One of the difficulties for Constitutional literalists, those who seek to interpret our laws according to the intentions of our founding fathers, is that the country these men created no long exists. As Gareth Sitaraman writes in “Divided We Fall,” those leaders lived in an agrarian economy and the laws they created reflected the values of the landed gentry. (“Divided We Fall,” by Gareth Sitaraman, New Republic, may 2017, pgs. 42-45.)
Since those early days, our economy has changed many times. Today, technology generates much of our wealth.
Unfortunately, our regulations have failed to stay current. Large sums of money have pooled in the hands of national and multi-national corporations. This nexus of wealth and power exerts pressure on the government and the Republican party, currently in control of Congress, has responded by promulgating laws that favor the wealthy. Their support comes at the expense of women, minorities and the poor, demographics underrepresented in our government. Further, enriched by vested money, the ruling party is busy using its resources to practice a form of gerrymandering * that is an art form. I refer to the art of redrawing voter districts to supplant the will of an opposing majority.
During the Depression, as Sitaraman argues, a troubled nation gave rise to visionaries. Franklin Delano Roosevelt believed the government’s role was to redistribute wealth. Today, the thinking is different, and oligarchs are allowed to prosper in the breaches left by gerrymandered country.
Ironically, some who need help, side with the winners, convinced there is merit in the “trickle down” theory. They little imagine these oligarchs are not the source of hope but are an affliction. No wonder some voters have begun to believe democracy has failed. No wonder a few have begun to whisper the country might be better served by a benign strongman — as if power were the soil from which benevolence springs. (Blogs, 4/1/1,4/19/17,5/2/17, 5/18/17)
*Since I wrote this blog, The Supreme Court has struck down two gerrymandered districts in North Carolina.