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society

What is Our Government?

On the gap between the plan of America and its reality.

It’s a hard question, because history requires a lot of context and it often contradicts itself because mankind has been long confused and remains so. And I don’t write very long pieces on here.

Suffice it to say our government, under any president, any congress, and any judiciary, is imperfect. At times it has been less imperfect, and others, more. It has been a government ignorant of many problems, working according to a set of mostly amoral principles in opposition to the rhetoric and design of its founding. And when a problem came to light, it was promised it would be solved, with mixed results and a pattern of amnesia. In other words, a nation of humans behaving as humans.

The American government was founded on two basic ideas:

  1. Inalienable rights to enshrine individual (and therefore collective) liberty.
  2. Government designed with an immune system to defend itself against the corrupting spirits of power. (Commonly called separation of powers.)

But per expectations, the corrupting spirits ever since have tried to undermine good governance, and often they have succeeded. But they have never succeeded in demolishing that foundational belief that such corruptions should be beat back, wherever they arise. And so, despite evil’s triumphs, it remains an endangered species in the halls of true democracy.

Which brings us to now, with something larger-than-reasonable portion of the country inviting evil to nest in Liberty’s bosom, for various reasons. The reasons are varied. Some are outright corrupt, but many are merely misled, putting some pet issue ahead of their common sense.

And the rest is most of us, determined that liberty shall give no quarter to corruption. But this majority of us, we know that the wicked do lurk in lobbying lunches, in contract bids, in packed courts. We know that the tarnish on the foundation is hard to scrub, that anti-labor actors and anti-suffrage politicians ever do try to build that nest.

So America is both things at once. There is America, the plan. The plan to build a nation inhospitable to the corrupt. A plan that flexible government responsive to the people would make good choices and learn from its mistakes. And there is America, the reality. The reality that corruption has festered, allowing all of us to be inundated with robo-calls from scammers, with bum deals where taxes aren’t balanced, all these petty problems that trip us up. And those small problems bring bigger ones, like our inability to deal with people being abused and even killed by the justice system, or our failures to act swiftly to stop climate change.

And every election, we must vote against reality. We must vote for the plan. To make America an eyesore to the corrupt. To make the enemies of liberty, those who feed off of neglect and indifference, feel unwelcome and foreign in our lands. Those who would apply pricing formulae to suck as much money out of diabetic persons, or who would take for a ride the family of the incarcerated, who just want to say “Merry Christmas” pay through the nose for that luxury.

All around these forces work against us. In many cases, we ourselves are enlisted by them in one industry as we curse them in every other. But it’s no way to live. The plan rejects it. The plan says to hell with it and fuck that noise. There’s a better way. To elect those who will regulate, who will watch and act to stop pollution, to educate children, to mend those who commit crimes so they will make our nation stronger. People who will help us all extinguish our prejudices and bad ideas, while raising up our moments of humanity and our smart thoughts.

We have the plan, we just have to keep rehearsing, working out the kinks, and be mindful of the gap between the plan and the reality, and make sure we remember which is which. We have to remember the one we want to see happen.