Can we salvage the Great Experiment?

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”—The Preamble to the U. S. Constitution, 1787

“We are not enemies, but friends.  We must not be enemies.  Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.  The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”—Abraham Lincoln First Inaugural Address 1861

These are pretty words expressing lofty ideals.  However, we humans have a corrupted side.

The eighteenth century authors of the Constitution may have had celestial aspirations for the country.  Yet they followed the belief that by a mystical hocus-pocus, Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” would make the famed “mortal sin” of unbridled greed a divine blessing.  Unrestrained avarice in its 21st century fruition has failed to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”  Rather, it has concentrated wealth in the hands of a few while bringing many curses of poverty to the poor and middle class.

Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address concluded with the above quote.  However, from the rest of the address, it is clear that those President Lincoln called “friends” were white men who owned other men of color as slaves and the address was intended to assuage the fears of slaveholders that “their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered…”  In fact, Lincoln reiterates a previous speech of his saying, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists.  I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” Some will argue that he threw a bone to slave owing southerners to avoid civil war, but as we say today, “how did that work out for you, Mr. Lincoln?”

Yes, we have come a long way from the ages of the tyrant kings Tom Paine railed against, yet we have moved toward a tyranny such as George Orwell forewarned. Some parts of the “Great Experiment” we think of as America have succeeded via our bill of rights and some subsequent amendments.  Those amendments have enumerated rights such as the right to free speech and religion and later the right for women to vote and hold office.  Many of those rights have been degraded since 9/11.  Other parts have failed utterly.  The Two Party system has failed by allowing one party (that or the very rich) to masquerade as two different parties.  The rich play the people like marionettes with identity politics issues while ignoring policies that have grave consequences on our lives such as the climate crisis, war for corporations’ profit, CIA propaganda and mass mind control etc.  Our system has failed, and we are dying while we play party games and team sports in our political arena. When are we to wake up?  Will we restructure the system, shedding its now-known flaws but preserving the best of what we once had?

Tim Gore is an Intrepid Report contributing writer.

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