President Obama‘s latest Message on the state of the Union has been one more occasion for some admiring commentators abroad to extoll the virtues of the US political process, when compared for instance with the Italian (unruly and fractious) one. One of said commentators, Massimo Teodori, a professor of American history, specified that he was moved by the televised standing ovation given to the President (during the speech on the State of the Union) in the national Capitol – both Democratic and Republican members of Congress clapping their hands in a spirit of patriotism and unity.
The professor’s sensitivity should better be offered to more significant aspects of the American experience. The short show of bipartisanship in ceremonial occurrences such as a customary oration of the President does not deserve so much praise. The attitudes of the US Congress have never been that admirable. In fact the Capitol is the high temple of the often unethical management of public affairs. In America too most occupations are more respected than the career of professional politicians, top legislators included.
Well more relevant the professor’s sentimentality would be, had he recalled the facts of the American colonies confederating and so creating history’s foremost nation. If compared with the nastiness of the Fathers and Uncles of the so-called European Union, the American colonial leaders make figure of true Moses. American colonies started confederating more than three and half centuries ago. As early as 1643 Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Haven and Plymouth created “a firm and perpetual league” among themselves. That was really great. Possibly at that time the American context and spirit made better citizens. In colonial times a portion of the subjected class was made by white ‘bond servants’, in addition to black slaves. Several of said bond servants where convicts who had been transported from England. In due time even convicts could become good citizens: one of them became attorney-general of Virginia.
The next step of the American unification was of course the proliferation of Committees of Correspondence, beginning with the one which Samuel Adams organized in 1772. Two years later the Virginia Burgesses (meeting at a tavern- their House had been dissolved by the British rulers) deliberated the First Continental Congress, to be convened annually. Indeed such Congress met in Philadelphia on September 5, 1774. Another two years elapsed, then the Declaration of Independence was adopted. In four short years a great nation was born.
How inferior, even despicable, the behavior of the so called builders of Europe. Fiftyfive years after the Treaty of Rome (1956) the progress of political unification of the Old Continent is next to nothing. Being supposed to be the heirs of the world’s greatest historical patrimony (didn’t Europe rule the planet?) said ‘builders’ deserve the utmost scorn. Today some thirty countries, some of them really diminutive ones) are comically sticking to their sovereign independence, at a time when global trends are conquering the world. Who knows, maybe the next 55 years might advance the process of confederation that in the British colonies of North America only took 55 months.
This is the true greatness of the United States, before becoming obese and viciously addicted to weapons. Compared to the prowess of the Burgesses of Virginia, the bipartisan applauding of Obama’s rethoric on conquering the future (America too is declining) is phony.
Needless to say, the chieflets of Europe exculpate themselves by invoking the difficulty of amalgamating dozens of languages and national traditions. But if said chieflets had been in the shoes of the members of the Committees of Correspondence, probably America had never unified.