Summary: A tottering Republic, tough times ahead, a weak and fearful people who respect the military and police more than their elected officials. Here we look at #3 in this ugly hat trick. The New America now emerging might look like the Founder’s worst nightmare. We can prevent this if we act soon.
- Description of the problem
- Other chapters in this series
- Should we hope for change from the election?
(1) Description of the problem
Tough times might lie ahead for us, and for our Republic. In this future 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).
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%|
Our confidence in the military and criminal justice system has risen. Confidence has remained constant in the police and medical system. Our confidence in the President, Congress, and Courts has plummeted.
Gallup records a steep loss of confidence in other institutions: church, public schools, newspapers, TV news, organized labor, banks, big business, and HMOs.
These results are appropriate for the nation ranked #1 in per cent of its population in prison, fifth in the number of executions, glorifies its military beyond reason, that spends more than the rest of the world combined on foreign intelligence and the military — and for a fearful people (as our reaction to 9-11 proved). A people with low confidence in their political institutions, in themselves and in their ability to work together.
We love uniforms, and lavish funding our military and security services while our vital social and physical infrastructure decays. We have pride in our militarized foreign policy. We’re becoming Prussia. Or perhaps like 1920’s Latin America.
We don’t need Nostradamus to warn us. When danger threatens, people turn the reins over to those institutions that they trust. Democracies have fallen throughout history from smaller weaknesses than ours.
There are scores of discussions about solutions on the FM website. Most feature people wanting quick, easy fixes. A deus ex machina, such as passing laws, Constitutional amendments, or a new Convention. These all put the cart before the horse, assuming the most difficult parts of the problem: getting the American people arouse about the problem and willing to work for a solution.
We are the only force that can awaken America, to help us recover what we’ve lost — and become what we once were (not perfect or great, but better). The only path to solution involves mobilization, such things as talking to each other and organizing. The end of this seems to distant to see, and the odds of success seem uncertain — at best. But America has been a defiant contest against the odds throughout our history. The challenge to keep the Republic has been given by our forefathers to us, and will be given (hopefully) by us to our children.
We’ve succeeded against the odds before, albeit with long years of toil.
In May 1764 Samuel Adams took his first steps to end British rule in America (see Wikipedia). That same year in Boston the first of the Committees of Correspondence was formed, one of the major tools of the revolution. A colony successfully revolting against the British Empire — something with few or no precedents in all of history! What odds would people like yourself have given them? The Revolution ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Nineteen years until victory.
In 1774 Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush founded America’s first anti-slavery society. They sought to end a practice that has been almost in history. What odds would people like yourself have given them? The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, a century later. A century after that, the great Civil Rights legislation in the mid-1960s ended (or radically reduced) government-sponsored oppression of Blacks in America. It took 190 years of work until victory.
Some projects require a great deal of time and work. But they’re worth it.
(3) Other Chapters in this series about the birth of the New America
- America is the new Rome. Late Republican Rome (not the best of times), 13 October 2011
- What will replace the Constitution in Americans’ hearts? Let’s check for Fascism., 29 March 2012
- A look at the future of the Republic: we will choose leaders that we trust, 14 May 2012
- A look at the future of the Republic: we will choose leaders that we trust, not the ones we need (part 2), 15 May 2012
- More evidence that the military is slowly cutting itself off from civilian control, 15 July 2012
(4) What about the election? Should we hope for change?
Synchronized Campaign Swimming, Daryl Cagle, MSNBC, 12 August 2012