Like yours, my Thanksgiving thoughts usually drift toward family, friends, good health. This year, however, I express thanks to our founders. For creating our constitution. What inspired that gratitude was our recent election.
The founders created a machine by which we would govern ourselves. They designed it to prevent excesses. They feared that too much power might fall into the hands of the President. Or the Congress. Or the Supreme Court. Or to all of them, to the detriment of the People.
And so they included gears to slow some processes. They built brakes into it. They added a clutch or two. They included devices to curtail speed that might harm the machine.
Our recent election displayed the wisdom of those founders. Clearly huge numbers of citizens were unhappy with the government of late. On issue after issue government policies reflected views held by only a minority of Americans.
This has been a problem from the first-ever government to today’s. In so many nations this has led to revolution. (Off with the king’s head!) And if not to revolution, at least to misery. (Attention. Attention. The king has survived. He suggests that you return to your wretched existence. Whilst you still have one.)
Whatever mechanisms existed for governing, they did not allow for adjustments. Or for realignments. What they did allow was the trampling of the will of the majority.
We, of course, make the necessary adjustments. Thanks to the wisdom of the founders. And the document they left behind.
They did not allow us – in our anger - to throw out every last rascal. We can only give the boot to one-third of our senators each election. By the time the next lot come up for a vote the hot tempers will have cooled.
If we are well and truly angered by our leaders we can impeach them. Again, it is not an easy process. The founders placed hurdles for us to negotiate. They are there to force us to reflect. They beg the question: Are we really sure we want to do this?
It was the leaders’ wisdom that settled the 2000 presidential election peacefully. In many a country a mess like Bush vs. Gore in Florida would have brought meltdown. Our machinery certainly lurched and moaned over the issue. But in the end the high court decided. And within our machine the Supreme Court’s word is final.
It was the leaders’ wisdom that allowed millions to punish – through their representatives – the unseemly behavior of Bill Clinton. The machinery allowed severe reprimand without removal from office. In Nixon’s case it allowed the next step.
So in looking back at our latest election, I peer beyond. To the men who made it possible. I can see them because they are giants. And I give thanks.
From Tom ... as in Morgan.