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Our Founding Fathers were "Woke" and also... radical progressives, for their time.
One of my top-tier American President's, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the ultimate principled conservative "was Woke" too, and intended the Republican Party to be as well. WTH happened?
Today’s first birthday TAT piece is about the sheer ignorance of those wielding the term, “woke,” like a bludgeon to force freethinking American citizens into submission. Apparently, these miscreants don’t understand true American identity very well and have an even worse understanding of American history. A particular favorite POTUS of mine, President Eisenhower had far more in common in his 1956 platform with Joe Biden, than anyone in today’s, MAGA-controlled GOP. Yes, a review of his platform would stagger most of today’s alleged “principled conservatives.” For his time, his platform was “woke” not only for Republicans, but for all Americans. If this is “woke,” count me in.
Part of patriotic, American identity is to push back hard, when someone tries to impose ignorant, ideological and oligarchical thinking on everyone. Today’s MAGA dominated GOP and their fake patriotism of WCN/ White Christian Nationalism, is just the type of idiocy that true patriots reject. Sure, there may be millions of the MAGA idiots, but the majority of Americans, regardless of political views, reject their theocratic, hateful and ultimately un-American ideology. For the record, many of those that still claim to be principled conservatives, agree with me, albeit privately.
First of all, I’ll establish the fact that our Constitution and our Founding Fathers pursued a “woke” agenda, largely stemming from the Scottish Enlightenment, ground zero in most opinions, of the European Enlightenment. Please don’t worry that I will go down a deep, philosophical rabbit hole. This short background is merely a foundation to express my ideas regarding the ignorance of the anti-woke crowd calling themselves “patriots.”
This discussion could easily become a multi-volume series on philosophy, history, Anthropology, Sociology and more, but I will simply connect the dots from the brilliant Scotsmen that paved the way for the ground-breaking US constitution in form and function.
James Madison, “father of our constitution,” preeminent global scholar on representative government and our fourth POTUS blossomed as a scholar at the College of New Jersey, now Princeton. The distinguished scholars of the college were some of the most brilliant and persuasive advocates for the principles of the Enlightenment.
"The College of New Jersey can be seen as one exception, as its President John Witherspoon of New Jersey was the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence, a prominent Patriot, and a member of Congress from 1776-1782.231 This institution offered a comprehensive curriculum that featured virtually all of the more recent works on moral philosophy (and their political implications), including those of Locke and Hutcheson that would help form revolutionary thinking in America.232 It also produced prominent Patriots such as James Madison and Aaron Burr who were unequivocally influenced by Witherspoon’s and other faculty members’ early lectures and classes.233 This institution not only provided students with radical political texts and courses, most of its Patriot-leaning faculty were mentors for its young scholars. The College of New Jersey too was the only institution whose student body performed large-scale collective anti-British acts such as hanging a British spokesman in effigy and holding their own tea party, by burning the college steward’s tea.234 But even this institution had a Board of Trustees that successfully barred a senior, Samuel Leake, from giving the salutatory oration at his commencement in 1774 for participating in the effigy-burning.235" -Penn Libraries - Common Nonsense: The Surprising Role of Penn, Columbia, and William and Mary in the Atlantic Revolutionary Era The Other Six Colonial Colleges
Madison, whose pedigree would have given him the opportunity to attend university anywhere he wished, and when the overwhelming majority chose Harvard out of tradition. The college of New Jersey though was quietly understood, in colonial and pre-colonial America as a hotbed of radical progressivism, based on the leadership of the Scottish Enlightenment scholars, determining the school’s trajectory.
With Madison’s passion for scholarship of representative government, he would discard Harvard for the College of New Jersey.
Prior to attending the ratification proceedings in Philadelphia for our new constitution, Madison laid out the histories of every representative government from the Greeks forward, side-by-side to analyze them for the weakness he intended to avoid in our fledgling republic. This body of work that he carried with him to Philadelphia was titled, “Notes on Ancient and Modern Confederacies,” April-June 1786.
"The compilation of these notes and the use to which JM put them reflected an Enlightenment faith in the utility of history, as expressed by the French philosophe Charles Pinot Duclos: “We see on the theater of the world a certain number of scenes which succeed each other in endless repetition: where we see the same faults followed regularly by the same misfortunes, we may reasonably think that if we could have known the first we might have avoided the others. The past should enlighten us on the future: knowledge of history is no more than an anticipated experience” (quoted in Carl L. Becker, The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers [New Haven, 1932], p. 95)." - Founders online archives.gov
Pulitzer Prize author, Tom Rick’s book, First Principles does an excellent job of documenting my claims here. I could hardly recommend this book, more highly.
The quote below is from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and represents a relatively succinct overview of Scottish Enlightenment thinking.
"Philosophy was at the core of the eighteenth-century movement known as the Scottish Enlightenment. The movement included major figures, such as Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Reid and Adam Ferguson, and also many others who produced notable works, such as Gershom Carmichael, Archibald Campbell, George Turnbull, George Campbell, James Beattie, Alexander Gerard, Henry Home (Lord Kames) and Dugald Stewart. I discuss some of the leading ideas of these thinkers, though paying less attention than I otherwise would to Hume, Smith and Reid, who have separate Encyclopedia entries. Amongst the topics covered in this entry are aesthetics (particularly Hutcheson’s), Moral philosophy (particularly Hutcheson’s and Smith’s), Turnbull’s providential naturalism, Kames’s doctrines on divine goodness and human freedom, Campbell’s criticism of the Humean account of miracles, the philosophy of rhetoric, Ferguson’s criticism of the idea of a state of nature, and finally the concept of conjectural history, a concept especially associated with Dugald Stewart." - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Article: Scottish Philosophy in the 18th Century Author's note: I tend to find much of Dugald Stewarts work particularly of relevance.
If Americans, especially those falsely calling themselves patriots, refuse to learn American history, then they deserve the derision heaped onto them by honest, informed Americans. What I am describing does not require deep studies such as Tom Ricks pursued in writing his book, or that I learned at my father’s knee and in his own personal, home library. A simple passing grade throughout their primary and secondary education, should have sufficed.
This is one of the reasons that today’s, MAGA dominated GOP are hellbent on historical revisionism, to obscure the obvious with dishonest bollocks. This is precisely why fake patriots like Greg Abbott here in Texas and Ron DeSantis are so dedicated to taking over public schools and in pursuit of depriving Americans of their constitutional right to public education. This week’s obscenity of the TX GOP’s takeover of the Houston School District, largest in Texas and elimination of school libraries in underserved community schools is the perfect example.
DeSenseless in Florida, in a race to the bottom with Abbott, continues his overt dishonesty with absurd comments like, the one in which he said, and I paraphrase, “slavery wasn’t all bad and gave slaves some valuable benefits.”
The current, ignorant and anti-woke movement that is at the core of GOP politics for over 40 years (pursuit of vouchers is but one example) is now attempting to convert school curriculums closer to a theocratic curriculum in small steps over this time period. Now here in Texas, it’s full-blown Confederacy, racist and un-American as it gets. America has never been even remotely close to a theocracy, no matter how much people claim it is.
The pursuit of Catholic, religious ideologues like Thomas, Comey-Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice Robers for SCOTUS stands in clear deviance from the principles of our, “separation of Church and state.
Two infamous SCOTUS decisions of late and both far from the standards of our nation and the law, decided that 1. Abortion was illegal, based on the writings of a late 17th century British judge better known as building the foundation for marital rape and burning Salem’s alleged witches at the stake, and 2. that a woman, without legal standing and with a fake backstory, allowed discrimination on religious grounds. Clarence Thomas, now infamous for decades of willful, outrageous ethics violations is the epitome of anti-American in destroying the scholarship of our constitution by none other than its father, James Madison.
AJ/ Associate Justice Samuel Alito and the others lied when they said Roe vs. Wade was, “established law” in their senate hearings, deprived Americans of a brilliant, thoroughly American principle. No one gets to dictate their religious beliefs in a manner that imposes them on all Americans. Roe vs. Wade was, in my opinion, a near perfect compromise that honored the independence of each American’s choice.
The anti-woke crowd in modern US politics are afraid of our constitution because it stands in the way of theocratic authoritarianism. In fact, some legal, constitutional scholars have called our constitution the “anti-oligarch constitution.” Very little is as un-American, as believing there was ever any intention of making our nation into a theocracy. James Madison for example, is rolling in his grave at SCOTUS handing over so much power to the states. Madison would have been even more furious with SCOTUS for imposing their religious values on all Americans since he argued forcefully to keep our laws free from religious templates. Like religion in government, he wrote persuasively in his scholarly analysis against too much power for the states which he claimed rightfully, was the primary failure of, the Articles of Confederation.
Let’s get back to the issue of “woke.” Today’s GOP is working hard to undermine the strengths of our constitution, developed by an extraordinary American scholar and designed to build in controls that would prevent, precisely what today’s GOP insists on. Their ideology is the antithesis of American exceptionalism. The humanity, compassion, and perspectives that would control American Oligarchy are all in the sights of GOP snipers. These modifying perspectives, all grew out of the Scottish Enlightenment along with other brilliant and very human concepts.
The American case for embracing religious freedom for individuals but keeping it as far as possible from governance, is as progressive as it gets. The fight to limit the manipulation of oligarchs is actually the American spirit, not the dark money version that SCOTUS allowed into politics in their now infamous, Citizen’s United decision.
While that I endorse no party, I am willing at a moment’s notice to behave as our minutemen did on Lexington Commons, at the very beginning of our war for Independence, and rise to fight for the intentions of our principled and brilliant founders. They may have lived with slavery, but they accurately foresaw a nation that behaved morally, while still embracing a very basic human right, to a barely governed freedom, to be who and what you wish to be, regardless of “class.” Now, the cowardly American oligarchs hiding behind dark money loopholes, are attempting to steal every freedom we’ve fought and died for from the first skirmish on Lexington Commons.
All that I ask from readers today, is to honestly consider what I have written, visit my source materials and to put the political theater of our upcoming 2024 elections, into the perspective of true American principles. As I suggested before, even a passing grade in high school government and history classes is enough to ignore the destructive, anti-American rhetoric of the MAGA threat.
I understand that this is long and a bit deeper than most TAT works, but sometimes, brevity is not enough. It took today’s GOP since the Newt Gingrich era, to grow the treason of the MAGA crowd. Bumper sticker sayings won’t be enough to sustain and renew the progressive spirit of our democracy. Anyone claiming that America isn’t progressive, has never read, nor understood our history. Despite some egregious setbacks, overall, we have moved not only American democracy forward, but the globe’s, at least until the Trump era. In this case, I quite proudly, declare myself a woke progressive, from the James Madison school of thought.
Thank you all for your patience and my very best for your weekend.