I meant to put this out on July 4th but, in a very good way, life's activities took priority. The title of this post "Ordinary Men and Women" is a quote I viewed as offensively un-American. I didn't believe that politicians outside of totalitarian systems would say something like this. It turned out the politician in question was saying this as a straw-man comparison and not a belief.
There was an edited (and inaccurate) you-tube video and quote of Barack Obama on March 26th, 2014 in a keynote speech in Belgium:
"Ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs. Order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign."
The actual text is something I agree with:
And those ideas eventually inspired a band of colonialists across an ocean, and they wrote them into the founding documents that still guide America today, including the simple truth that all men, and women, are created equal.
But those ideals have also been tested, here in Europe and around the world. Those ideals have often been threatened by an older, more traditional view of power. This alternative vision argues that ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs, that order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign. Often this alternative vision roots itself in the notion that by virtue of race or faith or ethnicity, some are inherently superior to others and that individual identity must be defined by us versus them, or that national greatness must flow not by what people stand for, but what they are against.
I certainly feel the rights of ordinary men and women have taken a beating since the end of the 1980 - 2006 American Renaissance but that's no excuse for not better vetting what was said. For those who do think ordinary men and women are too small minded:
I think of my son who just graduated college and is off to his first job. Is he part of the ordinary men and women too small minded to govern their own affairs? I think of standing four deep in a military formation and standing in front of it, I think of driving in a convoy and leading it, I think of working on an assembly line, and being CEO of a manufacturing company. In all my thoughts a couple things resonate: one, ordinary men and women are the backbone of any country or organization and the best performance is gained by empowering them; two, the word "ordinary" implies, in a very arrogant manner, that the people who make up the sovereign are somehow extraordinary and will wield those surrendered rights with far more wisdom.
Does that sound American in any way, shape or form?
Human progress, as evidenced in the first democracy in Athens, is advanced when the all-powerful sovereign surrenders its rights to ordinary men and women. The history of human progress and achievement in the West -- from the Magna Carta to the Enlightenment to the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to the 1980 - 2006 American Renaissance -- is a bright celebration of what happens when governments safeguard the rights of ordinary men and women, not usurp them.
Members of government -- of an all-powerful sovereign -- that hold the pompous belief they are better than ordinary men and women are too small minded to govern anyone.