aWith the climate, time in politics is running out. America’s retreat from democracy cannot continue. Despite the exclusion of Native Americans, blacks, women, and many of us from America’s Pact of Equality and Opportunity, many still feel nostalgic. Some see that searching forMore perfect union“Impressive enough to be considered above reproach. After all, the argument goes, the American experience has always been more involved and more valuable. So that’s fine. Everyone doesn’t think that way.”
Kermit Roosevelt III The tumultuous day is illuminated by the study of the controversial beginning. With his book The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America’s Story, he thoughtfully explains our growing confusion about what and what creation means.
How can so many be misled now, if they look at the intentions of the founders? How have we misinterpreted what America has always been about? Citing a development as profound as the transformation of “an eye for an eye” into “God is love,” Roosevelt’s inquiry belies every original argument today. One might be tempted to view the paradoxical obstacle to slavery imposed by the United States as the Christian “blessing” of original sin, the absence of which theologians say precludes salvation.
Roosevelt is a Pennsylvania law professor and great-grandson of the 26th “trust-busting” president, Theodore Roosevelt. He is eager to give credit when it is due. He notes that his book was written by Nicole Hannah Jones 2019 article strongThe founding ideals of our democracy were wrong when they were written. Black Americans fought to make it a reality.
Created for the New York Times’ Pioneering 1619 Project, Hannah Jones’ essay relates: “The United States is a nation founded on a lie and ideals…although violently denied the liberty and justice promised to all, black Americans have helped…the nation live up to its principles.” And not just ourselves – struggles for black rights paved the way for every other rights struggle, including women’s and gay rights, immigrant rights and disability.”
Roosevelt endorses this sentiment by saying that the Declaration of Independence was not seen as a document devoted to neutrality. Au is the opposite. In his own words, he has protected the rights and interests of “insiders” from the struggles and ambitions of “outsiders”, and says push and pull still applies.
Roosevelt asserts that the essence of the Declaration is that when supposedly free people are oppressed, they must rebel. Ironically, it was only with the arrival of the Civil War, and the rebellion of southern states that invoked the supposed tyranny of efforts to end their oppression of others, that America was redeemed.
The result was not just a second revolution. He gave us a second constitution, a constitution that in important ways abolished the first pro-slavery constitution.
Yet, despite that document’s indifference to individual rights, Roosevelt wrote, “We tell ourselves a story that binds us to an earlier political order–the founding of America, the America of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Founders–in which we are. No heirs…it is true that we are the heirs of the people who destroyed that.” The regime, which he “defeated by force of arms.”
Abraham Lincoln appreciated this. So did Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., however, both choosing strategically to lend credence to the broader appeal of the founding myth. Both the Gettysburg Address and I Have a Dream speech do just that. Their authors understood so much, they found that embracing an origin story based on the principle of universal inclusion is more acceptable than our polluted reality.
Moreover, the second constitution, conditional and evolving, required both Thomas Jefferson’s prohibited “blood of patriots and tyrants” to maintain liberty and the “eternal vigil” which he also recommended. To fend off new allies, neo-fascists, alt-right Christians and the like, it requires the persistence of activists like Black Lives Matter along with the sacrifice of Bobby, Martin, Malcolm or John. There is no less dangerous way.
Roosevelt insists that achieving our promise requires completing Reconstruction reform and the civil rights era. The effects that underpin the privilege of “insiders” — the Electoral College, the burden of voting rights, and the financing of paid-for-play elections — should all be banished.
TThe “Nation That Never Was” makes one well aware of the ways in which insiders protect their interests. They always urge patience in what they see as a benevolent system and color blindness. Admitting that “the arc of the moral universe is long but curves toward justice,” even King became a weary waiter.
Also concerned about the modest size of a newly protected historic district, residents of Harlem were reassured by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission that they had nothing to worry about.
“This is our inaugural launch. We will be back to get more done…”
It only took 44 years for them to come back.
Roosevelt is at his poignant and tragic best when he calls for enduring efforts to rationalize and justify white supremacist prejudices in public policy and law. Did Chief Justice John Roberts really think his 2013 ruling took down the Voting Rights Act? He said racially motivated voter suppression was a problem of the past, and that “the nation is no longer divided” into countries with a recent history of voter suppression and those that do not.
Plessy v Ferguson, the heart of Roe v Wade, which deprived many residents of the privilege. American history is not an epic of perverted rage. Each episode of persistent misogyny, homophobia or racism highlights the problem Roosevelt seeks to address.
no matter how familiar lazy The truism, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” some people today are like those in all the other volumes I’ve reviewed here. provokes Wilmington FoolsAnd the Learning from the GermansAnd the Other Madison or leadershipa common obstacle to change and healing is a reluctance even to admit that anything bad has happened at all—not to mention that injustice stands unaddressed.
The Nation That Never Was: Rebuilding America’s Story, Is Published in the United States by University of Chicago Press