This week’s reading made me stop and think long and hard about something it appears we all take for granted every day—the creation of our government. We ALL have our opinions on why it doesn’t work, what needs to change, who is best equipped to fix it, and so on. However, I have rarely (I mean almost never) thought about what it takes to create one… at least one that works on some level.
Author David Wootton’s The Essential Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, lists each side of the argument involving both the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists and their published newsletters during the creation of the United States government. While the reading can be somewhat dense (depending on the writer), these collective works represents the true difficulties involved in creating a government designed to represent “We the people”. In reading it, I became fascinated by both sides because of what they were ultimately trying to achieve—a functional, working, republic, and democratic government which had never truly existed. Additionally, they firmly believed they had to develop and carefully design a written Constitution, which is something else that had never been done before. Yes, of course, other governments existed which had constitutional monarchies (both groups note that in their writings), but none had been written down as a collective and there was still a king, after all in most instances.
While the Founders had the theories of various great philosophical minds (Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Locke, etc.) in which to take ideas from, they had no REAL models for creating a government! Although each group knew what they wanted the young government to possess, how does one go about implementing and promoting the final product when you know your collective ideas will not only exclude some, dismiss equal representation and fairness for others all together (Native Americans, slaves, women), and yet be strong enough to last and be upheld? This is a lot to contemplate and expect from a simple piece of parchment written by a group of highly opinionated White men.
In the final analysis, we all know and can agree that sometimes our government drives us mad with its slow-functioning, inactivity, contradictions, bad decisions, malfunctions, exclusions, corruption, and bureaucracy. However, something has held us together for over 200 years and while maybe the Constitution and the United States Government is not the best in the world, let us not forget that other new societies and young governments have copied the ideas of our Constitution and our representative government since its inception. Also, while it may not be the best with all of its faults, no one has yet to come up with anything better. But have you ever noticed that even in our anger and outrage as citizens, we still respect what each of those men expressed in their writings and whether we agree or disagree with our government’s latest “debacle”, we can all stand back and believe that it may only be a hill of beans, but it is OUR hill…