Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | June 30, 2011

Pondering on the 4th of July


 

As we reach another Fourth of July, I would like to stop and
ponder about our country. Are we living within the vision of the Founding
Fathers, with freedom and opportunity for all? Or are we on the verge of
another Civil War, divided as we are about everything from taxes to health care
and how to deal with our sagging economy.

Honestly speaking, I don’t think this country’s framers  would recognize the United States if they came back to life today. Most of them were slave-owners, and as the
Constitution was written, they conveniently pushed the issue of slavery – which
was already being discussed in Europe – under the table for future generations
to deal with. Had they imagined that we would have to go through war to solve
that issue – which would take a Constitutional amendment  so that Southern states could not strip the rights of newly freed African Americans – all that within the space of 100 years?

Jefferson himself would probably identify with the politics of Libertarians like Ron Paul. He believed in individualism and the autonomy of states (the first Confederacy document gave states way more leeway than the Constitution does), while folks
like Alexander Hamilton preferred a centralized government  – which most of the framers did not agree  – and that is why we have so many confusing state laws.

That is probably why so many people are against the new health care law. The problem, they say, is that the Federal government does not have the right to force Americans to buy health insurance, even if they agree that the old laws have made health even more costly – after all, it is because so many people do not pay their hospital bills that the overall cost of meds and health in general is so crazy. If you look back 50 years,  there was the same heated debate over Medicare and Medicaid – Reagan made a famous speech calling the program ‘socialist,’ and there were even lawsuits (like today) to try and curb it.

Does that mean that We the people have taken the country to the wrong direction? I would say no. Even the founding fathers knew that times would change, so it is little wonder that they were revolutionaries.  As someone with leftist ideas, I think the
radical right (The Tea Party) wants to turn the clock way back. At the same
time, I also believe that the radical left will never have its way in this
country – we are far too conservative for that – an example is the various
Supreme Court decisions (and the Civil Rights act) that assured that miscegenation
laws were wrong. But it took time for things to change.

So what country are we now?  I am not sure. We are going through big changes that we did not think we would experience in our lifetimes (a black President, gay rights slowly
creeping up). But  we really need to be United States (in every sense) to dig us out of the hole we’re in. We need t give incentives to manufacturing instead of allowing big corporations to send factories and jobs abroad. And most of all, politicians need to drop the posturing.  We need  start working – now. Or we will face dire
consequences.

Anyway, have a great Independence Day

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