dismissed.
Moreover, vital action regarding the epidemic was delayed by Trump, first by his groundless denials, thereafter by a course of his ignorant down-playing of the problem, as an “ordinary seasonal flu”, and still further, by unqualified and egotistically confident, attempts at the serial contradiction of the advice of the Nation’s leading medical experts. Trump, in our opinion, is indisputably guilty of mass negligent homicide, for the many thousands of deaths caused by his irrational delay and egotistical ignorance. The epidemic has ballooned, with his inaction, to pandemic proportions, due to his ignorant denials and unpreparedness. Now, in the midst of the millions of infected, dead, and dying, this buffoon-president is, advising people to drink bathroom disinfectant and stand in the sun, as medically curative therapy.
It is our view that the Founder’s, optimistically envisioned National State, has, demonstrably, been less successful than envisioned; America needs to reach this painful and regrettable consensus, and start afresh. Realistically, given the unpredictable nature of our citizenry, we need to establish an (alternate mode) of government, still maintaining citizen rights, but granting assurance, in the event that the enigmatic population elects a President, who reveals himself to be incapable, and morally, unprincipled, the Nation will not have to endure his unsatisfactory rule for years, in frustration, while the Nation suffers a dangerous decline in power and prestige.
The American system of governance does not work, as stated, because it requires for its success, a Jeffersonian described citizen, (sufficiently literate and informed). Such absence, exposes the Nation to the election of a head of State, as at present, who is profoundly undesirable and injurious to the Nation and its citizens. As long as we perpetuate the failed system, we will continue, groundhog day style, to experience undesirable and perilous outcomes. The famous philosopher and author, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wisely and famously, said: “Foolish repetition is the hobgoblin of small minds.” It would appear to be hobgoblin foolishness, to continue to reprise the same governmental system, which is capable, (due to the uncertain nature of the citizenry), of producing other, Trump-like despotic, incompetents as President, who remain in Office for an insufferable term of years.
Our long-standing preference for improvement of the electoral system, is the two-party, Parliamentary system of governance, one, while, similarly protective of the freedoms of its citizens, provides for a change of Executive, by a “Vote of Confidence” at any time appropriate, by the duly elected House of Commons.
Instead of inflexible hobgoblin-like repetition of the vulnerable features of our governmental structure, America needs to establish a new and improved mechanics of governance, particularly regarding its mode of selection of a Chief Executive.
We have, respectfully, suggested the two-party Parliamentary System.