Fulfilling History: The Ongoing Revolution of American Freedom

Yoni A. Dahlen
March 11, 2013
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“Evil is the moment when I lack the strength to be true to the God that compels me” -Alain Badiou

Nearly 240 years after history’s most significant political and economic revolution, the pleas of powdered wigs and loaded muskets remain unanswered. “No taxation without representation,” a phrase that rallies the rich and poor alike has merely changed wording. History passes over the inconvenient reality that the aforementioned “representation” never, in fact, came to fruition. The British chose war over ceding power. The Colonies responded with unprecedented fervor and passion. Yet, after years of bloodshed, poverty, and merciless destruction, the purpose of the uprising withered in import.

With an ink dipped quill, the world changed, and the word of the age was “freedom.” Freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of press… the voices of revolution called for tolerance, and the world capitulated. But freedom from oppression, freedom from power, freedom from poverty, freedom from insignificance, were thoughtfully omitted.

The revolution has not ended, it has merely been redirected. The hand that purports to feed the masses now wears the guise of the homeland rather than foreign otherness. Representation is dressed in stars and stripes, homegrown politicians who eat steak and watch baseball, and because of this, it is easy to ignore the size of that steak, the VIP boxes from which the powerful participate in the national pastime. Democracy praises the rags to riches, but what does it offer the rags to rags?

To ensure individual freedoms and economic opportunities, families and individuals rely on their voices in Washington, the Congressional and Senatorial representatives of their state. The salary of a member of Congress or the Senate is an annual $174,000, yet 150 Congressional members report making more than this income through outside investments or occupations (Bernice Napach - Wealth Gap Between Congress and Average Americans Widens - http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/wealth-gap-between-congress-average-americans-164000800.html). At the time of this article, almost half of Congress is at millionaire status and the median net worth of a Senator (last estimated in 2010) is $2.63 million (Michael Brush - In Congress, Nearly Half the Members are Millionaires - http://money.msn.com/investing/latest.aspx?post=70cc8f98-07b4-4e4e-923e-5569bd82627d). As taxes and economic uncertainty crush the lower and middle classes, the rallying cry again resounds, “where is our voice?”

The campaign trail is long and costly, allowing only financially privileged candidates to succeed. Power comes with promises and IOUs, and once in Washington, the understood rules of the proletariat no longer apply. While the majority of Americans continue to suffer under the collapse of the economic framework, Congress had legal protection of non-public trading reports and information until the STOCK bill of 2012. The reality of government simply does not fit into the paradigm of the American condition. 237 years after independence, the American people continue to long for freedom.

The fear of power continues to enslave those who exist outside of it. Hope and change seem to be unattainable, yet the very foundations of the United States attest to the possibility of the impossible. While the crushing suppression of the elite has crossed the Atlantic, the resilience of the oppressed knows no boundaries or limitations. The quill of history waits to be used again, not to rewrite the progress of the masses but to fulfill the original promise of revolution. With every step of mistrust or subversion against the American people, the dried ink of independence cracks and moistens, and the parchment of true freedom unrolls as it waits for its next willing authors.





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Yoni A. Dahlen is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City. He attended Brandeis University where he received a Masters of Arts in Jewish Philosophy. Pursuing a career in academia, his topics of interest include Jewish mysticism, political theology, and the religiosity of Labor Zionism. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

1 Comment

  1. Pretty depressing situation, I wonder what it is we should be doing to fix it, as Americans and as Jews?

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