Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Unending Game

Have you ever felt, at the end of the day, that you can’t win, and that the barbarian hordes of the opposition are just set to over-run everything you hold dear?

Republicans, Democrats, moderates, and any number of other interest groups must feel this day in and day out. Not a day goes by that somebody doesn’t try to frustrate somebody elses aims. Unity, it seems, is pretty hard to find.

People talk about the founder's intent, telling us we must restrict ourselves to the most simplified, literal interpretation of the constitution possible. But was that their intent?

Looking at the constitution itself, that view cannot be supported. In that constitution, the different branches of our government, and even the structure within the branches themselves are set up to create oppositions.

Ours is not a system set up to encourage orthodoxy. Appropriately so, because our founders and our forefathers weren't that orthodox themselves. America was overloaded with the dissenters and malcontents of the old world to begin with. Why should the people who got kicked over here for their independent attitudes set up a system hostile to independent attitudes?

At every turn, the founding fathers ensured that there would be no way for any faction within our country to win. No establishment of religion, enforcing a unified religious outlook, no extra-legal status for any member of the government, no easy, arbitrary justice system for a political party to wield against opponents. Our legislatures are built to oppose each other, the Senate and House of Representatives are constructed so populous states have only so much advantage over those that aren't.

Our courts can void laws written unconstitutionally, and decide how any law should be interpreted. Our president can veto laws as they come in, or choose not to enforce them the way they were explicitly written to be. A really ideological person, looking at the system might be tempted to think the system wasn't meant to work. Or that it was built to create moderation in behavior.
But the reality is, it's meant to force every group to go outside of itself for support. Nobody gets power or legitimacy from their own supposed righteousness alone.

Our political system is built to test our assertions at all times, to keep all political factions off balance. And that's a good thing. We're forced to evolve consensuses, forced to depend on evidence and good cause in our system. And that, I'm sure many of you will agree, is a good thing.

In other countries, issues like religion, language, and political speech are flashpoints for civil war and strife. Even in France, they're concerned about headscarves and yarmulkes, something we would hardly bat an eye at here. In Iran, there's contention over the very ability of a political party to resist the status quo. Here, the debate wasn't so much about the Democrat's ability to counter Bush, as much as their willingness to do so. A big difference, I think you'll agree.

So the next time somebody else's agenda starts taking over, and you feel the world's gone to hell in a hand basket, just remember two things: Political power doesn't last in this country, and the other guy's probably scared the same thing's happening!

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at March 3, 2004 7:17 PM