Election 2016: All-American risk

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The best-case scenario is not always worse than the worst-case scenario. Neither does one eliminate the other, as it may in fact precede the situation to come. Take this election for an example, and the Constitution that makes it possible.

“The adoption of the Constitution was … the most participatory, majoritarian, and populist event the Earth had ever seen.” Akhil Reed Amar

Indeed, the document that provides a basis for our nation’s insistence upon our ability to essentially govern ourselves and control the direction of current policy is a marvel. It was revolutionary, not just because it hadn’t been done before, but because the groups of people who came together under this agreement were far from homogenous.

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Duplessis (Wikipedia)
Portrait of Benjamin Franklin by
Joseph Duplessis (Wikipedia)

Speaking of homogeny, the Constitution, in its earliest form, was a marvel unless you were: female, male but without property to your name, Native American or African American.

Amendments were of course the solution to old, outdated or simply underdeveloped policies. Discriminatory laws gave way to concepts promoting a better, stronger, more inclusive nation. The thirteenth ended slavery, the next gave African American men citizenship, the next gave them voting rights, and in 1920 we finally extended those rights to women with the 19th Amendment.

With the extension of suffrage to all Americans came the chaos of dissent and fear of change.

“What a triumph for our enemies … to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves.” George Washington

All one needs to do is raise the topic of politics in the workplace to see those you had previously deemed as reasonable human beings fall back on a more reptilian reaction to challenging ideas. Your candidate is evil, that idea is stupid, that policy will set us back 20 years, and to hell with your definition of “constitutional” or “equal rights.”

Shamefully, one of our own candidates this year hasn’t even modeled the ability to participate in logical, professional, and diplomatic discussion. (How about trusting our election process and accepting the results graciously?) It’s strange that anyone could ask us to back them when they so obviously do not back the system that has allowed them to rise to power.

“I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, if there are such: because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered.” Benjamin Franklin

It may seem to be switching gears here, but let’s talk about the economy for a second. It’s no secret that both candidates have known little to nothing about real poverty in America, and yet it’s one of the primary catalysts for change (good and bad) in our capitalist United States. Why is the economy so important? Because government control is employed more readily and with fewer restraints when a people fall into economic hardship.

From The New Deal to our most recent bailouts to Snowden, we have seen how government powers find it necessary to implement more control, invade our privacy, restrict our rights and deny social inequity in order to “protect” and “defend.” However, it is not us or our interests that they are defending. In the end, policies that blindside and block progress usually sneak into any demographic too distracted by uniting only against the common reality — or impending fear — of poverty.

“In America, anyone can become president. That’s one of the risks you take.” Adlai Stevenson

Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1902 when he became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (Wikipedia)
Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1902 when
he became an Associate Justice of
the Supreme Court (Wikipedia)

Perhaps that’s just it. In times of uncertainty, economic and otherwise, we allow ourselves to be pigeonholed and victimized by the rules of our own government, when they are applied thoughtlessly. We pay attention to the politicians (or random billionaires) who prey upon our instinctual fears: Change or Destruction. It may be oversimplifying a systematic issue, but people generally do fall into one of these two categories. Those who fear change more will risk the protection or even revival of old ideas, no matter how destructive they may actually be. Those who fear destruction more may be short-sighted as to the true costs of any rapid or significant change.

“If my fellow citizens want to go to hell, I will help them. It’s my job.” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

In regards to the New America and the Old America, who are these people saying we need to abide by old interpretations of the Constitution? Yes, it was written by and agreed upon by smart men, but—as one of the smartest of those men said:

“I wish the Constitution which is offered had been made more perfect, but I sincerely believe it is the best that could be obtained at this time; and…a constitutional door is opened for amendment hereafter.” George Washington

Top photo is a YouTube screen shot from the Town Hall Presidential Debate
at Washington University, St. Louis, MO; October 19, 2016.
Martha Raddatz of ABC News and Anderson Cooper of CNN moderating.