The tail-end of what is said to be Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address made not long after the American Civil War, was as follows:
... this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.What stirring words and words of hope that people then had to cling onto, but how, in the space of 150 years, that idealism was replaced by dominance from the top. And frequently cynical dominance at that.
It would appear that consciously or unconsciously there has been a decision made by the people that at least part of Lincoln's 'promise' is to be fulfilled. That reasoning - in Brexit and the election of Trump - appears to have been the intention by the surge of populism that has prevailed, but a great worry must be that perhaps the vote will not guarantee a political leadership that really means to honour the will of the people.
Further, and most importantly, the current lacking of one part of Lincoln's promise - that the people's will should prevail "under God" - means that populism for populism's sake is threatening to be the name of the game, and not what Lincoln appears to have intended, which is a system of governance under the framework of spiritual justice. There is a difference, for in today's world we are transfixed by gain and materialism and not by spiritual ideals. Any governmental system motivated by what is best for one's pocket and personal comfort is not the best government, and my fear is that we shall be in more of a mess than we were before as governments try to work out how to try to interpret what is the people's will.
The Victorian period - both in the UK and the USA - was replete with people of great virtue to safeguard the interests of the people. From Birmingham came Joseph Chamberlain, whose fine local government schemes had been driven by fiery and honest members of the non-established church, and the UK also had the ideals to admire in William Gladstone. The U.S. had the likes of Abraham Lincoln. But where are their equivalents today?
Our governments - and their electors - are in great need of people with wisdom to lead the populist mood, not self-interested businessmen and class-based interests to determine the route needed.
Just how to find those leaders is a very moot point. Perhaps we will have to endure disaster after disaster for such people to emerge from the chaos.
Thank you for reading this.