Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Testing, One, Two

Ben was an old man by then but he showed up. Jimmy did most of the writing. Tom was in France. Al had a lot of input and Jack weighed in also. We were not yet a nation.

Jimmy Madison rose above his station as a slave-holder. He had a vision beyond the former Articles of Confederation. Along with Al Hamilton they knew the country wouldn’t hold together as thirteen separate states. Tom Jefferson along with his fellow plantation owners George W. and Jimmy Monroe left it for Shorty Madison to forge out some compromise with Northerners like Alexander H., Jack (John) Adams and Ben Franklin.

They were all products of the European Enlightenment. They saw a way past monarchy. It was an experiment called Democracy. They didn’t quite trust the people to directly elect their own representatives. Not those in bondage, nor those whose land they stole, nor women, nor the un-propertied.  Just as they were fearful of a king so were they afraid of a mobocracy.

They also put in place checks and balances to ensure that each branch of government could not abuse the powers stipulated. Our Founders knew enough about potential czars, monarchs and assorted potentates to guard against that eventuality. In fact four of our first five presidents had no male heir to create even the appearance of a dynasty. Only John Adams had a son and, sure enough, he went into the family business.

At 5 ft. 4 inches was James Madison tall enough to see 230 years into the future and imagine a Donald Trump who would rule supreme as dictator if he could? Are the separation of powers sufficient to withstand the assault on our Constitution? 

The months ahead shall be a test whether this experiment in government can endure against the reckless megalomania of the man in the tower. Only a handful of Republican voices can be heard to warn against his abuse of power…and most of those are on their way out the door as they speak. The great majority of Congress have duct tape over their mouths and conscience. They have turned a blind eye toward the White House having made a Faustian pact with their clients who feed at the trough of the Koch Brothers, evangelicals, Wall St. and the NRA.   

Will Mueller be dismissed while still hot on his trail and closing in? It remains to be seen if the president's handlers can control his early morning tantrums. The chattering class smells Nixon. The flattering class cowers at the emotional impulse of the man in the Oval. The Senate and House will take a look at the litmus paper to determine if he’s a plus or a minus in November.

Thanks to the eternal ingenuity of Ben Franklin, Jimmy and Al and the rest of our Fathers are tuned to the podcasts and watching with smart phones from their graves. After 230 years this beautiful conception will be put to the test. They are holding their collective, posthumous breaths to see whether their model will hold given the actor now on stage. They may be thinking of an eleventh amendment. 

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