Summary: The first post in this series reviewed my posts about the state of the American Republic, asking why it has deteriorated far faster than I expected — or considered possible. This post attempts a diagnosis, and points to a path perhaps leading to a cure.
A series about America
- Confession about a failed forecast
- A 3rd try: The first step to reforming America
- The bad news about reform: time is our enemy
Content of this post
- What’s the Cure?
- For More Information
I have thought much about the reason for my mistakes — leading to a flawed analysis — and now see that it resulted from a violation of my own analytical rules. How often have I stressed the importance of diagnosis? To use a medical metaphor, forecasts of an illness’ course and successful treatment both build upon an accurate diagnosis of the illness. Many posts here speculated about the mature our problems and possible solutions, but I only slowly found an cause that matches the facts. Unfortunately that answer is so dark as to shake my soul:
We are the cause of the Republic’s death. We the people (as a collective) no longer make the effort — the sacrifices — necessary to maintain the Republic.
For a brief description of this problem see these two posts (these summary the scores of posts listed here):
- Loki helps us to see our true selves
- There is no problem with America’s political system, or the Republic
(2) What’s the cure?
Strictly speaking, there is no problem. The American people (as a group) have the right to choose how they are governed. We try to change that choice. It has been done before; it is never easy to do.
(a) In May 1764 Samuel Adams took his first steps to end British rule in America (see here for details). That same year a small group of people in Boston formed the first of the Committees of Correspondence. The Revolution ended 19 years later with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
(b) In 1774 Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush founded America’s first anti-slavery society. In 1868 we ratified the Fourteenth Amendment. In the mid-1960′s the Civil Rights legislation ended government-sponsored oppression of Blacks, concluding the project begun 190 years earlier.
Now we face the prospect of starting a new project. I say “starting” because I do not believe anything happening today addresses the core problem described above. Today’s reformers, while skilled and committed, treat only symptoms. While that works with some diseases (e.g., cholera), it will not work with the deep systemic crisis gripping America (to continue the bad medical analogies, like syphilis).
A long road lies ahead of those who choose to participate in this project. It will take years or decades of work to convince our fellow Americans to again accept the burden and responsibility of self-government. I wonder if I’ll live to see success. I do not know what success would look like, since it will probably create a polity different than ours. For example, will it take the form of a revitalized Second Republic, or building the Third Republic?
No matter what the result, the process starts with the first organization built upon recognition of the problem and dedicated to a solution. Will you join this movement? Then reach out to others, show them the path, and ask them to join you on it. On a larger scale this means agitation and a thousand other kinds of political effort.
But first comes organizing. The first one can be small. They will grow if the time is right.
The problem: how to change the American spirit. How do we reawaken our fellow citizens? Collectively Americans want rights and liberty, but lack a willingness to work for it — and to carry the burdens of self-government.
I believe this love of freedom lies latent in us, but just smoulders today. Almost exactly four years ago I wrote The first step on the road to America’s reform, saying that anger provided the fastest path to reviving our spirit. I no longer believe that. The fires have died beyond that point.
I have no other ideas. If you have any, post them in the comments.
(4) For More Information
An earlier version of this post: Realism about the prospects for reform in America
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