If our Constitution formed the oldest democracy on Earth, as many boast, then why do our non-white, non-cis male, non-straight, non-wealthy, non-healthy citizens enjoy vanishingly few of its benefits?
Why did democracies much younger than ours speed so far ahead of ours in spreading the benefits of their egalitarian societies to their most marginalized and vulnerable citizens?
If the United States is somehow “exceptional,” it is exceptional only in this: we’re the democracy which hoards constitutional rights to the few. In comparison to the rest of the Free World, we are not free. Not great. Our patriotism is wasted, if it is spent on dead white men from forgotten cultures.
There are citizens governed by the Constitution who are true heroes, worthy of remembering and celebrating. They are heroes in that they put their lives and livelihoods on the line to force the dominant caste to share the freedoms they enjoy. Because of their non-membership in the dominant caste, their fight to spread democracy beyond the ruling class has met fierce, sometimes fatal resistance. But they fight on; if you want to put your pride and patriotism where it does the most good, put it in them.
Many are using words like fascism and dictator and authoritarian to describe the direction of our conservative politics at the moment. And it would be hard to deny the good fit of those words for what Trump was trying to do as he attempted to remain President after losing the election in 2020. Those words come to mind when the most recent raft of SCOTUS decisions are examined. But the term caste, as explained so masterfully in Isabel Wilkerson’s book of that name, is the one that best explains what we see when we look at the actions of governments and individuals who have always been in the dominant caste.
Students of US history know that this behavior is anything but new. Observers of current events see this becoming the new normal.