Special Opinion to the Mirror by Paul Plante
A recent pair of threads in here, one on “militant democracy” in America, and the other involving alleged wrong-doing of one sort or another in Cape Charles government, which comes across in print as autocratic and non-transparent, which in turn impacts on participatory democracy in Cape Charles, or the lack thereof, if certain town officials had their way, anyway, have me thinking about our roots as American citizens, and whether we as a nation actually have any common roots, and if so, what might they be?
Up here where I am, the elementary school in 1976 had the children in the school put into words what they thought an American was, and these are a few of the descriptors in the words of some 1st graders, to wit:
An American is: is good; works hard; loves his country; goes to church; helps people.
Then we come to the 2d graders:
An American is: someone who cares!
And this is how one 3rd grader had it:
An American is someone who helps his nation.
An American is a person who stands by his flag.
An American is a person who goes to school, and says the Pledge of Allegiance.
An American is someone who obeys all the laws.
It doesn’t matter what color an American is.
Those American values being expressed by those school children in 1976 were the same values I learned in that same school back in 1951, which has me wondering how it is that we have gotten to where it is we are now, with our Republic dead and gone, and with it Republicanism, which in the days of my youth, was considered the fabric of what it meant to be an American.
In an excellent essay of the subject of Republicanism, written by William K. Bolt, the North Carolina History Project, we are informed as follows:
Republicanism is a term for beliefs that have defined the American political experiment.
Why do we never hear that anymore, hearing instead about “our democracy,” over and over again, when “our democracy” is an empty term that defines and describes nothing tangible or comprehensible, at all?
Getting back to Republicanism:
In particular, republicanism stems from a form a government where the people are sovereign.
Now, it is important to note that “democracy” can also be a form of government where the people are sovereign, which takes us to this very important distinction between the two, as follows:
In such a government (Republicanism), virtuous and autonomous citizens must exercise self-control for the common good.
And there was the death-knell of Republicanism in this country sounded.
That is why we have democracy instead – because in a democracy, you can do any damn thing you want, and nobody can stop you!
No self-control is required in a democracy, nor is it often found.
Which takes us back to another serious fault found by modern-day politicians with Republicanism, as follows:
Republican citizens should not seek office or use public office for economic gain.
Public officials must subordinate their personal ambitions for the good of the community.
Believe it or not, that is the belief system I was brought up in as an American citizen, and despite it now being way out of fashion, I still adhere to it.
And these beliefs as well:
A republican citizen also must be prepared to thwart corrupting influences that would lead the nation toward tyranny or despotism.
Thank God for the Cape Charles Mirror that we are able to fulfil that goal be speaking out in here on those corrupting influences that are leading the nation toward tyranny or despotism.
And I was taught this as a child, as well:
Republicanism is based on the assumption that liberty and power continually battle.
Therefore, citizens must protect a fragile liberty from destructive power.
Perhaps most importantly, all citizens (the definition of which has changed over the years) in a republic are equal.
At this stage of my life, I truly wonder if there is anyone besides me in America who remembers how it was that it was supposed to be in this country if we were all adherents to that same belief system known as Republicanism in America.
Hence this thread.