Old fogies like me enjoy reminiscing- probably because we’ve lived more days than we have left. I’ve lots of fond memories stored in my cranial neurons, but I’ll spare the readers the trivia, although I cannot say the same for my grandchildren who, at least while in earshot, do not often complain of my trips down memory lane.
Who remembers why the United States of America was founded? Ah, yes, that memory. Fourth grade? Earlier for the bluebird reading group. Some years after that document was presented to the king, we, the People, figured out what we were going to do with our newly formed nation.
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 of America.
Yes, that idea. Fifty-two words.
Remember when the phrase, promote the general Welfare, was a guiding principle of those charged with the governance of our nation? Clearly, we all know that both providing for the common defense and the establishment of Justice have been key elements in sustaining our nation as they continue to do so today.
Yet, the promotion of the general Welfare has not fared as well. The current rise of ‘rugged’ individualism has fenced-in that ideal, ostensibly strangling and choking the life out of it. The use of the word, rugged, was, of course, in jest. Remember a few years ago when those dressed-up clowns masquerading as historic Bostonians demonstrated and showed that perhaps they were the antithesis of rugged individualism? It was at best a B-Movie and, at worst, disgusting. Taxed enough already! Pathetic pap sopped up like dry bread in a bowl of pig gravy.
Remember when Republican president Theodore Roosevelt, the self-proclaimed “steward of the people,” reduced the control of “big business” over the U.S. economy and workers? To promote the common Welfare. Remember when this Republican president signed the Meat Inspection and the Pure Food and Drug Acts in 1906- the laws requiring the government to inspect meat and protect consumers from food and drugs that might be dangerous? To promote the common Welfare. Remember when this Republican worked doggedly for the preservation of our natural resources- over 125 million acres in national forests were set aside under public protection. TR also established the first national wildlife refuge. To promote the common Welfare. A Republican president, mind you.
Remember when Republican president Dwight Eisenhower proposed to Congress the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 – laws he signed into effect? To promote the common Welfare. Remember when this Republican president, in his first State of the Union message in February 1953, said that he was going to ‘end segregation in the District of Columbia, including the Federal Government, and any segregation in the Armed Forces.’ To promote the common Welfare. Remember when this Republican championed and signed the bill that authorized the Interstate Highway System in 1956? To promote the common Welfare. Remember when he appointed liberal Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren to the high court?
Who can remember when Republican president Richard Nixon signed into law The National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act amendments of 1972? To promote the common Welfare. The same year, the Republican president established the Consumer Product Safety Commission; he also supported the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). To promote the common Welfare. This Republican president also Nixon proposed a health care plan which would provide insurance for low-income families and require that all employees be provided with health care. To promote the common Welfare.
None of these three Republican presidents would fare well in 2012. They would be castigated and scorned as socialists by those currently holding power in the GOP. Each of these Republican presidents expanded the role of the Federal government- to promote the general Welfare. In 2012, that is taboo in GOP circles. Today’s Republicans want ‘to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub,’ as the pompous Grover Norquist once quipped.
Rugged individualism? Anarchy? Idiocy? Take your pick.
Do run-of-the-mill Republicans remember when there were Republican presidents who actually believed in that line in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution? Who actually fought for The People- We, the People?
Or has narcissism seriously infected the once-Grand Old Party? Is it now all about the individual and to hell with The People?
I think so. Sadly, I do remember when…