The United States was forged as a revolutionary concept: Government would be determined by the will of the people, not by a royal bloodline. But America also had a parallel heritage of brute conquest, fulfilling its “manifest destiny” by attacking anybody that got in its way and decimating the Native American population in the process.
And when we drove inexorably across the continent, we abused, for example, Chinese laborers to build a transcontinental railroad that linked Atlantic Ocean America to Pacific Ocean America – and everything in between.
Until the Civil War, southerners and northerners (who used the raw materials from the slave states in industry) benefited from labor done by men and women whose lives were owned by others.
This history of “winning” by sheer power of will and fortitude has constantly been at odds with the spirit of a democracy that embraces diversity and peace. Today, in 2010, we are still seeing these two intertwined historical trends at odds, with the “manifest destiny” advocates once again holding the upper hand in defining our national debate.
Now we battle in far off wars, with military bases around the world, more for ensuring our comfort and national resources than for the protection of liberty. Material well-being has superseded our revolutionary principles of democracy.
I recently read that “advocates of manifest destiny were citing ‘Divine Providence’ for justification of actions that were motivated by chauvinism and self-interest.” Sound familiar?
And for that selfish indulgence, our Constitutional rights and privileges pay a dear price.
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout