A Poor Choice of Words

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” it seems quite likely that a more unfortunate introductory clause has ever been endorsed by a political body. These nearly mystical words serve to simultaneously illuminate and disguise the true nature of self-government.  Who among us can argue with the logic that follows on from that line in the Declaration of Independence? All men are endowed by their creator with the inalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and let’s not overlook that these are but a sample of three of the rights that are ours as the consequence of our mere birth. Today, as we stand at the cusp of the failure or our great experiment, we are so nearly blinded by the light of those self-evident truths, that we fail to see the darkness that made those very words necessary. We can forgive this oversight by our forefathers, but we cannot ignore the consequences.

Two hundred forty-one years ago, the forefathers could hardly have been expected to foresee how those words would help erode the foundation of their monumental work. Yes, those truths were then and remain now, self-evident. The problem is, the reality in which those words currently exist is so bizarrely different from when they first flowed from a quilled pen as to cause the meaning of the words to shift and our understanding of them to change. The experiment has been so wildly successful that many of us now unconsciously conflate the meaning of the term “self-evident”. After nearly a century of world dominance, American have begun understand that term to mean not only “obvious”, but “inevitable”. In a world bathed in the understanding of evolutionary nature of life, even the creationists among us have begun to accept the idea of democracy as the natural end point in the evolution of man’s political progress. This is a mistake of the highest magnitude.

In 1776 one could forgive this lack of foresight and failure to adopt the correct mechanisms for maintaining a stable system in times of such unimaginable change. At the time, there were no other contemporary examples of democratic self-government.  At our founding, the idea of a democratic republic was a dream from the past, one which had begun its long slide into failure nearly a millennium and a half before our Revolution.  There was no such thing as a mature democracy to serve as a template to guide our founders. The issue of mere survival was all important. They had no choice but to depend upon their progeny to work out the details of their unimaginable success. Little could they expect how poorly prepared we would be when the test came. Even less could they anticipate how cavalierly we abandoned the fruits of their sacrifice and of all the patriots, who came before us. In 1789, the word fascism had not yet stained paper so we cannot expect them to account for this evil ideology in their initial design. We American who now stumble and blunder our way through world history cannot be so easily absolved of our failure. Consequently, we must not fail. At this point, Resistance is our only option.

To effectively resist, we must understand the true nature of our current dilemma. Put succinctly, while Democracy is not the inevitable offspring of tyranny, fascism is the inevitable counteraction to democracy. Yes, that’s correct, left untreated, Democracy causes fascism. Sad, isn’t it? But the truth is, democracy is as messy and inefficient as the humanity who power it. Churchills observation on the American way have been quoted to the point of redundancy, and yet it bears repetition here. “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” These are the words of a frustrated monarchist, a man who professed a greater fondness for our system than he truly felt. However, when one’s empire is crumbling, even an ally with ADD is preferable to annihilation. The constantly impending chaos of democracy is not especially palatable to a monarchist, or a dictator, or an oligarch or tyrant by any other name. With so many detractors, it is little wonder that democracy is on such shaky ground. Of all the threats that face our experiment, fascism is surely the most pernicious, because it is born from hostility to democracy and liberalism. According to its founder “Fascism denies, in democracy, the absur[d] conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of “happiness” and indefinite progress….”

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th edition sums up the rise of fascism with alacrity as seen in the following excerpt:

“The growth of democratic ideology and popular participation in politics in the 19th cent. was terrifying to some conservative elements in European society, and fascism grew out of the attempt to counter it by forming mass parties based largely on the middle classes and the petty bourgeoisie, exploiting their fear of political domination by the lower classes. Forerunners of fascism, such as Georges Boulanger in France and Adolf Stöker and Karl Lueger in Germany and Austria, in their efforts to gain political power, played on people’s fears of revolution with its subsequent chaos, anarchy, and general insecurity. They appealed to nationalist sentiments and prejudices, exploited anti-Semitism, and portrayed themselves as champions of law, order, Christian morality, and the sanctity of private property.”

Does this sound familiar? In fascist thought, democracy is a precursor to anarchy, and this belief was well represented by our founding fathers in the person of Alexander Hamilton, whose political worldview was formed in no small measure by his experience in Haiti during what was arguably the world’s most successful slave revolt, The Haitian Revolution. The trauma of his experience convinced him that while his adopted country must surely guard against tyranny, the founder must be equally vigilant to guard against the excesses of democracy, the rule of the mob. Like many before and after him, Hamilton was convinced that the only truly effective check on the excesses of democracy was a strong executive. He argued before the Constitutional Convention for an elected monarch rather than the more limited presidency that was eventually adopted. No institution more effectively represents this fear of democracy than the Electoral College, the system that has had such tragic consequences in the 21st century. Having witnessed the effect of this safeguard against pure democracy, surely the time must be ripe for American to revisit elements of our Constitution, but for now, even greater peril demands our attention. Our country is at risk of being subverted by the world’s newest fascist power, the Russia.

In addition to democracy and liberalism, fascism has had one other great enemy, communism and all its related isms. As the scourge of fascism and nationalism spread through Europe from the Adriatic, socialism and international communism took root in Russia and spread west and east.  In fact, without Carl Marx as a foil, it is doubtful that Mussolini could have established the world’s first fascist government. During his rise to power, he established a unifying principle of his new regime claiming, “We declare war on socialism, not because it is socialist, but because it has opposed nationalism…” We now hear echoes of this sentiment in the slogan, ‘Make America Great Again”, and once again the truth is at odds with the slogan. While claiming their source of power as the nationalism of its people, in truth Fascism and its even more evil cousin Nazism derives its true power from the Corporatism of certain government-favored interests, industries, and associations. “Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage….”

In the early 20th century, no political movement was more at odds with this theory than international communism, and Russia was the birthplace of this cause. But, that was then, this is now, and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Communism ceased to be the true organizing principle of the former Soviet Union. Since then, Russia has morphed into the epitome of a fascist state. Now more than ever, Russia is America’s most fervent opponent, and will likely persist in that role so as long as we remain committed to democracy.

This sort of threat was not overlooked by our founding fathers. While it seems, they were unable to predict the fascist reaction to our democratic experiment, Hamilton, in arguing for the Electoral College as a safeguard against the excesses of Democracy acknowledge that our greatest danger would come from outside forces who would attempt to use the inherent weakness of democracy against itself.  In Federalist #68 he writes,

“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?”

How prescient is that? And, how sad is it that his plan the Electoral College which was designed to combat just such a crisis, should deliver the Republic he so cherished into the hands of just such an evil cabal.

Now, we must all accept the fact that while the truths behind our Democratic Experiment might seem self-evident, they most assuredly are not self-perpetuating. The hopes for the effectiveness of the Electoral College, are shattered around us. Rather than delivering us from the plot of our adversaries, it has delivered us into the very hands of our mortal enemy. We must admit our failure and plan our escape from the bondage of fascism into which we have fallen. We must realize that while a democratic system honors the value of the individual, it draws it strength from the collective action of those very same individuals. Let “E Pluribus Unum” once again become the watchwords of Liberty. Let us abandon sectarianism, sectionalism and craven self-interest. Let men and women of good will set aside the distractions of unnecessary political strife, and rededicate ourselves to the animating spirit of our union. Let us all renew our pledge of allegiance to this republic, to this one nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. In doing so, hopefully, we will see the issues that divide us not as problems to be crushed, but the valid concerns of our friends and neighbors to be discussed openly and honestly and resolved with utmost respect for the rights of each side.  The thought that we might squander away our birthright as free Americans, while we squabble over which bathroom to use, or which faction more truly loves their country is ludicrous. Let us all realize that we have seen the enemy and it is NOT us. It is not any one religion or the lack of any religion. It is not the relative density of melanin in our skin or the expression of any allele within our common code of 23 chromosomes. Most certainly, it is not any country of origin or the condition of previous servitude enforced upon some of us but not upon others. It is not our gender, or confusion about the same. Our enemy is fascism and those who are attempting to have this hateful reaction to democracy established in the heart of mankind’s most promising experiment. Let all of us, but most of all the sons and daughters of the Greatest Generation who suffered and died to save us from the mortal sin of fascism, join hands and hearts to undo the damage we have done. Let us pledge to leave this world in such a condition that will save us from the scorn of the generations which hopefully will follow.

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