For those of us who still revere our founding fathers there may be no one more important to our founding than Thomas Jefferson. Through his poetic and almost melodic Declaration Of Independence he charted the course for a republic built on the finest social and political philosophies of the 16th to 18th centuries.
Still, I wonder how many of us could vote for Tom today, should he rise from his grave and declare his candidacy. If we can believe what Jefferson said, and believe that he really meant it, pretty much everyone on the political spectrum would be a little ill at ease.
For example, Jefferson said repeatedly that our Constitution ought to be re-written every 20 years or so. That was the period of time when one generation should be ready to pass on their legacy to the next batch of citizenry. Am I the only one that finds that idea a bit frightening? Would we want the current crop of snowflakes writing the legal and political foundation for our governance? Can you even imagine what would go into our new founding document?
Being a Jeffersonian admirer I'm willing to give Tom a pass on that one. After all, I can't believe he would say that today, although he did on many occasions say that our governance was for the living....and not the dead.
That Jefferson was a revolutionary goes without saying. He was passionate in his opposition to King George. And just as passionate post war when Washington, Hamilton and Adams promoted an all powerful central government as Federalists. When Jefferson won the Presidency he worked hard to undo pretty much all that Adams had done during his term. Jefferson balanced the federal budget, paid off our national debt, mocked the Aliens and Seditions Acts and restored the balance of power between Washington and the states.
Again turning to Jefferson's revolutionary tendencies, he said, and I quote "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with blood of patriot and tyrant". That assertion today would get Tom incarcerated in a nice federal prison somewhere. And it would certainly scare the bejesus out of a good swath of today's apathetic citizenry.
One of Jefferson's quote proved quite prophetic. He warned that, when the citizenry opted to vote themselves benefits at the expense of the nation's productive, we'd be in real trouble. Who doubts today, with that $20 trillion dollar national debt, and huge annual deficits, we've realized Jefferson's worst fears.
We can forgive Jefferson for his thoughts about an educated electorate. In his day an educated man would have studied the literary classics, would have read the most important political philosophies, and could have read them in both Latin and Greek. Jefferson's ideal citizen, as he described him, would be a farmer who plowed his fields by day, and read Plato in the Greek by his fireside at night. Sadly, America is now populated with folks who can't even read English, and the only Greek they encounter is the feta cheese on their Caesar Salad.
Jefferson also said "That government is best which governs the least, because the people govern themselves." Oh what a laugher that is today as government at every level insinuates itself into our daily lives.
I guess Jeffersons thoughts and words only matter to those who still revere him. The latest generation of Americans are trying to banish him from the history books. After all, he was just a slave owner who buggered Sally Hemings and overspent on his re-models of Monticello. Jefferson seems only to be loved by those billions of oppressed around the world, still seeking freedom they've never known.....and we've known too well.