The bad news about reforming America: time is our enemy
Summary: America has many people interested in reforming its politics and government. But not enough. And ever fewer as the Republic weakens, and the cost of opposing the government increases — and the risk taking the extreme measures necessary becomes severe. Every day these trends dig deeper tracks into our society. Time is our enemy.
The times they are a-changin’…
— Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’, 1964
Content of this post
- Time is our enemy
- The evolving form of the Republic
- Beyond the Republic
- Other posts in this series
- For More Information
(1) Time is our enemy
Ask me for anything but time.
— Aphorism attributed to Napoleon
Many posts on the FM website have spoken of the need to reform America’s political system, as the Second Republic (under the Constitution) appears to be dying. The first post in this series discussed a possible cause, the unwillingness of Americans to bear the burden of self-government (which includes working to retain control of the State). The second post looked at possible solutions. Here we examine the bad news: how much time do we have? My guess: not long.
Our weakness invites others to take the tiller of America. The nation must be governed — we must be governed — and someone else will take the controls if we find the burden of responsibility too great. It is happening right now.
The Tea Party Movement shows how easily the vital part of the American political spectrum — the Right — can be mobilized. With some seed money, lavish media support from Fox News, slack coverage from the rest of the news media — and a new political force emerged. Rank and file Republicans reforged into GOP shock troops to change their party and pull the center of US politics further to the right. The Tea Party movement was born opposing the Bush-Obama bank bailouts, then led to become supporters of pro-bank legislators. They were fanatical supporters of the Constitution, led to become its wreckers (excerpt for select detritus, such as parts of the First and Second Amendments).
Similarly, the Left was easily reforged from fanatical opponents of Bush Jr and all his policies — into the bedrock on which Obama has institutionalized the economic and national security policies of Bush Jr.
Both Left and Right were easily manipulated. I suspect that our disinterest and passivity in response to the revelations about NSA surveillance has been seen and understood. We can expect bolder, faster action in the future — taking us to a New America.
Time is our enemy.
(2) The evolving form of the Republic
Nature abhors a vacuum.
— Proposition 15 from Ethics Geometrically Demonstrated by Baruch Spinoza (1677)
Few realize how quickly the political center of the US has shifted. The accomplishments of President Nixon would make him a liberal today. Having a Democratic Party presidential candidates as far Left as Hubert Humphrey or George McGovern seems impossible today. Libertarianism, once a fringe political philosophy, has colonized both parties (this also shows the decline of Christianity as a vital force in our society).
Rising inequality of wealth and income (see #8 here) leads to concentration of political power. Our elites then use their power to further concentrate income. Rand Paul proposed revising the Federal tax structure to shift more of the burden from the rich to the middle class. GOP governors Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Bobbie Jindal of Louisiana have made proposals to do the same in their States.
Ahead lies more changes. Faster changes as positive feedback drives us down the slippery slope. Cuts to the social safety net. More tears to the Voting Rights Act (already under attack in many States, this week gutted by the Supreme Court). More power and reach to the security services (no longer accurately called “law enforcement”). Greater inequality of income, wealth, and political power. Less social mobility. More institutionalization of High, Middle, and Low justice.
(3) Beyond the Republic
The throne is never vacant
— Russian aphorism
I sense an almost tangible yearning among the American people for a leader. Many held great hopes for Bush Jr and Obama, delusional hopes unfounded on their pre-election history. But time will find a strong leader for us, but not necessarily one willing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” In the Secret Service he already has a Praetorian Guard. When he ascends we will be ready to cheer.
Who might we turn to? Who will we trust? Let’s look for clues in the Gallup Confidence in Institutions poll, conducted annually since 1973 (categories vary over time). Only two institutions still have our respect. Perhaps we’ll go the traditional path to tyranny.
Average percent of people saying they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in each institution:
|Years||Military||Court||Congress||President||Police||Medical||Criminal Justice Syst|
|2010 – 2012||76%||37%||12%||36%||57%||40%||28%|
|2000 – 2009||74%||43%||22%||43%||59%||39%||26%|
|1990 – 1999||68%||46%||23%||46%||57%||39%||20%|
|1980 – 1989||58%||50%||33%|
|1973 – 1979||56%||46%||39%|
(4) Other posts in this series about America
- Confession about a failed forecast
- A third try: The first step to reforming America
- The bad news about reform: time is our enemy
(5) For More Information
What comes next?
- What will replace the Constitution in Americans’ hearts? Let’s check for Fascism., 29 March 2012
- Another step towards fascism: “Silencing the Lawyers”, 31 May 2010
- The President’s big stick (domestic): his National Emergency Powers, 12 June 2010
- A look at the future of America, unlike the expectations of conservatives and liberals, 10 August 2011
- Looking ahead to the next step of the quiet coup, and a new America, 3 July 2012
- More evidence that the military is slowly cutting itself off from civilian control, 15 July 2012
- They need not use force to take over, 16 July 2012
- Gallup’s polls show who we trust, pointing to a dark future for our Republic, 15 August 2012
- Undercutting people’s trust in the Republic: another step to destroying the Republic, 27 August 2012
- Under the cloak of liberalism America slides to Fascism, 20 October 2012
About the weakening of America’s spirit:
- Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
- The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
- We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008
- This crisis will prove that Americans are not sheep (unless we are), 8 January 2008
- About security theater, a daily demonstration that Americans are sheep, 25 January 2009
- Are we citizens? Or peasants?, 21 May 2009
- A Washington Insider looks at America, but does not understand what he sees, 7 September 2011 — Will the American people revolt?
- Hear the cattle bellowing in the chutes. Will they revolt?, 8 September 2011
- Surgery now underway to transform citizens into subjects, 4 April 2012
Some inspirational notes:
- de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
- A famous guest speaker visits the FM site to tell us that we are not weak — we are strong, 8 June 2008 — Patrick Henry
- A great artist died today. We can gain inspiration from his words., 26 June 2009 — Michael Jackson
- A wonderful and important speech about liberty, 23 July 2009 — Judge Learned Hand
- Why the Turkey is not our national bird, and a reminder that America belongs to us, 26 November 2010
The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali (1931)