Does America Still Have A Representative Government?

David Reavill
5 min readJun 7, 2024

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US Civil Defense Logo, discontinued in 1972.

This nation was founded upon a unique idea, one that had rarely, if ever, been tried before. It was the concept that the people should elect the head of government and that the head of government should represent the people.

We say it every day, so often that it becomes a mere recitation: “ We have a representative government,” but we rarely, if ever, think about it. Implicit in this is the concept that our government and the people ought to be in harmony. After all, a government that truly represents the people will have the same values, aims, and objectives as the country’s populace.

But that’s not how America has worked for at least a generation. Today, Americans and sometimes our proxies are sent off to wars in faraway places, something that most Americans find abhorrent. We face endless war, with all its associated evils. Our country’s treasures and lives are risked in winning victories that don’t matter to the people.

Whatever you can say about these wars, whether they were justified or not, the fact remains that these were not wars that the American people voted for. We’ve never elected a representative that said: “I’m going to take you to war.” We always elected representatives that say: “I’m going to make peace.” And then they take us to war.

The current occupant of the White House is a classic example. In his 2016 Campaign for President, Biden’s Platform read:

“Biden will end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold blood and treasure. As he has long argued, Biden will bring the vast majority of our troops home from Afghanistan and narrowly focus our mission on Al-Qaeda and ISIS. And he will end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.”

As the Poynter Institute’s Polifact correctly points out, the President does deserve some credit for ending the war in Afghanistan. However, the recklessness of our withdrawal created unnecessary havoc and degradation for those left behind, as they fell, once again, under the brutal rule of the Taliban.

But the thought that Biden has brought “an end to the endless wars…in the Middle East” is preposterous. As the most visible and active supporter of one of the belligerents in a struggle between Israel and Hamas, the Middle East is now on the precipice of a major regional war, a war that threatens to morph into a global conflict.

Of course, nothing was said about Ukraine in Biden’s campaign platform; it was not on anyone’s radar. Although it was an uneasy peace at best, Ukraine was not at war. Today, half a million Ukrainians are dead, while Russia has suffered as many military killed in action (roughly 50k plus) as America suffered throughout the nearly 20-year Vietnam war.

Americans had voted to get the “adults” back in charge and bring peace. What they received were two new conflicts that have brought us closer to all-out thermonuclear war than ever before.

Does the Ideal of a Representative Government Still Exist in America?

Many historians agree that the last time we faced such a global threat was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. It was the only other time that the two great nuclear superpowers squared off against one another, threatening to use their vast stockpiles of weapons.

Fortunately for America, the Soviet Union, and the world, the Cuban Crisis was resolved peacefully, with ultimately no “shots fired.” Thus, this Crisis should prove a model of cooperative resolution between these two countries. But is it being followed by the Biden White House? Regrettably, it is not.

Recognizing that he was the representative of the people, President Kennedy took to the television airwaves to report to them on the current status of an unfolding geopolitical standoff. Kennedy saw this as a critical opportunity to bring the people on board and garner support for his actions. But it was more than just a political briefing; it was his duty as “Commander in Chief” to inform those who had elected him.

Today, we have a President who fails to recognize his obligation to inform the people. There has been no President Biden address from the Oval Office presenting an outline of America’s objectives in either the Ukraine or Gaza conflict.

Kennedy prepared the country for the various consequences of a potential Soviet/US conflict. We recognized that the situation might evolve into something life-threatening, and while many reported that the American people were frightened, I don’t think it’s fair to say we were confused. Americans understood that we must prepare for the worst.

During the Cuban Crisis, many began putting away additional food and supplies. A boom in fallout shelter construction began and would go on for many years. Public shelters were designed and built, with locations clearly marked. Overall, the nation had an extensive Civil Defense Structure that was available and prepared for any eventuality.

Unfortunately, over the years, those shelters have been abandoned. The cynics among us “poo-pooed” the idea of preparing for war. Today, only the mega-wealthy build massive shelters designed only for themselves and their families, while the average man and woman are expected to survive on their own. The concept of community-wide shelter and provisions is not even suggested.

On the other hand, it is reported that Russia has built extensive community shelters and stands ready for any attack on the Russian homeland. It is estimated that virtually all Russians living in a major city will be able to find shelter should an attack occur.

Americans have proven resilient, capable, and able to withstand tremendous deprivation. We have withstood war, famine, and plague. We can do it again, but only if that partnership between our representatives and we, the people, is re-established. Don’t gaslight us by saying we have nothing to fear. We recognize that there are at least two conflicts, Ukraine and Gaza, with now a third, Taiwan, that could, at any time, bring death and destruction to America’s homeland.

In today’s world, we know we must prepare for any eventuality. What we need are American leaders who keep us informed about the risks, not just the rewards, of these “endless wars.”

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David Reavill

David Reavill writer + finance +iconoclast + hiker + Pennsylvania #valueside daily podcast + medium + meditate valueside.com/links