Monday, February 21, 2011

A President’s Day Post - The Rights Of The People To Rule

There are leaders and there is authority.  Seldom does a President of the United States rise to the level of leader.   I don’t believe we have had one in my adult life time.   Let’s take a look at a speech given by a leader a century ago.  He was Teddy Roosevelt, a self-described Progressive Republican.   Blasphemy you say.  Haha.  Nine out ten Americans are probably progressives even today.  They just don’t necessarily understand what a progressive is because politicians have manipulated the term for their personal power and greed.  Progressive and Republican is not mutually-exclusive.   Of course, it is today because the Republican Party is not republican at all.   The current incarnation of the Republican Party has absolutely nothing in common with the roots of its party nor any of its great Presidents.  It is now a fascist party of corruption that is pro-business and pro-elites in lieu of pro-markets and pro-democracy.   It is anti-labor which is diametrically-opposed to the Republican Party’s first President, Abraham Lincoln, whom we have reported was pro collective bargaining against hegemonic businesses.   Collective bargaining is simply democracy applied to economics.  It is The Rights of the People to participate in Rule applied to massive, powerful, tyrannical corporations. 

Is it any more acceptable to allow business tyrants to run roughshod over the people of this country than it is for Hosni Mubarak to run roughshod over the people of Egypt?   Anyway, let’s get to the post.   The link to this speech has been on the blog since its inception.  It is titled The Rights of the People to Rule

On this President’s Day, I think you’ll appreciate the words of a leader.  And mind you, these words were representative of his actions.  This was a President of action who saw his role as being a leader of our country.  Not a politician who talks us to death and does nothing to restore democracy or economic freedom like endless talkers such as Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.   Our current president talked a good game during the elections, the only reason he won the presidency.  But then all he did was talk.  That is why he lost the midterms.  Not because his presidential election message was off target.  It’s quite obvious the Republicans have sorely misinterpreted the will of the people.  And so has our president.   They could both learn a thing or two from a populist leader, Theodore Roosevelt. 

THE great fundamental issue now before the Republican party and before our people can be stated briefly. It is: Are the American people fit to govern themselves, to rule themselves, to control themselves? I believe they are. My opponents do not. I believe in the right of the people to rule. I believe the majority of the plain people of the United States will, day in and day out, make fewer mistakes in governing themselves than any smaller class or body of men, no matter what their training, will make in trying to govern them. I believe, again, that the American people are, as a whole, capable of self-control and of learning by their mistakes. Our opponents pay lip-loyalty to this doctrine; but they show their real beliefs by the way in which they champion every device to make the nominal rule of the people a sham. I have scant patience with this talk of the tyranny of the majority. Wherever there is tyranny of the majority, I shall protest against it with all my heart and soul. But we are today suffering from the tyranny of minorities. It is a small minority that is grabbing our coal-deposits, our water-powers, and our harbor fronts. A small minority is battening on the sale of adulterated foods and drugs. It is a small minority that lies behind monopolies and trusts. It is a small minority that stands behind the present law of master and servant, the sweat-shops, and the whole calendar of social and industrial injustice. It is a small minority that is today using our convention system to defeat the will of a majority of the people in the choice of delegates to the Chicago Convention.

The only tyrannies from which men, women, and children are suffering in real life are the tyrannies of minorities. If the majority of the American people were in fact tyrannous over the minority, if democracy had no greater self-control than empire, then indeed no written words which our forefathers put into the Constitution could stay that tyranny.

No sane man who has been familiar with the government of this country for the last twenty years will complain that we have had too much of the rule of the majority. The trouble has been a far different one that, at many times and in many localities, there have held public office in the States and in the nation men who have, in fact, served not the whole people, but some special class or special interest. I am not thinking only of those special interests which by grosser methods, by bribery and crime, have stolen from the people. I am thinking as much of their respectable allies and figureheads, who have ruled and legislated and decided as if in some way the vested rights of privilege had a first mortgage on the whole United States, while the rights of all the people were merely an unsecured debt. Am I overstating the case? Have our political leaders always, or generally, recognized their duty to the people as anything more than a duty to disperse the mob, see that the ashes are taken away, and distribute patronage? Have our leaders always, or generally, worked for the benefit of human beings, to increase the prosperity of all the people, to give each some opportunity of living decently and bringing up his children well? The questions need no answer.

Now there has sprung up a feeling deep in the hearts of the people not of the bosses and professional politicians, not of the beneficiaries of special privilege-a pervading belief of thinking men that when the majority of the people do in fact, as well as theory, rule, then the servants of the people will come more quickly to answer and obey, not the commands of the special interests, but those of the whole people. To reach toward that end the Progressives of the Republican party in certain States have formulated certain proposals for change in the form of the State government - certain new "checks and balances" which may check and balance the special interests and their allies. That is their purpose. Now turn for a moment to their proposed methods.

First, there are the "initiative and referendum," which are so framed that if the legislatures obey the command of some special interest, and obstinately refuse the will of the majority, the majority may step in and legislate directly. No man would say that it was best to conduct all legislation by direct vote of the people-it would mean the loss of deliberation, of patient consideration but, on the other hand, no one whose mental arteries have not long since hardened can doubt that the proposed changes are needed when the legislatures refuse to carry out the will of the people. The proposal is a method to reach an undeniable evil. Then there is the recall of public officers the principle that an officer chosen by the people who is unfaithful may be recalled by vote of the majority before he finishes his term. I will speak of the recall of judges in a moment - leave that aside - but as to the other officers, I have heard no argument advanced against the proposition, save that it will make the public officer timid and always currying favor with the mob. That argument means that you can fool all the people all the time, and is an avowal of disbelief in democracy. If it be true and I believe it is not it is less important than to stop those public officers from currying favor with the interests. Certain States may need the recall, others may not; where the term of elective office is short it may be quite needless; but there are occasions when it meets a real evil, and provides a needed check and balance against the special interests.

Then there is the direct primary,the real one, not the New York one and that, too, the Progressives offer as a check on the special interests. Most clearly of all does it seem to me that this change is wholly good for every State. The system of party government is not written in our constitutions, but it is none the less a vital and essential part of our form of government. In that system the party leaders should serve and carry out the will of their own party. There is no need to show how far that theory is from the facts, or to rehearse the vulgar thieving partnerships of the corporations and the bosses, or to show how many times the real government lies in the hands of the boss, protected from the commands and the revenge of the voters by his puppets in office and the power of patronage. We need not be told how he is thus entrenched nor how hard he is to overthrow. The facts stand out in the history of nearly every State in the Union. They are blots on our political system. The direct primary will give the voters a method ever ready to use, by which the party leader shall be made to obey their command. The direct primary, if accompanied by a stringent corrupt-practices act, will help break up the corrupt partnership of corporations and politicians…………..

………..The ordinary methods now in vogue of amending the Constitution have in actual practice proved wholly inadequate to secure justice in such cases with reasonable speed, and cause intolerable delay and injustice, and those who stand against the changes I propose are champions of wrong and injustice, and of tyranny by the wealthy and the strong over the weak and the helpless.

(This speech was given while he was the leader of the Progressive Party.  To read the whole speech, go to the Rights of the People to Rule link on the link list.)

posted by TimingLogic at 10:09 AM

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