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The first thing we need to discuss is change. How and why do countries change? And how to effect change within a country.
The question of why countries change leads to a very broad group of reasons. Today, I discuss the most common reason for change - citizen dissatisfaction.
When a significant enough number of citizens of a country become dissatisfied with the government, change becomes inevitable. This dissatisfaction can be related to the government as a whole or to only certain actions of the government. As an example, in the American Colonies, the citizens became dissatisfied with the way King George was governing. He would not respond to pleas and requests from the citizens, and he took actions that showed the citizens they were not considered worthy of his respect.
When a government or a ruler does not respect the people he seeks to govern, this will create a growing and festering dislike and even hatred of that person or the government. At some point the citizens will reach a breaking point and will go from trying to persuade the ruler or government to show them the respect they are due, into some form of action. In the case of the Colonies, this led to open revolution and severing ties with England to form the United States of America.
Though open revolution can sometimes end up being the end result of the actions of the government, there are other ways that this has been handled in the past, and can be handled in the future. I don't believe that open revolution is good for any country and specifically for the people of that country. When people belonging to one country end up being forced to choose sides in a revolution, no one wins. Families are split and destroyed, trust amongst the people is destroyed, and the physical damage that occurs to the infrastructure becomes a burden to the "winning" side to repair. There are many other reasons why open revolution is not good, but I think many of us should already know those, so I won't go on here.
There are many peaceful ways to make changes within a country. When the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union collapsed, there was very little in the way of fighting or violence directly related to the downfall of the government. The government, in that case, came to realize that they had lost the ability to effectively manage the people, or to control their own economy any longer. They realized that they had to make a change or face open revolution. When a sufficient number of the citizenry of a country join together in the same effort to make a change, their will becomes truly known and understood by the government and if they come to accept this, they can make the transition easier and less painful to the people and the government.
In Democracies and Republics (yes, the United States is a Republic, not a Democracy) where elections are held on a regular basis, if the people who desire change can come together and decide on who would be better to govern them, then this is the most peaceful of ways to make the changes these people want. In a representative government, this often takes time and several election cycles to accomplish, as replacing only one person (even a president or prime minister) will not truly evince lasting change. To make lasting and effective change, the majority of the governing body must be replaced by individuals beholden to the people and not to special interests or money interests.
The American political system has been altered over time. When the founding fathers first created our form of Republic, they understood that this was supposed to be a privilege and a duty to be elected to office to govern the people. They had just gone through a revolution to free themselves from a monarch who failed to respect them, and they understood that the only way to effectively govern was to know that you would, at some point, become the governed again. This is why George Washington refused the original effort to install him as President for life. He knew that if we had started down that road, we would end up with a class of people that felt they were entitled to be in the ruling class and would do whatever they needed to do to stay there.
Unfortunately, we have reached that point, in my opinion. There are entire families, that there main purpose in life has been to be in Congress or the presidency and to part of that ruling class. This type of class system is counter-productive to change. Why would someone who feels they are entitled to be in the ruling class for life be willing to make any change that does not benefit them or their heirs?
A very specific avenue of change available to the citizens of the United States of America, one that is, I believe, unique in the world, is the ability of the people to effect a change to the document that governs the government and the overall laws of the land. This is the Amendment process provided for by the founding fathers in the United States Constitution. The founding fathers knew that they could not foresee or know everything that could ever possibly be considered the will of the people.
Therefore, they provided for two avenues to amend the constitution. We will discuss these in the next post.