It’s 1781 All Over Again

When the original 13 colonies declared their independence from England the Continental Congress decided it needed a document of governance. So in 1777, they approved our first constitution, the Articles of Confederation After several years of debate the Articles were ratified and became the law of the land on March 1, 1781.

The new nation was called the United States of America but there wasn’t much united about it. The national government has almost zero power because the individual states reserved power for themselves. What America really was was a very loose association of independent nation-states. If you remember anything from government or civics you may recall that each state coined its own money, formed its own militia, and discounted the problems of other states unless those problems threatened them somehow.

It didn’t take long for the problems of a confederation to become apparent and a national meeting was held in Philadelphia to strengthen or correct the Articles. Instead, a new document, the US Constitution, was hammered out and on June 21, 1788, the Articles exited stage right and the current document, the U.S. Constitution, became the law of the nation. One of its many purposes was to better unite the states and people os America. The federal or national government was formed and given precedence over the states in the hope that the citizens would consider themselves Americans before being Ohioans, etc. Remember that opening paragraph that we know as the Preamble? Here it is and please note that several parts seem to stress unity or union or the common good.

“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States…”

Okay, that’s enough prefacing and you should have the point by now. The problems are, under the leadership of Donald Trump we seem to have lost this idea of the federal government providing for the common defense or promoting the general welfare. I have listened to parts of Trump’s daily briefings this week and he seems more focused on division than unification. Yesterday he openly and hostile attacked the governors of three states facing the worst of the Covid-19 assault. He declared himself to be a “wartime president” but has failed to provide any unifying direction. He has left each state to go it alone in attempting to secure the medicines, personal protective equipment, hospital equipment, hospital space, and more, rather than doing what every president in my memory has done during a time of crisis, stepped forward and led for the good of all rather than for the good of those states that have been friendly to him and his political and economic interests.

Last night several state governors, including those of New York and Illinois, stated that each of the states is having to bid against each other, and the federal government, for necessary supplies and equipment. Rather than using his executive powers to treat every state the same and to sell at a fair price without competitive bidding, Trump is standing tough with his, were not delivery boys, position.

As my title states, it’s 1781 all over again. Instead of one for all and all for one, we’re back to a dog eat dog, every state for itself style of politics. And maybe worse than anything, close to half the citizens of America think Trump is providing good leadership during this pandemic. As I said on Facebook, WTF are these people smoking?





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