Historians generally agree that one of the chief complaints the fledgling revolutionaries in the Colonies called America had against the British was centered around the concept of “No taxation without Representation”. This may or may not have been a smoke screen for other issues. History is, after all, written by the victors and subsequently edited by the status quo. Regardless, the principle that a populace shouldn’t have to pay for things or policies that they had no real say or input about, seemed to stick and to legitimize the revolt in the general public’s understanding.
Not so far back in time, in the Presidential campaign of 2008 actually, each candidate promised ‘change’. The Republican nominee, John McCain, even went so far as to state that “Washington was broken”.
The status of our system of representative government was ‘broken’.
He was not being dramatic. He was speaking from his experience. Mr. McCain, a veteran Senator of 26 plus years in Washington, DC, spoke the honest truth. It’s a truth that had been whispered and long suspected but never spoken out loud from a public platform by a Presidential Candidate, except as rhetoric. The reasons for this ‘brokenness’ hardly matter any more. What matters is that the ‘brokenness’ is systemic, that it is pervasive and fiercely resists all attempts at remedy.
We have all watched, during the years since 2008, our government’s dysfunction become only more flagrant and frequent. It has been painful. It has been impossible to ignore.
Since the processes of ‘representative government are broken’, then one of the direct conclusions we must confront is that we, the people, are being ‘taxed without Representation’.
Whatever it is that is actually happening in Washington, DC does not represent what we have elected people to do. We have been trying to elect people who will make this better and we are constantly seeing people there that simply make things worse.
And we, the people, are now realizing that we have no recourse via the electoral process, no way to correct the problem, because the election process itself has been compromised by powerful special interest groups, campaign spending laws, and the lack of term limits. (to mention only a few of the issues stifling reform).
And so it is that the very conditions which gave rise to actionable discontent are present again. The Declaration of Independence states that the remedy, our civic ‘right’, is to throw off that government which no longer serves the best interests of the people. The justification is spelled out in our country’s founding charter.
Let me be absolutely clear: I do not advocate in any way or under any circumstance the use of violence as a means to bring about the changes we recognize that are needed.
We, ourselves, are part of the problem. Our government is not an external force. Our government is not a ‘they’. It’s an ‘us’. We, the people, have abdicated responsible citizenry and have allowed these circumstances to develop and flourish. We didn’t do this wholesale. We did this piecemeal, a little bit here…a tiny bit there. Truthfully, our generation inherited many of the systemic disorders. We were taught them from childhood, indoctrinated and desensitized into accepting as ‘normal’ the general workings of the ‘democratic republic’. We were misled.
I will repeat: Our system of representative government is broken. It has been broken for quite some time. There has been a gradual erosion of our accountability in our civic responsibilities, a numbing and dumbing down, to the point where we can’t even pretend to ourselves that its working. It has crumbled over the generations through countless acts of expediency, of practical minded persons fudging their principles, of ambitious people playing on our fears…to get themselves elected…and once in office, of continuing those behaviors to stay there.
We, the people, would do well to take a hard look at ourselves. The 2016 candidates emerging from our system reflect a broken system, not a broken people.
We deserve to do better.