Nothing’s ever changed in America
Andrew Rebholz | Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Nothing ever really changes, or at least never improves — that is the sole law of history. Everything in modern politics can be understood as a result of American history, of our founding war and documents. Both parties — pachyderm and ass — as well as both ideologies — the old, debilitated one and the young, sophomoric one — are both obviously the products of a very specific historical lens: Conservatives worship the past, and liberals want to throw it away.
What not to worship? The founding fathers so wisely gave Americans the right to bear firearms, to maintain the means to rise up if their government ever got too tyrannical. And who today isn’t still scared Washington will just stay in office his whole life, as a king might? These founders also believed in instilling the virtue of patriotism, as well as reverence for the elected offices. Could you imagine any disrespect for, say, the president being distributed throughout the country? That’s why role models like Adams and Jefferson should still be respected as great men who refrained from slander-swapping in the press. Back then, respect for the nation ensured a national integrity, an integrity Tocqueville would say even travelled from the national scene down to the governance of individual villages. Yes, the spirit of democratic cooperation and zeal for one’s flag was present in everyone enjoying the young nation’s liberty — yes, every white, straight male whose father hadn’t been a loyalist a few years before certainly enjoyed these freedoms. Certainly, this was the ideal nation, a homogenous English-minded set of colonies rife with political corruption and itching to push the natives as far west as they could. Isn’t it obvious that this all needs to be protected today, that we must undo everything Teddy, FDR and Obama have done for our country and culture?
And yet, what not to throw away? Slavery plagued the southern states, and in all of American history that slavery has never ended. From scourging, to separation, to the micro-aggressions of today, no positive change ever enriched the lives of the marginalized minorities. No civil rights ever did enough to set this country on a better track, which is why a majority of people today still hold the same views as did the prejudiced founders. Slavery was the law during the founding, which is why the situation for people of African descent has never improved. Same with Japanese internment camps and the war with Mexico — racial tensions have seen no growth or solution, ever, for any ethnicity. And it’s the same with women. They began with no right to vote, and now there still persists a statistical pay gap (which may or may not be somewhat skewed by the careers women choose to pursue). What started as the viewpoint that women are only made to be mothers and servants to the household has only become the struggle to adopt birth control on Catholic college campuses — is it not obvious how nothing has ever changed, ever improved, since the founding? Truly, all these old structures need to be torn down, all our tradition tipped over, so that new progressive ideologies can take their place. Is that not obvious, that everything Hamilton, Lincoln and Teddy stood for was meaningless?
As you can see, history easily explains the platforms of both parties, both ideologies. It all must stay, or it all must go, quite logically. The only ones to posit any other view are the ones who say there’s an ‘American ideal.’ Ha! Like anything else could be so moronic! These fools seem to believe that the structure provided at the founding persists in the powerful American spirit, in the energy infusing both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. They believe that our nation was created to cater to the best balancing of freedom and equality, that one could not exist without the other but that one’s overabundance could smother the other, and so they set up protocol to control these values, to prevent either mob or aristocracy from perverting “we the people.” These great men — who believed fear was to be overcome for the promise of human freedom, who believed power was only useful in how it could promote peace, encourage virtue and unite humanity — supposedly founded our government on certain ideas that would contribute to one American ideal — that no matter our differences, we might build and grow from our history. I know, ridiculous. They would have us believe that some traditions should be re-enlivened for the betterment of our modern world, or that the ’60s (18- or 19-) actually improved the situation of oppressed demographics. They’d have us believe that America still approaches its greatness; that the values of the beginning are still with us; that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are out there, a shining glory whose beams can already be seen far off on the horizon of the current night, rushing towards us just as the good, honest citizens of this beautiful country sprint toward it. It humors me, that one could think of anything in the future — far smarter to continue limiting ourselves to the past.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.