Here in America, our family motto is E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. It’s the good news and the bad news all wrapped up on one. The majority of the family has figured out that the family really and truly does best when more of the family prospers versus when, say, only a few members of the family prosper. As anyone born into a multi-child family will tell you, birth order matters in strange ways. It creates odd expectations and artificial friction depending on where in the birth order one was birthed and how the family one was birthed into itself thinks about the importance of birth order.
Republicans like to think that because Northern European, Christian, white men synthesized, articulated and memorialized various ideals plucked from the French Enlightenment into our founding documents (while failing to live up to those very same ideals) that THEY and only THEY should forever be the “keepers” of that “founding flame”. That IS what “originalism” is all about. It’s a first-born male child thinking he personally did something to make himself that first-born male child. It’s George W. Bush being born on third base and thinking he’d hit a triple. “Here’s how it was when WE wrote it up the way WE wanted it to be; how it was then is how it must forever be — because we say so”.
Imagine writing “All men are created equal” while actually meaning only “white, Protestant, Christian, land-owning men with Northern European roots”. That bit of ignorant, cultural hegemony happened in spite of the new, expansive thinking inspired by the French Enlightenment. But then, ideals never drove the quest to settle North America, making a lot of money did. Once Europe realized that North America was a thing and not just a passageway to the Far East, their mandate was to exploit it for the benefit of their royal and commercial sponsors. And, exploit it they did. By the time these Europeans began agreeing that “All men are created equal”, they’d already been living on and claiming title to property that wasn’t theirs for well over a hundred years. Not too, too long thereafter, they’d articulate that bit of bullshit as “Manifest Destiny”.
The thing though about growing families? They’re dynamic by nature. They change. They evolve. Though they start as one thing, they become something else over time via intermarriage with other families from other cultures. Our individual genomes are good at matching up dominant gene traits so as to perpetuate them in the collective genome. While a degree of specialization can be a good thing in a family’s genetic makeup, that can be a trap, too. We’re really not meant to inter-breed with family. Unless we think turning into the Spanish aristocracy’s a good thing.
What makes America exceptional — American Exceptionalism is a very real thing — is our E Pluribus Unum diversity. It’s the whole rest of the family that both arrived here in time but who also were born here same as the arrogant white men who assume that they’re being born here matters more. Think of how much better the American family would be if one of its family members didn’t keep threatening to blow up station wagon with all of us inside it.
I don’t know about you, but the image I keep getting in my head every time I hear a Republican lie or dissemble about their stone cold intention to destroy our democracy is of a spoiled little boy, his arms folded arrogantly across his chest, his lip thrust forward defiantly. He’s saying something like “You’re not the boss of me” or “I like beer” or “Stop the steal”.