This is why we’re weak. Here’s how we can become strong.

Summary: Here is the short explanation of why we are weak in this election years. Here is how we can again become strong. Simple to describe, but the price is high. It’s our choice.

Divide et impera.
— Ancient Roman wisdom.

True then. True today.

"Join, or Die" by Benjamin Franklin (1754).
“Join, or Die” by Benjamin Franklin (1754).

America has many powerful factions. Corporations, lavishly funded special interest groups, right-wing groups pushing their ideology, left-wing groups pushing their ideology, the Deep State (police and intelligence agencies), etc. Most of these are funded by businesses or the wealthy. These are the political actors that shape America. We are not on the list. In elections we choose from the menu they give us. This makes us pleasant peasants, easy to rule.

“It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country to decide, by their conduct and example, the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.”
— Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Papers #1.

This is inevitable. It is the state of nature. We are ruled by coalitions of groups, with leadership, organization, and money. We are isolated, powerless, individuals. But we experienced this at the beginning of humanity’s origin and overcame it. Foraging and scavenging gave us a break existence. Then we learned to hunt in packs as cursorial (or persistence) hunters – running our prey into the ground. As our bodies and minds evolved, we became the finest such hunters the world has ever seen. This was humanity’s first step to greatness, taken even before the invention of tools and fire.

The NYT has a nice summary. Also see the Wikipedia entry – “Persistence Hunting by Modern Hunter-Gatherers” by Louis Liebenberg in Current Anthropology, December 2006 – and “The evolution of marathon running: Capabilities in humans” by Daniel E. Lieberman and Dennis M. Bramble in Sports Medicine, April 2007. For a longer explanation, see Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (2009).

Just as organization gave us power on the Serengetti Plains millions of years ago, people organized to gain power in the Athenian and Roman Republics. In modern times, people organized to gain power in Switzerland, Great Britain, and colonial America. Organizing can give us power today. The political machinery bequeathed us by the Founders is idle, but remains potentially decisive. To restart it, we need only re-learn to stand together and (above all) to act.

“Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. …He will not fail, therefore, to set a due value on any plan which, without violating the principles to which he is attached, provides a proper cure for it. …By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”
— James Madison in The Federalist Papers #10.

Those who wish to rule us use three great tools. First, the act to divide us. Our foes seek to fracture American society by race, by gender, and by political ideology. They seek to make us hate each other (e.g., see Matt Taibbi’s Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another). Above all, they seek to prevent us from seeing our common needs and goals.

“Every man who loves peace; every man who loves his country; every man who loves liberty, ought to have it ever before his eyes, that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the union of America, and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.”
— James Madison in The Federalist Papers #41.

Second, they seek to convince us that our passivity is the key to a better future. They want our obedience: voting as directed, marching and bleating like sheep in public events, reading only tribal media (nothing with forbidden insights), applauding tribal icons and hating the tribe’s foes.

Our getting involved in politics – from school boards to national elections, walking through your neighborhood to advocate for a candidate, working to choose nominees, joining local political party organizations – these are the most destabilizing things imaginable to our rulers.

“Our liberty is protected by “above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America; a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.”
— James Madison in The Federalist Papers #57.

Third, they want us ruled by fear and believing that we are weak. These are the most common themes among the 66 thousand comments on the FM website. A thousand and one reasons for despair, hopelessness, belief in our weakness, and passivity. Nothing makes our rulers happier.

“{W}hatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it, {liberty} must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government.”
— Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist papers #84. He is speaking about freedom of the press, but this is the general tenor of the Papers regarding our liberty.



The authors of The Federalist Papers believed that the Republic’s success required more than belief in a political ideology. It requires a burning desire for self-government and a willingness to fight to defend the Republic. Despite the poetry of the Declaration, freedom is never free.

Election 2020 is another opportunity to make your voice heard. Make it count.

For More Information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: “Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about ways to reform America, and especially these…

  1. ImportantA 4th of July reminder that America is ours to keep – or to lose!
  2. Our institutions are hollow because we don’t love them.
  3. The middle in American politics has died. Now extremists rule.
  4. Campaign 2020 shows who will mold America’s future.
  5. A candidate can win in 2020 with popular proposals.
  6. We gave our rulers the greatest gift that we can give.

Useful books explaining what happened to the Left

I have not found a good book explaining what happened to the Left, causing its hatred of America. These are the best I have found, looking at our politics.

Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank.

The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted by Mike Lofgren.

"Listen, Liberal" by Thomas Frank
Available at Amazon.
"The Party is Over" by Mike Lofgren
Available at Amazon.


10 thoughts on “This is why we’re weak. Here’s how we can become strong.”

  1. The evolution of marathon running: Capabilities in humans is a bad link.

    Born to Run is an interesting argument. I have talked to a couple of boarding school educated British men in their seventies whose story is of running a couple of times a week, autumn and winter, for distances of a 3-5 miles, on pavements, wearing shoes called ‘plimsolls’. These were light canvas shoes with thin fairly hard rubber soles, probably no more than one half inch, maybe less, from what I can tell. And with no cushioning whatever. They report no injuries at all, either themselves or their contemporaries, from running like this for most of their school years and no ill effects afterwards.

    Whatever the merits of the story about the Latin American tribe are, there does seem to be something to the minimal padding argument.

    The tribe argument does make one slightly suspicious. As Hume remarks, miracles always seem to occur in a distant location or in far off times, under few eyes… Don’t know. And whether Nike is really the villain? The argument is still a very interesting one on its own merits.

  2. Thanks for the pep talk Larry with respect to this post; that is why I am running for office, I seek the common ground.

  3. The basic foundation of your article is sound, Larry. But it is too little too late. The key issue is that there is no agreement on the common ground, just endless arguments about what IS “the common ground” and where we should go from there. Many of the people who would rule us keep the argument going for their own gain.

    This sad fact does NOT prevent me from doing my duty and voting and taking part in the current democratic process. Doing so informs my thoughts on the next republic. I will leave you with a link to a brilliant article by a wise man.

    1. Pluto,

      “But it is too little too late.”

      That answer is as unexpected as getting a gumball after putting a penny in the slot. It is also total BS, just stuff you made up. See Gary’s comment in which I waste my time debunking such views.

      Too bad a nation isn’t run by people dreaming up reasons why failure is certain.

      “This sad fact does NOT prevent me from doing my duty and voting and taking part in the current democratic process.”

      Is that a good idea? Perhaps the only people who should vote are those who believe there are solutions to our problems.

    2. So where do you stand, Larry? In your 1/13 post you stated that the current republic can’t be saved. Now you say it can. Which is it?

      1. Pluto,

        It is possible to fix America if we try (speaking as an analyst), but I see few people willing to try (ie, the odds are low, speaking as a retired bookie).

        I’ve published over a hundred posts about political reform, by people from far-Left to far-Right – and all points in between. The reaction to every single one is “it can’t be done” (they also get far below average pageviews). Which is the epitome of a self-fulfilling statement.

        From my conversations in comments, it appears that people regard defeatism as the wise or cool attitude. IMO, that’s insane.

        Well, OK. If we choose not to make the effort to run America, then control of America will pass into hands willing to do so.

        We can work together as citizens, or work together like dogs tied to a sled. If the latter, let’s hope that our masters are gentle. Either way, gentle or not, let’s not whine about it.

      2. @Larry: You can make a case that whining is the dominant rhetorical mode of the two largest English-speaking countries right now, and it seems to have served Trump and Johnson well… though the book is not yet written on the long-term prospects of the strategy.

        And of course, to paraphrase Harington, “Whining doth never prosper, what’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it Whining.”

      3. SF,

        “and it seems to have served Trump and Johnson”

        Yes, that is what this post and the hundreds before it have said. My point is that whining does not work well for us.

      4. Larry: “It is possible to fix America if we try (speaking as an analyst), but I see few people willing to try (ie, the odds are low, speaking as a retired bookie).

        I’ve published over a hundred posts about political reform, by people from far-Left to far-Right – and all points in between. The reaction to every single one is “it can’t be done” (they also get far below average pageviews). Which is the epitome of a self-fulfilling statement.”

        Larry: “Well, OK. If we choose not to make the effort to run America, then control of America will pass into hands willing to do so.”

        Agreed on all counts, Larry, with one big difference that is outside the scope of your argument. There are two types of control; formal and effective. An example of formal control occurs when a captain is given control of a ship. He is responsible for all actions the ship takes and is held accountable for mistakes. This is also the type of control that voters have via the Constitution and is the basis of your argument.

        An example of effective control occurs when the Mafia requires “protection” money from small business owners and warns them that they will become an “example” if they go to the police. The small business owner is faced with a terrible decision.

        The business owner want to be left alone but whom do they trust to respond more, the police or the Mafia? Can they afford the “protection money?” Will the Mafia do something about their vandalism problem for little or no extra payment?

        Those are the types of issues that drives their decision. Standing up to the Mafia by themselves is very, very unlikely to occur and is very likely to have a bad ending if it does occur.

        You’ll notice that the decision tree is much larger and has many more endings but it all boils down to a pay/no pay decision with lots of potentially messy side consequences.

        Looking from the top, it looks similar to a formal control situation. The business owner is ultimately responsible for his business the way a ship captain is responsible for his ship but the captain works within an established framework of rules that have been previously stated and knows what he’s getting into.

        Small businessmen know from bitter experience (I’ve been there) that there are the way things are supposed to be done and there are the way things are actually done. In times of good government the two are close enough. To use your very descriptive phraseology, in “Clownworld” we have gone beyond bad government to the “Crazy Times.”

        In our current times, it is likely that the businessman who goes to the police will discover that several ordinances sort of support the Mafia’s case (civilian support groups and right of self protection to speak to vague and incomplete examples) and the police officially support the Mafia. Now the businessman has visibly crossed several lines that should never have been crossed and is in serious trouble and nobody will support him.

        Because I’m sure you’re skeptical, let’s use a real-life example to highlight what I’m talking about. A British female tourist reported being raped in 2016 to the Dubai police. She was arrested for extra-marital sex which is a very serious crime in Dubai.

        In “the Crazy Times” every day is like a visit to Dubai only the rules change every day. How do you re-establish formal control over a situation in “Clownworld” where effective control is rather more than 9 tenths of the law? Usually this is done by appealing to a larger neutral organization that follows rules. What is larger than the US Federal Government? Certainly nothing within reach of the average citizen of the US!

        Stepping back and speaking as an historian, this has happened several times before in US history; the most notable was in the 1890’s at the end of the Gilded Age where the excesses of extremely wealthy businessmen were famous (and admired).

        The standard way that the US returns to formal control and good government is via either a major crisis (the Civil War for example) or a charismatic, capable President who shouts his way to the top and then wrestles power away from the current holders via sweeping legislation (Theodore Roosevelt being the classic example).

        Both methods are fraught with peril and consequences. Neither you nor I currently see a national leader capable of the latter and neither you nor I want to have to deal with the former.

        As for when formal control was effectively ceded by the voter, I would say it was before the infamous “Citizens United” decision but have no further insight.

        I need to inform you that I am not at all defeatist about this situation, just looking for the right solution. Yours sounds a lot like a charge across no-man’s land in 1916 which is why everybody around you is so negative about it except for the politician.

        Instead of the frontal assault, can we use Infiltration tactics, sir?

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