A girlfriend and I last week were outside in the garden chatting, stories from the past summer, plans for the fall, catching up. I mentioned to her how when an old friend was visiting I had been stumped as to where to take her for some historical adventures. London is rather lacking in this history stuff – unlike our namesake over the pond – as our past leaders have seen more benefit in ripping down history then in preserving history, as they have not seen any profit in preservation.
As I was relating this, I mentioned, jokingly, how different it is in the U.S., how down yonder in the land of my birth they erect a plaque and profit off the proceeds in every house and hollow George Washington may have farted in or near-bouts.
So, for some reason I was thinking about that this morning, and about these and other fundamental differences between Canada and the U.S. Both were once colonies of Britain, yet it was them that had the courage to strike out on their own and create a country from the ground up.
My fathers ancestors go back to those early days of America, one branch I’ve traced even all the way back to Jamestown, Virginia in the late 1600s who arrived from Wales a bonded servant. That same family would 200 years later become wealthy tobacco farmers in Pitt County, North Carolina.
And so what is happening in North Carolina right now does certainly sadden me, though not surprise me, as corruption seems to be part and parcel of Republican politics today, lying and cheating and conning the constituents for profit and power.
My fathers ancestors fought in all the wars back to the Revolutionary one. That defining desire to be independent of the noose of British rule defines many Americans and how they view themselves. A history of rebelling against their “taxation without representation”, and in some ways that battle is being fought still, this time within their borders.
This group within has declared they shall be the ones who decide who gets what and where the money goes, decides which votes matter and which are silenced. Founding fathers be damned, I suppose.
Republicans have twisted and turned around voter maps to favour themselves, plus utilizing all sorts of tactics to suppress votes in certain minority districts. So, North Carolina is just the latest in a long string of states that have devolved into mere sycophants to some rich corporation or other, rich donors, selling themselves to the highest bidder.
Following now a leader who sucks up to tyrants and oppressors. Yes, those founding fathers would be quite saddened by all this.
It’s important to remember that there was a time when those United States were just an idea formed in the heart of a group of men, and within the context of world history America is still rather youthful in their rebellious exuberance, naive, perhaps as all youth, easily led down the garden path to rack and ruin. In that history of their making though, weary of the British yoke, wanting something more for themselves and their future, in the beginning those early Americans had this vision, fought over it, discussed it in hidden halls and secret places, risked their lives for the weight of that vision.
And, with merely some words on parchment delineating a constitution, a new nation was born.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Apart from how this government would run, other words defined the hearts and minds of these new citizens of those United States. Words more hopeful really than facts demonstrable on the ground, not about how congress would run, or about who did what, these words being more vision than rules, more of the heart and soul of this new country.
The Declaration of Independence, more dream than reality when it was written, described by Lincoln as, “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to tyranny and oppression.” Defined what those founding fathers had in their hearts and minds for this new nation, a nation with its own ideals, its own laws, its own vision for the future.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.Preamble to the Declaration of Independence
It took another 89 years, another war, with Abraham Lincoln at the helm, ending the enslavement of those who had earned their citizenship in chains. Even then, after such carnage and division, little was clear, but a new path had been forged, more equality was won, for some – if but briefly.
American’s have not been known to cave to the will of outside forces, as for most Americans those words on that parchment are the mortar that held together that vision they had of themselves; till, well, recently.
Do they understand the things they are sacrificing at the altar of this administration of crooks and con-men, liars and thieves? Do they understand that the great experiment, the creation of America, that ideal is a threat to some? That there are those in Washington that are pawns of some other set of ideals? Do they know they are bowing down to fear and prejudice, and that those founding fathers would be ashamed of them?
Have they become so complacent they would stand by and let a bunch of greedy self-interested weak kneed leaders represent them?
Far as I’m concerned, if what they were offering were so GREAT they wouldn’t have to stoop to cheating and lying to achieve their goals.
Words matter – even from twits on tweeter.