A friend opines,
“Why do Democrats believe that the citadel of freedom and liberty rests with government instead of with the people?”
And I respond,
“Curious you use the phrase MacArthur used 1 to refer to Manila on his departure…”
But the phrase is iconic and symbolic; semiotics being perhaps the last standing claim Homo sapiens has to uniqueness, it is strange that one of that species not understand the equivalence he questions. How did “America” become “a city upon a hill”? How did the Statute of Liberty become a symbol of American freedom? What renders the US at all remarkable is not the people, who are as loathsome as any other humans, but their republic… Why do some, ignoring that fact, focus on the foolish factionalism that the propounding pops decried as the death of that republic.
The drafters of our Constitution were steeped in the canon of the day: Greek and Roman literature which condemned the hoi polloi; the very name of the Senate conveys the founders intent to safeguard the union through the good offices of patricians who stood above mammon and mountebanks. Nevertheless, the fearful demanded an amendment to specifically provide the means to extinguish, militarily, insurrections (which were a very real contemporaneous problem).
The seat of that republic is, if there is such a thing, the Capitol, which was specifically designed and constructed to that end; the very essence of the republic for which it stands.
The myths of America while woven out of whole cloth, provide genres that arguably explain the delusions of a substantial minority of the polity. Today we are as conflicted over these shadows as de Tocqueville was almost 200 years ago.
- “MacArthur Gives Manila Address.” Desert Sun, July 4, 1961, Vol. 34, No. 289. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/. https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=DS19610704.2.12&e=——-en–20–1–txt-txIN——–1.