Our founders believed in majority rule. Today, through the use of a Senate rule a single senator can put a hold on a nomination. In using the filibuster often, the original idea for its usage has been abandoned and now instead of protecting the views and ideas of the minority it is used as a technique to put a stop to government, This has to stop. What we are seeing is tyranny, a tyranny of a minority of our representatives that is denying the rule of the majority to take place.
It is time to define a few terms so that we have a mutual understanding of the meaning of certain words.
We citizens for the most part believe that we had a democracy from the beginning but that was not true.
Democracy comes from the word demos, “rule of the people.” Our founders were frightened of the idea of mob rule. In small towns in New England where nearly every citizen participated in decisions for that particular community, you had what could be taken for democratic rule. Democracy is hard to define but an early revolutionary or as he might say a patriot, James Otis might have broken down the word to its most simple form. He defined democracy as being,” a government of all over all.” and it includes the idea that” the votes of the majority shall be taken as the voice of the whole.”
For the most part we started out having a republic. A republic is when you elect someone to represent you. “Res publica “, or public thing, was meant to secure the common good.
From the onset of our nation only those who owned property could vote. What we have seen through time is an evolution from being a republic to also having a democracy as well. We have seen our nation evolve to where suffrage has increased for all. Women may now vote as well as people of color.
Let us not forget that in the original Constitution, slaves were considered to be 3/5 of a person. For years after the 15th Amendment, there were literacy tests which restricted voting. Not until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, did America codify into law what the 15th Amendment to the Constitution was meant to accomplish. The Amendment is not ambiguous as it says, that no state shall deny or abridge a person’s right to vote.
Let us now turn to attempting to define what a conservative is. Wikipedia defines conservatism as being a political and social philosophy that promotes retaining traditional social institutions and values. Wikipedia continues and describes the followers of conservatism as being those who seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity.
Todays modern day right wing conservative is probably accurately described as someone who opposes modernism and would seek to return to “the way things were.” This is also called a reactionary.
Interestingly enough, European conservatives do not consider the philosophy of the early founders as being conservative, even though they were committed to conserve the rights of Englishmen.
The modern version of an American Conservative movement can be traced to the 1950’s when their ideas centered around a respect for tradition, the rule of law and a respect and fealty to the Christian religion. Fiscal conservatives and libertarians favored small government, low taxes, free enterprise and limited regulations.
Social Conservatives saw a threat to traditional values and that threat was seen as coming from secularism.
It is my belief that there is nothing wrong with the idea of preserving what is good. There is value in the idea of having smart government where you do not spend money in a wasteful manner, and there is nothing wrong with the concept of limited government. Americans from the get go had a fear of an intrusive government, where power came from a monarch or an aristocracy.
I do have a problem with those who for the sake of their fear of change would rather have the status quo. The far right wing of the Republican Party, I would argue, do not fit into what was the traditional conservative of the 1950’s and 60’s, but rather they more closely fit into the definition of what is a reactionary.
From those who speak for the Tea Party, we seem to hear a clarion call for a return to an America that once was. They demand that government is restricted to what they call the express provisions of the Constitution, and that power be returned to the states. The Tea Party seems to be clearly threatened by those who have a different view of what society should look like and feel threatened by anyone who is not a Christian of a certain type. They talk about a well ordered society and a civil society without defining what that would look like.
What kind of America would we look like if we returned to what we were once? Would America not have women voting, would we not have public places available to all races or would we have the owner of a business be able to deny access to a restaurant or a hotel because they don’t like the color of someone’s skin?
They talk about liberty but they do not define what that would mean. Would it be the kind of world where you could do anything you want to do without regulations or laws?
What I do know is this, if you do not support the ideas of the right wing, you are called all kinds of names and they are anything but civil.
To be continued, Next article original intent.