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As Long as We Remember...

January 7, 2011

Less Perfect Union

Roy Meachum

Never in American history have voters been as furious as they were in the last two national elections; if anything, Frederick County citizens in the November races were even more ticked off.


In 2008 a general anger seized the country. Frustrated by broken promises and fearful of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, results at the polls mirrored the public mood. The first African American won the White House in a landslide and Congress was packed with new faces that represented a repudiation of George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, and all they stood for.


Last autumn the reverse happened. Personalities came into play but only in a lesser way, particularly President Barack Obama’s. Having elected him to make changes, the electorate showed their smoldering dissatisfaction by rebuking him and his Democratic Party.


Naming a new state chairman, Maryland Republicans rejected moderate Mary Kane, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2010, in favor of radical right-wing, ex-State Senator Alex Mooney. Frederick County voters voted a straight Republican ticket, rejecting worthy candidates because they wore the wrong label.


GOP long-incumbent Representative Roscoe Bartlett said, speaking of the burden that power brings, in a telephone conversation: “It’s all on us (Republicans).” The congressman was not boasting; his voice a half whisper.


A double-reverse could happen next year. Remember Newt Gingrich? He was responsible, more than anything else, for Bill Clinton’s second term in the Oval Office, which Roscoe remembers vividly. Frederick’s man on Capitol Hill was just re-elected; he will mark 20 years in the House of Representatives in 2012.


The rise of the Tea Party, in the wake of George W. Bush’s loss, embeds a self-destructive element within GOP ranks; I know, I know, there are Democrats, and Blacks, in the revolutionary movement. They rally behind a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution; in the newly Republican House, representatives have been enlisted to read the late-18th century document on the floor of Congress. Like the Roman Catholic Church, they hope reversal to the fundamentals will save the republic.


Both hopes are doomed at the get-go.


Returning to the status that prevailed during Vatican I and post-Revolutionary America offers the probability of more dissatisfaction and discontent in this age of personal and mass communications. Modernization was rejected by the Roman Curia; millions of Catholics no longer go to the church, some switching faiths in frustration.


The same fate awaits the Tea Party and conservative Republicans, and it doesn’t really matter if they beat Democrats the next time around. Things were radically different when the Founding Fathers assembled in Philadelphia; I don’t mean the revocation of slavery and the innovations that make life more comfortable in the 21st century.


Humanity has transformed. The have-nots now have a purchase on power; at least they did within the recent 100 years. The concentration of wealth and control came about, I deeply believe, because of individual greed. Men and women were so busy stuffing their pockets; they hardly noticed what “their betters” were about.


This malaise has infected nations; witness the near-collapse of several European countries. The reaction is reflected in the world’s creeping conservatism, which runs counter to the Constitution’s glowing preamble:


“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty for us and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”


At that time absolute monarchies ruled the planet; revolution in France was still brewing. The underlying reason that the Union was not “perfect” can be blamed on human frailty and corruption.


My poor America.


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