Independent Voters Alliance (IVA)
A Minor Change in Political Concept, But Profound in the Positive Ways Our Lives Will Be Affected
A More Democratic Republic for Us All
Can Nonpartisans Replace the Bipartisan Dictatorship?
By Rich Stevenson ©2005-2011
Interim Acting Chair of the Hamilton County OHIVA
The last article was Principled Nonpartisan Politics, about the rhetorical battle to own the words “democracy,” “republic” and “independent.”
With a fervent hope that I am not aimlessly beating a rhetorical dead horse, I will attempt to pursue the same line of reasoning to help develop the rhetoric that can frame the concepts needed to build a more democratic republic. The last two words, when never used alone, prevents subliminal direct association of either word with the two corrupt political parties that so brilliantly stole the words democracy1 and republic2 from us many years ago. Our founders did not seek to establish a pure democracy or republic.
Their intention, it seems to me, was to establish a democratic republic.
1 A democracy for the sake of our discussion here is meant to be synonymous with representative government. Pure democracy with a direct voice in every legislative and executive decision is not possible, or even desirable. Our democracy merely works toward achieving the highest possible level of democratic representation in the legislative and executive branches of government.
2 A republic for the sake of our discussion here is any form of government ruled by natural law, with no interference by any form of aristocracy, and with equal sovereignty resting in every citizen of the republic. Until 1776, the nations of the world were ruled by Kings under Divine authority (Divine Right). Kings were absolute authorities who spoke for and acted for God. Our authority to rule ourselves under the law is derived from our natural rights.
Our founders sought to establish a hybrid social order using the best social and political concepts the world had produced. Those founding political and social concepts were partially influenced by “President” George W. Bush's favorite philosopher, Jesus Christ. But there were many other strands of equally valid secular worldly influence that shaped the Declaration of Independence and the writing of the U.S. Constitution. Religious unanimity was not the basis used to found our nation.
No matter where you stand on religion, whether it be as a follower or a non-follower of any established religion, the golden rule in the form it is stated in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the admonition of Jesus Christ to care for “the least” among us, are essential components of our society that leads to equal opportunity for everyone. The bill of rights and the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment grew from the fertile soil implicit in the overall teachings of the historical person who was called Jesus Christ. The philosophical Age of Reason provided the same incentives.
Our nation would have not been any different from other "divine right" societies of the old world if our founders had not been secular adherents of the philosophical Age of Reason. Our founders who actually wrote the basic documents of the revolution sought to establish a society like the world had never seen. Our nation had opportunity in the new world, a new social environment, to seek new directions. The scientific method and not the traditions of the old world helped establish the traditions of our new nation.
Liberty and prosperity came from creativity and the freedom to innovate in a new environment. Abundant natural resources made pragmatic solutions to everyday problems a reality. Westward expansion provided seemingly unlimited wealth. The geographical expansion ended long ago, a stark reality.
No common religion was present to guide the new nation. We became a secular republic ruled by law, with civil authority or sovereignty derived from civil law, not from “God,” the “Church,” or any other aristocratic tradition. Kings and Emperors, who claimed to rule by the grace of God, were forever dethroned. Sovereignty, to the extent it exists, was given to each citizen. You and me. Intellectual freedom and responsibility is ours.
Our revolution for a democratic republic was taken to Europe, the old world, in the form of the French Revolution. Further waves of that same spirit led to other political movements and intellectual developments. Our society has remained one of the most stable in the world over the past 220 years. Our stability is derived from our belief as citizens that our government is “of, by and for me.” We are patriotic to what appears to be in our self interests.
Our people are secular or religious to the extent that suits their individual needs. Religious participation is left entirely up to the individual. The only restraint on immoral behavior is in our secular system of criminal and civil law, which we have in place to regulate the social contract between individuals. Religion is a separate matter, not directly regulated by secular society. Freedom of religion is an established reality for every American.
Religion cannot be a part of government and equally protect the religious practices of all citizens equally. If any political or geographical area is controlled by any religious tradition, then the possibility, the eventual reality, will probably be for all citizens outside of that religious tradition to become second class citizens. Equal protection under the law would gradually end over time. Over generations, resentments would grow that would lead to civil strife and even to civil war. Our harmonious nation could become divided, with neighbor fighting neighbor to establish their religion in their own town, county, or state. We could become Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, Iraq, or Europe during the centuries of Catholic/Protestant warfare in the middle ages. History tells the same story repeatedly. Separation of church and state is a fundamental necessity to maintain our civil stability over time.
It seems to me that civil stability is derived from our belief as citizens that our government is “of, by and for” the people. Any inequality, including religious, will erode the long term stability of our civil society. We have a choice. We can guarantee the separation of church and state, or, we can see the United States gradually fall apart due to religious strife and other similar ideological struggles, such as the bloody feud between the right and the left.
We can learn from the obvious lessons of history or we can fail to survive due to our ideological divisions, as have so many other civilizations before us. The bipartisan two-party struggle for power is dividing our country into warring camps ruled by meaningless political rhetoric. Radical right and left rhetoric produced by the Democratic and Republican bipartisan dictatorship controls every aspect of our lives for the benefit of the special interests that finance their political campaigns. The bipartisan dictatorship is too blinded by their struggle to stay in power to fix any of our many problems.
We need to constantly use the concepts of democratic republic, populist nonpartisan majority, and bipartisan dictatorship until they become the truth in the way everyone frames their thoughts about American politics. If we want to have a more democratic republic we must frame the political conversation to make the election of populist nonpartisans the only reasonable political choice. The need to replace the negative rhetoric of the bipartisan dictatorship must become obvious to everyone. We must own the words democracy and republic and always use them appropriately together. Liberty and justice for all can survive the corruption of the two-party system only if we can frame political concepts that embody pragmatic moderation as the highest value in our new political order.
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rls/October 9, 2005
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