As of May, 2003, I have decided to no longer run for this office. I am maintaining the website for several reasons, not the least of which is that the effort expended in developing the ideas was clearly worthy, and the work produced should therefore be preserved. My further reasons for no longer seeking elective office can be found in this essay - Saving America from Ourselves.
from the 2004 Presidential Campaign of Joel A. Wendt: working paper # 1. The idea of citizen governance I owe to the work and articulation of my friend Steve Burman, who also pointed me in the direction of a much neglected yet very important book: The Constitution of the United States - a critical discussion of its genesis, development, and interpretation; by John Randolph Tucker.
- the future of the Republic form of government -
The United States of America is the first Nation where a certain fundamentally human impulse toward true freedom emerged on the Stage of History. Long in preparation, this impulse was/is connected to the gradual appreciation of the individual of his/her fundamental personal sovereignty - our individual free power of choice. It is only out of the choices of the I am , or the spirit , of the individual human being, that governments obtain their just powers. From the authoring of the U.S. Constitution forward, governments were to be seen as only having those powers granted to them by the community of sovereign individual human spirits, which constituted a particular Nation or People.
If we can appreciate how long it took for this principle to emerge onto the Stage of History, then it is possible to also appreciate how it is that this principle will require considerable time to grow into maturity. The appearance of this principle, in its present restatement as part of this presidential campaign, is simply one among many other iterations of the reappearance of this impulse in modern times. It is not new, nor is my articulation of it the only possible one.
The Declaration of Independence, states among its very first principles: " .., Governments are instituted among Men, deriving the just powers from the consent of the governed ,.. "
and the U.S. Constitution begins: " We the People ... ".
The central act is the uniting of the individual sovereign power of free choice into a community, a Nation and a People, from which then the siting government receives its powers.
However, against this striving out of the hearts and minds of individual sovereign spirits was arrayed the vast weight of the Past. Having its own momentum, the Past did not easily step aside for the birth of this just power with its fundamental right of Consent. Men and women were too used to the old ways, where power lived in the aristocracies of blood and inheritance. Thus, even though a fundamental shift had occurred at the level of our understanding, the outer forms of social relations were slow to evolve. The aristocracies of blood became replaced with aristocracies of wealth.
Such is the condition of the world today. Oligarchies of wealth constitute the most typical form of rule over various peoples all over the world. It some cases it is fairly obvious, and in others, such as apparent democracies, the ruling elites have worked at keeping their activity hidden.
One of the most interesting aspects of this situation is that a core element of the reasoning of concentrated wealth, in support of its point of view, has considerable validity. This is the view that the average citizen lacks the understanding and capacity to participate in macro decisions - the kind of decisions that determine the stability of markets, and the free flow of trade upon which the modern world has become dependent. According to this reasoning, only the financially astute know what is needed to know in order to maintain an economic environment in which wealth can continue to be generated. This apparent truth then justifies all manner of manipulations of the inner workings of various governments.
On the surface then, it appears that the world is locked into a what is essentially a class struggle, between the rich and the poor, over the determination of the social rules of modern and future societies. In fact, is there any reason to expect the aristocracies of concentrated wealth to abandon their positions of power and privilege without a very great battle?
Here then is the moral riddle at the heart of the modern age. If citizen governance is to emerge into the light of world affairs in a responsible manner, will it take a course that violently destroys the Past, or will it find some other path through this Rite of Passage that the Hopi Prophecies call: The Day of Purification. And, in parallel, will the existing powers hold so strongly to their position and privilege such that all their considerable forces are spent trying to hold down the emergence of this sovereign individual community impulse.
If such a War ensues, then the Republic that the founders of the United States of America created will dissolve into chaos, to be replaced by either anarchy on the one hand, or some form of dictatorship (fascist or otherwise) on the other.
If we wish to avoid Battle, then the issues come down to this: By what means will we proceed ?
If the nature of our choices involves the assumption of a proper end goal - a certain right way the future needs to turn out - then we will automatically pursue a course of conflict, for the very fact of our individual sovereign natures assumes that we each will have a different end in mind. On the other hand, if we choose to place the emphasis on how we go about stepping into the future, the basic form of the Republic that was bequeathed to us remains the most viable, healthy and just way .
To help understand this, we should notice that citizen governance is young. It has so far rested mostly in an ideal form, as the main principle of the form of government of the United States. Our present time offers us the opportunity to take this ideal further into reality - further into incarnation.
There are two ways that I recommend. Both are essential, and one can participate in either or both as one wishes.
One is for ordinary citizens to run for office. Such activity was certainly in the minds of our founders, and it is much needed in the present, for the class of professional politicians has, in the main, lost its way. I have chosen this path myself.
The second means is the formation of conversation groups, or what I have elsewhere called: renewal groups. I have used the term renewal to emphasize the fact that this idea is not new, and was central from the very beginning of our Republic. But it has fallen into a condition of sleep and disuse, so that if we are to return it to is pivotal place within our form of government, then we must - out of ourselves - call it forth in conversation with each other.
Conversation is the crucial aspect - the essence. We have tended to think, having lost a true understanding of the nature of the Republic form of government, that the power of the people resided in the vote - that is that we were some form of democracy (which we are not). More essential than the vote is our mutual spiritual work at expressing, out of our own insight, what we consider to be the nature of the good as that applies to the form and order of society. It is our individual sovereign moral will, conveyed in the form of ideals from one to the other, that is the essential act of citizen governance. Out of these heart-felt conversations then emerges that vision of the future toward which we then direct our elected representatives to strive to achieve.
Those, who also take the other path - that of seeking to represent us, very much need our guidance. They (and hopefully I) work for you (us). But the eternal truths to which we form allegiance, these are to be discovered in the renewal groups. At present, the situation is almost the opposite. The powers of concentrated wealth, and their political allies, work very hard at forming public opinion. What we think is not so important as what we can be made to think. Knowledge of true facts is routinely withheld. What is provided is warped into that meaning most convenient to the speakers. A representative form of government (our Republic) cannot thrive when all that the People are provided is a sea of lies and half-truths.
At the same time, this apparent abuse of power, by the wealthy elites and their servants, cannot (yet) imprison our hearts and minds. Having free speech, and the gift of the word , we have the capacity to meet with each other and consider the fundamental and essential questions facing our society. In this process of asking ourselves questions, and listening to each other offer responses, we begin that work - that means - whose pathway offers us the most sane passage through the historic crises of the moment.
For the truth is this. Our fundamental sovereignty as individuals is a reflection of our divine nature. In this age of materialism, where we have unnaturally separated matter and spirit, we have also lost confidence in the moral. Today people are content to limit their acts to what is legal, which my law professors described as the lower limit of the expectations that can be placed on human behavior. To do only what is legal is to do the least socially acceptable act.
No society has life and vitality if its members not only expect of themselves the least, but even worse, intentionally pass downward through that boundary for reasons of personal greed (witness the massive failures now apparent in our business communities). The renewal of the Republic can only come out of moral deeds, deeds of conscience - deeds first born in acts of individual conscience, which are then merged through conversation in to a community of ideals.
At the same time such deeds need to proceed in moderation. Individuals, meeting in renewal groups and learning to express their hearts to each other in mutual tolerance, while considering the fundamental goals and purposes of human society, perform a sacred art. This art of conversation then spreads from one to the other, eventually merging with other conversations in a vast cooperative act of public ideal self examination. Where we have been asleep, now we are awake, and our considerations become the light by which our public servants can then do those appointed tasks that we so much need for them to do.
It will not be easy. To rise from a public expectation of behavior directed toward the merely legal to an understanding of individual moral insight will be no simply matter. This is hard work, for not only do we have a political Past, but we also have a religious Past, and a scientific Past. The vast weight of these ideas can be a terrible prison for the future. Yet, if we take the time to live with trust in each other's hearts, then the mutual work of the sacred art of conversation will lead us to just that community of ideals we need to light the way.
We need have no end in mind at all. The means - the conversation arising out of our understanding of the principle of citizen governance - will ensure that we travel the roads of life in all the mutual faith and company that we need.