With pride Americans recite the beauty of the three co-equal branches of government that sustain the world’s strongest and best democracy while reminding the world of the exceptional results of the great experiment.
But it is all a lie. Or better, it is all built on a lie of white supremacy managed and governed by mostly conservative white men.
The establishment of the United States with the creation of the Constitution is hailed as an advancement in human governance leading to freedom and endowing citizens with rights and the real ability to excel in any way their talents allow up to even becoming president.
Lofty words and goals that were specific to white men only for most of the history of the country, even though every citizen is required to believe and accept those words as part of being a “Good American.”
Americans are taught to believe that “All Men Are Created Equal” and other words of promise and hope in the founding documents that were, again, created by and for white men.
Placing faith in American promises means having faith in the style of government that the Founding White Fathers and Slave Owners believed to be the absolute best form of governance, encompassing three co-equal branches of government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The founders established checks and balances to ensure fairness, influence, access, ability to create laws, and ability to interpret laws – all for white men.
Despite their vision and undeniable intellectual smarts, they never conceived the very simple idea or had the tiniest forethought or plan to include anyone else in the wonder of a free land with free people other than white men. That’s it.
The country had then, just as now, many races of people and of course…women. But the founders, most of who were slave owners, decided in their great wisdom that no one else mattered because the inalienable rights endowed by their creator… were just for white men.
The creator to them was racist and misogynistic and had no regard for the souls of anyone other than white men.
Some things never change.
The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Amendments to the Constitution worked well for most of the country’s history and even now – for white men, as intended. But for non-white men and women, the Constitution has been used to justify enslavement, genocide, concentration camps, lynchings, segregation, redlining, death penalty, pass laws, broken treaties, invasion, and more – against Black, Native, and other people of color – and also as intended.
But those horrible acts aren’t the sole responsibility of the Constitution because each act was aided and abetted by the other two branches of government.
Where were the vaunted checks and balances when the Constitution upheld separate and unequal? When it denied the right to vote? When it ignored lynching? When it turned away from unfunded and segregated schools? Redlining? Voter suppression? Broken treaties with Sovereign Native Nations? Stealing Native children? Bombing Black businesses and neighborhoods? Lynching posse’s? Police brutality and overuse of the death penalty?
The answer, quite simply, is that the other branches of government were doing as they were also created to do: comfortably aide and abet all of the awful and dehumanizing actions thought up by white men.
A reason all those atrocities were approved and allowed despite three co-equal branches of government that provide checks and balances against abuse, lawlessness, and unequal application is that all those safeguards were not only created by white men, enshrined into law by white men, and enforced by white men, but they were specifically made for the ultimate protection of white men and white men only.
They have, of course, been applied to other minorities but only after said minorities sued for the chance to plead to be included in the legal safeguards. And even when those lawsuits have been won, the prize of winning is always on shaky ground fearful that the next administration of white men will retract and invalidate any agreement approved by a different white man.
Such is the power of white men in America.
The three co-equal branch style of government that America has is not sufficient for Black, Native, or other minorities. There has never been a generation of Black, Native, or or other POC who have lived with the knowledge that all the rights they currently enjoy are perpetual or guaranteed in any way.
Conversely, the only right white men have ever feared losing is the right to bear arms, despite the fact that there are three-hundred million personal firearms in their hands.
Black and Natives worry about the right to vote, live anywhere, marry anyone, funded schools, ability to get loans, pass laws, freedom of movement, and just about every other right outlined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The struggle and limits of the co-equal branches of government is because the branches are still almost all white men and they as a group remain incapable of imagining freedom for other Americans as being equal to their own freedom. And certainly they cannot imagine any group having any iota of a benefit better than what they themselves receive – Affirmative Action as a primary example, but also something as absurd as a restriction against saying the “N-word.” Witness the anger, pearl clutching, gnashing of teeth white men experience when told they cannot say that single word. They have temper tantrums like a three year-old who is teething, hungry, past nap time, and with a full diaper.
The Supreme Court have had 114 justices and all but six – 6! have been white men and none have been Black women. The Senate has had only 10 Black people out of almost two-thousand senators, and there have only been three Black governors in history and each one was a man. And finally there have been over twelve-thousand members of Congress but only 153 have been Black Americans.
It is a fact that most white men in America are conservative and reliably vote republican. They have reliably voted for conservative candidates for the past seventy years or so and more than voting, their lives are mostly with lived – school, work, neighborhoods, worship, vacation – exclusively with other white people.
Black Americans find themselves petitioning white men for freedom, desegregation, home loans, schools, credit, health care and on and on and on. What was asked for four-hundred years ago, then one-hundred, fifty, and even now – the right to vote – is still being contested, fought, denied, and blocked by conservative white men today.
And seeking fair hearings and resolutions to our complaints depend on white lawyers, and white judges – most of whom are conservative white men – at every level up to the Supreme Court.
Even the desire to tell our story and get the message out to the masses is dependent upon the mainstream media, most of whom… you guessed it – are conservative white men working for conservative white men-owned media companies.
Most police, judges, prosecutors, ceo’s, city council, mayors, governors, Congress, Senators, Supreme Court, college presidents, Wall Street workers, and hiring managers all up and down middle management are white men and they serve as gatekeepers to every day America.
The petitioning to white conservative men that Black people and other POC are required to do constitute a never-ending historical roadblock – or a wall, if you will. But in this case, the wall works by keeping us out while protecting those it is designed to protect: white men.
What is a remedy for this four-hundred year experiment of three co-equal branches of government?
Some have suggested additional Supreme Court members would help remedy may of the problems outlined here. Others say the system and all its flaws is the best in the world and should remain as is. That the Constitution is the grandest document ever written and thus must be left alone.
This argument conveniently ignores twenty-seven amendments to the document, that most recent of which, in 1992, has to do with how Congress pays itself. Not so lofty as the inalienable rights or the right against illegal search but, it is capitalism after all.
What can be done then, within the current system to force it to be fair?
Voting? More justices? Eliminate gerrymandering and voter suppression?
None of those things will fix the problem because we have four-hundred years of real data that proves they won’t work at all because conservative white men won’t allow them to work for everyone’s benefit.
The fix must be radical and something never tried in the U.S. but which can fit into the current structure of government.
What can be done is the creation of another equal branch of government, a fourth co-equal branch. And this time the branch is exclusively minority and non-white.
A minority-led branch of government equal to the other three branches and with specific powers to support candidates, have control of budgetary spending, supreme court nominations, approval of military intervention, and have guaranteed seats on all committees, and cabinet positions including intelligence, diplomatic, and domestic oversight.
A fourth co-equal branch is needed to make up for hundreds of years of systemic racism that excluded and then limited Black Americans’ access to governance, while ending once and for all – or at least severely cripple – the continuing need for Black Americans to petition conservative white men for.. anything.
The white slave owner forefathers did not anticipate today’s criminal president who refuses to play by their archaic rules of behavior that prior to him anticipated disagreement and differing ideologies be settled by sober men learned in the ways of government. Their checks and balances depend on everyone agreeing to the rule of law, precedent, and acceptance of oversight and, as a final check on power, mediation by the Supreme Court.
We see that the structure of government is only as good as the conservative white men wish it to be and that though much blame can rightly be placed at the feet of the president, he has brought like-minded conservative white men along with him. These conservative Christian white men are in the military, law enforcement and intelligence, Congress and the Senate, governors, CEO’s and financial oversight, and the judiciary up to the Supreme Court. These white men, with a few white women sprinkled in, control all branches of government and refuse to abide by the historical law, understanding, and agreements.
When the three co-equal branches collectively subvert, flaunt, and ignore the law the country ends up where it is right now: Collectively questioning if our democracy can survive the white conservative men who are quite literally destroying it while in the service of a conservative white man who is clearly a criminal.
With a fourth and equal branch of government Black people and POC will have a place to petition when we want better schools, roads, services, loan rates, protection, jobs, promotions, equal pay, equal access, safe neighborhoods, street lights, school supplies, clean streets, small business loans and funding, military promotions, and everything else we need – just like white people need. And we will no longer be faced exclusively with white men who gate-keep us away from our own equal access, power, resources, and inheritance of our own country – we will no longer wait for imaginary trickle down prosperity.
One of the main arguments for reparations is that stolen Black labor funded the growing nation and western civilization allowing for growth, expansion, and the accumulation of wealth for countries, governments, businesses, and individuals. That wealth, both institutional and individual, is still present throughout today’s society. What’s more, today’s Black labor still funds government and institutions, with the most obvious being prison labor. But there’s also Black people being habitually underpaid which means more profit for companies; higher sales tax in cities where most Black Americans live; higher cost of healthcare, high interest rates, higher cost of goods and services.
In every facet of American life Black and POC Americans are taxed for not being white.
A third political party is good, but a fourth co-equal branch of government is better and would address the immediate needs of Black and POC communities.
As we watch the latest government scandal play out on cable news we see a stream of white men adjudicating the illegality of the president’s most recent lawbreaking. We see white men on cable news telling the story and we read stories written by white men about what is going on. And soon we will see bestsellers written by mostly white men recapping what is happening right now. Finally, a few years down the road white teachers and professors, historians and academics, will write and teach the history of what is happening, thus repeating the four-hundred year cycle of literal whitewashing of American History.
An America that is fair and equal to all citizens creates a true democracy instead of the faux democracy that has only been fair and equal to white men while marginalizing Black and POC. A new four and equal branch of government will begin to address the disparities throughout our nation and accelerate actualization of a more perfect union.
More perfect for Black and POC Americans and not just for conservative white men.
Copyright 2019 by Myron J. Clifton, Dear Dean Publishing. All Rights Reserved.