I believe in the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. It’s not just because two of my ancestors, Daniel and Charles Carroll, signed the Declaration of Independence, which provides the basic tenets from which the brilliant minds of our forefathers could construct the Constitution. These documents work because they really were written, “…by the people for the people.” I truly believe in my heart of hearts that a participatory form of government is the only one that can stand the test of time.
I’m stunned, outraged, furious, and saddened at the cavalier dismantling and erosion of our basic rights and the wave of corruption tainting America. The lobbying scandals of Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay and others are in-your-face reminders that the rich take care of their own. The outing of undercover CIA agent, Valerie Plame, served the double-duty of sticking it to her husband for exposing the truth regarding Saddam Hussein and Nigerian yellow cake, and removed Plame from the important job of keeping tabs on Iran’s nuclear developments.
Most stunning of all is that the architects of the war in Iraq had little to no military experience. I’m reminded of how vehemently the GOP tried to make political hay out of Bill Clinton avoiding service in Vietnam because he was a Rhodes Scholar in England. A Rhodes Scholar, for heaven’s sake!
Karl Rove, draft dodger. Rumsfeld? Cheney? Rice? They never served And nagging doubts as to whether or not President Bush was given a non-combat situation here at home, from which he deserted in a time of war, is yet another in-your-face reminder that wealth and power have their privileges.
I beleive it’s no accident that we refer to the three branches of government, and like a tree, each branch contain smaller branches, twigs and leaves. Where we citizens of America fall in this analogy depends on to what degree we participate. Do we stay informed? Do we vote? Do we question the information that bombards us and aspire to think for ourselves? Do we question the motives and actions of our leaders? Do we have the guts to stand up and say, “No more!”?
Or are we a nation of sheep, believing on those pundits whose rhetoric is the most convenient to accept? Are we, as Richard Barnet professed back in 1980 in his book, The Lean Years, willing to ignore the impacts of our consumer lifestyles and global policies, thereby denying ourselves full participation in our democracy?
If we are parts of the symbolic tree, then I believe it’s a deciduous tree in bad need of major defoliation. I’m reminded of the bumper sticker that reads, “When the people lead the leaders will follow.” It’s up to us, the citizens, to shake this tree to bring about re-foliation and rejuvenation. Maybe we’ll lose out on glorious fall colors, but we can rejoice in the reaffirmation that the Constitution has it right.
I believe this to be the mark of a true American patriot.
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