I have commented before on the two party system, and how TERRIBLE it is for large groups of people. Inadvertently, while trying to sound progressive and moderate, Emory President James Wagner made some questionable statements in regards to the 3/5ths compromise.
And he being quoted:
“One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote. As the price for achieving the ultimate aim of the Constitution—“to form a more perfect union”—the two sides compromised on this immediate issue of how to count slaves in the new nation. Pragmatic half-victories kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely together.
Some might suggest that the constitutional compromise reached for the lowest common denominator—for the barest minimum value on which both sides could agree. I rather think something different happened. Both sides found a way to temper ideology and continue working toward the highest aspiration they both shared—the aspiration to form a more perfect union. They set their sights higher, not lower, in order to identify their common goal and keep moving toward it.”
He then goes on to compare the current fiscal crisis to the debate over slavery, you know, because these were the key economic issues are their day! “As I write this, our country’s fiscal conundrums invite our leaders to wrestle with whether they will compromise or hold fast to certain of their pledges and ideologies about the future of our nation’s economic framework.” The problem here is that President Wagner made this issue about this vague war of ideology, and with that, he reverts back to Southern revisionist history. Strangely enough, this progressive dude is on the board of The Carter Center, you know, the one dedicated to waging peace, fighting disease, and building hope.
Rather than taking the approach of scathing criticism (rightfully deserved), I think we should all praise Wagner for his brutal honesty. This University President Guy, he is so right. The 3/5ths Compromise is a Great American tradition. Usually, the normativity behind the Two-Party System does not get called into question, but I think that by accident, Mr. Wagner, electric engineer & bureaucrat has found a subversive way of calling attention to it. The Two Party System is a duopoly. The rules and regulations by the Federal Elections Commission as well as state laws that mimic them are written to exclude poor people who are qualified for office, as well as third-party candidates. This, along with the greatest threat to voting rights, gerrymandering, continues to enslave people at the hands of the elites who are controlled by corporate interests and lobbying firms. So yes, I agree with Wagner. The 3/5ths Compromise is part of the great tradition of bipartisanship in the U.S.A.; the problem is that this “bipartisanship” is a constant event done to U.S. Americans by an oppressive duopoly.
- Emory president holds up “three-fifths” compromise as noble, honorable (salon.com)
- Emory University President Praises Three-Fifths Compromise As Great ‘Pragmatic’ Solution (gawker.com)
- University president: ‘Three-Fifths’ slavery agreement example of ‘pragmatic’ compromise (rawstory.com)