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Viva La Revolution!(27 posts)

Viva La Revolution!jose_Tex_mex
Aug 1, 2002 9:11 AM
Can you imagine if we were to bring Washington, Adams, and the founding fathers back to life? What do you think they would have to say about the state of our gov't? How disappointed would they be that the last revolution was their own?

Do you think they would find it ironic that the US gov't is now the longest/oldest continuing running political structure in the world? Would this impress them or depress them?

I cannot help but notice the extent French farmers and truck drivers go to in order to ensure their gov't does not "mess" with their livelihood. This spirit just wasn't captured by "Farm Aid" in the 80's.

On the other hand, what is the reaction of Americans after such scandals as the Savings and Loans and more recent corporate book cooking - just take it!

Are we losing our Revolutionary Spirit? Was it lost a long time ago? IMHO Americans are far too stressed and overworked too understand the complexities and the level to which our gov't has grown.

What do you think?
I think we're better off than anybody else...TJeanloz
Aug 1, 2002 9:24 AM
There's a reason that we have one of the oldest political systems in place, though I will point out that Switzerland's is more than twice as old.

Our system allows for our revolutionary spirit to manifest itself from within. There have been major shifts in the sands of politics, some of which happened in a relatively short period of time. But there were truely some revolutionary events in the recent past- look at the civil rights movement of the 1960s. A large group of people effectively took to the streets for what they believed in.

We aren't afraid of being revolutionary, we just have no reason to be. A scandal like the S&L bit doesn't really offend us, because it's only money. If there were a fundamental right-and-wrong involved, there would have been an issue. There is no revolution because, all things considered, we have it pretty good.
The Swiss, hmmmm...jose_Tex_mex
Aug 1, 2002 10:01 AM
I'll to double check, it's been a while since I did the world gov'ts. However, their present constitution dates back to 1874.

It is my understanding that the Swiss went throught a "confusing period" around the time of the French Revolution resulting in much of the country being annexed by France.

Independence was restored by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 (which also laid down the principle of the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland), but the repressive policies of the cantons and the lack of any central power continued to work against political unity or economic growth.

It was not until the end of the 19th century that the federal government began to be truly effective, although the cantons continued to enjoy wide powers and do so to this day.

Giving credit where credit is due, much of the above comes from http://www.travel-guide.com/data/che/che580.asp

With this in mind I would say that the gov't of the US has been around longer.
The present U.S. Constitution dates to 1992...TJeanloz
Aug 1, 2002 10:23 AM
The 27th Amendment was ratified in 1992, so I suppose the U.S. government is only that old.

Seriously, Switzerland actually has had a few Constitutions in its history, but the core democratic form of government has been in place continuously since 1291. The system has worked better at some times than at others, but one can certainly say the same about the United States, particularly with regard to the last Presidential election.
I think you are missing the point...jose_Tex_mex
Aug 1, 2002 11:21 AM
I hope you are joking wrt your first paragraph. I'll take it as such.

I am not talking about a government that has not changed for the longest - they are all changing over time. However, if you look at the overall political structure, longetitivy, and continuity, the US comes out on top.

If you believe that the Swiss have had a common, continuous form of gov't since the 13th century then all I ask is for you to define this single "gov't" and show its lineage without interuption. The Swiss have undergone several discontinuities and new formations in their gov't which place their latest iteration after that of the US.

I can demonstrate Presidents, a Constitution, Congress, and much more which dates back to the late 1700's. There is no other gov't with similar continuties and structure that predates the US.

Consider Geneva:

The Geneva revolution of 1792 brought down the aristocratic government of the Ancien Régime and proclaimed political equality.

Geneva was annexed by France in 1798 and made the administrative centre of the Department of Léman. Its freedom was restored on December 31, 1813, following the defeat of Napoleon's armies.

The republic's magistrates then applied for its entry into the Swiss Confederation. This was granted in 1815. A revolution in 1846 led by James Fazy overthrew the government of the Restoration and established the constitution that is still in force in the canton today.

There are ideas that go back to 1291 in Switzerland. However, there is definitely no single gov't structure that can be traced back to this time.
I am missing the point,TJeanloz
Aug 1, 2002 1:25 PM
It is true that Geneva, and several other Cantons, have not been continuous members of the Swiss Confederation. By this measure, we might say that the United States has only existed since 1952, when Alaska and Hawaii joined the union. Certain parts of many countries (including the United States) have been controlled by other nations. Do we consider the Civil War an inturruption in U.S. government? Of course not. The Swiss Confederation, established in 1291 as a group of three Cantons grew over time, just as the United States did; but the primary governmental structure- that of decision by popular referendum, has been in place since that time in the areas under Confederation control.
Having "A" government vs being governedjose_Tex_mex
Aug 1, 2002 3:35 PM
Switerland may have been governed in many ways for longer than the US. However, there is no centralized gov't in Switz laying claim to continuous, decentralized rule predating that of the US.

Their present structure of President, Parliament, and Constitution does does not predate our President, Congress, and Constitution.

Their modern Constitution was in 1848 and was modeled after ours. This Constitution underwent a "complete revision" in 1874. In 1996 - there was publication of the draft of a "new" Constitution which was accepted in 98.

Our constitution has been ammended but never "made new" or restarted. There's a BIG difference here.

Whatever about joining, seceeding, or having a Civil War in a union, the gov't established by our founding fathers withstood and continues to this present day. That's not true of Switz.

In 1789 a centralized 'Helvetik' (Swiss Republic) was established by Napoleon during French occupation. This to me is a clear cut discontinuity in government.

In 1803 the Mediation Act decentralized Switzerland. Again, a discontinuity

In 1815 there was a "Restoration" of former Swiss order after final defeat of France. Another discontinuity.

I do not think I am being picky here when I make this arguement. I honestly cannot see how anyone can argue that the Cantons ever had a centralized form of gov't until very recent history.

Perhaps, I am wrong. This could easily be demonstrated by defining the present gov't in Switz, providing dates for its beginning, and a lineage of Presidents.
You are right,TJeanloz
Aug 2, 2002 4:25 AM
The Cantons did not, and some may argue, do not, have a centralized government. Depending on how you slice the "government" cake, you can make an argument for continuity or discontinuity. I might say, for instance, that our (US) government changed when the Senate was voted in by popular vote rather than by the states. It doesn't matter whether a constitution is changed by ammendment or re-done from scratch- it's just symantics.

What your google search history isn't telling you is that Switzerland's "central" government is really just an administrative body. Your ignorance of the topic is shown when you ask for a lineage of Presidents- the Presidency in Switzerland completely unimportant- so unimportant that it is awarded by rotation of Parliament (everybody takes a turn). The core power in government in Switzerland has long been the ballot box. Changes in how things are administered aren't really important- the decision making power, and the structure of that power has always been the same. So, it obviously depends on how you define "government". And if, as you have, you say a "government" is a centralized Federal power, then you are probably correct that the United States is the oldest. If you interpret "government" as the mechanism by which the country is ruled, there are a few older than the United States.

You say that the government established by our founding fathers continues to the present day; entirely true. But the form of government established in 1291 by the three founding Swiss cantons continues to the present day. It isn't "the" actual government, because Switzerland is a true democracy, unlike the United States, and "the" government truely is the people.
Not to start another meaningless argument...TJeanloz
Aug 2, 2002 4:40 AM
But how is the United States older than the U.K.?

They've had a constitutional monarchy in place since before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. You could argue that the monarch's power has waned- but the power of the United States' branches of government has waxed and waned over time as well.
You're just trolling...jose_Tex_mex
Aug 2, 2002 2:21 PM
Sorry,
You're just trolling now. You are doing everything possible to play with semantics and system-antics and absolutely nothing to hone the discussion.

If you think the present gov't of the UK has been around longer than that of the US, fine. You can do it your way, you'll just be wrong.

Bye!
Yes, I'm usually wrong,TJeanloz
Aug 5, 2002 9:16 AM
As I see it, there are two definitions that you're alternatively working with.

1. The spirit of the government, the way the government is fundamentally set up (i.e. as a representative democracy) is the 'government'. In which case both Switzerland and San Marino, with direct democracies, have existed longer.

2. The structural framework of the governemnt, the way the government is actually set up with its branches, is the government. In which case the U.K. has been around much longer.

I agree that the United States is older than Switzerland under definition #2, and that it is older than the U.K. under definition #1. This issue of age is an interesting one though, considering how much has changed in the U.S. government since 1789. One could argue that our current government has little in common with Washington's administration, with the exception of basic structural framework.
Noun vs Verb - Native Americans Have the Oldest "Government"DJT
Aug 5, 2002 11:54 AM
Your argument is nebulous by using government as both a noun and a verb. I think the original post was towards the noun.

By your standards, one could argue that Native Americans have been around for 10,000 years practicing a "spirit" of government still used today in their tribal law. Sorry Switzerland.
I would agree 100%TJeanloz
Aug 5, 2002 12:22 PM
I agree that Native American governments were around for 10,000 years, but they currently lack formal international recognition as nations. If they had such continuous recognition, I would certainly argue that they met the threshold for oldest government.
geographyDougSloan
Aug 1, 2002 2:19 PM
Geography likely played a large role in the longevity of both.

Is Switzerland a democracy (or democratic republic)? I heard over and over in school the the U.S. is the oldest surviving "democracy".

Doug
I thought the US was...jose_Tex_mex
Aug 1, 2002 3:40 PM
I'll have to check on that. However, I thought we were the first "modern" democracy, followed by the French.

I believe Ireland was the third to proclaim democracy unsuccessfully in 1798.

They very well could be the oldest surviving democracy - I would really like to know. However, this is not the same as having the longest running form of gov't.
The US, is third, but arrogantly claims first...TJeanloz
Aug 2, 2002 4:35 AM
The oldest democracy title belongs to San Marino, founded in 301 A.D.; most Americans don't count it because it's too small to be a 'real' country (it is the third smallest in Europe, after the Vatican and Monaco). Their constitution was ratified October 8, 1600, and rather heavily ammended in 1929.

Switzerland is the second oldest democracy, dating to 1291.

The United States is the third oldest, but might claim to be the oldest "modern" democracy, whatever that means. It might mean that the people don't get to elect the President. But Americans like to think that they invented democracy and it is their divine duty to propogate it. Note that in the two earlier democracies, Federal issues are usually determined by referendum, something the United States "democracy" does not allow.
oldest representative democracy, then? nmweiwentg
Aug 2, 2002 5:45 AM
Yes, that would be accurate (nm)TJeanloz
Aug 2, 2002 5:54 AM
better yet, oldest American-style democracy!!! nmweiwentg
Aug 2, 2002 9:35 AM
Agree we have it good, but is that part of the problem?retro
Aug 1, 2002 3:44 PM
Not the whole population, but certainly most of the people with the money to buy computers and the leisure to post here during the work day, probably do have it pretty good. I'm mad as hell about corporate accounting practices (just to pick an issue), but...my paycheck doesn't bounce, I can feed my kids, I have a decent car and a nice bike and a comfortable house.
Same thing with pollution, pesticides, the fact that we're probably going to kill thousands of Iraqis...I'd like to see people rise up, but it's hot, and I've got a mortgage, and MY life's pretty good. When I think about it objectively, I feel selfish and faintly ashamed.
What the founding fathers would say...mr_spin
Aug 1, 2002 12:03 PM
WASHINGTON: Yeah, it's wonderful. But really, the ONE DOLLAR BILL???? Hello!!! I lead the armies that defeat the British and that's the best you can do? Franklin gets to be on the hundred?? Old wacky fly a kite in the rain Ben? The guy wasn't even President!

ADAMS: Pipe down George. You're on the quarter AND the one. I'm not on ANY money. None of them! Nice show of gratitude. And really, it's hard to argue with Lincoln and Jackson, but Hamilton? Maybe if I had been shot in New Jersey I could get my face on a bill!! And Grant? The guy was a drunk and had one of the most corrupt administrations ever. He gets to be on the 50? I tell you George, (adjusts tie), we get no respect.

WASHINGTON: Word.

HAMILTON: Hey, shut up John. Don't forget I was first Treasury Secretary.

ADAMS: Blah Blah Blah. Treasury Secretary. Yowza! It's not like we had any money!

HAMILTON: You guys never did get it. Ooh I'm the President. I'm so important. When we did get some money, at least I was ready for it. What did you ever do? Build the White House? Yeah, there's a legacy.

JEFFERSON: This is why I preferred to work alone! Bunch of whiners. I almost wrote "life, liberty, and the pursuit of whining" into the declaration. Old Ben talked me out of it. Which reminds me. Why is Ben on the 100 dollar bill? I only rate a nickel???

FRANKLIN: I kinda like it. It's very becoming.

WASHINGTON: Yeah, well, look at this monument they built for me. Impressive, no? Kinda phallic. Sure beats that pathetic thing they built for Jefferson. I didn't even notice it when we drove by.

JEFFERSON: Oh please. At least mine is useful. People can come in and stand out of the rain. What are they going to do with yours, lean on it? Besides, this guy Lincoln has us both beat.

WASHINGTON: That's true. And Adams didn't get one! (laughs)

JEFFERSON: (snickers)

ADAMS: I heard that.

HAMILTON: Let's go get a beer.

FRANKLIN: I'll get a cab. Maybe we can go to Georgetown!

WASHINGTON: Shuuutttup....
How many times is Lincoln on the Penny? nmjose_Tex_mex
Aug 1, 2002 3:50 PM
Twice. Seen inside Memorial on back. nmBrooks
Aug 5, 2002 3:22 PM
Hey, Hey! Good Eyesight!jose_Tex_mex
Aug 5, 2002 4:41 PM
I was so bored one day that I started staring at a penny - new of course. For the first time in my life realized that Lincoln was sitting there right in the middle of the Memorial.
I wonder how many people actually realize this or do I deserve a Darwin award?
do you really need a revolution??weiwentg
Aug 2, 2002 9:38 AM
most Americans (I'm pretty sure) don't think so. for example, a lot of leftists will look at the corporate scandals and say that yes, you (and the rest of the world) need a revolution, but I think most Americans (at least the ones who matter) are reasonably happy with the way things are. hopefully the new laws will be enough to contain things but somehow I don't think so.
I suppose your nation's revolutionary spirit was lost a good while ago - doesn't it happen after every revolution?
do you really need a revolution??Jon Billheimer
Aug 2, 2002 11:39 AM
The genius of America is precisely that it doesn't require revolutions to adapt and change. Through the democratic process and informed dissent America has demonstrated time and again its ability to reinvent itself and cobble together imperfect yet pragmatic solutions to new problems as they arise. So many Americans seem to think that their uniqueness lies in a "revolutionary" or "frontier" spirit or in the perfection of their constitution, etc. I think, to the contrary, that revolutions are frequently counter-productive and that orderly, democratically driven change is much the preferable option. Regardless of the problems within American society, Americans are masters of orderly change.
good pointweiwentg
Aug 2, 2002 10:02 PM
> Regardless of the problems within American society, Americans are masters of orderly change.

I wouldn't go quite that far, but you have demonstrated a certain ability to change for the better.