The few years after the revolutionary war were turbulent in the newly founded United States. Disputes over territories, war pensions, taxes, and trade were beginning to erode the newly formed democracy as defined by the original articles of confederation. In their wisdom and foresight, the founding fathers called a constitutional convention with fifty-five delegates in May 1787. The blinds were closed, the doors were locked, and the floor was opened for unhindered debate.
Day after day for over a month heated discussions took place as each delegate attempted to convince the others that their needs should be prioritized. Fights often broke lose, arguments lasted for hours into the nights, and discussions of ancient civilizations and theology went round and round. It took the delegation over 30 days to come to the mere realization that an entirely new government was necessary. A month of debate and the decision to rewrite new founding documents still did not keep the delegates from fighting long and hard for their beliefs.
From there it was another three months of intense debate before 39 members of the delegation signed the new United States Constitution. It took 55 delegates, 5 months, and hundreds of hours of debate to create this new constitution, and even then, only 6 of 13 states supported the new constitution. Federalists still had to work to flip three states in order to get the 9 of the 13 states required for ratification.
Our founding fathers came from tyranny, where one person with a group of obligated adoring royals governed with unchecked powers. It was a nightmare they were unwilling to relive and would fight tooth and nail to ensure that history did not repeat itself.
Today, mud is slinging around the country as a small group of representatives are exercising their power to block the election of Kevin McCarthy from becoming the next speaker of the house. On one hand, those congressmen and women are being vilified for not ‘taking one for the team.’ On the other hand, those representatives have support from many who feel McCarthy is not suited for the job, additionally many politicians from the opposing party are using this time to discredit the politicians in debate and mock the process. However, there is nothing shameful or embarrassing about what is happening. In fact, this is what our founders intended.
Whether it’s a sign of the times or a lack of American history knowledge, the cries of all parties are completely unjustified. The speaker of the house is third in line to run the country should the President and Vice President be deemed unable. It is by far the most important position in congress and comes with immense responsibilities. Not only does the speaker represent their own constituents, but they also represent all of their parties’ elected representatives.
In fact, it should be more alarming to Americans that electing speakers in recent history have been centered around one, unchallenged politician in what some would call a popularity contest. A handful of adoring fans, rallying around a candidate based on party affiliation and obligation is tyranny- not democracy. What we’re seeing today is what our founders intended. Spirited, heated, and intense debate is what America is founded on.
The hysteria, although great for media ratings, is sending a message to the world that the people of this country are completely out of touch from the realities of democracy. Granted, electing a speaker is not equal to rewriting founding documents and forming a new government, it should be handled with a similar level of care and importance. Americans don’t elect representatives to congress to go with status quo and spinelessly vote for what a political party deems as good. American’s elect their politicians to fight for them on the floor.
This idea that spirited debate, heated discussions, and fights within political parties are a sign of weakness or ‘bad’ is a poison that is pulsing through the veins of this country. There is no weakness in debate and using the floor of the house to fight for your constituents. There is no wrong in questioning and stress testing current systems. There is nothing more American than questioning status quo and keeping fellow politicians on their toes.
Democracy, in its purest form, is not easy. Making massive changes that impact every American citizen shouldn’t be easy, and it should never go unchallenged. It is up to each representative in congress to convince the others or compromise. The expectation of working across the aisle, nonpartisan governing, and undying party support may be noble, but it’s certainly not democratic.
When Kevin McCarthy moves into the speaker chambers before being voted in, he is spitting on democracy. When democrats mock the process with popcorn and pointing fun at the other side for debating, they spit on democracy. When the media paints the debates as weakness, they spit on democracy.
As mentioned, when it was time to ratify the constitution, only 6 of 13 states were on board. Federalists across the states had to convince three of the hold outs to ratify and it was not easy. It was not until federalists employed the “ratify now, amend later” campaign that Massachusetts flipped and even then, it was a grueling process. However, because of the hard work put into the democratic process the additional three needed states eventually flipped and ratified the constitution that is in place today.
Something is plaguing the way Americans, especially politicians, understand true democracy as intended by the founders. Be it laziness, lack of education, ego, stupidity or a combination if congress wants easy, they’re not in the right place. No politician should assume a win or unwavering support, that is tyranny. Furthermore, no American should expect a decision as important as choosing the next speaker, the third person in command from President, and someone who will shape legislation for the immediate future to come within hours or even a few days.
Americans should see this as a sign that their voices are being heard. Finally, the elected officials of congress are pushing back in a fight for the needs of their constituents. A sentiment that has rarely been seen in the last 30 years.
If history tells us anything when pushed against the wall, Americans can and will adjust. This key part of American heritage is only possible because when things get rough, an unwavering democracy exists to fall back on which coincidentally is centered around our constitution. Every piece of democracy is and should be hard in order to ensure decisions are made within the best interest of the citizens. It is more alarming when things seem easy and undebated versus blanket acceptance.
Article V of the constitution provides a clear path to amending the constitution through a convention of states. The convention of states action has worked within the democratic process as outlined by our constitutions for ten years to acquire enough states to call the convention. Although, it has not been easy, they are well on their way to securing enough states for a convention and making much needed amendments to the constitution. Term limits across the federal government, spending controls, and accountability measures are well within grasp because of the constitutional process outlined by our fathers. The