What will be the Foundation for a New America?
As the American economy teeters on a precipice (the middle class is being decimated as their jobs are exported while the upper class increases its wealth; personal debt continues to build while savings diminish) and as the American world empire borders on collapse (foreign disasters like Iraq will cause unrest to spread and the burden of the high-tech military is not sustainable), assuming that America does not use nuclear weapons to bring on the destruction of itself and/or the world what will be the foundation for the new America?
Two of the main influences currently vying for control are the current government and the Christian evangelical movement. Since both of these are part of the reasons why America is in trouble, the stability of a new America depends on whether or not they remain influential.
America is in trouble. The Bush administration is no longer held accountable by Congress. Signing statements supposedly allow laws to be ignored while questionable actions are not investigated or censured. Congress is no longer held accountable by the electorate. Redistricting and incumbent privileges make it very difficult to unseat those in office. So many laws and regulations have been passed that it is nearly impossible for anyone to understand the scope of this government. Even the legislators have stopped bothering to read the laws they pass, resulting in the major lobbies and special interests getting legislative support for whatever they require. The Judicial branch is becoming beholden to the Executive rather than retaining its independence as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The Executive branch has embarked on a crusade of imposing our military might on those regimes that do not suit its needs, though this imperial ambition is cloaked in a disguise of seeking governments with democratic principles. The Executive and Legislative branches continue to spend inordinate amounts of resources, driving up the national debt and further adding to the bureaucratic government's burden on the economy's private sector, while also worsening the dependency of the lower class on its government handouts (paid for by the overburdened middle class). The current 'for us or against us; us vs. them' confrontational mentality has destroyed our international alliances and our recent actions (such as Iraq war crimes, torture in the Guantanemo or Abu Graib prisons and others, rendition of captives to other countries) have made America the evil empire in the eyes of the world.
The religious right has aligned itself with this administration in a cultural war against Islam. Their domestic proposals, endorsed by a number of Executive and Congressional leaders, threaten our cultural tradition of a separation between Church and State by pushing religion into law (with gay marriage amendment proposals, denial of a woman's right to decide on her own health (a choice of an abortion or not), even pushing the Bible into classrooms (under the subterfuge of intelligent design).
Our Founding Fathers created this country with a different intent than we find now. At the time of the Revolutionary War, the colonies were essentially independent states. The Articles of Confederation formed the United States of America - a union of independent states. These states had their own governments, even their own defense forces in their militia (several states even had navies). The Founding Fathers, with the English heritage of the Magna Carta and other recent expressions of personal rights, had realized the importance of freedom from a strong central government like the English monarchy and its parliament.
When the colonists realized that there were inefficiencies in the Articles, especially when resolving problems between colonies, they attempted to improve the Articles. However what started as an 'improvement' became a 'rewrite.' The Constitution implemented a central government that supposedly had checks and balances to prevent it from becoming what the Founding Fathers feared - a tyranny. The writings of the time reveal many concerns with the Constitution and in the 21st Century we are seeing the tyranny that the architects of the Constitution claimed would not happen and the critics had warned would probably happen. Our current abomination of national government can be rightfully accused of many in the 'train of abuses' listed in our 1776 Declaration of Independence from the British tyranny.
As a number of authors have pointed out (including Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Robert Higgs, James Bovard and others), the central government with the ability to tax the electorate becomes a self-sustaining parasite. As it finds more reasons for its bureaucracy to intervene, it passes laws and raises taxes to fund those interventions and when those are ineffective more laws and taxes are needed to sustain those efforts. Even worse, the 20th Century brought a tendency to increase the size of the armed forces (certain Founding Fathers warned there should be no standing army - but we have one and its appetite keeps growing) and then that force was used to intervene in other countries (more wars, and so more taxes). The government's budget continues to spiral upward because its very 'life' requires more spending and taxes to feed the insatiable and unaccountable bureaucracy. Wars bring the death of a democracy because the leadership bends the government to suit those imperial desires and by fanning the fires of the nationalistic desires the electorate is convinced that its leaders should be supported or else the country might lose those wars.
Without getting into excessive detail (a number of authors including those above have certainly done so), the new America must not remain encumbered by this behemoth that is our central government.
A new America must not be based on the Christian religion, as an American theocracy. While Christianity can serve as something of a moral compass for its followers it is not an appropriate basis for a political organization. The Christian religions are based on their own particular interpretation of the Bible, a collection of ancient writings assembled many years ago. A person's 'faith' is really nothing but the belief in an interpretation of ancient writings. Anything based on an interpretation is implicitly divisive because each group will be vigilant for any opposing views that could sway its members. With neither having anything substantial for its basis, disagreements can become heated arguments because a reasonable debate is not possible when interpretation or 'faith' confronts 'reason.' Neither 'faith' nor an 'us vs. them' rationale will be a firm foundation. (see Separation of church and state)
The only firm foundation for a political or economic entity that has been rationally articulated is one based on libertarian principles. The basic structure of human culture is the respect for one other, the respect for another's property and the duty to honor one's commitments. Such are the basic libertarian principles.
The delegation of oversight to any government body is perilous as soon as the direct accountability is lost. The larger that government body becomes, drawing resources from more people, the more that supporting bureaucracy loses its accountability. The bureaucracy is beholden to those that delegate tasks to it, not to the populace that elected its supervisors. The populace wants justice and fairness in their lives. These will exist only when there is direct accountability for any person's actions.
A libertarian framework is one based on people, on the social fabric of our human culture. It is not based on finding the least worst candidate to put in office. It is based on each person being involved in his/her community, working with others on maintaining a quality of life while not persecuting those of a different life style or from a different culture. It is based on taking responsibility for one's actions and for one's destiny. It is based on holding others accountable for their promises and contracts. This would be a country that could choose to define a loose confederation of communities or states (as in our Declaration of Independence) where the overriding principle is based on people and their inherent rights: of the people, by the people, for the people.
created - May 2006
last change - 05/07/2006
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