“I Am Not My Government”

What are you most likely to hear from a citizen’s mouth when their country does something unspeakable? What is an American most likely to say when other countries hold Americans accountable for actions of war; torture; colonialism; corruption; and secret, nationwide, warrantless spying on their own citizens? “I am not my government. As an American citizen, my government may do bad things, but that doesn’t make me a bad person. I don’t endorse their actions.”

What would Thomas Jefferson do if he heard an American citizen speak these words? What would John Adams or Alexander Hamilton say? How would any of our founders respond? They would declare the American experiment an abject failure.

To say “I am not my government” is a rejection of the fundamental premise of a constitutional republic. To say “I am not my government” is to refute the ideal that we are a government BY the people, FOR the people. To say “I am not my government” is an admission of defeat; a tacit surrender of idealism to the harsh “practicalities” of a nation ruled not by people, but by money.

Money is not evil. But money, in itself, has no value. True value­­–as in values­­–comes from ideas, not printed slips of paper, and it is this value that was meant to be the real currency of exchange of our nation–it’s why the sharing of those ideas was considered important enough to be protected in the very first amendment to our Constitution. Ideas, true values, come from individuals, not from corporations. To surrender your stake in your government as an individual is to surrender a government of value, and replace it with one of fraud.

An America whose citizens must say “I am not my government” has failed its citizens. An American who says “I am not my government” has failed their government. A nation of people who admit “they are not their government” needs a new government.

Let’s start over. The founders of our nation could never have foreseen the scale of globalization nor the pace of technological change that are the cornerstones of our generation. Thomas Jefferson believed the Constitution should be rewritten, from scratch, for every generation. Our government has been run on more or less the same document for over two hundred years, and its age is beginning to show. We need a new one.

We need a revolution.


Filed under Politics

2 responses to ““I Am Not My Government”

  1. I have trained you well, grasshopper. But there are great pitfalls in such an approach, not least of which are our current national sctsms aided and abetted by a general willful and woeful ignorance about the general nature of governance and, regarding democratic republicanism, the difference between having your voice heard and having your way. Let’s talk.

    • Of course there are pitfalls, there will be for any effective approach because at this point I feel the only effective approaches are radical ones (hence risky). However, I do not believe that most of the population’s ignorance is willful. The vast majority of our media are controlled by a small handful of huge companies, and large companies are inherently conservative. Individualized, detailed, thought-provoking media are inherently risky; generic conflict and drama are safe. So, we get raised expecting all our news and politics (indeed, our whole lives) to be about high-level conflict, when in fact most effective governance is about compromise and mundane details.

      The thing is, the very factors that give rise to the media monopoly are the same ones adversely influencing our government! Until we address the root of the problem, people will not begin to see differently.

      A related issue is that, while there is a difference between being heard and getting your way, there has to be some measure of “getting your way” in a democracy or it is not truly representative at all. A king can “hear” appeals and complaints from his subjects all day (and even take them fairly into consideration) but at the end of the day it will still be him making the decisions, not his people. I think the far greater danger is in ordinary citizens abandoning ownership of the governance process altogether.

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