It’s 1:50 AM, and I’m not sure why I’m still blogging, but I am. My Dad just dropped me a note in the mail on the last post here. He writes:
Hello Alec, I was just reading your weblog. I did not see the article in the Globe and Mail, but I did see a report of the Canada/USA differences somewhere. Fascinating!I think you are wrong about one thing, however, and it may affect the validity of some of what you have to say. The framers of the American Constitution were not democrats in the sense that we understand democracy to-day. They wrote a constitution for what they called “a representitive republic”. The people they thought should be represented were people like themselves — that is educated and well-to-do. They and others like them were the people who should be able to put the brakes on their elected king. Women and slaves had no right to vote, and the framers even wanted to have a property qualification for the right of men to vote. A story goes that had it not been for Ben Franklin, there might have been a property qualification. However, he asked, “Suppose the qualification is set at property of five pounds value, and a man qualifies because he owns a donkey of that value, and then the donkey dies. Who had the vote, the man or the donkey?”I think the US constitution works pretty much the way the framers wanted. Power of all kinds is concentrated in the hands of a relatively small group of people who move easily amongst business, government, academe, the professions and communications. They are capable people; they also qualify because they have money. The advantages to the individual members of this power elite are obvious. They also have the ability to direct capital to whatever purposes they choose. This may benefit US society as a whole, but I’m not sure it does.
It’s a good point. I would offer the observation that the US framers, and, incidentally, the Canadian pols of the day, were both trying to achieve the same thing — the replication of the feudal powers of the English system. The notions of equality and justice were imported into our governments at later times.