Part II: The Joy of Regression– by Angela
As we explore how the founding fathers would view us now, we cannot go without giving ourselves a gold star. While we may have fumbled in our legal dealings with women and minorities, our attitudes towards them and the methods in which we conduct politics have largely remained the same.
To begin, the Jefferson-Adams election, an election between two founding fathers, started the practice of dirty politics and continued the practice of wealthy men competing with each other for governmental power. For example, Jefferson’s camp accused President Adams of being a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman,” followed by Adams’ camp’s mature response that Jefferson was “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”
Today we continue to honor such customs, as presidential campaigns alone cost millions of dollars just to carry out, requiring our candidates to be men of wealth. Every modern-day campaign has been guilty of lies, exaggerations, distortions, and embellishments against the opposing candidate. In today’s election, Obama has been deemed a “socialist” and Romney a “racist.”
Roger Sherman and James Wilson, two of the less glamorized and rarely discussed founding fathers, came up with the 3/5 Compromise. In the 3/5 Compromise, prior to even being permitted to vote, slaves were given three-fifths of representation, and the Southern slave-owning states were consequently granted more political clout. Today Southern states and Pennsylvania have enacted a new voter requirement – each voter must have a valid picture ID accessible in order to vote.
While this may appear harmless on first glance, the people-groups it predominantly affects are African Americans, Hispanics and the poor which could result in the general under-representation of people in lower economic classes in these states. But, most importantly, voters in the South and Pennsylvania with the money to access these forms of identification, who are most likely primarily Caucasian, will be given more political clout than other states where no such discrimination is enacted.
Women have been granted the right to vote and have fought for higher wages, but the founding fathers would be relieved to know they still definitely do not have the same power and status as men do in this country. The sexual objectification of women in movies, television shows, commercials, the music industry, in magazines, in magazine advertisements, the fashion industry, billboards, and so on, is rampant, on the rise and often considered socially acceptable by men, women and even some “feminists.”
With sexual objectification also comes the inability for people to separate women from their reproductive vessel status (and whether or not they succeed or fail in upholding this, i.e. the backlash against Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan for not being feminine enough) and a general dehumanization that lays a solid platform for the attitudes that result in the endemic levels of the physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of women. All of which subjugates women and maintains their position as the “other” sex; a status delegated to women reminiscent of the time of the founding fathers.
Little has been done in the way of protecting Native Americans, and few people view the plight of Native Americans as a serious problem or even know much about it. The federally recognized tribal areas suffer unemployment, alcoholism, high suicide rates, incest and other social problems. Beyond this, the Native Americans are still repeatedly challenged over the rights to land they were already given power over.
As of mid-2012, the UN has decided to take matters into their own hands and investigate the issue affecting around 2.7 million of Americans that the United States has chosen not to spend the time or resources trying to solve themselves.
Ultimately, the framework that the founding fathers set down for us has, to some extent, still been upheld. We continue to hold vicious elections where petty name-calling is legitimized, we do what we can to grant the Southern States more power, we subjugate women in society and we still discriminate against the indigenous population of the continent we occupy. Any efforts we undertook from the 1940’s to the 1970’s towards changing our original direction for our country has ended. We have regressed. The founding fathers’ ought to be proud.
A Note From Don Cooks:
These men had many of the frailties of modern people, but as iconoclastic writer Gore Vidal wrote: “Our founders were flawed, as most humans are but were visionary patricians who could found a nation, engage in politics, write literate prose, and design a Monticello or Constitution.” If the founding fathers could witness the depth of the speakers at our modern political conventions they would cry.