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True democracy and powers in perpetual tension


THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their
country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER," and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
Thomas Paine
When Thomas Paine wrote those words, he sparkled the most powerful new weapon ever seen in history: patriotism. English military commanders were not in the saddle to beat off such a huge challenge, and even the fierce mercenary Hessian and splendidly equipped troops suffered a catastrophic defeat in Delaware at Trenton on December 25, 1776, a bitterly freezing Christmas Eve.  Those words affected the course of events that night. Washington's attacked and won the day, or better the night, with his ragged, ill-equipped and hungry army. Even though Paine was not much of a hero on the battlefield, his contribution to the final result in Trenton and the American Revolution was paramount inflaming with pure patriotism the hearts of the Continental Army with his pamphlets. Patriotism was indeed a new efficient weapon.

In the aftermath of the war, I can imagine the founding fathers wondering what they could do with their final victory, though they surely had in mind what the new country had been bravely fighting for; essentially "no taxation without representation" had been one of the main issues. But this view would be oversimplified and naive because much more was at stake. The invention of a brilliant new political system taken over from the ideas given by the practical philosophers such as Montesquieu or John Locke.

Something was clear enough. The founding fathers could not lay the power in the hands of the one because this is what they had been fighting. So to give the power to a new king would have been out of the question. Power in the hand of the few would have also been a bad idea, as "a few" had been the source of their problems in the English Parliament. No taxation without representation had been one of the sparks for the revolution. Too many times those few had forgotten to represent their interests whatsoever. So oligarchy was also rejected as a form of government. Power in the hands of the many had also proved to be a wrong option. The Bible had made it clear how wrong it ha been when a mob had crucified Jesus Christ. If mobocracy had taken over, it could have easily led to the greatest injustice. So they took the three options taking care that each of them would exist in perpetual tension against the others. That is the reason for a President (power in the hands of the one), a Senate (power in the hands of the few) and a Congress (power in the hands of the many.

4 comentarios:

  1. no comparto no aparce el idioma castallano

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    1. Pues tienes razón Joaquín. Gracias por decírmelo. Prometo una traducción en un futuro próximo y te avisaré. Creí que el traductor funcionaba también en español, porque es bastante bueno.

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  2. Curioso artículo. Por cierto, ni siquiera con el Traslate consigo la traducción. Pero queda claro el mensaje.
    Lo reblogueo para que lo puedan leer mis amigos del Ateneo con mi traducción propia. ( https://etarragof.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/lo-que-nos-une-la-verdadera-democracia-y-poderes-en-tension-perpetua-linkis-com/)

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    1. Siento que la traducción no funcione bien. Hay un traductor directo en el mismo Blog que hasta ahora ha dado buenos resultados. Lo encontrarás en la cabecera a la derecha.
      Un abrazo Enrique-

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