Peter Greene: The American Way is the Hard Way

Peter Greene writes that what makes America special is that we do things the hard way, not the easy way.

The hard way is democracy. The hard way is to discuss and debate and protect the voices of dissenters.

He writes:

“When it comes to running a country, the easiest way to do it is to put one guy in charge and let him tell everybody how to do everything. He can be picked by heredity or tradition or power or wealth; he can be installed by a committee of Important People, or by the roar of the crowd, or even a legitimate-ish election. But the important part– the easy part– is that once you have him installed, you just let him run everything. No debates. no discussions, no big arguments about What To Do Next– just let your Grand High Potentatial Poohbah decide it all…,

“We have always been annoyed by our own system. We’re irritated by the way it fosters unending debate on every little thing– even things that we thought were already decided. And good Lord in heaven– can’t the people who are Dead Wrong just shut up and go away? We waste time, energy, and money on processes that are inefficient and inconsistent. There’s hardly anything in this country that we don’t do the hard way, loaded with argument and controversy and inefficiency and ambiguity.

“On top of that, our peculiar brand of running a country ties all of our citizens together, so that people in one community have to worry about, be involved in, pay taxes to finance decisions in other communities. Gah! Can’t we just take care of our own and let those Others go hang? Having to be all tied together is just hard!

“And so we are always bedeviled by folks who want to get America to do things the easy way. And with the unleashing of Citizens United, many of our wealthy citizens are doing their best to move us to an easier system, a system where the people who are Better just go ahead and settle issues for the rest of us. Also, why shouldn’t I be able to just close the doors on my gated community, pay for my own police and fire company, and just not have to give a cent to those Other People?”

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