Saturday, May 23, 2009

Is Freedom of Debate the Central Tenet of American Democracy?

Someone recently suggested that the central tenet of American democracy and the Constitution was to allow freedom of debate between all ideas. Here is my response:

Yes and no; the freedom of debate grows out of a fundamental or foundational premise from the founders of America: namely, to live as close to anarchy/freedom as possible between the anarchy-tyranny poles, and to keep the authority of the President to a bare minimum in order to avoid evolving into another Monarchy, or Oligarchy with a Congressionally run country.

TYRANNY {British Rule}___________________ {Constitution}___ANARCHY

Many feel the original foundation has shifted radically toward tyranny over the past 200 years, especially under Bush and Obama who are passing legislation that comes perilously close to kingly powers. This is what happened in Hitler's Germany. Both Republicans and Democrats have moved away from the founding premise of minimal federal control.

TYRANNY___{Republicans/Democrats}_________ {Constitution}___ANARCHY

That's why the early Anti-Federalists argued so adamantly for a democracy that kept major socio-political decisions at the level of individual states. Lincoln's tyrannical campaign to keep the Union, and his almost Monarchical rulership, radically shifted that state-centered focus. In short, Anti-Federalists argued that the central governing authority of a nation should be equal or inferior to, but not having more power than, its states. The initial American constitution, called the Articles of Confederation adopted in 1781, gave each state government more authority, and granted minimal authority to the Federal govt. The Anti-Federalists did not like the new Constitution (1787) because they were worried that the newly created position of president might evolve into a monarchy. That is why Washington initially turned the office down - he felt he was too popular and that people gave him too much power. Today, that is what presidents seek!

As for the 'democratic freedom to debate,' the founders knew from Plato that democracies tended to end up in monarchies or oligarchies because people fundamentally want to be cared for. When the mob rules (democracy), they do as the Romans did, demanding 'circuses and bread' from a populist Ruler or rulers who will provid entertainment and food, or as I call it, 'chic and quiche.' Many of us see the current trend of the govt. to bail us out, pay our mortgages, give us assurances and insurances, etc., etc. ad infinitum as we slide back into tyranny. At least John Stewart and other media preachers are beginning to see these trends and are making fun of Obama as they had Bush. Our only hope, sadly, is in the media understanding and communicating to the masses that this is not a party versus party issue, but a tyranny versus freedom issue.

Furthermore, the founders also knew that a successful democracy DEPENDED on educated and virtuous citizens. The Constitution is amoral. The founders counted on secular education AND consistent public religious instruction to take care of that problem. That was why there was so much religious moral instruction in the public schools. With our current 'modern' generations, virtually no one knows the Constitution, has practically no moral instruction and expects a comfortable life by virtue of existing. The preamble to a modern constitution would replace 'the right to pursue happiness' with the 'right to expect happiness.'

One of the reasons bin Laden, Saudi Arabia, Iran and a host of other growing and thriving Muslim groups hate Western politics is because there is a separation between our Constitution and our socio-moral code. For Muslims, the Constitution and Moral Law (Sharia) are one and the same, called the Koran. Their primary beef against the West is not 'economic imperialism,' but philosophical amoralism. That is why they target night clubs and posh hotels as often as military and economic facilities. They DESPISE places that allow drinking, women with skin showing, dancing, music and the possibility of sexual activities. This point of abysmal naiveté on the part of Europeans and Americans is the reason most have no clue what the Terrorists and Radical Islam are seeking to accomplish.

Christianized governments may not have always mixed religion and politics perfectly, but at least Jesus, Paul and the New Testament explicitly declared that we 'render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and render unto God that which belongs to God.' But as Jefferson made clear when you read his whole letter to the Danby Baptists, the oft discussed and rarely understood separation of church and state did NOT mean religion and politics were to be mutually exclusive, but that the Federal govt. had no business setting up a single state religion over another. Jefferson DID NOT mean that religion had no role in the success of the new American experiment. Jefferson supported religion as a means to teach and implement virtue, just not one religion over another. Jefferson found Christian theology to be rationally repulsive and logically absurd (though he did understand mystical faith), yet Jefferson saw Christian morality to be absolutely necessary for the success of an amoral Constitution. That is why I find it ironical to watch the ACLU and other groups working themselves out of existence by undermining a system of internal virtue through religious education. One day, as in parts of Europe now, such groups will be outlawed by the dominant political or religious tyranny that restores moral order to an immoral culture.

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