Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Jun 10, 2009 6:43 AM PDT
Perhaps at that time it was necessary to control this mob in the interests of asserting the authority of a federal government meant to serve the interests of all. Unfortunately, it set a precedent that our children are taught at our peril: To put the interests of the wealthy over those of the people is to invite fascism in America. Now we must fight for the freedoms we have given up for forgetting that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
Believing that they had created a nearly perfect society, conservatives of the day sought to preserve it in its entirety. Quite naturally, they saw themselves as the rightful new American aristocracy. Liberals, realizing the Devil’s bargain they had made for the sake of survival, gradually became more vocal proponents of change. The inevitable result was the American Civil War, in which the question was raised of whether the rights of all men (the rights of women being only seriously considered much later) were implicitly guaranteed under the Constitution.
With the martyrdom of Lincoln, counter-Revolutionaries took advantage of the imbalance of power to gain ground in its fight to create an American aristocracy of wealth built on corporate power. The South, having been invaded by rapacious northerners, reacted by forming a monolithic power block fueled by anger.
The surviving progressive elements within the Republican Party joined forces with the South in an uneasy alliance paradoxically called the Democratic party. It was held together by a common desire to advance anti-corporate ideals, but at the expense of flagrant disregard for the rights of newly freed Blacks. Both sides had forgotten Lincoln’s final plea to show malice toward none and justice for all.
The Depression revealed American economic progress after the Civil War to be built on a house of sand, leading to a reawakening of the Revolutionary ideals of equality of economic opportunity and eventually, civil rights for Black Americans. A similar opportunity presents itself in our current global economic crisis.
Our public schools are reluctant to teach civics, having been intimidated by groups on both the left and right. Americans no longer seem to understand that this country was founded by a group of men holding the radical idea that democracy is viable, but only if the public is educated and willing to work for the common good. Each fears that the other side will taint their children with wrong-thinking visions of America. Our proud democratic traditions now find themselves threatened by the ignorance of a bewildered and a demoralized citizenry which is either apathetic or striking out in blind anger.
The people of the United States are waking up to the fact that greed is not good, but ultimately self-destructive. The corporate parties must look closely at where their thinking has gotten them. Conservatives and progressives alike must quell their anger, look to their hearts, and restore the soul of American democracy. In this environment, the prospects to Take Back America have never been better. Our path is clear, if we all become Americans with common ideals once again.
Rick Staggenborg, MD
Coos Bay, OR