“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. ” – Declaration of Independence.
So, at what point can WE the PEOPLE decide that this Government has become destructive?
At what point does the “…long train of abuses and usurpations…” become such that, we, as patriots and lovers of liberty must “…throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Our situation today isn’t all that different from the colonists.
One of the chief issues of the colonists was taxation without representation- something taught in every history classroom. The issue was a both a bit more complex than that and simpler. Truth is, taxation was just a single issue of many that the Colonists had. The main problem was the idea that the Home Country could start regulating the colonies after nearly 200 years of effectively colonial self-rule in British North America struck a nasty cord for the colonists. Parliament’s handling of this went from bad to good, to worse. The Stamp Act and the Townshend Act set the colonists on edge, it also displeased British colonial officials who were loath to enforce either in the face of Colonial intransigence – the repeal of these two acts was a smart move, and if it had ended there, everything might have been fine…for a while. But Parliament had to go and pass the Declaratory Act of 1766. This Act declared that the British Parliament had the authority to legislate for the colonies “…in all cases whatsoever.” It was, in fact, gasoline on a now shouldering fire. Then throw in the Intolerable/Coercive Acts and that was pure dynamite.
It is these events, coupled with General Thomas Gage’s ham-fisted handling of Lexington and Concorde that triggered the American Revolution.
So how does this compare to today? We, the flesh and blood people of the United States do not really have representation in our government. Instead, we have the same holographic or virtual representation that the colonists had in Parliament. Only, for us, it is corporations, through the auspices of the legal fiction of corporate personhood and their power, though their deep pockets to control not just the legislative and executive branches and the direction that they move and positions that they take. But also by controlling the vote. No, corporations do not show up at the polls. They don’t have to. They control whose names are on the polls.
Legal decisions such as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 844, and a host of other wrong-headed decisions that have diluted the power of flesh-and-blood citizens. Corporations now have representation without taxation, while citizens are left standing outside their so-called representative’s doors.
Corporate Personhood, and the legal decisions and legislative support that it has enjoyed since its inception have effectively made purchasing political influence 100% legal. It is a market that beyond the average citizen’s ability to enter. Even those in the 70%-90% brackets (of course, this refers primarily to income, as the real issue here is money) have no representation.
A recent (2014) study by Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University found that for the past twenty years, Congress has acted in the interest of the bottom 90% of the American public – almost exactly never.
“Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”
So, when these so-called “leaders” in Washington D.C. talk about defending democracy – what they are really talking about is defending their oligarchy – and their bank accounts.
These are not the only complaints that the Founding Fathers sent to King George. Some do not fit well into today’s situation. Some do.
For instance, has this government not “…called together legislative bodies at places unusual…”? While the main complaint here revolved around George’s attempt to exhaust the legislatures into compliance, can we not extend this to a secret meeting with national rivals on foreign territory? Rivals who recently, it has been agreed, violated our national sovereignty by interfering with the 2016 election? I wonder what would have happened if FDR in preparation for his own visit, had sent a legislative delegation to Japan after December 7, 1941? Ultimately, Russia behavior was no less destructive. But, Putin is a “Fine Fellow.” Funny isn’t it? How a despot like Putin is good, and a vicious dictator like Kim Jong Un – who had a commander executed for giving his soldiers more food – is “honorable” and a “smart cookie.”
But any American who disagrees with him is… well….
I just have to wonder, where is the line for us today?