Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

Oh man am I having fun. Making music, writing blog posts, corresponding with my friends, it is great. But frankly, I have a complaint. I was going to post about it, but then I thought, it's Independence Day, today is not the day.

If I am going to complain about anything on Independence Day it should be our great nation. One of the advantages of being in the Middle is it makes perfect sense to love the United States (or your country of choice), but still acknowledge in a perfectly patriotic way, that there are things that other countries do better than we do, and even things that we do in a ridiculously backwards and pathetic way.

Take our government for example. Although Europe was trending in the direction of less centralized rule before we came along, I believe that the US started off the pack by electing their head of state. And, wouldn't you know it, while many countries are older than us, we have a remarkably stable government which may be the oldest in the world. That said, we built some rather horrible things into our government (slavery, disenfranchising women) that we have been SLOWLY taking out. One of the problems is that our system was designed to impede change. This was intended to make going off in a crazy direction less likely, but it seems to me that if you want to do that you just need to throw the rules out the window (Andrew Jackson and GWB come first to mind, but our government has never felt too compelled to follow its own rules, especially during times of war or crisis, so I will accept arguments against FDR, Kennedy, NIXON, and most other POTUS's). So, if the rules make change difficult, all you do is ensure that most nation-altering changes will be made by arrogant renegades.

Secondly, we have two major parties each with about half the population in their camp, to one degree or another. To make matters worse most of the people in either camp are fervent believers that the other camp is a hotbed of immorality and downright un-American ideas. That's right, both camps have this mentality. To further FUBAR this 50 state pile-up, when you get right down to it, both parties run the nation in almost exactly the same way! GRAAAAAAAH There are some differences of course, but for the most part national policy is unchanged no matter which party is in charge. Perhaps this has something to do with how massively unwieldy our government is, see previous paragraph.

So, our government needs a major overhaul in my opinion. I do not know how that would happen. Personally, except when I am really angry at it, I abhor the idea of a violent overthrow. Not so much do to a distaste for violence, which I do have, but more because those tend to put the kind of people who lead violent overthrows into power. What I would like to see happen is something more like succession. When I get back to Oregon maybe the PNW can form it's own nation (go Jefferson!). More realistically, perhaps we might try a weaker centralized government?

Anyway, let us celebrate the United States, because it had and has some amazing ideas and people! But we ought not let our reverence for our nation become dogmatic and prevent us from dismantling it to improve it.

PS: Just had a thought, Washington DC might be obsolete... This one seems worthy of a Friday slot, so I think I'll work it into this Friday (when I was planning on doing politics anyway conveniently enough).

1 comment:

Karen said...

Matthew and I had a related conversation on Independence Day while we were driving to a family picnic. I was posing the question, "How do you explain Independence Day and all that it encompasses to a child?" It was interesting because we don't often really consider why we celebrate it. I mean sure, some people signed a document that got the ball rolling for our country, but do we consider why we should celebrate that? What about patriotism? What does that mean? Shouldn't we be patriotic to whatever side is good? I mean, sometimes our country does stupid things. And really, is "America the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of the Earth"? How do we know things wouldn't be better if we hadn't declared independence? The questions kept rolling.
If you're curious, we decided that if we had to explain the significance of the holiday, we'd probably say that it's a day that we can appreciate all the opportunities that we do have in our country. After all, we do have many. However, we don't think it's "unpatriotic" to admit that we have many shortcomings. What good will sticking your head in the sand do?