Ignorance is Bliss

…because if you ignore the problem for long enough, maybe it’ll go away…

“There is a matter, which often obtrudes itself upon my mind, and which requires the attention of every person of sense and influence, among us. I mean a degeneracy of representation in the great council of America. It is a melancholy truth Sir, and the effects of which we daily see and feel, that there is not so much wisdom in a certain body, as there ought to be, and as the success of our affairs absolutely demands.”

~Alexander Hamilton, letter to Governor George Clinton, 13 February 1778


It seems like the prime qualification for elected office these days is the ability to doggedly stick one’s head in the sand.  After all, if you pretend that the problems of the nation simply aren’t there, maybe they’ll disappear or solve themselves.  Because apparently, actually thinking and making the hard calls is no longer what an elected representative does.  Instead, they make a living off of taxpayers, and do pretty much nothing besides maintain the status quo (that is, continuing to do nothing and getting upset if anyone actually tries to do anything).  Not surprisingly, the Founders dealt with a  period of completely ineffective government as well.  The Congress under the Articles of Confederation was so weak and toothless that the nation was effectively being run entirely at the local level.  Federal policy at the time basically consisted of endless debates that resulted in absolutely nothing- no meaningful legislation, no functioning governance, nothing.  Sound familiar?  We have managed to find ourselves in the exact same predicament as our fore bearers, over two centuries down the road.

The Founding Fathers and the revolutionary generation, however, weren’t the kind of people to simply accept that their government couldn’t muster up the will to accomplish anything.  They knew they needed to fix the problem and create a system that would function if the new nation was to survive.  So what did they do?  They literally threw out the entire old framework and went to work creating a new one.  And the new one hasn’t been too bad.  After all, their new, more effective foundation is the Constitution that has successfully governed our nation for the last 200-plus years (at least up until lately).  Which makes it all the more ironic that our current Congress is so marvelously ineffective, since they are operating under a set of guidelines that fixed that issue for the Founders.  Fortunately, unlike the Founding Fathers, we don’t actually need to ditch the entire Constitution to alleviate the issue.  Happily, they left us with an amendment process should the need to alter our government ever arise.  If there was ever a time that some fine-tuning needed to be done, it is obviously now.  All that remains is for we the people to have the will to actually do it.


Res Publica


Documentation without Representation:

Alexander Hamilton, letter to Governor George Clinton, 13 February 1778 (emphasis added by me)


Electronic Text Courtesy of The University of Chicago Press

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