Jefferson expert: Paralyzed Congress? Throw them out!

Are you concerned over the consequences of an “unjust war” that has been waged in Iraq, the lavish subsidies of the Pharmaceuticals Bill, ten percent unemployment, the current recession (which some say rivals 1929), broken social security, or an “unfixable” medicare? If so, you’re not alone.

In the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Show 949, “Occupy Washington” (12-11-11), Clay Jenkinson states that, “I think there’s genuine, deep discontentment and anger that is very widespread in the country…I think furthermore, that we’ve gotten into this position of being okay with the national debt. Jefferson warned against this for a range of reasons. One of the principal reasons is that it allows a nation to fight wars without bringing the people along. For instance, (in regards to Iraq), we fought a trillion dollar war, and didn’t raise taxes. So we had to borrow that money…that indebted the nation in a profound way, and it did two things. It creates a gigantic and unserviceable national debt (with interest alone starting to eat up the budget), but secondly it starts to choke out everything else you may want to do as a nation.”

To Mr. Jenkinson, it’s clear why the people are angry. Not only is there lacking transparency in any of the actions of our Government, but that “even an idiot knows that if you’re going to have unprecedented expenditures, you’re going to have to have more revenues…we’re constantly being told things that are metaphysical nonsense. That we can do this without raising taxes, and that the best thing the American people can do is spend and buy. That somehow this will be okay…”

So what’s wrong? Jenkinson explains that it’s largely due to the reality of our nation having a Congress that is actually paralyzed. “One party will deliberately spike the proposals of the other party, not because they think they’re bad, but in the hopes that they can destroy that party and win at the next election…but you haven’t heard the established political moderates of both parties say, you know – we better listen to this, because this is a warning that there’s something fundamentally wrong in America.”

Still, why can’t the legislative body of our nation come up with a plan in regards to immigration, or healthcare? Says Mr. Jenkinson, “We’re the only great nation that is now in paralysis, at a time when it is absolutely dangerous for a nation to be in paralysis (on national security fronts, or on world economic fronts). And the people of the United States should be so outraged by this they should be saying to the 535 people in Congress – get your act together and do something! They should occupy Washington DC, and find the people who are the obstructing the future of this country with senate holds, and filibusters. Who are the people in Congress who are actively and perversely obstructing the business of the United States when we need things to move forward? We should dis-elect them.”

For instance, “when there is a routine business before Congress, and Party A says We won’t let this happen, because if we don’t – maybe we’ll be relected in the next Presidential election. You can’t have a nation that operates that way. The people need to be mad, but they need to focus it on the real culprits. Capitalism is not the culprit…what I blame is Washington for not creating a meaningful game plan for the future of the United States. You may not pay attention to three people picketing outside the capital building, but how about 300? 3000? How about 3 million? How about 30 million? This movement will not vindicate itself unless it continues to grow – remaining peaceful – but gets the attention of the established classes of this country…there’s no goodwill, there’s no civitas, there’s no commonwealth feeling here that we all need to figure out a way to save this country. And when that doesn’t happen, the people who have common sense – if you put 535 people from Minneapolis Minnesota into Congress, they’d solve these problems in a week. So if the people are smarter than their Government, then Jefferson would say they’d either need to throw the rascals out, protest to the point that they get their attention, or they need to re-write the Constitution in order to provide a mechanism that does work. Any of those is a Jeffersonian solution.

Clay Jenkinson is one of the most sought-after humanities scholars in the United States. In 2008, Clay became the director of The Dakota Institute through The Lewis & Clark, Fort Mandan Foundation, to further expand his humanities programs with documentary films, symposiums and literary projects. He is also the Chief Consultant for the Theodore Roosevelt Center through Dickinson State University and conducts an annual lecture series for Bismarck State College. To read more about Mr. Jenkinson and the Thomas Jefferson Hour, please click: The Thomas Jefferson Hour

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8 Responses to Jefferson expert: Paralyzed Congress? Throw them out!

  1. spinoza1111 says:

    While I agree with a lot of this, “throw them all out” is to me lower middle class psychology…in which the pervasive fear of job insecurity is masked by means of a form of transference.

    Job insecurity is so pervasive that the fear becomes the loud demand that some sort of group, that doesn’t contain you, from teachers to politicians, be laid off en masse. In the case of teachers and other ordinary workers, the imaginary cost savings and “productivity” don’t appear because it’s very costly to replace them even in this economy. Teachers have to be certified and background checked, and other employees need the right skills.

    The cost of a mass and indiscriminating “layoff” of politicians is usually Fascism. Your very calls to “throw them all out” creates in most cases (with the exception of Ron Paul) their tendency to pander to you, and, as you say, their inability to govern in a bipartisan way. You also don’t help when you try to hold them to un-American ideas about religious “truths”. And after you’ve whitened the sepulcher by “throwing them all out” seven devils (Bachmann, Palin et al.) come in.

    • Missouri Tenth says:

      Please explain why you think Christian truth is un-American? Perhaps if you gave us a definition on what you believe truth to be, we would be in a position to better understand each other.

  2. Craydo says:

    Republicans and Democrats are both at fault for this mess. But so are we the people for growing apathetic, greedy, and ignorant – and for letting our leadership runaway with our liberty. Look, under socialism / communism – I’m sure I’d be all gung-ho about the system having been educated in government schools. Further more, I’d doubtless not want to criticize it much either – even if I did have a concern – or else I’d have a representative of “The People” come knocking on my door to issue me a warning.

    Pro-labor, pro-worker, pro-humanity? What does this mean? He’s pro everything except what he’s against, but he doesn’t want to say that, does he. Still, even under State Sovereignty – if Tennessee wants communism (under some distorted modern interpretation of the US Constitution), sure – they can have it. But leave us alone if we decide for Missouri to be a Constitutional Republic.

    • spinoza1111 says:

      “Nobody gives you sovereignty”.

      Ponder this. Brood upon it.

      Shakespeare’s history plays are a meditation on how the King takes sovereignty if he’s strong: Henry IV takes the throne from a vacillating Richard, Henry V executes Cambridge, Scroop, Grey and even Bardolph to show who’s boss, Henry VI refuses sovereignty, Edward IV misuses it in carousing, and Richard III slays the Princes to get it.

      John Marshall TOOK the authority the Supreme Court now has in Marbury. Abraham Lincoln was our greatest President because he saw that we’re a national Republic and not a confederation and made us one, with “government by the People, of the People, and for the People”…not by, of or for rich wastrel slaveowners.

      The Constitution was a collective decision with multiple meanings. To Hamilton it was the blueprint for the strong Federalism of Lincoln and FDR. To Adams it ensured that the “right people” would remain in control. To some signers, its “freedom of religion” was identical to that guaranteed in the 1689 (British) Declaration of Right, the right to practice a Protestant religion.

      Some compromises split the difference. But others simply ignore nice issues. There was no clause in the Constitution either allowing or forbidding Secession. For some, this allowed Secesh in the same way a marriage implicitly allows divorce despite its words “’til death do us part”.

      There is no clause allowing Nullification and it’s too creative to read an unenumerated right of Nullification into the Tenth, especially in light of the Ninth. The Ninth if anything protected the pre-Revolutionary right of Americans to transit between states but by 1787, under the Articles of Confederation, this right was under threat by state sovereignty.

    • Craydo says:

      Socialism is the young boy that looks up and aspires to one day be like his Communist father. A 2009 issue of Newsweek says “We are all Socialist Now” – so you tell me, can Tennessee or any other state in the Republic be socialist? We already have a Federal Government that largely believes the Constitution is a “living” document – perhaps even you. So why not adjust the constitution into one that allows for the Fed to adjust our economy and intrude further through Government Programs in order to deal with social and monetary unrest in the nation?

    • spinoza1111 says:

      Yes, the Constitution is a living document, like the Bible and Shakespeare, capable of interpretation. If you think it has only one interpretation, you gettin’ mediaeval on my ass, because the belief that a document had only one interpretation is Dark Ages.

      The application of any law requires an interpretive step, which is why we have judges and lawyers in the first place: no man should be a judge in his own cause, and should not interpret the law in his own way.

      You want to interpret the Constitution only one way, the white boy way.

  3. Brinkster says:

    Yawn. Central or limited. That’s all this is my man. Either you support limited government, or you think people must be regulated and told what to do by a monolithic Government structure. As for this huge Government, Dictator, Emperor, King, or the majority (which can be a tyrant of it’s own) – they’re all practically the same. We understand – you’re afraid of giving people responsibility to figure this stuff out on their own.

    • spinoza1111 says:

      That’s pretty simple-minded, isn’t it? Either support your version of “limited” government or else its Pyongyang! And, yeah, I’m afraid of giving you responsibility to figure this stuff out on your own, because you boys haven’t read the Constitution. It is a blueprint, heavily influenced by my homeboy Alexander Hamilton in part, for centralization, in a dynamic balance of power with decentralization, and a collective work of genius by educated, first rate men, unlike you boys.

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