Political historians remark that there are at least 2 – and perhaps 3 – defining marks of what constitutes a “democratic form” of governance:
(1.) Periodic and frequent elections of politicians and governmental officials (“this is a way to throw the rascals out”) and (2.) a Constitution or a Bill of Rights of some sort which limits the damage that elected officials can do while they are in office.
On Tuesday, November the 4th 2014, the American people engaged in their bi-annual ritual of selecting their members of the House of Representatives (these federal level officials must run en masse every two years) and select 1/3 of the members of the United States Senate (the founding fathers of our Republic gave the Senators longer terms of office at 6 years and thought it wise that this senior and deliberative body should not have a high turnover rate).
Furthermore, the founding fathers knew that the Senate needed to be somewhat removed from the passions and harsh emotions that might affect the body politic at any given moment.
On the 4th of November, the American public exercised their right of “peaceful rebellion” and gave the Republican party control of the new Senate that convenes on January 2, 2015 and the American public increased the Republican party’s control of the House of Representatives.
President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party controlled the United States Senate for six years (January 2009 through January 2015) and the Democratic Party controlled the U.S. House for the first two years of his presidency (2009 to 2011).
What is one to make of this sudden and swift turn of events?
This particular observer would like to share a few of his observations…
- First and foremost, to quote the words of Governor Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential bid: “It’s The Economy Stupid!”
It would be a tremendous mistake for the Republican Party to read the electoral results as a mandate for great and sweeping change. Middle-class wages started to stagnate over the last 15 to 20 years and there is pent-up anger within the body politic. If the Republican Party cannot bring about tangible results that assist the plight of the middle class, then they too will receive the boot from the electorate in a few years
- Secondly, one hears the voice of the American people screaming at both parties to grow up and to find common areas of compromise that benefit the whole country.
Gridlock seems to be the rule of the day during the Obama Administration. Many of the President’s followers and admirers feel stymied by a recalcitrant Republican congress that seems to obstruct and object to nearly every piece of legislation that President Obama puts forth.
One sympathizes with the President and with his party.
However, institutional gridlock was built into our Constitutional order by our Founding Fathers who wanted to establish a clear separation of powers among the three branches of government.
As hard as it is to believe, gridlock is a measure that helps to protect “liberty.”
The Founding Fathers had just fought a war to throw off the tyranny of King George III and they did not want their new American President free to commit the same atrocities that they experienced in the years leading up to The American Revolution. The American Colonists had experienced the “tyranny of the Monarch (executive)” and therefore they placed strict measures on what a President could do while he / she was in office.
If this journalist could make one request, it would be this: there needs to be a return to civility and goodwill in our political process.
There needs to be an understanding of the American public that our rights and liberties are not secured by elections alone, but by the gracious Hand of Divine Providence; let us hear the words of our 3rd President the honorable Thomas Jefferson:
“For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him.
This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labor.
And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?
That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?
Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . .” – Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII
Our rights and liberties are a gift from “Almighty GOD.”
The quicker that we remember this – that our rights and liberties are a gift of GOD and thank Our GOD – the quicker that the body politic will return to wholeness and to vibrant spiritual wellness.