We The People and the Power Brokers
Leon Walker is a TNTalk! contributing writer. You can look for his columns at least every Saturday “write here on TNTalk!” To find out more about Leon, check out our writers page.
“We the neglected children of American politics, in the sincere hope, that we will someday be embraced by this Union”. I made this line up following an inexplicable urge to scan some of this nation’s founding documents yesterday. In doing so, I again read the following from our Declaration of Independence, the document that is the cornerstone of American freedom.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. There is no escaping the beauty, passion and eloquence of Thomas Jefferson’s words. My man Jefferson could run it down now… but apparently he was not talking about everybody. There were, and amazingly still are, Americans who are better described by my far less eloquent opening statement.
The exclusively white representatives that shaped the original thirteen United States were incredible visionaries. I believe that they understood that the fledgling nation they had laid the foundation for would flourish and grow. I also believe that they imagined that blacks (then primarily, but not exclusively a population of slaves) and women, would someday be granted the power of the vote. These rights were not provided for in our original founding documents or laws.
It must be pointed out then, that even from the very beginning the influential few orchestrated governmental inequities counter to their claims. And thus, were born of this wonderful document, the first “neglected children of American politics” to be victimized by the privileged. Women, for social reasons and slaves for economic and political reasons.
I do not believe anyone could have seen or predicted the might and majesty of this country or the socially complex jigsaw puzzle that America has become two hundred thirty two years beyond that historic signing day in 1776.
I am sometimes compelled to consider “ideally” what America was, or is intended to be from the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident”. We? Then there is the Constitution of the United States. As a gentle reminder to those of you who have not considered this topic lately (and in consideration of the worldwide web), the Constitution is our nation’s legal guidance document. These are the rules the Executive and Legislative Branches of our government (President and Congress) are supposed to apply and uphold. The Constitution begins in its preamble, with the words “We the people”. Oh! There’s that word again “we”. Now I ask you, exactly who are the American “we” of today?
In large part Americans understand the rules, but “we”, the politicians and power brokers, have become habitual benders and offenders of the rules. I suppose having drawn on the example of the founding fathers. It follows therefore, that there are still “neglected children of American politics”. Massive numbers of our citizens who are being treated unfairly. In fact there are few of us that are not in some way being victimized by political system as orchestrated by “our own” elected representatives. There is not a single problem in American Society that politicians have not created or mismanaged to the detriment of the average American taxpayer and citizen. Not the war in Iraq, corporate graft and greed, not gun control, dependency on foreign oil, the environment, not drugs, not illiteracy, not poverty, not immigration nor or struggling economy. You name it!
All roads lead to Washington, the Office of the President and the Congress. This nation’s capitol has become a very “dirty sandbox” where the powerful, the privileged and the politicians go to play. A seat of power wrought with lies, distrust and mangled rules. In my mind, all that is required are two things:
First, that our elected officials follow the rules by properly applying the law as clearly spelled out in our Constitution.
Secondly and most importantly, serve at the pleasure of and on behalf or their constituents with sincerity and a modicum of decency and integrity.
What a concept!
This is a great nation of people, all capable of mistakes. But within the goodness and greatness of this nation today there is a rampant political plague. Greed has a strangle hold on good governance and propriety has been nearly eradicated by reckless pride. I don’t believe there is a ridged blueprint for any American dream but there seems to be a new blueprint for the new American nightmare that far too many are living. I don’t believe that we are all the same in our ideology, dreams or desires. Not even close, and that’s ok. The fact that our citizens are so incredibly diverse adds to the flavor and intrigue of this country. All most people here want is to be welcomed by the same equitable opportunity and treatment standards, and to thrive comfortably within this nation’s massive wealth. Yet somehow “we” can’t even get that right.
The media provides such an excellent vision of the canditates as they speak of America as if they really know what America is, or is intended to be in “glowing definitive terms”. They even speak of Americans as if all of our citizens would (given their abysmal records) be convinced that they have a plan for solving all of our problems. This of course leaves me wondering what they have been doing. Two of the remaining three Presidential candidates have been hanging around Washington for decades individually and more than a lifetime in combined years. So exactly how are they to be excused from their contribution to this nation’s current condition?
I believe the words “Public Service” and Public Office” represent actions and positions intended to benefit our citizens through proud sacrifice. It should never be accepted, intended or understood that such service or office become a vehicle for excessive wealth, while those you supposedly serve languish in any measure of governmental neglect.
I also believe that there is a pretty good set of rules laid out for us in our founding documents. I just simply wish the proverbial “we” would follow them. I’m thinking that would be a very good starting point for any measure of positive change in America. Just follow the rules! Possibly the words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” would become a true reality. Even among the least of our many.
Ironically, the first “neglected children of American politics” (women and Blacks) have their first viable candidates for the Democratic Party nomination and the Presidency of these United States. And should this come to pass, as a representative in the lineage of those once intentionally deprived of their political voice, may the truth of our founding fathers words begin to take shape. I will remain hopeful that of this providence will emerge a leader of judgment, prudence and propriety. That they might contribute their weight of compassionate service upon the scales of citizenship which remain so dreadfully unbalanced by power and privilege. And with this first giant step, that today’s “neglected children of American politics” are energized to speak out with the “voice of the vote” and continue the tide of change throughout Washington that this historic event would seemingly enable and command. You see “we the neglected children of American politics” have to power to change this nation. We must never, “never” forget that! And we must be bound by an unwavering belief in that!
As for me the following questions remain. Why are our political leaders, like the founding fathers, facilitating the continued inequity being suffered by today’s “neglected children of American politics”? And when are we going to do something about it?
As it stands, “we” are getting rich and “the people” are getting screwed!!!
L. A. Walker
© Leon A. Walker