The concluding part of Bill Maher’s “New Rules” segment last week illustrated some of the glaring contradictions between historical fact and fanciful, revisionist fiction when it comes to the disparity between the fundamental values of America’s Founding Fathers and those of the so-called Tea Party movement that has attempted to co-opt them as spiritual leaders of their reactionary, populist cause.
Writing early last year in New York Magazine about the recent surge of populism in the USA, Kurt Anderson succinctly described the “elitist” disposition of America’s framers this way:
…what those thoughtful, educated, well-off, well-regarded gentlemen did was invent a democracy sufficiently undemocratic to function and endure. They wanted a government run by an American elite like themselves, as James Madison wrote, “whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.” They wanted to make sure the mass of ordinary citizens, too easily “stimulated by some irregular passion … or misled by the artful misrepresentations” and thus prone to hysteria—like, say, the rabble who’d run amok in Boston Harbor—be kept in check. That’s why they created a Senate and a Supreme Court and didn’t allow voters to elect senators or presidents directly. By the people and for the people, definitely; of the people, not so much.
It’s an excellent article that explores the conflicting dynamic that has existed from the outset in American politics between the “deliberative gentlemen engaged in careful compromise” and “the apoplectic vandals… throwing things overboard.”
Note: The usual warning applies regarding any RTWBM video… HBO may decide to have it pulled down at any time because they’re dicks that way.
Update: As expected, the hyper-vigilant copyright police at HBO zapped the clip that had originally been embedded.