Observe, however, beyond the Atlantic, has not the new day verily dawned! Democracy, as we said, is born; storm-girt, is struggling for life and victory. A sympathetic France rejoices over the Rights of Man; in all saloons, it is said, What a spectacle! Now too behold our Deane, our Franklin, American Plenipotentiaries, here in position soliciting; the sons of the Saxon Puritans, with their Old-Saxon temper, Old-Hebrew culture, sleek Silas, sleek Benjamin, here on such errand, among the light children of Heathenism, Monarchy, Sentimentalism, and the Scarlet-woman.
Carlyle, Thomas. “The French Revolution.”
The American public is now as esurient for democracy as it was in 1775 when according to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Paul Revere rode about on his horse from Boston to Lexington proclaiming “The British are coming!” It was the era of the American and French Revolutions, of Voltaire (a leading figure of the Enlightenment), Benjamin Franklin (a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence) and of Thomas Paine (“The Age of Reason”).
The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution that occurred in British America between 1765 and 1791. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies formed independent states that defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783), gaining independence from the British Crown and establishing the United States of America as the first nation-state founded on Enlightenment principles of liberal democracy.
The French Revolution was a period of radical political and societal change in France that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended with the formation of the French Consulate in November 1799. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles of liberal democracy, while phrases like liberté, égalité, fraternité reappeared in other revolts, such as the 1917 Russian Revolution, and inspired campaigns for the abolition of slavery and universal suffrage.
By some appearances America has abandoned its goal of universal freedom. Much of the denigration is levelled upon the Republican political party as supportive of exclusive rights for whites, Christians and the rich. If one were to assess the conflict between limited and universal philosophies based upon the most recent election of Joseph R. Biden as president, the difference is narrow. This however demeaningly supports the perception that America is strongly divided. I believe that to be a misconstruction. I consider that the pundits are looking at the wrong material from the wrong angle. Expert analysis is frequently aligned, even if unwittingly, to political interests.
Whether the margin between Republicans and Democrats is illustrative of the real differences between Americans is in my opinion vastly questionable. For one thing the presidential election is at the federal, not the state, level. Certainly there are important prerogatives connected to the federal level of government (such as the Supreme Court of Justice, the final law of the land); but it is generally acknowledged that the most compelling issues of government (and legislation) are determined by the individual states (which most commonly reflect the desires and prejudices of the local inhabitants not the nation as a whole).
It has to be reckoned that it is impossible to assure that all people throughout the United States of America will think the same way about the many varieties of government and legislation. However it is also clear that as the world becomes a smaller and smaller place, so does the United States of America. That in turn necessitates an acceptance that one’s private and personal preferences can no longer be imposed on others unilaterally. This stimulates an open-mindedness and the irrepressible necessity of cooperation and accommodation. No longer is the goal to win; rather the goal is to succeed. This means communication from both sides of the fence. I personally do not believe it is in the nature of the members of one species to conflict with one another. Instead I think it is the natural persuasion of members of the same species to align for their mutual benefit and protection. This option is all the more compelling in this world of increasingly blended strains and associated philosophies whether religious, sexual, economic or political. To insist upon the paramountcy of one’s own beliefs is no longer sustainable much less desirable; or, dare I say, even meaningful. There are more important issues at hand than our local customs and prejudices.
The challenge is no longer to convince any one group or class of people that they are right or the sole option; rather the challenge is to educate people about the winning flavour of cooperation and democratic government, preserving the separation of state and religion because the two are irrelevant, the one to the other except in cases of the mystical (deceitful) alliance between monarchical divine right.
The further pragmatism of overcoming philosophical differences is that it enables concentration on the more appropriate and identifiable urgencies of daily living and mutual advantage. It illustrates the need to clarify the question before wasting time on the wrong and inconvenient answer. Health, education and productivity are the preferred joint ambitions; not segregation and equivocation.
The sacrifice in democracy is the absence of control which is what distinguishes it from monarchy by divine right, absolutism and oligarchy. For some this is viewed as a condescension but in an egalitarian community with ever diminishing alternatives against such massive and pervasive concerns as global warming and precipitous changes of weather, to preoccupy oneself wth the limitation of common entitlement can only be seen as self-interested and domineering without recognizing the limitless capital of labour and brain power available to overcome the indiscriminate perils that threaten all humanity. Clearly people are of varying strengths and capacity; but that is hardly an excuse to sweep under the carpet the ingenuity and engineering that exists untapped. There will ever remain a distinction between what each of us wishes and has to contribute to society. Not everyone wants to be a doctor or an astronaut; between the two poles there are ranks of others seeking to contribute in their own way. In part we must adopt a more robust and generous view of human nature universally. We mustn’t and needn’t confine ourselves by unwarranted suspicion and pretext.
The path of democracy is never easy in spite of its putative cooperation and contribution. It entails application, assiduity, perseverance and honesty. If anyone (especially those who are privileged to lead) abuses the trust they have been given then the pyramid of authority begins to crumble from atop. Disintegration is not limited to the weakest link. For this reason alone it is imperative that the candidates for election (for representation) must be candid and forthright about their qualification for office. They need not be perfect; no one is. But they must be truthful both to the public and to themselves. A fallacious model will expose itself eventually. So there is no merit to deceit, deception or fabrication; it only worsens the predictable outcome. The truth will out just as it did for le Roi Soleil three hundred years ago, one of the last rulers by divine right though sadly not the last of the absolute oligarchs (the modern fiction of supremacy). But this too shall pass.
Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 1638 – 1 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great (Louis le Grand) or the Sun King (le Roi Soleil), was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest of any sovereign in history whose date is verifiable. Louis XIV’s France was emblematic of the age of absolutism in Europe.