Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Consent of the Governed

I am sure that you saw this Rasmussen Poll: only 17% of the American public believes that our government governs with the consent of the governed.  We'll be examining the underlying ideology of the Declaration of Independence in U.S. History, of course.  And I'll ask my students what this says about how disconnected the people and the government have become.

13 comments:

Rorschach said...

Kinda begs the question of just how close we are to a civil war with so few people believing that the government has the consent of the governed doesn't it?

Docgmt said...

We may be very close. 30% do not consentand know the gov. is way out of bounds. 30% want the gov to run their lives because they can not handle it. The other 60% want to buy a vowel.

Rorschach said...

that is 120%....

Clayton Cramer said...

I believe that is Docmgt's sly way of suggesting that much of the population is also grossly innumerate.

Bubblehead said...

I'll be interested to see your presentation on the reasons the states called a Constitutional Convention; specifically, if you'll go with the traditional explanation that the unobtainable supermajority requirement to raise federal revenue was the driver, or if you'll go with some Bachmannian revisionism ("They wanted to eliminate slavery!").

Clayton Cramer said...

Concerns about interstate trade regulation (with New Jersey and New York both trying to grant a monopoly to different companies on cross-river ferry service) drive the calling of the Annapolis Convention, and Shays' Rebellion, and the weakness of states to suppress such rebellions, accelerate the concern. Rhode Island's use of legal tender laws and inflating the worthless paper money are another.

Revenue shortfalls are certainly an issue, but I don't think that I have ever seen this mentioned. (I am surprised, because inability to service the war debt was a problem for the Articles of Confederation government.)

Where did Bachmann claim that the Constitution's goal was to abolish slavery? I must have missed that. To a large extent, this would have made no sense; the general feeling at the time was that slavery was in decline, and might solve itself in a generation or two.

Bubblehead said...

Bachmann claimed that the Founding Fathers (she listed John Quincy Adams in particular, bizarrely) "worked tirelessly" to end slavery. The need to eliminate the unobtainable supermajority to raise federal revenue was listed as the major reason to call the Convention in "The Glorious Cause" by Robert Middlekauff.

Clayton Cramer said...

Can you give me a link to her making that claim? Now, remember that some of the Founding Fathers did work tirelessly to abolish slavery: John Jay, for example. Others certainly made efforts in that direction, intermittently, such as Jefferson. Others, such as Franklin, engaged in serial manumission: buying slaves, selling their freedom, then using the money from that sale to buy another slave, and continue the process. Robert "King" Carter, frees about 500 of his slaves over a 20 year period.

Clayton Cramer said...

In particular, if Bachmann called John Quincy Adams a Founding Father, I would like that to use for "politicians don't know much history" example. (Right now I have Biden talking about FDR going on TV after the Great Crash.)

Both John Adams and John Quincy Adams were abolitionists, of course.

Bubblehead said...

Here's the link, with video, to Bachmann's claim that John Quincy Adams was a "Founding Father".

Clayton Cramer said...

Odd. But that link has Bachmann screwing up on where Lexington and Concord are. Do you have a link to video where Bachmann said that John Quincy Adams was a founding father?

And Stephanopolous' claim that "And as every middle school history teacher will tell you, the founding fathers virtually ignored the issue of slavery. It was not until the mid 1800s that slavery became a contentious issue in American politics." My, how ignorant. The Missouri Compromise (1820) was because slavery was already a contentious issue in American politics. The claim that the founding father "virtually ignored the issue of slavery" is also demonstrably false. Many of the framers were active abolitionists, and even the slave owners, such as Washington and Jefferson, demonstrated their opposition to slavery. Washington by freeing slaves, and Jefferson, by writing about its evils.

Bubblehead said...

Yes, that's the right video; starting just about the 2:00 point. The transcript is below the video.

Clayton Cramer said...

It just keeps saying "Loading" for me.

The transcript below the video shows that Bachmann overstated the part the Framers played--but she is correct that there were a number of who were active participants in attempts to abolish slavery.

John Jay, for example, was one of the founders of the New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, and as governor, actually signed the 1799 New York law that provided for gradual abolition. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/jay/JaySlavery.html

As I have said, he was not alone. Washington freed some of his slaves, and left instructions in his will for the rest to be freed on Martha's death. Franklin was actively involved in abolition and manumission activities. Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton (in spite of their other differences) were also actively involved in the abolition cause.

Some (including some slave owners, which Stephanopoulos clearly does not know) did work to abolish slavery. Bachmann would also seem to be defending her mistake in calling John Quincy Adams a Founder. Yes, he was present, and with his father on diplomatic missions during the Revolution--and was a diplomat himself shortly after the 1789 Constitution takes effect--but Bachmann is trying to defend her mistake.

Still Stephanopoulos isn't covering himself in glory on this. His ignorance of history is more severe than Bachmann's.