Book Review

Jeffersonian Democrat-Republicans. It’s a party.

I’m done reading “Thomas Jefferson-The Art of Power” by Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham. It’s a great read.  I highly recommend it if you are on the fence politically and want to know what underlies the tension between the two parties.  I’m an Independent.

Thomas Jefferson was a Democratic Republican and was the 3rd President from 1800-1808. He was a Republican in the true meaning of the word, not the modern meaning of the word.  But he was a very progressive man; especially for his time.  A republic is a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch (i.e. Queen Elizabeth). Our system in the U.S. is a Republic. In a democratic republic, you debate and discuss matters in a civilized manner, 1 person, 1 vote, the society is orderly, and everyone’s rights are respected per the law.  That is democratic behavior. The Republicans are not behaving democratically at all at the moment, thus our system is thwarted.

What you are witnessing right now in the government is extreme sabotage on the part of the modern day Republicans toward the President and the people by not FUNCTIONING as elected representatives as called for in The Constitution of the U.S.  As we all know, they aren’t doing their job.  That forces the hand of the President and makes him look like a dictator because Congress will not cooperate.  In a democracy, you accept who won the election, bellyache about it,  make decisions anyway, vote, and get some work done for the good of the people.  There is work to do! The Republicans in Congress will not cooperate because they don’t believe it’s in their interest to do so.  They know who their voting base is. Their mantra is, “Do not cooperate with that man!”

What’s clear to me after reading this book is that not much has changed!  Thomas Jefferson’s concept of a Democratically run Republic is extremely progressive and civilized.  He was 500 years ahead of his time.  His vision calls for an educated, civilized electorate for all; all races, genders, and proclivities.  We don’t have that yet.  The U.S. is still very regional and provincial.  Jefferson’s vision is still unacceptable to most Americans as it was back in his day by some of the Republicans and the Federalists (pre-cursor party to the Democrats).  People loved and hated Jefferson.  He was such a great, humble, intelligent, civilized man!  He didn’t want to conflict with or offend anyone so he didn’t talk much.  He just wrote a lot.  The gun slingers, cowboys, farmers, soldiers, and wild west types who think you should marry your cousin that looks exactly like you wanted to string him up because he wasn’t violent and vulgar enough.  He wasn’t provincial enough.  He was too open-minded and tolerant. He received a lot of death threats.  So it goes on this planet.

Most Americans are stuck in a 2 party system in their minds. They believe that if you are a Republican, you are the enemy of the Democratics and should be wiped off the planet. Some also feel that the Democrats are the party of Jesus Christ and can do no wrong in the rainbow nation utopia.  Neither one is in reality.  The U.S. is set up to be a Democratic Republic; equally.

Jefferson’s vision, elucidated in the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution is exact.  He saw the way past monarchy.  It’s only been 263 years!  We need to keep reading those documents and discussing them.  We need to keep reading the stories of our ancestors, time travelling in them in our minds, and having gratitude for how much they accomplished and how much of their lives they dedicated to the cause of human freedom and progress.  Our children need to know these stories.  I’m very moved when I read them.  I was very moved when i read Jefferson’s inaugural address.  I’m moved when he was confronted with terrible slander and judgment from very bad people during his life and laughed it off with no resentment.

Jefferson knew that in order to make a difference he had to garner power and he did it in a non-confrontational way.  That said, he was always at the ready with the militia if Britain or France threatened us.  Having survived the Revolutionary War, he didn’t rush headlong into the war with Great Britain that would come in 1812 under James Madison.  Instead he instituted a questionable embargo on British goods.  He wasn’t perfect and made some mistakes.  But on the whole, I found Jefferson to be a man of the Enlightenment, having a dedication to Love and Freedom, a passionate and learned man who tried to bring civility to society in a time of colonial strife and a wild land.  I’m grateful for his life and work.

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