The ideal of the American democracy has been alive and well for 242 years. The question is, does the reality match the ideal?
Filmmaker Michael Moore asks this question in the new documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9. The film starts off recounting the 2016 Presidential election and takes a hard-hitting look at the current state of American politics. Referencing Nazi Germany, the water crisis in Flint and the school shooting at Parkland earlier this year, Mr. Moore shows how broken the system truly is.
Above all, Mr. Moore points out two important facts that hover throughout the narrative of the film. The first is that despite the spotlight being on you know who, he does solely place the blame on the Republicans. Democrats also have used the political system for their own needs as opposed to the needs of the voting public.
The second (and more important point) that Mr. Moore makes is to vote. Far too many Americans did not vote for either candidate during the 2016 Presidential Election, feeling put off, angry or frustrated. We can only ask in hindsight what the results of the election might have been if every American had voted in November of 2016.
The overall message that I got from the film is clear: we can fix this broken system. We can live up to the Democratic ideals put forth by our Founding Fathers. But that requires stepping up the political plate and there are far too many in this country who are not doing that.
As children, many of us learned the following statement:
Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.
While the ideal of this statement is admirable, the reality is that words have the power to hurt even more than a physical blow.
Over the last few days, you know who has been disparaging the press at a rate that is becoming frightening.
Inspiring by the barrage of tweets and speeches claiming that the press is the “enemy of the people”, Robert Chain called The Boston Globe newsroom fourteen times, threatening violence and murder. Thankfully, Mr. Chain was arrested before he could do actual physical harm to the newspaper’s employees.
All Presidents have a love/hate relationship with the press. However, most Presidents (with the exception of you know who) understand how vitally important it is for a living, thriving democracy to have news media that is not under the thumb of the government. If you know who had his way, only news media that complements him and his world view would be allowed to exist.
What is becoming increasingly scary to me is that there are far too many people in this country who don’t see what is happening. If we, as a nation, don’t step and stand up for our country and our Democracy, I fear that the America that our Founding Fathers dreamed, worked and died for will become a thing of the past.
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
The phrase above has in recent decades been used when referring to the Holocaust. But while it refers to a specific event in history, the phrase itself has the potential to be used for other events in history.
In the wake of the rally in Charlottesville last weekend, local governments and citizens alike have either called for the removal and/or destruction of monuments from the Confederate South or have had them removed completely.
It feels to me like a double-edged sword. We cannot white wash history and pretend that the horrors of slavery did not happen in America, but at the same time, if we do decide to remove them from the public arena, what are we teaching our children?
If American society has a cross to bear, it is the enslavement of African-Americans and the scar that still exists from that enslavement in our society generations after The Civil War. Racism still exists in America (as was dreadfully highlighted last weekend) and remains a blight on the ideals laid out by our Founding Fathers.
The only compromise I can think of is to not whitewash history and use the past (and the monuments dedicated those who were part of the Confederate South) as a teaching tool. We can only learn from history (and prevent it from happening again) is to learn from the mistakes of the generations who have come before us.
That being said, I would like to know the opinion of my readers. Should we remove the statues and be done with it or use it as teaching tool for this generation and future generations?