Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Collapse of a Country

March 7, 2007

There's a discussion going on over at mendacious mouse about new ways to run an election, in which maybe the majority of the people in the country would have a say, as was perhaps the intention of the aristocratic founders of this nation, rather than the interests of the large corporations and the money-heavy political parties who run it today.

I find it interesting but fanciful, not unlike the plan of the late Eugene McCarthy who suggested a system by which there would be a national primary with about 35 candidates, no political parties, but a referendum vote in which the electorate would have a chance to choose the best person to run the country for the next four years.

It would cause chaos to the existing system, of course. But it would give power to a chosen leader and take power away from the power-mad hangers-on who historically have corrupted every system that man has ever devised.

A commenter on the other blog suggested that the U.S. is doomed anyway, and that we who happen to be living at the turn of the 21st Century are present at its collapse. I tend to agree (reluctantly) with this. I look about me and see what looks like ancient Rome before its descent into red-wine madness, and America today appears to be scarily similar. The great mass of baby boomers and those of us who came just before them have been demoralized and overwhelmed. There are no grownups any more. We don't know what to do.

In the 1960's the idealistic kids opposed the war and just about everything the Establishment was putting forth; they felt certain that the center wouldn't hold. It did. After Nixon's replacement by Gerald Ford I felt that no one would ever choose to run for President again. I was wrong. The candidates trickled forth, some good, like Tom Harkin and Paul Tsongas, and some dreadful, like Bill Clinton. We all know what happened next, but things are hardly getting better.

This sounds fairly hopeless, and on this blog I am committed to providing fair hope to my readers. Where is the hope in all this? At the moment all I can say is that I'm old enough to say that my own hope is that it doesn't collapse while I'm still around to see it.

I'll finish with words to my daughter (who doesn't read the blog) because in my heart she is the hope of the world. You are brilliant, capable, and doing very well with what you've got. Your little boys are beautiful and blessed to have you and their father in their lives. They have been endowed with fine minds and a healthy skepticism with which to change things for the better. There is always hope, and you are mine. What the world will hand you I can't imagine, but there is a range of great possibilities, and a slim chance that great men and women will emerge and clean some of this out of the way for the greater good. You have to hit bottom, and admit that you're there, before you can start climbing again.


tangerine said...

Boy! Sounds like someone woke up on the wrong side of the rock!

sinjap said...

great post! amen!
making my plans right now for the inevitable...though there are a million opinions as to why the country is heading downhill, i think all of us surely agree that that's the direction it is going...the snowball has started and momentum and gravity have taken over and we just don't have the power at this point to defy the laws of nature...we just have to wait til we are at the bottom, have another revolution, and hopefully, by the time my daughter is my age, i will have instilled enough self-reliance, perseverance, and integrity in her that she can be part of the solution instead of the problem

Finding Fair Hope said...

thank you for your support

i've got a lot of friends who don't use capital letters but you are the first who doesn't use periods

sinjap said...

i know it goes against everything i learned in school, but it's how my brain works...who has time to stop and think about punctuation and proper nouns when your brain is running 90 miles an hour? of course, when i'm actually writing a letter to my mom, for example, it's perfect

birdwatcher said...

One can't help but see the parallels between our dark times and the collapse of the Roman Empire, which actually took many hundreds of years...
I am an optimist whether I like it or not, and am finding these very interesting times indeed; and I have certainly recognized that the torch must be passed,and that those who will take it up are strong and smart,and what rises from whatever ruin we inflict upon ourselves will be different and brighter.

Bert Bananas said...

Even-Handed Hope said, "n which maybe the majority of the people in the country would have a say, as was perhaps the intention of the aristocratic founders of this nation, rather than the interests of the large corporations and the money-heavy political parties who run it today."

Ms. Hope, our 'Aristocratic Founders' most certainly sought to protect their own interests, which today would translate into 'large corporations and ... money-heavy political parties..."

When the country was formed, most of the voting populace, which consisted of males who owned property (what percentage of the populace do you think that was?), would meet at the voting site, where the candidates would solicit their votes, usually with liquor, which flowed freely, and then the votes were cast by voice.

Don't be giving our Aristocratic Founders more credit than they deserve.

Bert Bananas said...

As for America going down the ol' poop chute, when haven't their been such laments?

Bush, the silly-butt wussy, could have established a Pax Americana. Then our grandkids could have written the history books and he'd have been a real hero.

Finding Fair Hope said...

Hmm...Jefferson and Washington and Ben Franklin, in the pockets of big business, just like the leaders of today. What an interesting image, Sir Bert of Banana. I suggest you comment on yesterday's blog about Clarence Darrow, where you will see in the comments a most even-handed blogmeister quieting the agitated hearts among the flock.

As for the ideals of the founding fathers and mothers of the U.S. being simply to protect what they own, well, it's such an oversimplified, old-fashioned 20th Century Republican point of view I'll just have to ponder the ways to refute it and get back to you. Or maybe not.

Benedict S. said...

A comment on Bert's ideas about the selfishness of the Founding Fathers. True enough they did live in a world in which property ownership was necessary to qualify people to vote, but their reasons for making that requirement traced, not so much to a desire to protect their own interests, as a desire to assure that the uninformed and irresponsible multitudes would not pollute the vote.

OK. That said, it's fairly clear that today we do not share the opinion of the FFs. In the election that sent James Madison to the House of Representatives, one could not vote unless he -- and I do mean "he" -- owned at least 50 acres. I could not have voted. (Senators were then appointed by the state legislatures, and Madison was denied a Senate seat by that great patriot, Patrick Henry, who then ruled the Virginia legislature. He tried gerrymandering a district to deny Madison a seat in the House, too, but the voters nonetheless elected Madison -- over Monroe of all people.)

But what of this fear the FFs harbored, the fear that the hoi polloi, by voting, would destroy the nation? Certainly there's something to be said for it. We see today, now that we have extended the vote to anyone breathing, that our elections have been reduced to orgies of empty words to see which of the candidates can make the widest appeal to the greatest number of the uninformed. But consider the alternative . . . and the ground that lies beneath its feet.

There's no reason to believe that a man -- and I do mean "man" -- who owns 50 acres of land will be more free of prejudices and selfish intentions that the man or woman who owns no land. Look around. Dick Cheney and Bush Jr qualify, but the brilliant Miss Fairhope would not, and neither would the less brilliant but equally deserving man who puts on my shoes every morning.

Still, we do see that the nation is in a bad way and that a large part of its problems have to do with the numskulls we, the hoi polloi, have elected to run the country. If the country is doomed -- as some of you seem to think -- it would be just as doomed if the "responsible land owners" had cast all the votes, because it seems to me that the same band of devils would have been elected.

So, we have to ask: Would the nation's outlook be better or worse if we restricted the vote. We'd have the same leaders, and they would p5robably have a stronger mandate than the disappearing one they currently "enjoy." Moreover, it is far more likely that the masses might be educated than that the elite might sacrifice their power. So if there is any hope for the country, the electorate we have has a better chance of realizing that hope than would a more "educated" minority.

Incidentally, Bert, did you notice that the government established by those property owning FFs was the very one that eventually extended the vote to everyone? Maybe those guys didn't know what they were letting themselves in for.

I like the idea that we can all vote, even if it does mean that the votes of those who disagree with me count the same as mine. At least I now have the opportunity to talk them around so they too can vote with the angels.

sinjap said...

in this country, people who have nothing can vote for representatives that take away things from the people who have stuff and then give it to's an oversimplified yet true analysis...i agree the founding fathers had their faults, but who doesn't...personally i think they were brilliant in coming up with the idea of this nation back when nothing like it had ever been attempted in history

i also think that there is some validity to having some sort of property requirements for voting...does it seem fair that people who own no property get a say in where your property taxes go? think about it! i've got plenty more examples of the stupidity of the voting system and government in general if you're interested

and unfortunately, it's our own fault the country's going downhill...we've had it too easy for too long and got lazy..."the price of freedom is eternal vigilance" thomas jefferson had it right...and we haven't kept our end of the deal

Bert Bananas said...

Benedict and Sinjap, I enjoyed your follow-ups.

Benedict, the government established by our FF probably hit as many foul balls as home runs. I think you and I see the glass half full...

The Hoi Polloi ... Well, who doesn't vote what they see as being in their best self interest? I don't think it's wise to base any system on the altruism of those who will populate it. The tenets of Communism make excellent sense to the downtrodden, but ...

In our Representative Democracy we elect people who then tell us what to do and not do. No one will ever be completely happy as long as he/she thinks he/she is too restricted, or that others aren't.

Anyone care to define 21st Century American "Liberty"? As in, "Give me Liberty or give me Death"?

John Sweden said...

Not to worry, I'm sure the rest us, in the rest of the world, will survive your demise. It will only hurt for little while, but happily we'll get used to another, bankrupt, failed nation.

Good-bye and good-ridence. We'll have your movies to remind us "You could have been a contender"

John Sweden said...

P.S. Try not to kill us all in the process!

Finding Fair Hope said...

After comments like that, John, you may incite our warlike nation to attack Sweden!

John Sweden said...

We've been under directed American attacks for years. Simply because socialist Sweden's actual success story has exposed the "Big Lie" that America is some kind of model for a modern world. It's 19th century captialistic economic premis fails at every level do anything more than making the rich, richer and the corrupt, corrupter.

I'll sponsor you anytime you feel like leaving that devoling into a third world ponzi scheme of a nation.

sinjap said...

i have a theory about all those wonderful european utopias...when america was first being populated by european immigrants, only the strongest and bravest got on those ships-the wimps stayed behind, afraid to face the uncertainties of a new world...and from that courageous stock this country was born...though i love to visit europe today, i'm proud to be included in that gene pool!

plastic person said...

"You have to hit bottom, and admit that you're there, before you can start climbing again."

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could raise the bottom.

Finding Fair Hope said...

As I learned in the 12-Step Programs, some people have higher bottoms than others.

John Sweden said...

Hej sinjap,

I hate to pull gene pools on you, but all of my grandparents were immigrants to America. They were Russian, Italian, Portuguese, from the island of Curacao, Scotch and English by way of Canada. Aside from your ridiculous Hollywood Myths most immigration was and still is an act of desperation, wars, famine, poverty, political oppression and economic opportunism. It interesting that you bring up genes and the “wimps” who stayed behind, as Hitler, by the same reasoning, was a great proponent of the immigrant being a superior human being. I guess your comments are to be expected from a citizen of the new 100 year Reich.

John Sweden said...

Oh! P.S.

Don't visit,

Because were such wimps we don't to get between you and somebody you've p*ssed off.