Jeff Matthews
Tenth Amendment Center
December 29, 2009

Absolute governments (though the disgrace of human nature) have this advantage with them, that they are simple; if the people suffer, they know the head from which their suffering springs, know likewise the remedy, and are not bewildered by a variety of causes and cures. But the constitution of England is so exceedingly complex, that the nation may suffer for years together without being able to discover in which part the fault lies, some will say in one and some in another, and every political physician will advise a different medicine.

–Thomas Paine, “Common Sense,” 1776

Think about each of the observations Paine makes in the quote above. They could not describe our current state of socio-political existence any better. We have come full-swing and have arrived back to the days preceding our point of origin. Which way forward?

It is time to stop thinking about politics and start thinking about society. Scholars, such as Paine, did not have Fox, CNN and MSNBC in their days. They bickered just the same, but many actually studied and contemplated society and its interaction vis-à-vis politics. Their thoughts ran deep; they were not distracted by mainstream quarrels of the day. Let’s take Paine’s statement above and break it down.

“Absolute governments (though the disgrace of human nature) have this advantage with them, that they are simple; if the people suffer, they know the head from which their suffering springs….”

Here, Paine is saying that if a society is ruled by a dictator, people would have the benefit of being able to immediately know the source from which their oppression emanates.

“….know likewise the remedy, and are not bewildered by a variety of causes and cures.”

[efoods]Confronted by a dictator and knowing the source of their suffering, there is but one remedy – to overthrow the dictator.

“But the constitution of England is so exceedingly complex, that the nation may suffer for years together without being able to discover in which part the fault lies….”

This statement recognizes a pitfall when authority is dispersed among many, and despite such “balance” of power, the people feel oppressed. It slows the pursuit of social justice. People lose track of where to place blame, and losing their senses of direction, argue among one-another as to how to set the stage for a more general sense of common prosperity and tranquility.

“…. some will say in one and some in another, and every political physician will advise a different medicine.”

Witness the Republicans vs. the Democrats; the liberals vs. the conservatives; FOX vs. MSNBC; and the independents who are lost in the melee.

The state of politics in America is little different than that which the early Americans experienced in their time. The system is so ill-defined, chaotic and confusing. The smell of corruption is behind almost every politician’s door.

We argue and squabble and blame. Politics is in its prime. Democrats and Republicans, conservatives, liberals and independents…. We’re all missing the boat. There is a big picture here. We are all the same. We are not the elites; we are the working class. We have, in essence, the same needs. Why do we argue with one another?

It’s time to return to the pursuit of Enlightenment. We need to make amends, cross political lines, and begin having a meaningful discourse on a socio-political solution. Political labels are destructive.

Are we really “conservatives” or “liberals?” It is time to think about what these words actually mean and not what Hannity and Olbermann tell us they mean.

One thing is for sure. We are the working class; corruption abounds, and we (the middle class) are not doing the corrupting. We are on the same side. We just need to recognize it and find ways to unite. We might find that none of us need to cross to the other side of the line. There might not be a line at all.

Stay tuned….


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