Along with the Great Depression and the onset of World War II change came to America. No longer was the United States protected from outside economic influences and America was no longer isolated from the rest of the world once we were attacked on December 7, 1941.
The pain and suffering that resulted from the Depression was so great, the relationship between the people and their government was irrevocably changed. Most observers agree that Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism by managing greed through new laws and regulations.
For many on the right side of the political spectrum the changes in the size and scope of government as a result of a changing world has never been accepted. They long for a time, long since gone, when states were sovereign and individual freedom was greater.
But let us consider who had the freedom and power. Only white males who owned a sufficient amount of property had political power. If you were removed by great distances from your colonial master’s, you had the opportunity to have influence and power. If you lived on a plantation or were a merchant, you had the freedom that wealth gives you. The life of a country gentleman gave you the chance to acquire fine libraries and be almost self-sufficient.
If you owned a plantation and had slaves you had the luxury and time to be benevolent, if you chose to be. But again, what freedoms did poor whites have or women, let alone native Americans and slaves?
The original Tea Party was quite different from today’s professed decentralized, less government, fanciers. A group of white men dressed up as Indians, dumped tea into Boston Harbor that did not belong to them. They were fighting for their rights as Englishmen, as their King with Lord North’s help, sought to tax the colonies without any representation of those who were affected by the tax.
The current Tea Party reminds me more of the Tories back in colonial times. They are the loyalists of corporate greed and avarice. They are willing to bring down our government and tear down the credit worthiness of the dollar for what and to what end? Those tea party elected officers in Washington have a similar exalted opinion of themselves as they refuse to listen to reason. They refuse to compromise. They see compromise as a weakness. They are a new form of autocracy, unwilling to accept the will of the majority and insistent on having their way. They intimidate the Speaker of the House, who is too fearful of losing his own position, to take a stand for what is best for the nation.
Today’s so-called conservative professes to want to return to some idolized time that never existed, except for the wealthy. They profess to wish to have limited government with fewer taxes and more liberty. They speak as if things would be better if states had the sovereignty they had during the days of the Articles of Confederation. State’s rights are not a cure-all for the tyranny that they claim to be living in now.
The Articles of Confederation state quite clearly that a Confederacy was being created.
Article II, says, ” Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.” The Articles of Confederation set forth in that document the rights of states.
The Constitution was written to form a more perfect union, not of sovereign states but for and the people. We are a Republic, a form of government whereby we have a person represent us in government.
The founders were fearful of mob rule, and enfranchised people of property only. Our country has evolved into a country that combines democratic and republican principles of government.
We no longer had a confederacy, once the Constitution was ratified. The document of the Constitution stresses the power of the people and how their government was to form a more perfect union, establish justice, provide for the common defence and promote the general welfare. The pre-amble to the Constitution stresses the need to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity. For ourselves and our posterity means for all of us for now and in the future for the UNITED states, and not for 50 independent states.
Today’s reactionary conservative argues that we should return to the original intent of the founders. They put forth not the arguments of the founders but rather the arguments of the Anti-Federalists, who wanted to maintain the confederacy. Sorry, but maybe the Tea Party and the Neo-Constitutionalists need to be told the truth. You lost! You lost the argument during the debates on whether to ratify the Constitution. You lost when slavery ended and the Southern Confederacy lost the war between the states.
We no longer limit the right to vote. The days of when only white propertied people could vote are gone, forever. Get over it. Women can vote, whites who don’t own property can vote and even minorities can vote. The rights of private property have given way to the rights of all of us to rent or own property irrespective of our race, creed or religion. Times have changed and we are not going back to a time when racism and discrimination were tolerated.
The origins of our current differences came from our very beginnings, and the echoes of the past can still be heard. Limited government went the way of the DODO bird.
Change began from almost the early years, when nationalism, growth and prosperity became a reality for more Americans. From the time when western Virginians fought for the right to vote, and separated from their Tidewater brethren, to found a new state, West Virginia, times changed.
When tariffs were passed during the time of Andrew Jackson, people like John C. Calhoun, brought back the idea of state’s rights when their economic interests were threatened in South Carolina. The old ideas that had been repudiated were brought back and repackaged for their own self-interest.
Nullification was introduced as a concept based upon the original ideas of a confederacy to help preserve the institution of slavery.
The interests of property and liberty have been joined at the hip to preserve the power and monetary interest’s of the wealthy since the country was founded.
The seeds of the Tea Party’s rise and soon to be fall come from the discredited ideas of the past. They have just been repackaged, like some new soap for sale. But no matter how they package it, it is the same as before. Instead of liberty for all, what they want is wealth for a few and poverty for the rest of us.
The new so-called conservatives express the importance of liberty and property and hold those two concepts with equal reverence.
You can not be free, truly free, without equality of opportunity and without equal rights before the law.
Now we come to the 20th and 21st centuries where the size of our country and its ever-growing population make it impossible for government to work without the size of government growing as well, to provide for and promote the general welfare of the people. These are complex times. We are no longer living in an agrarian society where the ideal world of Thomas Jefferson could exist. Those days are gone.
Today’s wealthy are insecure, they fear that they are falling behind because they see that their is a large increase in the amount of billionaires that we have in the world. Part of the wealthy class helped to fund and market the beginnings of the 21st Century Tea Party. Through their encouragement a fringe group of citizens got the Tea Party going. In reality a lot of Tea Party members do not believe in government as we know it, unless it is for the support of our military. The wealthy donors of the current manifestation of a historically well thought of group of revolutionary men, are in fact helping to keep power in the hands of the wealthy by insuring that no reform occurs.
Members of the Tea Party deny that government is and can be a force for good? But let us look at the facts. Food is safer to eat. The air and water quality is better than it was 40 years ago. Seniors have Medicare to protect them from financial disaster if they should get sick. And we all know we all get sick eventually. We have Social Security. Social Security insures that that the elderly have something guaranteed for retirement. We have the Interstate Highway system to ensure that we have roads. Government is a force for good.
The ideological passion of the modern day conservative movement against liberalism was inspired by Ronald Reagan’s anti-government thesis. It became politically unpopular to claim the mantle of liberalism. The word liberal became the equivalent of a cuss word. The social democracy that Roosevelt ushered in and President Eisenhower followed through on along with succeeding Presidents through Jimmy Carter, became the bane of politicians. Even President Clinton declared the era of big government over.
Several Presidents defined liberalism in the 20th Century, they defined liberalism by their actions. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt with his New Nationalism, Democrat Franklin Roosevelt with the New Deal, President Truman with his Fair Deal, John F. Kennedy with his New Frontier and President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
Each President from Franklin Roosevelt through Richard Nixon brought change and added dimensions to government. Truman with the G.I. Bill, Eisenhower with the interstate highway system, John F. Kennedy with Civil Rights Legislation, and Richard Nixon with the EPA. All of those presidents added programs that increased government’s involvement in our daily lives. Out of these progressive periods the social democratic welfare state emerged.
Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. said, “Liberalism in America has been a party of social progress rather than of intellectual doctrine, committed to ends rather than methods.
Liberalism is not a dogmatic ideology. The early founders were classic liberals who took many of their ideas from John Locke. Our liberal tradition is full of examples of experimentation.
Schlesinger continued in his view of what liberalism is by saying that,” When a laissez-faire policy seemed best calculated to achieve the liberal objective of equality of opportunity for all–as it did in the time of Jefferson–liberals believed, in the Jeffersonian phrase, that government is best that governs least. But when the growing complexity of industrial conditions required increasing government intervention in order to assure more equal opportunity, the liberal traditions, faithful to the goal rather than the dogma, altered its views of the state.”
Our progressive Presidents felt that government had the duty and obligation to grow the economy, to maintain as high a level of unemployment as they could, and they felt the need and importance of regulating bad business practices and greed.
Conservatives have wanted to dial the clock back for a long time now; especially since the New Deal.
President Obama’s election returned to center stage the disagreements that exist between two visions of government. The historic passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was the culmination of the effort of many Presidents before President Obama to bring to the people of the United States a semblance of what kind of health care that exists in all the nations of western society.
The conservative angst about the passage of the ACA has brought us to where we are now. Just like during the days of the passage of Social Security and Medicare, conservatives have kicked and screamed about how those acts of legislation are allegedly unconstitutional. The primary difference today is that our government is being held hostage because of the conservative refusal to accept the reality of the ACA .
So-called conservatives argue against any increase in the rights of our fellow citizens. Their brand of so-called social conservatism is really a radical idea that government has a role in an individuals privacy rights. They are a re-tread of a tired and old refrain where the belief was the business knows best. Instead of helping the car industry survive, they are the repository of the Hoover notion that businesses that are failing should just be liquidated..The current tyranny that the far right is attempting to force upon us is but a repeat of the repudiated ideas of the past.
As we go forward if we are to have real change we must repudiate the economic tyranny that we now experience, where our hopes of economic mobility are stifled by the forces of the wealthy. They use their money to control our representatives. We must reject the tyranny of the minority and give the power back to the people. We hope that reason will triumph over extremism. Let us return to majority rule. We must not allow the tyrannical acts of a few ruin our future.