Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Founding Fathers' major mistake

An interesting argument that the American Founding Fathers, for all that they got so much so right, made one major blunder:

There are people who disagree with almost all of Bush's policies, yet still support him--a fact that puzzles many folks on the left. Neocon-men will argue that it's all about "moral values" (i.e., celibacy and bigotry), but something more fundamental is at work. Why are some patriotic Americans supporting a president who seems so bent on destroying America--America's constitution, America's democracy, America's good name, America's credibility, America's land, air, and water, America's solvency, America's educational system, America's security, America's children, and America's future?

The answer lies not in the present but in decisions made 219 years ago at the Constitutional Convention. The Founding Fathers were so determined to avoid having anything that looked like a king in our land that they overlooked the one useful function kings and queens had--still have today in some countries: they served as a symbol of the nation.
It may also account for the obsession we Americans have with our flag--an obsession unmatched around the world. It's the only symbol we have that can be detached from everyday political disputes. Yet because it's not a living symbol any cheap politician can wrap himself in it to make points. And since it's usually the least honest politicians who have to resort to this tactic, the flag itself then becomes tainted as a symbol, and is subject to attack.

I'm not sure I agree, but it is certainly something to think about. However, it leaves unanswered the question, why are Americans so nationalistic and patriotic? America, as a whole, takes love of country to the level of unhealthy obsession. It seems to me that, with their constant shout of "U-S-A U-S-A We're #1!" they're trying too hard, as if they realise, in their heart of hearts, that they've been robbed of the American Dream and have nothing left but "My country, right or wrong".

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