The other day I was helping my friend Steve Crank put a roof on his parents' house and our conversation turned to politics – a common topic among my closest friends.
I said something like: "Are you just about sick of hearing people talk about the 'democracy' we live in, which was actually designed to be a combination of democracy, republic and a very weak and easily removable monarchy?
"And for that matter are you furious at the press calling the uprisings in the Middle East a 'democracy movement'? You know, I've never heard anyone they interview over there call it that."
At that point Steve reminded me about the 17th Amendment to our Constitution, which helped break down this three-part government the founders of this country set precariously against itself.
That amendment established direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote and it supersedes the language in Article I of the Constitution which put the election of U.S. senators in the hands of state legislatures. This was a form of republic. It also altered the procedure for filling vacancies in the Senate, to be consistent with the method of election. It was adopted on April 8, 1913.
The change was made because of problems with the system and claims of corruption. With hindsight, the problems sound the same as what we're seeing today in our democratic election process. Now it appears just another mistake in our past, brought on by lack of instruction to the nation's youth in real history and consequences of actions.
On that note, just the other day another friend and I were having a similar conversation and I bemoaned that the learning and application of history was completely dead in this nation.
I asked him, "What would you say history teachers think history is about?"
He immediately gave me the answer I would give if someone asked me that. He said, "Dates. They think it's all about dates."
Exactly the problem.
Instead, history should be about learning from our past so we might better understand how to govern ourselves. The founders of this nation understood that.
As we approach the July 4 celebration of our nation's independence from tyrannical monarchical rule I fear our collective ignorance is taking us back toward government of ruling elitists instead of patriot servants. My executive editor Dan Crummett offers wise comments about this in his latest company blog, Independence From What?
I say if ever there was a time to learn more, teach our children and grandchildren more, and to take back government from those who would unmake it in their own image, that time is now overdue.
Last year on July 4 I read the Declaration of Independence to my son.