The Third American Revolution
The Third American Revolution: A War Between Real Thomas Jefferson and Faux Thomas Jefferson
I fix the beginning of third American Revolution as the year “FDR” launched his New Deal (1933). The President’s agents used the methods and machinery their predecessors had devised to advance this revolution, but it was an innovation of their own that completed the transformation of America into a Tocquevillean tyranny of benevolence.
The technique of speaking in the voice of the people was developed in London by John Wilkes and applied in America by Sam Adams. Adams modified Wilkes’s method by adding a propaganda campaign filled with grievances and rights rhetoric designed to rouse his countrymen in support of political independence. James Madison replaced Adams’s rights rhetoric with Liberty! rhetoric and used it to build his opposition voting bloc in the Congress into the political party that won the presidency for Thomas Jefferson in the Revolution of 1800. President Jefferson merged his powers as party leader and head of the American government and filled his administration with party loyalists. These men, the administrators in his government, also managed their party’s political campaigns and elections. In this way, Jefferson made the American government an instrument for his party. Using the tool Jefferson provided, his party’s agents maintained control of the government for a generation.
President Roosevelt needed programs and administrators to lift the downtrodden and relieve the suffering of those brought low by the Depression. He filled these needs by filling his government with progressives like himself. The President’s “New Dealers” did the good their leader intended by designing a “welfare” system administered by panels like-thinking bureaucrats. Herein lay their great innovation: these panels made and enforced regulations without seeking the consent of the people. Thus was born America’s bureaucratic government!
This benevolent government by faceless bureaucrats was foreshadowed by the system Thomas Jefferson created in his first year as President. But where Jefferson’s bureaucracy rested on political considerations, Roosevelt’s rested on a moral imperative that made it irresistible. Roosevelt used this authority, being the humanitarian obligation to help those in need, to create a welfare state that never stopped expanding.
The problem with this system was always apparent: the benefactors who distributed the government’s benevolence had their own interests. In no time, they became a community with its own ways and means. Laboring in the shadow of faux Thomas Jefferson, Father of Human Rights and Champion of the Common Man, they churned out an endless stream of benefits. As they did, they transformed themselves into a hierarchy that was entirely independent of the people they served. From above, they looked down on a flock that needed their care. As they cared for the flock, they helped themselves. This hierarchy of Tocquevillean shepherds, like all other powerful hierarchies, soon became corrupt, incompetent, and ambivalent.
I conclude with comments on the surprising developments that have taken place since the end of the Third American Revolutionand what may lie in store.