Starting around noon on Thursday way too much of the country has been in an inauguration induced hysteria. Whether you’re still salty about watching Trump get sworn in, or whether that Make America Great Again hat has begun to fuse to your head, both sides of the aisle have devolved to little more than talking point spouting mobs. Unfortunately, this often means that in trying to beat the other guy facts get ignored quicker than Amy Schumer ignores the “suggested servings” message on a Stouffer’s frozen family lasagna. To help cut through all the confusion, let’s dispel 5 common misconceptions about America that both sides have been screaming at each other over the weekend, shall we?
1. America is a Democracy
I’m starting the list with this one because it’s by far the most egregious error committed by everyone, regardless of party affiliation. Those on the left have been saying “Resist! It’s what makes Democracy great! Let your voice be heard in our Democracy!” Those on the right won’t shut up about, “It’s so good to see Democracy in action, watching the transfer of power in Democracy.” Meanwhile I’m over here banging my head on the nearest solid object and screaming at the TV, the Twitter, the Facebook, whatever it is that’s exposing me to the idiot insisting we live in a democracy.
We don’t. We live in a republic, a federal republic, specifically. This is an important distinction because in a Democracy the citizens directly vote on the laws that govern them. You may have this ability in some of your local or state referendums, but federal matters are the jurisdiction of your elected representatives. So why do so many people continue to refer to America as a Democracy? Laziness. But also a touch of deliberate manipulation as well. Calling America a Democracy encourages Americans to believe that their prioritization should focus on the federal level. For the left, this aids their more centrally focused philosophy of governance. For the right, this allows them to better combat the left in federal elections, an area where Democrats typically have an advantage on the narrative being pushed.
2. Healthcare is a right
Unfortunately we may be hurtling toward a year where this discussion needs to finally be put to rest. Many people, especially those my age and younger, believe healthcare to be something all humans deserve in the name of nothing else beyond basic human decency. Now, I’m not against that idea, I’m definitely not sitting here rooting for The Plague 2.0, but nowhere in The Constitution is healthcare mentioned. Why? Because healthcare is a service. Healthcare isn’t liberty, it’s not something that’s endowed with one’s existence. Receiving care when you’re sick comes at a cost from someone that’s received extensive education, and that cost has to be paid by someone.
Before you start calling me a heartless monster wishing death on everyone with government health insurance, let me issue the following rebuttal. I get that it’s 2017 and that we live in a fundamentally insurance based world, but those campaigning for the continuity of the ACA also need to understand that if they wanted to exist in a bit more permanent fashion they shouldn’t have celebrated its creation in a fashion that left it vulnerable to extermination through perfectly legitimate government processes. Also, if you’re going bring up the idea that we should have universal healthcare because it’s the charitable thing to do, I would remind you that the definition of charity requires it to be voluntary, when it’s not, it’s extortion.
I agree that very soon we’re going to need a discussion on whether healthcare should be placed in our constitution as something the government guarantees, simply because of how tightly the healthcare and insurance industry has us all by the ballsack, but for the time being I can’t agree that we’re born with the right to have a doctor check us out when we’re sick.
3. Protesting is at the heart of America
I’ve heard this defense from quite a few of the people who spent the weekend wearing out their Twitter fingers. Ironically, prior to the inauguration they rejected much of America’s earliest history. Before that, I heard it from a bunch of rednecks that slapped “Don’t Tread On Me” stickers on their trucks and tried to convince me the Tea Party was anything more than a corporate distraction. Regardless, despite all the examples of the Boston Tea Party being thrown in your face when you try to tell someone that breaking out the windows of your local Starbucks or Bank of America aren’t a good idea, America was not founded on protest.
Many Americans were loyal British citizens, including several of our founding fathers such as Benjamin Franklin and even George Washington. The desire for independence came not because of their desire to be able to dispute Parliamentary measures they deemed unfit, but more individual governance and representation. Furthermore, even the original colonization of the continent wasn’t a protest. All that stuff about religious freedom? Secondary to good ole corporate greed. The Dutch East India Company needed patsies that would be willing to travel across the world in order to settle this new territory and generate profits for them, and the Puritans were just those patsies.
4. The President faces obstruction from Congress
This is another one that both sides of the aisle love to throw around, depending on who is controlling which office at the time. For the past eight years, Obama fans and the media either touted his achievements “despite obstruction from the GOP in Congress,” or when an initiative of his failed, we heard, “the GOP Congress is doing everything they can to obstruct Obama from passing this for the American people.” We heard a lot of the same during Bush’s tenure when the Democrats controlled the Congress, and should the GOP lose control of some aspect of the House or the Senate during Trump’s term we will certainly hear it again. This is right up there with people calling America a Democracy, because it’s antithetical to how our country is designed.
When a Congress rejects a Presidential initiative they’re exercising the natural checks and balances set up by our founders. If our Presidency was a Kingship, one might be able to argue Congress were obstructing his wishes. Congress is designed to be an obstruction. Congress exists so that if you don’t like the President that’s in office you can vote in a Congress contradictory to his values and hope that they obstruct what he tries to do. This isn’t an example of our government process becoming stagnated in politics, it’s an example of citizens being able to not feel like they’re living under a despot. We should all hope that Congress is an obstruction, because when it ceases to be is when we should all be worried, which is why a GOP controlled White House, House of Representatives, and Senate worries the hell out of me.
5. The Presidency is the most influential office in your life
In the chicken little hysteria driven overly exaggerated world we live in, where everything is an existential, this might be pretty hard to believe, but stick with me. Yes, the President has the power to decide some pretty Earth moving things, but as far as your day to day? He’s not really touching that, because our government is designed to work from the bottom up. A federalist system such as ours benefits our lives most efficiently when we focus our attention on the government immediately in front of us. The problem with that? Twitter and CNN aren’t sensationalizing your local school bond measures, so nobody thinks they matter. No one marched against property taxes yesterday, so they must not affect us, right? Wrong.
If you don’t like how America’s government is functioning right now, check first if it’s because you’re subscribing to one of these 5 common misconceptions. Our founders designed this country to operate in perpetuity, but they designed it to exist on the condition that the citizens take as much responsibility for its governance as possible. We have so many avenues legislated us to provide resources against unsatisfactory leadership, but they all require being extensively informed of how America fundamentally operates. So get out there, get off Twitter, and get ready for the 2018 state midterm elections. I promise they’ll wind up being way more important for you in the long run than Trump vs. Whomever in 2020.