The world watched the theatrics in Washington DC several weeks ago as our elected brethren grappled with one of the most fundamental human issues: how do we put food on the table. It is not hard to believe that many cringed or even laughed at the spectacle of democracy. And why would the world’s greatest super power want to bring this form of government to any derelict country of the world? Even despots that slaughter those that dare speak out had to find it even more amusing than Saturday Night Live in their native language. Or, the affected attempt at “bipartisanship” that plagued the arm twisting and free flowing lobbyist circus around the “passage” of the healthcare bill we have labeled Obamacare.
And yet, the vestiges of democracy have seeped into the mainstream in very recent weeks. The drive-by media, lacking any real depth or concern for the macro political impact of these events, has missed the story. In the recent Republican debates Americans can once again inhale the sweet and pungent scent of democracy. A group of Americans have taken it upon themselves to begin a dialogue between the public and each of these candidates, individually, and as a political movement as a whole. Some conservative talk show hosts lament the focus of some of these interactions, instead pleading to discuss the blatant failings of President Obama. The truth is that whoever the Republicans choose as a candidate, the American public will know them far better than through quickie lines and thirty second commercial spots. They are creating the makings of a real discussion about the future of this nation and vision for how we need to get there. Americans understand that the strength of this nation rests on the urgent protection and exercise of this intercourse.
The framers of the Constitution, in order to form a more perfect Union, had to find within the great divide of individual and national interests a common ground. They did this, not by Twittering about their every minutia, but by engaging a group of extraordinary people in a debate about the character of this nation and the foundation upon which all humans should coexist. Those framers possessed vastly different interests, often conflicting. In the course of those debates and deliberations, they were able to find areas of mutual assent. In doing so, they created not only a nation, but an ideology, a comprehensive vision for a people. Their framework has rescued millions of immigrants, protected freedom of speech, provided guardianship of our rights as human beings to life and to our property, ensured national stability fostering investment, and fomented revolutions throughout the world.
In the coming months, we will yet again pass the baton of power peacefully through our election process. But that peace is not a given, it is hard earned by those men and women that protect our nation everyday in our Armed Services. We can not assume, just because we are Americans, that we will always be a free and strong nation. And while other nations plan our demise and arm their military, the most powerful weapon Americans possess is our ability and right to grapple with the most vexing issues through free and open speech. The Republican debates are hopefully the start of a national discourse among true Americans about the most difficult issues we face. The last few months of forced and furious democracy, including the “passage” of legislation that was not scrutinized, has left the American public raw and frankly worried about our future. From the debates between Lincoln and Douglas in 1858 which focused on slavery and the Union, to the most recent Republican debates about jobs and the economy, it is evident that Americans thrive on free speech. We must continue these conversations and thoughtful, yet forceful, debate concerning our nation. Doing so reflects on the character of the candidates running for President in this election cycle, and provides a salve much needed to heal the wounds of the rancor and anger that has permeated Washington DC. Not only is this development good democracy, it is who we are as Americans.