In order that this writer avoid the depressing conclusion that the empirical outcome of the Founder’s “Radical Experiment,” in the creation of a Democratic Republic, disappointingly, evinces, the triumph of experience over hope, he finds it metaphysically, necessary to construe an explanatory ( sociological) assumption, viz., that the experiment, itself, has changed and has become more societally, convoluted.
It may be useful, as an explanatory illustration, to reference the mathematical discipline of geometry, in the understanding of the contemporary stress-laden condition of American society, in contrast to the Founder’s dedicated efforts towards a just, peaceful and utilitarian, Nation. In Geometry, one is presented with certain established propositions, (the “Given”) and by applicable, logical process, deduces the desired, conclusion, (QED). Utilizing such geometric lexicon, the Founders’ optimistic perception was, evidently, based upon a distinctly, differentiated, “given,” (societal milieu) than the contemporary precepts, held by mainstream, right-minded American citizens.
In 1787, when the Founding Fathers completed the drafting of the United States Constitution, much of the Planet had, historically, been under the abject rule of despotism, monarchial or ecclesiastical. The architects of our Republican Democracy intended that their archetypal and radical creation, avoid the unjust, autocracy of a Monarch or Pope, eschew the unjust class system, based upon “privileged” birth, and, establish a “universal” equality. They, optimistically, anticipated that the outcome of their unique experiment would be, the political antithesis of autocratic rule and privileged status.
We would confess to the complete, contemporary, inability, to, rationally comprehend the sincere and dedicated, aspiration to prescribe a “universal,” equality, but, one which was applicable, exclusively, to propertied, white male citizens. Many of the founders, like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were, at one and the same time, slave owners, and advocates for “equality.” Excluded from the category of democratic, free citizen, were the enslaved black, whose legally, and socially, assigned, status was, that, of a mere agricultural chattel, the property-less male and the entire population of women. Thus, the status and complexity, of the Founders’ stated, “Experiment in Republican Democracy,” in 1787, was circumscribed, and, inarguably, far more limited in scope, and complexity than today.
Judging by today’s altered and expanded, criteria, despite the relatively, recent, legislated standard of equality of female treatment and, significantly, the grant of their voting franchise, the Nation evinces far less than universal compliance, with Statute, and case precedent, in the establishment of constitutional equality to Americans of color. It is the latter impediment in the main, together with certain (not unrelated) cultural factors (see, below) that continue to complicate the classic aspiration for a successful outcome from the great, experiment in Republican Democracy.
We would briefly, categorize and list the three salient factors, as we perceive them, most responsible for the added, complexity or enhancement, to the Founders’ (conception of) the “radical experiment in democracy.” Unfortunately, they uniformly, appear to be cultural, and consequently, difficult of amelioration. We list them, according to our perception, in ascending order of significance:
[Religious interference] The Founders, mostly Deists, all too cognizant of the historic, injustices and autocratic cruelties of the Church, clearly and unequivocally, made provision in our Constitution, for the non –involvement of the Church in governmental rule (“Separation of Church and State.”) The “Establishment” Clause, prohibits government interference with, or participation in, religion.
Nonetheless, the express prohibition against governmental participation in religious matters has been, at various, times, violated. The existence of “Sunday Blue Laws,” (now unenforced), alcoholic prohibition (now discontinued), tax exemption for profitable Church institutions, persisting prayer at school and public events, discrimination against trans-sex individuals and same-sex marriage, book censorship, and the most draconian, callous and life-threatening, the SCOTUS abolition of a woman’s right to abortion. The supporters of the latter, inhuman and unconstitutional strictures, tactically, and deceitfully, had arrogated to themselves the misleading name, “Right to Life.” That the falsity and misrepresentation of such name, (selected for public relations purposes), is inarguably, deceitful, is shown by their eternal opposition to programs of assistance to the needy child, (i.e., after birth), their general opposition to gun regulation (despite the plethora of tragic public shootings), opposition to refugee immigration, and support of capital punishment. SCOTUS’s banning of abortion was erroneous since religiously, based.
[Culture] The unfortunate, existence, in a Nation of a large inventory of a less than adequately, educated, and poorly, informed, citizens, poses an imminent danger to the existence of democracy. Founder, Thomas Jefferson, famously, declared that in order for a democracy to succeed, it is necessary to have an “educated and informed citizenry.”
That such basic and mandatory requirement has not been realized, is unequivocally, made evident, in the daily media and in personal experience. It is the large “underbelly,” of populist-ignorant members of the American society that is useless to any Nation that is dedicated to governance, by, and for the people. Moreover, it is this class that is most vulnerable to “snake oil,” demagogues, political and religious, and with the self-serving, financial support of anti-regulation big business, succeeded in the election to America’s Oval Office, of the autocratic, ignorant, immoral and biased, Donald Trump. We have, in earlier essays, previously, described his incapable and bizarre term of office (resulting in not less than, two, Congressional impeachments).
It is among such populist underbelly, citizens that there exists, fertile ground for the perpetuation and transmission of delusional conspiracy ideations, and Christian White Supremacy militias, supporters of anti-democratic undertakings, not the least of which, was the Trump inspired, “false election,” or autocratic style, “Big Lie,” that, shockingly, led to the violent, January, 26 rebellion against the Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C.
Historically, the 18th Century Founders had, naively, anticipated an entirely differentiated, population of Americans, who, in neighborly manner, would, regularly, and informatively, debate the extant, controversial issues. The result of the debates was anticipated to be useful as a guide to the Nation’s policymakers, as appropriate to a government, by and for the people. Instead, differences in opinion led to sharp, divisive, rancor between insular, groups of like-minded citizens at “cold war” with other such groups, but of disparate opinion. The empirical character of the population had been optimistically, misjudged, no doubt, due to the Founder’s naive projection, of their erudite character and morally, dedicated, expectations. Again, the experiment had radically, changed.
[Race Relations] The 19th Century determination, outlawing slavery, following the Civil War, regarding which, black enslavement, was the salient issue, unfortunately, did not, by any means, signal the end of the anti-democratic, dynamics of race prejudice. The problem was not an ingredient in the Founders’ declared “experiment,” since, as observed, above, they, in the context of their historical period, did not (somehow) perceive that the agricultural enslavement of black human beings, was immoral or unnatural.
By contrast, the overpowering, moral and legal issue in contemporary times is that of white-nonwhite, racial prejudice. The absence of this issue in the early aspirations of the Founders for success in their conceived “Experiment in Democracy,” renders their archaic estimation of such experiment simplistically, irrelevant.
In, solely analytic, societal, (and in avoidance of the use of humanistically, reproachful) terms, the long decades of institutional debasement of the value of people of color, during slavery, has, to varying degrees, and for various possible reasons, been atavistically, and ignorantly, perpetuated, especially, but not, exclusively, in regard to many, “underbelly” individuals, but empirically, more significantly, in many of the Nation’s institutions and practices. In many cases, these are subtle and properly, denominated as white (usually, unperceived) privilege. The advocates for “Critical Race” education, are especially, interested in this latter phenomenon.
We have chosen to persist in our optimistic expectation, that the “Radical Experiment in Democracy,” albeit, demonstrably, enhanced, and complicated, will, in time, enjoy a result, universally, satisfactory to all right-thinking, moral American citizens.