by Jude Nagurney
What do James Madison and Senator James Jeffords have in common?
James Madison warned that the majority must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. A majority of five out of nine caused George W. Bush to be the President in 2000. A majority of Republican-influence in the Senate make-up of 50 Rep-50 Dem in January, 2001, along with the new Bush administration pushing through an ultra-conservative agenda with no mandate was only the beginning of Madison's warnings-come-true.
Senator Jim Jeffords, then a Republican, understood this, and acted in Madisonian conscience when he made the tough decision to become an Independent. In his own words on the second anniversary of his switch to Independent, Jeffords said, "..events of the past two years have only heightened my concern over the president's veer to the right, and the poisoning of our democratic process of government." Unfortunately, it provided only a temporary remedy to the a malady within our Union that I will discuss in this essay.
The Republican party, along with rightwing media pundits, convinced many unsuspecting Americans that Senator Jeffords was a traitor, when in reality, he had acted in the utmost patriotic fashion.
Madison also said that a pure democracy, by which he meant a society consisting of a small number of citizens who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. He said that when we extend the sphere of society, we take in a greater variety of parties and interests and it would be less likely that the majority of the whole would have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens..or if such a common motive exists, it would be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength and to act in unison with each other. Where there is consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.
What's Happened to the Health of Our Democracy?
The body of our Union in Washington is suffering from an unchecked malady that has tainted members of both major parties. That malady is called the special interests.
Their common motive is to hijack America from individual citizens for whom the very idea of the American Republic was founded. We, the People, have the right and the reason to distrust the effect of the special interests upon our Representatives. The undue power of the special interests skews the scope of our individual rights. Special interests' monied influence upon our Representatives takes the place of our God-given individual freedom within this American society. The special interests are the unelected and invisible danger..the unriddable ghosts that have been possessing our Union's Representatives for far too long. Because our Representatives are ultimately the voice of the People of America within in this Republic, we need to bring the truth of the dangers of the special interests to the forefront. We need to drag the tragic way in which Washington has been infected into the light of day.
In your own good sense and in good faith, would you allow your destiny to rest in the hands of the unelected entity of the Energy/Oil lobby?
Do you believe the Insurance lobby or the AARP is your natural patron and friend?
With all your good sense, do you believe the interests closest to your American heart can be promoted by Ralph Reed or the Christian Coalition?
It is not what many of today's rightwing pundits would classify as "anti-American" interest that causes me to speak out about this issue. It is, rather, what James Madison called my "zeal, borne of Amerian pleasure and pride, in cherishing the spirit and supporting the character"of men like Jim Jeffords.
Along came Howard Dean, promoting joyous citizen participation as avidly as Bush was oppressing it
The spirit of Jeffords moved me in 2001, and has been complimented by the spirit of Howard Dean.
Although Senator Jeffords has not yet publically endorsed Howard Dean, the two men are so close in spirit that I cannot imagine Jeffords would endorse another.
I have long been possessed by the love of American democracy.
I would like to extend some of the credit for my more recent inspiration to Howard Dean.
He got my attention over a year ago when I heard him speak about his vision of America, which was so close to my own.
He is the one man who has inspired so many Americans like me to understand the duty and importance of acting upon our civic rights. He has caused me to invest in America in a most deeply personal way.
He makes an obvious distinction between himself and George W. Bush. He makes the undeniable point that while he promotes the egalitarian community of American citizens, self-reliance, civil liberties, and democratic participation, Bush supresses these values at every opportunity. In the end, Howard Dean's reminder of these distinct and nearly-forgotten American values was the dream of each and every one of our Founding Fathers--to have a Republic based upon the best each of us can be as individuals with rights bestowed upon us by God himself. God does not depend or rely upon a special interest group to make the rain; nor does God consult a special interest group to deem who lives and who dies on any given day. Our Representatives are far from being God (although some unbelievably act as if God is in their faction's camp). The Government is an artificial structure that has overcome some tremendous historical difficulties with often-unexpected unanimity. The beauty of America has been this: the translating the reality of what is best within each individual soul into a totally artificial government-structure. Through this potentially-miraculous translation, we have long enjoyed the mutual benefit to all in our American society...citizen-to-government/government-to-citizen.
In our history, I firmly believe it is the transcendent empowerment naturally held within each American citizen that has facilitated in capturing the hearts and minds of our best/most respectful governmental leaders and has shown the world the hopeful revelation of our common destiny as a people struggling to be the best that God can allow us to be.
When I hear people attacking Howard Dean (as I have heard so often lately), I am beginning to take each word in each attack in a deeply personal way.
I am not saying this because I am partial to Howard Dean (although I admit to being so).
I am telling you this because, most simply, it is true.
The name of Howard Dean has become synonymous with the investment of our very selves in the betterment of our nation, our love for healthy and strong American democracy,and our individual interests in preserving our American rights and performing our American duties.
This man, Howard Dean, has caused us to believe in ourselves and all we can be for our vision of America.
Most important is his reminder of the fact that America is ours...and we need to take her back.
The Bush Administration is beginning to see the danger to Dean's candidacy and I don't think they ever really saw it coming.
Every attack they will make on Howard Dean will be felt (quite deeply) as an attack on every American who feels they have the right to participate in American government.
What a paradox! With every attack on Howard Dean, he is further empowered.
What Does Madison's Scheme of Oppression Have to do with America in 2003 ?
The scheme of oppression in America has been a booming success these past few years. The most insidious of the Washington powerful have used (and will continue to use) the deaths of 3000 on 9-11 to defend their secret reliance upon the special interests.The scheme was strengthened by the majority of five in the Supreme Court in 2000 and got its most powerful after 9-11, when fear could easily be politically-used to continue the special-interest reign in Washington.
It continued through the false punditry of the rightwing media to further a special agenda(FOX/MSNBC/Hannity/O'Reilly/Snow/Hume/
Limbaugh/Savage/Beck); through vicious attacks by the GOP on good and decent men like veteran Max Cleland (decency and campaign finance concerns trampled in favor of a special interest group); through lies told to the American public resulting in a war that never had to happen; through the Patriot-Act theft of our precious liberties (for which so many of our soldiers have surrendured ALL and American cities have proclaimed against); through the Tom DeLay use of Homeland Security for the purpose of tracking down Democrats (while attempting to change a law every time something hasn't gone the GOP's way, even if it means a Federal intrusion into States' rights-as in the Texas redistricting case); through the deep darkness in which the Executive operates while attempting to usurp power from the People and store it in the reserve of the secretive Executive-(as in the mystery surrounding VP Cheney and the Energy industry). In these few examples (and many more), you might see how special interests have both benefitted from and contributed to today's democracy-thieving political machinery.
Although the GOP is not the only party to be sucked in by the special interests, they are the party most willing to play the game. It shows in the contributions they receive from the special interests and the legislation gifted to those interests in return. Meanwhile, millions of Americans lose jobs they will never see again.
The Democrats have participated in the game, too. In doing so, they have forgotten what it means to be Representatives of the People.
After 9-11, the People paid much closer attention. The Democrats were weak on defending their own decency and they ignored their own constituency. While I hate to have to say this, I was often ashamed of them. By not standing up proudly for who they were and what they stood for, they lost power to translate their decency into the artificial structure known as the U.S. government. We the People got a wicked case of laryngitis because of the malady in Washington.
It's well past the time for a major change.
That change is Howard Dean.
Words of Warning to Democrats
Democrats, take heed. If you do not move with and get behind your front-runner Howard Dean now, the party will remain voiceless.
I don't know if some of you who think you have great power within the Democratic party have some sort of secret strategy to damage Dean's campaign. I'm not privvy to that sort of thing. All I can say is to look into your own hearts.
When you calm your mind and forget the snare of ambition, I believe you'll see what I've seen for a long time...and what
hundreds of thousands of extremely successful grassroots activists have learned over the past year.
You know that it's too late to make these Dean-damaging moves and still reasonably hope to maintain a party of decent souls who wish the best for a healthy citizen-participant America. (And have shown they can get the job done). If you do not listen to these words with an eye upon sheer reason, you may as well get on board with George W. Bush's re-election team at this juncture.
Words of Caution to All Elected Representatives-
We Haven't Forgotten Who Owns America
A vow should be made to try to begin to change in Washington D.C.
I make a plea to our Represntatives:
The next time you look at a lobbyist, think of the millions upon millions of individual citizens
and the trust they placed in you on election day. That trust is worth more than any contribution they could ever make to your campaign or any political favor they could do for you..or you for them.
It's a new day.
The breach of that unspoken promise of trust for your special interest-hugging actions in the past has caused the
new-found political rise of Howard Dean.
James Madison warned that the majority must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. His warning rings true today. He made no provision to stem the tide of undue special interest-influence because it did not exist in the scope or magnitude that it does today. Yet, the spirit of his commentary and advice lives on. We need to render these special interests far less able to carry on this oppression through the channel of the government owned by the American People.