By Us, For Us

…or something like that…

“It is fortunate when disputed theories, can be decided by undisputed facts.  And here the undisputed fact is, that the Constitution was made by the people…”

~ James Madison, Letter to Daniel Webster, 15 March 1833


It’s funny how it can all get away from you.  You fight a war, a huge one, trying to establish a government with some sort of legitimate basis from the consent of the governed while still maintaining the fundamental rights of man.  You create an entirely new framework for that new government, culminating in a Constitution the likes of which has never been seen before in human history.  You fight another incredibly bloody civil war amongst yourselves to solidify the concept….and then, less than two centuries later, you’re bickering amongst yourselves over every meaningless piece of legislation to cross your desk.  Welcome to American politics.  It seems like it may have gotten more than a little away from “we, the people.”

Even more ironically: that fundamental fact, that our government is supposed to be for us, the citizenry, seems to be more and more in dispute.  We get told that the government is gathering massive amounts of data about regular people or that they’re just going to shut themselves down, and it doesn’t matter what most people think about it anymore.  Because the government is going to do (or not do) what it feels like, and we, the people, are out of luck.  Protests or disagreement barely register with the leaders we’ve elected.  After all, once they’re in power, they’ve grown increasingly difficult to remove from it.  What makes us different from a dictatorship?  What makes us different from North Korea or Syria or Russia even?  Are our political leaders any less entrenched?  Are our voices heard any more loudly?  Is our system REALLY any less manipulated or manipulatable?  We, the people, still have the right to change the system.  But we don’t.  So are we really any better than the countless other nations of people who have submitted themselves to the decisions of those in power?  Is there a point where as a people we’ve had enough?  Or will we be content to rest on our laurels until as a nation we reach the point of no return.


Res Publica


Documentation without Representation:

James Madison, Letter to Daniel Webster, 15 March 1833

Electronic Text Courtesy of the University of Chicago Press

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