The original truth v. myth
There’s a great opinion piece in the Times today about the state of the nation. You can read it for yourselves; the takeaway is that the president we need today is the president who can tell us that we’re not doing very well, that we are not living up to our founding principles, and that our current way of life is unsustainable.
Of course, that’s the president we always need.
We need that person to not only tell us how we are failing, but to offer a viable, principled plan for improvement that s/he will push through a reluctant Congress and withstand withering criticism for supporting.
I’ve carped in other posts about politicians’ inability or unwillingness to brook any criticism from “the people” (usually a few people pretending to speak for all people). Politicians should be leaders, taking on the tough job of forcing Americans to do the right thing. But they seem more and more to be followers, hoping the people will tell them what to do.
And there’s the even-worse-case scenario, in which major politicians, like the president, trample our founding principles to further their own personal goals.
The truth about America is that we are great when we live up to our founding principles of representative democracy focused on promoting and protecting natural rights. When we don’t do that, we are awful, because we were founded with a very idealistic mission, and so we fall from a great height when we let that down.
The myth about America is that whatever we do, we are living up to those principles, that it just naturally happens and that we are good no matter what we do because we are America. Representative democracy goes against human nature. Every generation, we have to re-learn the principles of justice and democracy we are founded on, and re-dedicate ourselves to fulfilling them. These principles can’t really be inherited. They have always to be adopted, over and over.
Our job as Americans right now is to do what our politicans won’t: demand that we adhere to our founding principles. We have to take the lead.