Has Western Civilization been rescued by - (of all people) - the People?
Has a crucial corner been turned? Out of what has been (so far) a dismal-retro 21st Century, have we begun to regain some 20th Century confidence and belief in our capacity for progress?
All right, that’s pretty florid talk for what was only a mid term election. Let’s keep perspective. The greatest enemy of the Enlightenment in general, and the American Experiment in particular, has always been human nature. Our propensity for indignant self-delusion... especially when the mighty convince themselves that they are all-wise and justified to squelch criticism.
That's a BIG enemy. Let's reprise that wisdom from Jefferson:
“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles."
-- Thomas Jefferson in 1798, after the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Scan history, and you’ll see that the most tediously predictable trend, arising every generation, is an attempted takeover by some conspiring clique - often pretending to be “for the people.” Though no living American can recall an attempted putsch as tenacious and nasty as the one that’s still underway, still eager, vampiric and unsatiated. Still desperately in need of a stake through its heart.
Well, keep your spirits up. Other generations managed to achieve the miracle, resisting the pull of our feudal past. Renewing instead our unique covenant --
America’s ever-optimistic pact with tomorrow.
So now what?
This important little victory will be meaningless if it’s botched, or implemented tepidly, without imagination. Or with a mean spirit that plays into the hands of those who want perpetual “culture war.”
So, if I may, I’d like to offer a few suggestions. A short list of items that I would like to see the new, Democratic Congress accomplish, in coming months. (It will take several postings.) The proposals will fall into two major groups:
(A) What can the House of Representatives do, all by itself, even if legislation is blocked or stymied?
(B) What legislative endeavors (actual bills and laws) might Democrats pursue, beyond the obvious? (e.g. raising the minimum wage and all those announced good intentions.)
Why divide things up this way? Yes, there is news that the US Senate will soon join the House on the side of progress and light. Still, even if they do pass a raft of mature and needed laws, they may be stymied by obstinate presidential vetoes.
So, before considering bills and legislation, we’ll talk (next time) about things that the U.S. House of Representatives could do, all by itself, to set a new tone in America.