Aright Peace Corps, you won, you secretly completed your mission, you are making me a slight patriot. I will still throw in the slight. As anyone who knew me before would know, I was always just as critical of the American government as the next, ready to jump ship to Canada to avoid a draft as the next idealist and always grumbling when taxes were taken out of my pay checks (though being a dependant, minor, student, or earning under the bar, I would always get them back). Well, if you want to learn to love your country join the Peace Corps. And no, this is not just because America is the land of a thousand cheeses.
I am starting to like America because at its core, it is fundamentally sound, and while serving over here, I am beginning to appreciate how much fundamentals and strong foundations in government really do act as enablers for the success of a nation’s people. Of course this is all taken in the context of a world of seperate nations each vying to be friendly with others, but still at the most prime instinct, fighting for their own survival. Here, America Excels.
I am going to call it the 8-year Rule. But before we continue, let’s make sure we are all sitting the same distance from the show. Step back from the newspaper and the fine print. Step back from the t’s and i’s in the latest Bill going through Congress. Step back from All-Star game coming up. Step back from even the 2020 emissions goals, and even the 2050. Step back from the recession, and from the one in the 70’s, and 30’s and 1890s and 1840’s and 1790’s, but woah, we don’t even go back that far as a nation! Jonathan, where are we sitting?! I haven’t figured out my scale yet, but let’s just say its a scale enough to say “This nation has started from nothing and suceeded. Why?”
And now let’s get back to the 8-year Rule. George Washington set it as a precedent, and it was the greatest legacy he could have left this country. It’s way better than some chopped down trees. Trust me, this is the bedtime story people should be giving their children of their nations’s founding Father.
“Now listen Suzy as I tell you the grand story of how the Heroic George Washington, Leader of the Free People of America, The Greatest General in The World, and the First President of one of the most singularly influential political powers History has ever recorded, saw fame, fortune and all the trappings an all powerful monarch would want laid out before him, ready for the taking…”
“Yeah mommy? All those pretty things? Even unicorns?
“Yes Suzy, even unicorns, for back in the day America was a wonderfully magical place.”
“Did he take them Mommy? I bet Mr. Washington would love a unicorn!”
“No Suzy, Mr. Washington did not take them. He left them. He turned his back on them. And for that we are thankful, because Mr. Washington saw that what would the point have been to overthrow a destitute monarchy only to become yet another. Why would he have led so many innocent men to die on the battlefield, fighting with the hope of being able to live their own lives how they wanted, only to not fulfill that wish for the people for whom they died fighting. Mr. Washington was not a hypocrite Suzy and he knew that 8 years was enough. If the ideas of America were strong and sound, they would survive on their own. If the Constitution was as sound as its authors had hoped, then any new Executive would be just as able as he to read its hazy guidelines and figure it out for hisself. For this we are thankful.”
“YAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY. I am going to go to bed now with sweet dreams of precedented fixed-term lengths and Constituional Ambiguity saving us all.”
That rule was followed until FDR. Don’t get me wrong, FDR did some great things and was his predecessor more than happy to hand over the reigns of a failing economy to him, you sure know it! But in a way, FDR represents a failing to me of the American People! The executive should never be able to wield so much power beyond the power of inspiration and attention-shifting. If what FDR was touting in the 30’s was such potent drug as History has rendered it, it should have been the American People, forcing their opinions to form policy through the Legislative Branch, that continued FDR’s policies after his 8 years were up. And if WW2 at the time were such a necessary war to be in, any President would have been able to continue its fight. I fear executive power, what can I say, and in times like this, when a Legislature doesn’t have the strength to keep one measily Exec in check, the American People have failed.
We haven’t failed often though, and because this isn’t a critical analysis and I don’t see any peer-reviewers around hitting me up for sources and a Bibliography ordered up Chicago-style, I’ll try to just stick to the main point. Our 8 year rule saves us. It forces a constant change in government, and this constant change is good. It’s adaption, and with the case of vice presidential ascension, mutation of a sorts, and it keeps us competitive. It forcibly injects new blood into a system. It hands back the power of deciding what is working to the American People, every four years. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but let’s let the people decide the definition of broken! Change also puts practices to test, and those that survive the change are solid, those that don’t aren’t. A certain Defense Secretary anyone? I am not an Obamarama mama bama rama, (or whatever they call his fanatical legions), but I am a fan of the system he represents: a working, thinking American Government (whether it be conservative or liberal!). We have had others. Ike anyone? Let’s here it for Ike!
Change also confounds are enemies! It’s glorious. We hvae a phrase in New England: “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute.” Apply this to the political sphere: “If you don’t like America, wait eight years.” Want to bomb us, well, give us some time, we aren’t stick in the muds ya know! Who hasn’t wanted to bomb us? And how many of them have we become friends with only a few years later. America has very few long-standing bad relationships (read: Cuba and North Korea), but even those are relatively young compared to some others: ask how long the Chinese have been in a row with their Uighers, or the Spanish with their Basques.
Eight years is nothing? Heck, some banks won’t even let you open long-terms accounts for anything less than 10. Remember where we are sitting in the stadium of History. This is nosebleed section up here and from up here, America is in this constant upheavel its amazing anything gets done, but it does! And global scales would say stuff gets done pretty well in America. We are an evolutionary process on fastforward and people want to take a swing as us, but just as the part of the body they want to hit is there and ready to be punched, in a few years it’s been evolved out, disgarded or possibly replaced or rebuilt or fortified. Do we have weaknesses? Certainly, and they have been demonstrated. But those weaknesses are daily. Our strength lies in long-term survivability, which istself lies in our constant fluxuations. Heck, I confuse myself just thinking about it, zooming into new resolutions and out again. It’s like a giant, layered, temporal painting, much like the Universe. It mimics nature very well, and maybe that’s why it’s thrived.
And if you think all political establishments are like this, come live here. Living here and looking back home I see a mess of an economy, a mess of internationalization gone awry, and many, many other messy things, but I know that those tangles are our strength because no one has the time to pick us apart. Look around here and I see the opposite effect of confusion: fear, uncertainty, anger, lack of trust in government. Is this how we felt in 1820?
Thank you Mr. Washington and your 8-year Rule.
PS sorry if that didn’t make any sense…