Ancient Athens is revered as the birthplace of both democracy and all of Western civilization. During its democratic period of the 5th and 4th century B.C. both its power and cultural achievements were at their height. Even the word “democracy” (demokratia, literally “people power”) is rooted in the Classical Greek language. But in 338, Phillip II of Macedonia (Alexander the Great’s father) conquered Athens and much of the rest of Greek world. It was under Macedonian rule off and on until 228, and democracy was never to take hold again in the Greek classical period.
Also, Ancient Rome was first ruled by a king but then also moved to a democratic, republic-form of government. But in the latter stages, power struggles amongst the elite led to the tyrannical rule of Julius Caesar. And you know what that led to from the pages of The 12 Caesars.
So, what is the point of this shockingly short and incomplete summary of the democratic periods of both ancient Athens and Rome? The reason is that the American Founding Framers took their inspiration from the Classical period in creating and founding the United States of America. They did not say, “Democracy failed in Athens and Rome, therefore we should throw into the dustbin of history.” No, they saw the good and bad parts of each period and drew from the best of their ancient liberal values.
The most often used criticism of radical leftist political philosophies is, “Communism failed in the USSR. It will never work.” But does that mean we should throw way the whole model? I do not believe so. The Founding Framers learned from the failures of the ancient democratic regimes of both Athens and Rome. Therefore, should we never try to install a radical leftist government again if we learn the lessons of the failed Communist experiments of the past?
I hope you answer, “NO!”
- The American public clearly has no idea what it wants from Obama on the issue of ISIS. A new poll showed a majority of the public disapproves of the president’s handling of ISIS but a majority also do not want boots on the ground to fight them. Considering the U.S. has been conducting airstrikes against ISIS for a while (a fact I assume is probably lost on a portion of the respondents of this poll), one has to wonder what the public even wants? What should he be doing? The question is not asked in the poll and, since it isn’t asked, it should be noted that some of the disapproval might be coming from people who think the airstrikes themselves are too much and those resources shouldn’t be used by the U.S. government. We can’t know from this poll.
- Welfare reform is now causing people to die earlier. A new study has found the welfare reforms of the 1990s are shaving time off of the lives of the poor. In a better world, politicians would recognize their duty to protect the citizens they represent and take things like these effects into account. In reality, it’s just another situation of the elected government not caring about those that do not vote in high numbers or contribute to their campaigns. I wonder how much longer the wealthy that are running government-subsidized corporations get to live because of their welfare?
- Attorney General Eric Holder calls for a national moratorium on capital punishment. Not really a strong endorsement of ending the ridiculously expensive practice but at least a step in the right direction from a high-ranking official. Unfortunately, the U.S. will continue to stay behind most of the rest of the modernized world on this issue for the foreseeable future.
- Get ready for the GOP swing to the left on gay marriage. “Half of Republican primary and caucus voters in the key early states of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina said that opposition to same-sex marriage is unacceptable” (Emphasis added). I believe gay marriage will not be much of an issue by the time the primaries roll around since the SCOTUS will likely legalize it nationwide this summer. This will be a secretly welcomed change by the GOP candidates since they will then be able to dodge the question on the campaign trail next year.
- Senator Bernie Sanders continues to be awesome. In a great op-ed on the new regime in Greece, Sanders tells it like it is again with this great line:
The real concern, apparently, is that democracy may go too far for austerity advocates to continue imposing their economic ideology from a distance: in Spain, Portugal, Finland and elsewhere, the patience of citizens is wearing thin as a growing number of them awaken to the stark reality that, while the very rich get much richer, the austerity programs their governments dutifully implemented are the cause rather than the cure for what ails their economies. (Emphasis added)
Sanders also took the time today to call for the first two years of all college to be free for Americans. This would be a further expansion on the Obama plan of two years of community college being free. It’s nice to see that some elected officials in government actually want to see the United States be taken into the 21st Century and not taken back to the 19th. If only we could elect a guy like that to be president…
In Greece vs. Galloway, an important battle for the separation of church and state is examined by the Supreme Court regarding whether town board meetings can be begun with mostly Christian prayers.