Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Retire the debunked rhetoric
- Is there still freedom after speech?
- More than two positions on abortion
- Move past our history of violence
- Cox is a willing partner
- Commentary archive
From the RoundTable blog
Read the latest entries
In his Nov.10 letter to the editor ("Obama wins re-election; the end is near"), Marlin Thompson refers to a statement that he attributes to an Alexander Tyler writing in 1770. His "Tyler" is supposed to have written that "the average life of a democracy is 200years because when the citizens realize they can vote themselves money from the public treasury, that nation is doomed."
A check of the facts reveals that Thompson was quoting, not from any alleged writing by "Tyler," but an email that made that statement in numerous iterations during the last year. More checking reveals that the actual name of the historian supposedly being quoted was Alexander Fraser Tytler (not Tyler), Lord Woodhouselee, a member of the British aristocracy and a monarchist, someone unsympathetic to the concept of democracy.
While Tytler was a historian who studied and wrote about the Greek democracy in Athens, a democracy that did survive only 200years, there is no evidence that he ever made that statement. In fact, much of Tytler's writings have been lost.
Some fact-checking needs only a modicum of historical knowledge. In 1770, when Tytler is supposed to have written this, there was no American democracy. Are there really Americans who do not know the chronology of events at this time? When Thompson quotes the "average life of a democracy of 200years," what are the other democracies, other than the Greek, included in his averaging? It certainly could not include the American democracy, still six years from its declaring, 12years from its winning, and 17 from its constitution. Can he, or the authors of that email, name even one other democracy that Tytler is purported to have cited, let alone its life span?
It's true, the democracy in Athens lasted 200years, but its demise was more at the hands of Athenians envious of the success of the dictatorship in Sparta. It was more efficient than their democracy. Athenian government fell to the oligarchs, people who didn't believe that all citizens should have a say in their government. Sound familiar?
Thompson also refers to the great debt we have. That debt started with GeorgeW. Bush and two wars in Asia and his unwillingness to increase taxes to pay for them. When families have more expenses than revenue, they take on second and third jobs. Government cannot do that. Its only options for raising revenue are to borrow or raise taxes. We know what Bush did and what the current Republican House continues to do: not raise taxes and force the government to borrow.
The election is over. Most Americans are tired of the misinformation, dissembling and just plain lying during the campaign. We've elected our president. We don't need to be hearing this same tired, debunked rhetoric from those who are in denial about the outcome. It is time to move on and start dealing with our future. I voted against GeorgeW. Bush, but when he stood at the site of the World Trade Center and called upon Americans to unite and fight terrorism, he was my president, and I supported what he did.
Barack Obama has been re-elected on the plans that he has for the country — affordable health care and higher taxes on those who have succeeded the most in our society. We need to get behind his plans for the country.
Our state leaders want to continue to fight against these plans, even though the president carried Virginia. Are we cursed to have leaders who resist progress?
More than 50 years ago, Virginia fought integration with massive resistance and the belief of Interposition — that the state could put itself between the federal government and the people.
Virginia Republicans want to resurrect that concept in fighting progress. If the current leaders and legislators in Richmond want to resist change, if Reps. Bob Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith and Robert Hurt want to continue to join House Speaker John Boehner in trying to make Obama's second term a failure, we need to vote them out.
I agree with one thing Thompson says, it's time for Congress to develop "enough spine to reject any increase in the $16trillion debt," but not by slashing spending only. Taxes must be raised on those who have done the best with what we all built.
We're watching, congressmen. You have two years to get on board with the majority of Virginians and the rest of the country.
We're not all susceptible to bogus, unvetted email letters and Fox News' conspiratorial speculations.