On Halloween night, the wife and I walked the dog down Ridgefield’s main street amongst hundreds of goblins dressed in festive attire along with their entourages. The majority of these goblins were between 2 foot and 4 foot tall, diversely costumed, accompanied by older and taller family members, and eagerly embarked in search of sweet door-to-door handouts.
Our brisk walk from 5:30-6:30PM was delightful to the senses, crowded along the concrete sidewalks, and yet inspiring to see such community outpouring, courteous mannerisms, and joyful enthusiasms, especially among the little goblins. All of which got me to thinking about the upcoming elections and the impact said elections will have on today’s goblin generation and their generation’s of generations.
The political platforms of Native American’s have inspired our nation’s democracy and founding fathers from the onset: from meeting venues (e.g., the long house); to rules of debate (e.g., the talking stick); to strategy directions for voting (e.g., voting decisions based on seven generations forward from today’s generation). Unfortunately, we never adopted the Native American’s war-making policy of abiding by the council of grandmothers, but I digress.
So here we are in November 2008 and the spirit of spooky politics is indeed upon us and the political season is about to enter it’s voting finale.
I scare easily but I think the thing that scares me the most in this political, post pumpkin-carving season is that today’s political climate is seemingly no different than 241 years ago in colonial, pre-American revolution period of 1767!
Consider the words from America’s first deep throat – a man who reported on the corruption on both sides of the pond (Philadelphia and London 1767-1772 via the Public Advertiser) and did so in a manner that many historians believe was instrumental in bringing about the revolutionary actions of our nation’s founding fathers and countrymen alike.
“We are arrived at that point when new taxes either produced nothing, or defeat the old ones, and when new duties only operate as a prohibition: yet these are the times when every ignorant boy thinks himself fit to be a minister.
Instead of attendance to objects of national importance, our worthy governors are contented to divide their time between private pleasures and ministerial intrigues. Their activity is just equal to the persecution of a prisoner in the King’s Bench, and to the honorable struggle of providing for their dependents.
If there be a good man in the King’s service they dismiss him of course; and when bad news arrives, instead of uniting to consider a remedy, their time is spent in accusing and reviling one another.
Thus the debate concludes in some half misbegotten measure, which is left to execute itself.
Away they go: one retires to his country house; another is engaged at an horse race; and a third has an appointment with a prostitute; and as to their country, they leave her, like a cast of mistress, to perish under the diseases they have given her.”
“The matter and the means, the times and the talents they disclose, the popularity which attended them at their outset, the impression they produce on the public mind, and the triumph of the doctrines they inculcate, all equally concur in stamping for them a passport to the most distant posterity.”
By the time you read this essay, the votes will be in and the national agenda for the next four years set in motion. But regardless of who wins, I think it is safe to say that the great American experiment has run it’s course and is officially over.
Suffice it to say that American democracy, ala the version fashioned by our founding fathers, did not work in the long term, not because the ideals were flawed but in large part to the selfish nature of human beings. This nature was expressed in 1767 by America’s original deep throat and continues to this day as evidence more recently by leadership nationalizing our banking system, subscribing to torture, engaging in warrantless wiretaps, etc.
The failure of the originating democratic power and principles behind America’s great experiment is akin to how scientific strides with atomic power have outpaced our global emotional intelligence as a human race. Apparently, this was evident to Einstein when asked by a reporter about how he felt being responsible for developing atomic power. To which, Einstein expressed dismay in that while human beings made significant scientific strides in unleashing said atomic powers, the equivalent emotional maturity needed by humans to truly steer such power responsibly was lagging by hundred-plus years in his opinion.
IMHO, the dual party system is persona-non-grada, a joke, broken and doesn’t serve the needs of today’s populace. Instead of two parties that point to the other party’s faults and limitations, we should instead be focusing on collective transparency and ideas like open source government.
We need to evolve and reform politics to the next level(s) – levels that work best for everybody, “the highest good” and include open debates that bring about the best ideas, inspire transparency, best practices, and ongoing continual improvements via open, transparent feedback loops.
So while human nature is not likely to change anytime soon, today we have new challenges but we also have new tools. Here’s hoping we use them for a new and improved political process – e.g., Google for open source government!