The results are in. So, the Left rejoices while the Right is despondent. Some suggest that Team R should disengage from the morality business, and devote themselves solely to fiscal issues, in an effort to capture today’s young, hip, and minority voters. Selwyn Duke effectively destroys this notion, and so did the late David Yeagley.
Plenty has already been written about the poor Republican ground game, and how its candidates were not appealing enough. The changing composition of the electorate has also been analyzed, with the suggestion that old-fashioned “Republican” values—whatever those are—simply do not appeal to these new voters.
Allow me to take a different tack…
Every American knows about July 4th, 1776, the day that our Declaration of Independence was signed. Less remembered, but no less important, is when our Constitution was ratified. The document itself was written during the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia, by 55 delegates to a Constitutional Convention that was called to amend the Articles of Confederation.
In accordance with Article VII, ratification by nine states would be sufficient, and this was accomplished on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire ratified. Ratification by all 13 states occurred on May 29, 1790 when Rhode Island signed. Notably, the first elections under the new Constitution were held late in 1788 and our federal government started operations on March 4, 1789.
I give you this history to set the stage for the very first raw exercise of governmental force. No, it was not the War Between the States. Rather, it was our government’s response to the Whiskey Rebellion, and that occurred in 1794—a scant five years into the life of our new republic.
Small farmers in rural areas (especially western Pennsylvania) operated distilleries, and the spirits were sold, and even acted as informal currency in certain locations. An excise tax on distilled spirits had been proposed by Alexander Hamilton in 1791, which was hated by the farmers. In fact, they attacked the Federal “Revenuers” who came to collect it, with well-organized contingents.
President George Washington intervened, first with negotiations that went nowhere, and then finally brought 13,000 troops into the area. Not surprisingly, the rebellion was quickly put down, but a large number of Americans—particularly those sympathetic to the opposition Jeffersonian Republican Party—were appalled by the overwhelming use of governmental force, which they feared might be a first step to absolute power. (You think?)
Remember “No taxation without representation”? Well, these dirt-poor farmers were represented, in theory, but their way of life apparently mattered little to the powers that be. If they were the first target of Article I Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
other victims would soon follow. The point here is that our freedoms have been under assault from the beginning.
I suggest that the Left’s current jubilation is based on its perception of America as a land where the government will correct all social ills. Inasmuch as this has been the express policy since 1964, and possibly even 1932, who’s to say that they are wrong in their vision?
Likewise, the despondency of the Right is based on an America in which our lives were at least relatively free from government interference. If this America ever even existed, today there are only slight remnants.
Thus, any perception of a declining or improving America is strictly in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps, those on the Left should better appreciate what they have and the gains they have made, while the Right re-evaluates the myths that they stubbornly accept as reality.