"... and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
The United States of America is the world's oldest continuously operating representative democracy. For almost two and a quarter centuries, common people of this land have had the right and ability to choose how they shall be governed. This sounds like quite an achievement in longevity, and in a sense, it is. But consider a little perspective.
A wooden church in Norway was constructed in the 1100s, and can be visited today.
There is a private construction contracting firm in Japan which was in continuous operation for almost 1500 years.
The city of Damascus, Syria, is generally considered to have been continuously occupied for around 4000 years.
People have been around for a long time, and at least through recorded history, so have governments. Why, then, does 200 years hold any sort of longevity record?
Our Founders believed that the American people had the wisdom to choose good leaders for themselves. This has worked fairly well over the years, with some ups and downs. The key point is that our country is not supposed to be an aristocracy - that is, where a small, powerful elite knows better than everyone else, and runs the show by themselves. If ever there was a group qualified by birth, by education, and by wisdom, to run a country as an aristocracy, it would be our Founding Fathers. But they chose not to - they considered that the collective wisdom of the American people, was superior to the wisdom of any small group, even themselves.
The Founders did believe in an aristocracy, all right - a "natural aristocracy." That is, any American could, through his own efforts, talents, and skills, raise himself up to the highest heights, chosen by his fellow Americans. In that way, America's leaders would always be America's finest - but would, by the requirements of their rise to the top, reflect the desires and needs of the American people. They designed this system, in large part, because of their experience with the hereditary monarchies of Europe, and the high-quality leaders produced thereby.
Is this what we're seeing in our country today? It certainly doesn't seem so. 69% of the electorate want to see illegal immigrants prosecuted and deported. And yet, our government came within a hair's breadth of passing legislation (June 2007) doing the exact opposite and granting them legal residency immediately, though they tried to conceal it. Similarly, a majority of Americans want us out of Iraq (July 2007) - and yet, not only isn't that happening, our Commander in Chief barely even attempts to persuade Americans otherwise.
These are not new trends. They have been building for a long time. It's difficult to know exactly, considering the natural nostalgia for the past, but there certainly seems to be a great and growing disconnect between the people of these United States, and those who presume to rule over them - not just in government, but in other elite positions such as the media.
Thanks to the Internet, though, every man is his own press. This site allows us (metaphorically speaking only, of course) to do what most Americans want to do to our elites:
tr.v. scragged, scrag·ging, scrags Slang
To wring the neck of; strangle.
Happy reading, and may God bless Americans.
- The Editors