Robert Boulrice: The great experiment in peril

Published: 01-05-2024 1:48 PM

Modified: 01-05-2024 9:15 PM


The expiration date. That’s what concerned us on the morning of day one of the new year. News arrived that a friend got COVID and we had a brunch to go to, so testing seemed sensible. Except all our unused tests had expired.

Lots of talk about expiration dates these days. Turns out that passing the date does not necessarily mean the end of the useful life. We tested and passed. Happy New Year!

There is, however, talk of another expiration date that is more concerning. One reads that 2024 may be the year that brings the expiration date of our great national experiment. I needed to refresh my memory on what this experiment is all about. I found in the Nov. 27, 1860, New York Daily Tribune, “We (are) engaged in trying a great experiment, involving not merely the future fate and welfare of this Western continent, but the hopes and prospects for the whole human race.”

Yikes! Further, “Is it possible for a Government to be permanently maintained without privileged classes … and without hereditary or self-appointed rulers? Is the democratic principle of equal rights, general suffrage, and government by a majority, capable of being carried into practical operation, and that, too, over a large extent of country?”

And carried without bloodshed from one administration to the succeeding one. Grand experiment, indeed. The experiment started 236 years ago with the signing of our Constitution. It’s endured over all kinds of catastrophes, depressions, wars and calamities. It has survived the most rigorous of tests. Yet it seems that in the election year 2024, many of us are prepared to elect representatives who intend to end the experiment.

Equally concerning if, as in the recent past, the vagaries of the manner in which we elect the leader of our experiment causes him to be elected despite not gaining a majority of the votes, how are the approximately 30 million voters whose candidate did not get elected going to respond? That this concern holds regardless of which of the candidates from the two parties gets sworn in indicates the peril that faces our great experiment this year.

Robert Boulrice

Florence

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