Temp hold ~ text on ‘exposing undemocratic foundation under Fort Washington’

January 10, 2018

Crazy Politics 

And did you know that Americans and foreigners who fly in and out of the US in private planes do not have to submit to any of those pesky, time-consuming airport security checks? For anyone who is rich enough (or important enough) to fly around the world in private jets, you will never as a passenger have to take your shoes and belt off be patted-down or have your baggage x-rayed or worry whether your shampoo bottle holds more than 3 ounces.

There are hundreds of small unmanned airstrip that allow small planes to important cargo such illegal arms or drugs as can fly into from either south or north of our borders, and land without going through US Customs, or have their cargos checked by Homeland Security or local law enforcement check their baggage and cargo.

I recently flew out of the Orlando International Airport, which serves a couple million parents with young children who fly through Orlando on their way to and from Disney World. These families are clearly NOT members of ISIS or other terrorist organizations. But since they are not wealthy enough to fly via private jet, they and their diaper bags, baby bottles, teddy bears, and crying kids routinely stand for 30 to 45 minutes in one of 10 or more block-long security lines, so everybody can be patted down and every diaper bag x-rayed.

So where do you think Homeland Security’s efforts would be most useful and cost-effective in preventing terrorist attacks? Let’s see: Families flying to Disney World or planes flying up from Central America and landing at an unmanned airstrip in Arizona, Nevada or West Texas?

 Contemporary Consequences of the Constitutional Barrier to Effective Citizen Participation  

Past, Present & Future Tense — To understand the present, start with its history

As explained in the previous chapter, the Founding Fathers purposeful configuration of our Constitution to preclude any on-going role for ordinary citizens in our federal government. It’s difficult to know what effect this absence had on the development of our democratic institutions 200 years ago, but it certainly represents an important missed opportunity for democracy. 

One can’t help but wonder if the serious problems that plagued our us as very young country — the institution of slavery, child labor and the lack of civil rights for women (right to vote, own property, equal pay) — would have gone uncorrected for so long if on-going citizen participation had been an original part of our Constitution.

It’s quite possible that the Civil War and other institutional forms of misery could have been avoided if all Americans – women as well as men — had opportunities for meaningful influence in our national government beginning with the Constitution’s ratification in 1788. 

We can’t judge the historical effects of this constitutional absence but we can see its many contemporary consequences.  But before we focus on these modern-day issues, it would be helpful to discuss the reasons and rationals behind decisions made by the Founding Fathers to block access to the central government in Washington by ordinary citizens.   

The federal government and our national capital: An indivisible entity

Unlike ancient capitals all around the world, cities such as London and Paris that grew organically over thousands of years, Washington, DC was an ‘intentional’ city established by the Constitution to serve as the nation’s capital. 

But like London and Paris, our Founding Fathers saw our national capital as the center for all the functions of the federal government. In addition to being the geographically central, they saw Washington as an island fortress in order to protect the government against the danger of political factions. This circling-the-wagons was a way to shield elected and appointed officials from outside influences, including the disruptive influence of the general public.

Our Founding Fathers did not have a good opinion of the American populous, which they saw as poorly educated and uninformed and unable to contribute anything important when it came political issues. Like most other people of that era, the Founders also believed that elected and appointed officials were by nature “intellectually and morally superior” compared to the rest of the population. The reasons for this prejudice will be discussed later, but its consequences were clear enough – a decision was made to protect elected officials from ‘meddling’ by an uninformed and morally-inferior population.

55 White Englishmen together in a room ~ A brief aside

I’d like to pause here to mention the obvious — that all 55 Founding Fathers, as contributors and/or signers of the Constitution (and undoubtedly mental giants) were also all male, all white, all speakers of the English language with ancestors from the British Islands, all formally educated (35 were lawyers or educated in the law); the great majority enjoyed the social status and wealth that came with being part of the ‘landed gentry’. More than a few owned slaves at the same time they were developing the ideas for our Constitution and engaged on a daily basis with writing it. As recorded by history, they didn’t even discuss the plight of women, children, immigrants, or slaves.  

But this unfortunate reality must be mitigated by the also obvious — in colonial America, all politically-active colonists were white, male, English speakers, educated, schooled in the law and property owners. Unless we imagine that aliens from another planet, who had none of these objectional characteristics (including being human!) would drop into Boston, NewYork and Philidelphia to take over the job of writing our Constitution, I think our best option is accepting history for what it is, and move forward without focusing on historical grievances and grudges.

Yes, it was technically ‘unfair’, but they gave us a truly wonderful and unique gift, without which I would not be sitting here today typing this story as a citizen of a country with a democratic government that functions under the rule of law and is limited in the legal sense of not permitting the arbitrary use/abuse of government power. 

That means we have everything we need to move forward and fix those aspects of our federal government that are not in the best interest of our democracy.     

Fort Washington ~ beacon of democracy built on an undemocratic foundation 

Metaphorically-speaking, Washington, DC was set up in 1787 to be an island fortress behind the equivalent of a big unfriendly sign that said: “Authorized Personnel Only”; that ‘keep out’ sign is still there today. The fortress mentality of today is perfectly consistent with the mobocracy fears of our Founding Fathers.

In reaction to the dangers posed by political factions, combined with the Founders exceedingly low opinion of ‘ordinary’ citizens, they came up with several strategies to that would prevent or at least greatly reduce access by ordinary citizensThe first was geography and the primitive nature of transportation

. In the 1700s, we were a huge country with few decent road and a population that lived many days (even weeks) from the national capital. Visiting one’s Congressman would require traveling on horseback or bouncing around in a horse-drawn cart, wagon or carriages for days, even a week or more. A substantial proportion of the population in 1787 lived on the ‘frontier’ — so deep into the ‘backcountry’ that it was extremely unlikely they would ever have any opportunity to talk (more likely complain!) to their elected representative. 

Another part of their strategy was To enable presidents and elected officials to do their work without interference from the populace, the Framers argued for longer terms btw elections for the Legislature and the presidency. They also pointed to the natural disincentive in the long travel times, effort, expense and personal hardships of encountered in traveling by horse-drawn carriage, what with bad roads, inclement weather, broken axels, lame horses, even personal illness.

This would effectively restrict access by ordinary citizens to the federal government in our national capital and this provides a prolonged period of time that would be free from the influence of the uninformed Electors (i.e., ordinary Americans) so Legislators and the president, who obviously knew what was better for the people than the people themselves would be free to pass of controversial new laws and make unpopular policy.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Professor Joseph Kobylka %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

A favorite professor of mine is an expert on the “American Experiment” in democratic self-governance. Two comments in his course called Cycles of American Political Thought are perfect for this topic:

The first is:
“American did not fall fully formed from the heavens.”

The second is:

“If you want to know about where you are, you have to know where you came from”

{Citation: Professor Joseph Kobylka is an Associate Professor of Political Science, Southern Methodist University.}

The United States is an invented country; it was designed by men guided by philosophical and historical “truths” they held to be “self-evident.” Its government is framed by a Constitution that embeds some of those “truths” in fundamental law.

F^O^ “” paraphrased: To understanding large theoretical frameworks that sculpted the past, we have to understand the present but in order to talk about where we care, we first need to talk about where we came from.””

End ch 1 ~ “To talk about where we are, we first need to talk about where we came from” Prof. K

Begin ch 2 ~ “we are ?? a part ?? of what we come from”

Context is important for us as individuals and for our own children. Likewise, context — the transactional backdrop of history, is equally critical for nations as well, its important for America and how we think about our country, how we understand our system of goverment and .

“American did not fall fully formed from the heavens.”

” The first European settlers who came to the virgin continent that became America were English. They brought with them conceptions of society and government. They brought this with them to the new country, on the ships o which they came. These conceptions framed their approach to life in the new world


As described by Professor KobylKa ” The United States is an invented country: one designed by men guided by philosophical and historical “truths” they held to be “self-evident.”

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Used in “Overview @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

As described by James Madison, this was:

“… a new conception of representative government removed from the populace”.

Madison and Alexander Hamilton both described this as a superior model of democracy:

“… a national republic whose government is far removed from the direct control of the people .… by putting the levers of governmental power in the hands of a tiny minority of representatives elected by the rest.

“… the new American Constitution aims … at one large mass republic in which the people can never assemble to govern directly and in which the majority can never unite”. 

[James Madison, 1788; as discussed in “The Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution”, by Professor Prangle]

In Federalist papers 35 & 36, Hamilton characterized this “tiny minority” as the formally educated “elite”. He and the rest of the Founding Fathers believed that professionals (a term that specifically referred lawyers) were the best, if not only reasonable, choice to promote the business and international interests of our fledgling country, and therefore the superior choice as our elected representatives: 

“The new elite will be dominated by the members of the learned professionals …  feel a neutrality to the rivalships among the different branches of industry.

The virtuous [i.e. electeds elites] in the new Republican vision are expected to be more sympathetic to commerce and commercialism …”