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America a Democracy? Not Then, Not Now!


Fri, Aug 2nd, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

By Robert and Monica Hatch,

Lanesboro, Minn.

We think the July 22 commentary by Stan Gudmundson needed some amending, unless written as sarcasm. Briefly: our arduously crafted “Republic” is, in practice, a combination of “democracy” (where sovereignty resides in the whole body of free citizens) and a “republic” (where sovereignty resides in individuals, one or many.)

Thus we have federal government overseeing the country and state government overseeing smaller states. With both - the “body politic”(everyone) or the “people” (individually) - powers are conferred on representatives to do the tasks of governing without forfeiting the grantor’s sovereignty. A Republic is based in “natural law” (the fruits of individual natural gifts) while a democracy is based in statutory law (government granted privileges to all citizens by a majority of citizens).

Problem solving through the agencies of government are done both by individuals or groups working with their representatives or by citizens en mass working with their representatives. Obviously, there were and are pros and cons to both! This is why, from its beginning, our system has been called “The Great Experiment in self -government.” And the question to be answered is: “Can self-governing people coexist and prevail over government agencies that have no authority over the ‘people’?”

The natural tension between these two philosophies and systems stems from the nature of life itself. Individuals in a society are always part of a group, and every group is made up of individuals.

Also, in any group only about 10 percent are “highly gifted” with superior talents. Those tend to become the high achievers and creative visionaries toward solving problems for everyone. In sociological terms they become the “dominant minority,” seen in all cultures.

However, it is equally true that while human “talents” are unequally gifted, human “needs” are equally possessed. The wisest among the highly gifted respond to this reality by establishing social systems that nurture all their human members to elevate their “capacity” for contribution to the society thereby elevating the nobility of their entire human culture.

In contrast, if the highly gifted are immature, they establish an aristocracy and leverage their natural gifts to confer all social and material blessings to themselves while disdainfully subjugating the remaining mass population. The latter, the template for most societies, eventually leads to partial or total collapse, as history attests.

America has always engaged in a balancing act between group and individual rights. The current state of “anti-democratic” turmoil in America began, as we see it, in 1970.

The post-WWII “boomers” were nurtured in an unprecedented national middle class affluence which allowed them the freedom to learn, explore and question their society in large numbers. A variety of inequities, seen as structural problems negatively affecting all citizens, were challenged.

The response was 60’s era mass movements culminating in changes to national government policies and regulations toward relieving stresses on the “majority”; generally, a group demand for responsibility toward the well-being of all citizens and their environment by industry and government.

In 1970, 20 million demonstrators, nation-wide, responding to large scale industrial pollution, caused the enactment of the National Environmental Policy Act and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. In April of 1971, the EPA established its first air pollution standards.

The “dominant minority,” primarily family and corporate industrialists, already accommodating recently expanded labor and civil rights, felt “republic” oriented “free enterprise” was being unduly assaulted from all levels, and “socialized!” Then, originating from a memo to a member of the National Chamber of Congress, they received inspiration and legal-council in late 1971 from tobacco industry lawyer Lewis F. Powell in, “The Powell Memorandum.”

Among other suggestions Powell advocated corporate business must “reshape political debate” through assiduous and aggressive cultivation of political power in a united front to purge left-wing influences, “organize speaker’s bureaus, create new think tanks, legal foundations and front groups”; and, keep television programs “under constant surveillance”; this was also advocated for textbooks and literary journals. Powell’s memo has been the genesis of such notable recent national developments as “trickle-down economics”, repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, the “hanging chads” political and legal debacle and the Wall Street and bank bailouts, plus many more.

These are the fruits of enacting the Powell Memorandum by corporate America, with more in the making. In short, since 1970, there has been a reactionary assertion of America as a “corporate republic!”

This isn’t a new response by the dominant minority in our history. The industrial elites of the early 20th century felt threatened in the 30’s first by the depression and second by the 1933 election of FDR who, in fighting The Great Depression, ushered in “The New Deal,” created a Bank Holiday and embargoed the export of gold.

Industrialists feared they’d get stuck paying for all these government conferred rights and also feared restrictive changes to their finance system. Their reaction was also dramatic, and brazen. They planned a coup!

The book, “The Plot to Seize the White House,” by Jules Archer, details that story. Agents representing some of the largest corporations and banks of the day offered decorated WWI Commander Major General S. D. Butler $3 million and 500,000 troops to overthrow the US government to set up a fascist regime which would allow them to more directly control the nation’s capitalist goals. He refused and exposed them. Hearings were held on November 20, 1934 where names like Rockefeller, Mellon, Pew, Pitcairn, Hutton and others denied all allegations.

Today’s elites are employing a gradualist approach expressed in a calibrated implementation of the Powell Memorandum. However, we assert that dramatic methods are also employed today exemplified by the curious September 11 event of 2001.

Too many unanswered questions! Most blatantly the simple incongruity that Building 7 fell eight hours after the towers, no planes, and all three fell “straight to the ground” (as in a controlled demolition), and, all nearby fighter jets were engaged in a distant “terrorist training exercise” screams “inside players!”

Consider that since that event, a possible “false flag’ operation, the entire world, including America, is a battle field subject not to the rule of law but to the rules of war! Hence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights have been dismantled through The Patriot Act, the NDAA and secret FISE courts, freedom of speech and assembly are dismantled via brute force by militarized police, the press and media are “under constant surveillance” via corporate ownership and journalists are now being prosecuted as whistleblowers.

The courts, filled with many former corporate lawyers, facilitate corporate power with decisions such as affirming the Citizens United suit and our two-party political system has become a corporate controlled duopoly. The president’s use of drones, and his “kill list,” are blatant abuses of civil office; and, we are all “under constant surveillance” by the NSA’s PRISM system.

Securing our borders is a cyclical disaster highlighted in Juan Gonzales’ book “Harvest of Empire” depicting how our own economic and military interferences in Latin America generate mass migrations here.

Additionally, we learn in Glenn Greenwald’s book, “Liberty and Justice for Some”, American fairness and equality under the law are barely recognizable as political and financial elites are now vested with immunity from rule of law while ordinary citizens are subjected to the harshest penal system in existence.

At year-end 2007 the American population was less than 5 percent of the world yet incarcerated 23.4 percent of its adult inmates. That percentage could increase with civil unrest, incarcerating citizens in five large regional detention centers contracted by the Department of Homeland Security in 2006 and built by Haliburton subsidiary KBR.

Clearly the pendulum is swinging away from democracy in America, although some 70 percent of citizens in 24 states still use direct democracy in the form of initiatives and referendums voted on by the public at large.

However, state governments are being influenced by model legislation whose language is written by Powell Memo inspired organizations such as ALEC, founded in 1973, whose purpose is to undo various human and civil rights oriented statutory laws, serving “the greater good”, in favor of individual rights, which in practice serves the enfranchised few. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law is one example.

There is great irony in all of this. This country marks its beginnings with The Boston Tea Party. That revolutionary act was committed against the queen of England’s East India Company, the largest international corporation of its day. It was her ships that floated the first inhabitants of Jamestown here and established the territory of Virginia, after the virgin queen.

It was also under the tyranny of that corporation, who subjugated their lives for over two centuries; who’s queen’s subsidies, free tariffs and extra-large ships undercut the prices of all the colonies’ tea merchants that ignited rebellion; corporate monopoly, not taxes! This, and many other influences, is why the founders injected so many checks and balances into the Constitution, checks and balances to address the vagaries of human nature and which are now being undone.

America is still beautiful, bountiful and full of opportunity. Our diverse and energetic population here has boundless potential for the benefit of the entire country, in fact, the world. These are ingredients for greatness but alone are insufficient. Greatness is forever attached to goodness, be it a person or a nation, and that quality emanates not just from our minds but our spirits.

As flesh and spirit beings we are called to fulfill our highest potential through understanding ourselves as brothers to all others, regardless of temporal variety, biology or nurture. Relying solely on “natural law,” biological happen-stance, is too base a definition of humanity in full bloom.

This is the thrust behind the Nazarene’s teaching, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded…” (Lk 12:48). Man’s biological disparity can be cultivated to eventually reflect his spiritual commonality toward the self-actualization of all, but, requires the patient interaction of all both severally and collectively.

It is this kind of vision we think many founders held when penning our Constitution, whose preamble states that its purpose is to be the scaffolding to “form a more perfect union”. Let us see our past and present with bald clarity and realism, don the cloak of wisdom, and step not backward but forward, together! In this way will we honor the prayer, God bless America!

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