Zeus gave Pandora a little box with a big heavy lock on it. He made her promise never to open the box. One day, when Epimetheus lay sleeping, Pandora stole the key and opened the box. Out flew every kind of disease and sickness, hate and envy, and all the bad things that people had never experienced before.
From the Declaration of Independence - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
There is something very special in these words. They do not bear the strength of law, then or now, yet the vast portion of our population like to think they have exactly that. Today, the Continental Congress and the 56 men who signed it, would be considered anti-government conspirators; for they most certainly were that then. They advocated the abrogation of the relationship between themselves, and as appointed representatives, the colonies which they were appointed to represent, from their legitimate government. Additionally, they had the ability to discuss, argue, compromise and create in a relative vacuum; they were not yet blessed with the ever-present 4th Estate that pervades all legislative activities today.
Let us, for the sake of the argument, assume that the citizenry of the United States of America finds itself, once again, in the same sorry condition that forced the citizenry of the colonies to undertake such precipitous action.
The executive branch rules by Executive Directive; often taking actions in direct contravention of its constitutional mandate.
The legislative branch failing to provide the legislation needed to run the government. It removes itself, routinely, from being affected by the legislation it produces and fails to take action when the executive branch highjacks the legislative process. It is paralyzed by schism, personal agenda, special interest money and self-perpetuation.
The judicial branch, perhaps less the Supreme Court than the lower courts, legislate by judicial decision; often without appellate recourse.
In short, the checks and balances provided by the Founders in the Constitution are ignored and have, therefore, failed. The most prosperous nation on the earth finds itself with a government that over spends, over regulates and under governs. The downward spiral appears unstoppable. What are you to do?
Where will you find your Tiananmen Square? – Alright, you’ve decided it’s time to make a stand. But, where do you stand; figuratively as well as literally? There are no tanks on the small town square, no soldiers on big city corners and no ‘late night visits’ from secret police; if you don’t count Homeland Security. You are enmeshed in a tangled web of incompetence, conspiracy and power struggles. If you pull one string it merely tightens a knot somewhere else. Cancel a program and jobs are lost. Spend money on social programs and taxes or debt must increase. When do you reach the point where only the most radical solution appears to be the correct one? Alexander of Macedon faced just such a dilemma with the Gordian Knot and we all remember his solution. If you favor severing the knot, you are faced with those other ugly “W”s; what, when, where, and who. So far, you’ve only decided the why. I’ll warn you. That was the easy one.
Who will man your barricades? – Now then, you’ve decided that something must change. Okay. Demonstrate. It worked for the Civil Rights, Women’s Rights and Gay Rights movements. Remember, though, that ‘Civil Disobedience’ didn’t work all that well for Henry David Thoreau. You could emulate Demosthenes who orated long and hard to exhort the people of Athens to rise up against Philip of Macedon. The problem arises in that Frederick Douglas, William Jennings Bryan and Martin Luther King were unique, few and far between. Ergo, leadership and recruiting fall to you. Where will you find your masses and will they listen and rise?
Will the 4th Estate rally to your cause? Let’s see. The vast majority of large (and thusly for your cause effective) news organizations are owned by one of eight organizations all of which are commercially motivated. To whom do they owe their editorial allegiance? To you and your cause of better government? Hardly! Unless big money is behind you, they will listen to the companies that buy advertising time. Those companies listen to their primary client base; no sales equals no profits and no profits equals no advertising dollars. That client base is uniform only in its separate devotion to its own individual personal agendas. The free press is, thusly, limited to the small players. Even the internet is subject to market pressures. The big businesses that also have control over internet usage or the airwaves could possibly make the content available biased from their political stand point or they could restrict usage for conflicting political views, therefore eliminating Net Neutrality. Nope, the media is not your ally.
So, you are left with the general population. Unfortunately, barring another catastrophic demonstration of our foolishness such as a Pearl Harbor, a World Trade Center or the bankrupting of our economic system, the general population is about as uniform as snowflakes and about as interested in personal political involvement. The perceived homogeneity of the population during the first 200 years of our history is gone; just plain gone. Pages could be devoted to defining it, but the white male dominated governing body is fractured into male/female, white/black/brown/red/yellow, etc, Christian/Evangelical/Jew/Muslim/Other, Gay/Straight, Young/Old; get the picture? Right now, their greatest individual wish is that someone else will (a) solve all of their problems, (b) do it without adversely impacting their standard of living or way of life and (c) pay for it with someone else’s money, not theirs.
I fear you are, as was ohn the Baptist, alone and crying in the wilderness.
What are you prepared to do? – Officer Malone, Chicago Police Dept, The Untouchables 1968
Okay. You're really pissed and ready to do something. What are your options? Well, I suppose a revolution is in the mix. After all, it worked for John Adams, Thomas Jefferson et al. Each and every of the signers of the Declaration of Independence realized that, once their signature was applied, they were on the 'Most Wanted' list of the British authorities. Now, in 1776, given the state of transportation, technology and communication, that was, to them I suppose, a risk worth the risk. Today? I wonder if the time lapse between publishing on the Internet that you and the Federal government had split the blanket and the appearance of Homeland Security on your doorstep would be measured in hours, minutes or nan-seconds? Are you prepared for the certainty of incarceration? Are you ready to sacrifice family, fortune and future for a principle? You had best think on that. And, of course, once you and the leadership of your 'freedom march' have been silenced, what will the mass of followers (Really, you had a mass of followers?) do. I expect the sound of a scattering mass of citizenry is all you will hear. Please remember that the mass of Americans didn't care a whit about the Revolution in 1776. It was the intelligencia and the moneyed interests who felt oppressed by the Crown. Are the intelligencia and moneyed interests with you now? Now that is a question for the Delphic Oracle.
Who will tell the emperor about his new clothes?
Let's presume that, individually, we believe that the system is busted; big time. Our government is rife with partisanship, self-preservation, greed and inefficiency. It is broken from the 467 people at the top to the hundreds of thousands at the bottom. Now, I do believe that among the park rangers, soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen of our Defense Department (Please, Coast Guard, take no offense. I'm on a roll here.) food inspectors, air controllers and even IRS minions, that there are unselfish, dedicated and loyal employees of the edifice. The problem is that they, too, just serve at the altar of self-preservation; else they find themselves on the 'begging' side of the unemployment insurance desk instead of the 'giving'. Who do we tell?
From what mountain do we shout the truth? Who will listen? Who will believe? Who will carry the message? After all, are you the equal of John Adams?, Thomas Jefferson?
Because you can doesn’t mean you should.