Many people treat the U.S. Constitution as if it
was something fixed in nature by which the present and future are bound.
This is not the case. In truth the Constitution is the primal
iteration of an Ideal. The Ideal remains a living reality, while the
written document is simply the current incarnation. Whenever citizens of
the United States meet, and discuss their ideas about how their government
should be or act, this discussion is the originating power, of which the
document is but an image. Granted, that while to change the document
requires certain rules be obeyed, the power still resides in the People
and not in the document. In fact, were the People to decide to change
the rules governing changing the document, this they could also do.
We need to always keep in mind that it is We the People
the legitimacy of the power exercised by any sitting government arises. The
Executive power exercised by the current Adminstration is not superior to
this fundamental authority, but rather must see itself as its servant.
Unfortunately, the current Adminstration doesn't seem to understand how our
constitutional government works, or what their role is within its remarkable
design. Let me see if I can trace the how this confusion has arisen.
At the time the United States of America was formed, most govenments in Western
Civilization took the form of hereditary aristocracies. Governmental
power existed in King or Queen, the Sovereign Person. This power had
even been historically seen as derived from God, i.e. the so-called divine
right of Kings.
Such power had often been used under the ideal of noblesse oblige
, wherein the holder of aristocratic rank understood that it was accompanied
by certain obligations of parental-like responsibility for those of lesser
rank. At the same time, many members of the nobility forgot this ideal, and
exercised their powers in arbritary and abusive fashion. Eventually,
as we all know, such abuses had to be opposed to the point of the separation
of the American Colonies from the arbritary rule of the English Crown.
While the Founders of our form of government tried to create something that
could be free of any return to the exercise of such arbritrary power, they
did not succeed. Even as the power of the hereditary aristocracies
receeded, new concentrations of power arose surrounding those individuals
and organizations to which great wealth had accumulated. We now live
in a time when the hereditary aristocracies have been succeeded by aristocracies
of concentrated wealth. While their abuses of arbritary power are less
visible than that of the prior Kings and Queens, they nonetheless exist,
as anyone with common sense knows.
At present, the American government is pretty much dominated by these abuses
of power, which have, over the generations, become the normal way of doing
business. We have, in this last Century (the 20th) even seen the appearance
of many of these families of concentrated wealth within the seats of power
(the Roosevelts, the Rockefellers, the Kennedys and now the Bushes).
The result of this is that we no longer have the form of government authored
by our Founders and contained in the constitution - a Republic. Instead,
we have what is essentially an oligarcy of wealth, hidden and subtle to be
sure, but there as certain as the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West.
The further result of this is that while we have what appears to be a democratic
Republic, the nature of how power is seen and used in the Executive Branch
has more kinship with the previous arbritary rule of Kings and Queens. The
whole psychological approach to the use of power
by the current Bush
administration reveals this fundamental attitude. Having won (or stolen,
depending upon your point of view) the election, the current administration
seeks to dominate the world through the use of its control of a seat of power
whose existence is a grant from the American People.
This is clear from their whole approach to the issue of war with Iraq. To
help understand this it might be an aide to appreciate not only what is being
done by this administration, but also what its real options are.
As discussed elsewhere in my papers (see for example, The Plan
), the apparent
dominant position of the United States in the world is not soley due to
our capacities. The genius of History (what our Founders might have
called Divine Providence) is much more determinative. We are a very
young Nation, as such things go, much more akin to a person in late adolescence,
than to a mature and wise People and culture.
Even so, the genius of History has seen fit to place the United States in
this position of apparent power and dominance. At least that would
be the normal adolescent
view. If we were to try to be more
mature in our evaluation of our true circumstances, we might see that what
we really have is an extraordinary opportunity on the one hand (for which
we should be proud), and at the same an equally extraordinary responsibility
(which should scare the pants off of us).
We need to see the moral essence of this in the following way. How
the United States acts in this position of responsibility provides the example
by which the rest of the World will model itself. What we do says to
the rest of the Nations of the World (and their ruling elites): "This is
the right way to act".
This is the standard by which We the People
have the right (and the
duty) to judge the current Bush adminstation's activities - what kind of example
of how a Nation or a People should behave in the modern world are they providing.
Yet this adminstration has sought to represent us - to represent We
- on the basis of "might is right" and within some approach
not unlike that of 19th Century imperialism. In this confusion, the
Bush administration conforms its thinking to the fundamentalist (past looking)
ideology of the Christian Right and the bottom line goals of concentrated
wealth. This administration is thus blind to the true potential of
the time, and the real task which the genius of History has placed before
This is such an important point, that it is worth repeating.
The real question facing the American People in the present concerns leading
the world into the future. Our dominance, that which comes from the
Genius of History, and which is not only making of Americans the People of
Peoples, has also made of us the mightiest material power the world has ever
seen. This same dominance has potential within it a much higher purpose
than that vain exercise of power the current Bush administration has undertaken.
This higher purpose, to which the administration is blind, really doesn't
belong to any sitting government. This higher purpose really belongs
to We the People, to the emerging Citizen Governance Movement. In our
hands lies a great gift, born as a seed in the U. S. Constitution, and then
nurtured through many trials now to a certain first crisis of maturity.
Will we leave that future potential in the hands of what is essentially an
historically retarded empire building impulse as expressed by the current
adminstration, or will we put our own hands to the task, and discover through
the renewal groups and true civic conversation, that shared moral center
from which we seek to honor the responsibilities the Genius of History has
laid before us?