The question for America is has democracy ever live in the United States? It is reasonable to question a system that allows slavery and second-class citizenship to call itself a democracy.
From inception to this very day in America the United States has structured and shaped its laws to empower a few at the peril of the masses. The laws from state to state were all designed to allow rich and powerful states to remain so and stop others from becoming rich or powerful.
Dr. Claud Anderson, in his classic work, “Black Labor: White Wealth,” demonstrates through states’ laws how people of color were controlled through laws that kept them from moving up the social and economic ladder. It is safe the say democracy was never the intention of the America’s founding fathers.
But they are only united in cause, not laws. We hear the cry for states’ rights over federal law election cycle after election cycle. The cry today is for every state to be free to do what is necessary to oppress the poor and take advantage of the weak.
The vilest way of oppression was slavery and Jim Crow. These laws that allowed racism to flourish were sanctioned by the states. These laws empowered the rich to get richer and they served the poor whites well because they allowed them to feel that they were better than the blacks because the law was on their side.
Today, the nation is faced with the strongest attempt since World War II to put the “Jack back in the Box.” After the war, people realized that the powers in Washington cared little about human life. Every poor black or white was only worth what he could do the save the American way of life for the rich and powerful.
The fight for fair wages and civil rights began in earnest. The poor black and the poor white began to see through the scheme of the oppressors. The people wanted a democracy that worked for all, not just a powerful few.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”
Today’s Republican governors decided the time was right to destroy the unions and take back every gain women and blacks had achieved. State by state by state, the Republicans have been having their way, busting unions and rolling back laws that advanced women.
When I look at the problems we are faced with now, I think of something I read in Bill Clinton’s “My Life.”
“The challenge of dealing with complicated problems like Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia inspired one of Tony Lake’s (executive director of UNICEF) best lines: ‘Sometimes I really miss the Cold War.’ ”
When I think of the things being done to the poor now, I miss the Jim Crow days. Then it was clear there were plain black-and-white issues. The poor wanted to be paid; the rich didn’t want to pay. The people of color wanted to be treated like humans. Whites didn’t what them to eat, sleep, or drink with them.
But it is not that plain today. Much of what is done is disguised. The financial crisis created by George W. Bush or the people around him, placed there by his dad and Dick Cheney, is the key to taking away all the rights and wages of the poor and oppressed. This is the death of democracy. The Bush wars bankrupted America and the threat of terrorism created the climate for taking away democratic rights.
Again, Thomas Jefferson said, “The country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and moneyed incorporations and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling … I hope we shall … crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to trial and bid defiance to the laws of our country. I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.”
The war caused good people to join bad people in the name of “country first.” Steve Jobs called for all Americans to come together to uphold a way of life that he had opposed most of his life. But the 9/11 terrorists made him line up with the rest of the rich and powerful and say: “Regardless of our political persuasions, I want you to know that we’re here to do whatever you ask to help our country.”
Fear will cause you to give and give in. The Bible says, “Fret not thou self because of evil doers.” Fear destroys minds long before the enemy destroys the body. We all have asked ourselves if we are Americans first and foremost. Barack Obama, as a keynote speaker at the Democratic Convention in 2004, called for the end to Red States and Blue States that we might have a United States.
But we are liberals, conservatives, and others. We care nothings about anything but keeping things the way they are, as long as we are oppressing the poor and appeasing the weak. Democrats reject anything initiated by Republicans and Republicans reject anything initiated by Democrats. The poor lose every time and the rich win every time, one way or the other. Nowadays every piece of legislation is about keeping things the way they are until someone at the top demands real change. The people have little or no say and are made to work longer and harder for less.
Michigan and Wisconsin, which have Republican governors, have led the way in the death of democracy by taking rights (union busting) and making laws that move the individual and community out of the picture altogether. The best example is Public Act 4 of 2011 in Michigan. The partisan law that empowers the governor to appoint emergency “czars” with sweeping authority to overrule elected officials in financially troubled cities or school districts, including the ability to overturn local laws and nullify collective bargaining agreements, is the open sign to all poor Americans that they have no democracy.
The people in the ’40s and ’50s fought back. Today the people are so beaten down from 10 years of fear from 9/11 that they are not willing to fight back, hoping that they can shorten the suffering. But this will not last.
The same thing that is happening in other places of oppression will come to America. Democracy has died only to get up again stronger than before.