Friday, July 29, 2016

President Obama's most important declaration of the meaning of democracy

President Barack Obama's magnificent speech to the Democratic National Convention made some profound points about his views of the Constitution and the meaning of democracy.  So often  in this country there have been those whose views contradict the intent of that document as constructed by our founding fathers.  The writers of that document had  seen and experienced such bad governance in Europe that they come to the new world to escape it. When they set about the writing of that document and argued and compromised to get agreement and approval of the various states, they righted some of the ills that plagued how men were governed in the old country. They did it by reflecting the will of their people and they established a representative democracy.

What is clear it was a "we the people shall".  What was so profound about that it was not an "I will", but a "we will".  The president's point:  it is not about the power of one man but the power of us all. A contrast was explicitly made as a slap against Donald Trump who represents himself as a strong man who will fix what ails you because he is a strong man.   He has made his race about him, but not about how he would do any of this. Perhaps the most disturbing line in Trump's convention speech was his promise to establish law and order on the day he is sworn in.  His unbalanced advocacy for the crack down against dissenters and demonstrators (no doubt meaning Black Lives Matter, or immigrants that he paints with a broad brush as rapists and murders and terrorists) is that we do not have law and order in this country. He does this  while exaggerating crime statistics and striking fear that "others", meaning those of different colors and religions, are threats. Fact checkers have had a field day providing reams of statistics to shoot holes into his fear mongering assertions. The "how" is troubling.  I kept wondering if he was going to send in "brown shirts" to do the job for him, it was so close to the promises made by a certain leader in Germany in the 1930's.  It is also frighteningly close to a plague that sickens so many countries in this world:  fear and poverty cause those to look to a strong man as their savior but do not look behind the face to understand how he will save them.  Once in power, the "cult of personality" becomes the reason such leaders stay in power...until their is a revolution, usually bloody.

The Constitution and the "we the people", the bases of this country's stability, are our best protection against such happening in the United States and President Obama eloquently reminded us of that in his speech.  The power is the hands of us...the people..not in the hands of one man and that power to determine our destiny is protected in the structure of the Constitution and its amendments.

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