Know what government to avoid

Published 8:09 pm Monday, July 7, 2014

By Joseph Bass

James Madison, the Father of the American Constitution and primary author of the Bill of Rights, wrote, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

Madison cautioned that we must be watchful of our leaders undermining the fundamental concepts of a government of the people, for the people and by the people. We should well know the foundational ideas of American society, but we should just as well know what we do not want to become, what we want to avoid.

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To discuss what we want to avoid let us use two nations as examples, Mexico and England. One common characteristic is that these nations have governments and economies controlled by a small group of people.

In Mexico’s case, 24 families control the government and economy for their benefit. There are few opportunities for people who are not members of these families or are not politically and economically connected with them. Is it any wonder so many people from Mexico want to take the risks involved in coming to live here?

Mexico’s elite maintain control by keeping the rest of the people uneducated and poor. The elites do not want to empower people and risk losing control of the government and economy that provides them with their riches.

Mexico has a class-based society with a few people being members of a rich upper class, a few members of a middle class, and most of the people kept with very limited political and economic power.

In England’s case, there is a rich aristocracy and monarchy controlling the government and economy for their benefit. Most people have limited opportunities to pursue something like our “American dream.” A major control mechanism is keeping many people dependent on government handouts in the form of welfare. Another mechanism involves limiting employment opportunities based on academic grades and test scores.

Although people in both nations can vote, they do not have a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Their governments are not structured like ours.

In England, the person appointed (not elected by the people) to be prime minister has to ask permission from the monarch to form her government. The English monarch also has broad power over governments in other nations, such as Australia and Canada.

In Mexico, the political power of the people is limited in many ways. For example, if a political party won 80 percent of the popular vote for seats to their 500-member Chamber of Deputies (like our House of Representatives) the party would be limited to holding only 300 of the seats.

Like nearly all other nations in the world, Mexico and England prohibit people from having the ability and equipment to threaten the control of the rich and powerful few. In our nation, the effort to enact such prohibitions is known as gun control.

It is important for us to know what to avoid so we can continue the American Revolution in our efforts to have a society based on the concepts that all people are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights — among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at