Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Optimism: the American Experiment

I just watched the final episode of a re-broadcast of the History Channel series, The Revolution.

It is good to occasionally return to our roots.

Ours is the first country to be "invented".
It is one of the few invented countries which has succeeded.
The French Revolution produced anarchy and Napoleon.
The Russian Revolution produced Stalin, and a now-failed state.

The U.S. Constitution was written by fallible men who dreamed.
That it continues to inform our politics and our policies is a testament not only to the Framers, but also to ourselves - each and every one of us, Americans!

We have weathered invasion (War of 1812), Civil War, imperialism, two World Wars, the Cold War... and 9/11.

We've never quite lived up to the ideals inherent in our Constitution, but have somehow managed to move forward - striving for a State that respects individual liberties. This is no small achievement.

Many of the Framers were extremely mistrustful of mob rule, but they shrugged and took what compromises they could - a Senate elected by state assemblies, the franchise granted by the States. [aside: as a 4th-grader in Casper, Wyoming, I learned that Wyoming was the first state to grant the franchise to women.]

Just as I don't believe in a long-past "Golden Age" in which the average yeoman farmer was supremely well-informed about politics and policy, neither do I believe in a long-past "Golden Age" in which we lived up to the ideals inherent in our Constitution. The Framers could not abolish slavery. Lincoln - the paragon who restored the Union - unconstitutionally suspended habeas corpus, and oversaw the dreadful - and illegal - treatment of Confederate POWs.

We are an on-going experiment in the rule of law. I would go so far as to say that we are a unique experiment - but that would require honest research! What other invented country shares our record of success?

We will survive W.


No comments:

Post a Comment