Week Notes: July 26, 2020

Studying the American Revolution

The founding of America still constrains us today, for better and worse. It gives us our political institutions, the skeleton of which dates back to the Constitution. The founders also gave us the ideals of liberalism and democracy: that we the people are free to decide how we’re governed, and that all people should be allowed to take part in this debate. Legacy institutions from the Revolution now appear to be very unstable. America’s political branches are in shambles: Congress is at a zenith of partisan division, the executive has a leader without any plans, and the judiciary is alone in its functioning! Worse, the social conditions of the time imperil liberalism, with many afraid to speak their political beliefs, and democracy is being strangled at the state level. If the people cannot vote, what democracy is this?

I believe that the story of the American Revolution and the founding of the republic can give us hope. Flawed men, each guided by his own interests, still came together to create a better system than the one they lived in. They crafted ideals that, although they could not live up to, served to guide millions of their countrymen to work for something better.

How are we going to make America better?