Since homo sapiens, modern humans, first appeared 200,000 years ago we have evolved culturally and societally to ensure our survival and in the early days this was through tribalism. By banding together in small groups, or tribes, we were able to share resources and help defend our tribes from predators and aggressive enemies. We created a shared culture and system of beliefs within each tribe. Instinctively we recognized who was the most capable in the tribe to lead and followed them or our leaders chose themselves through strength or bloodshed. Regardless of how our leaders came to be, we needed and accepted that authoritarian leadership.
Over 190,000 years after modern humans appeared the first crops were planted, and we no longer had to wander from place to place to find food and other resources and civilization was born. Tribes grew into towns, cites, kingdoms and empires. Tribal chiefs became authoritarian lords, kings and emperors who ruled a populace who had not elected them. We needed leadership to survive, someone to captain the ship, and these authoritarian monarchs or tribal leaders filled that need.
As a species we have been conditioned to accept authoritarian rule and it is possible that it’s even hard coded into our DNA. Modern humans, homo sapiens, have been around for 200,000 years, civilization has only been around for 6000-7000 years and The United States Constitution less than 250 years. Yet in this country, and around the world, many believe the U.S. Constitution to be outdated and antiquated.
Most of the world has never experienced freedom on the level that we in the U.S. take for granted so they simply do not understand it. They do not understand true freedom of speech, freedom of the press or why our 2nd Amendment is so vital to preserving our freedoms. Countless generations of our ancestors grew up in a world of authoritarian leaders and accepted that they must obey just to survive.
Even in Europe democracy is still a relatively new. France may have started experimenting with democracy or a republican type of government only a few years after the U.S, but it was not until after WWII that their current government was created. Since their own revolution in 1789 they have been through a consulate, two empires, two monarchies and five republics. Hardly a stable “tribe”, yet France arguably still has the most experience with democracy and freedom on the European continent. Germany didn’t become a country until 1871; previously it was a region of nation states each ruled by an independent monarch and didn’t experiment with democracy until after WWI. In the Middle East tribalism still rules, whether it’s a King in Saudi Arabia, or oppressive regimes under the guise of a democracy like Iran.
The Constitution may be a melting pot of ideas borrowed from the Greeks, Romans, the Magna Carta and other forms of government and philosophies, but it is unique in enshrining the best of those ideas into one document. The democratic republic represented in our Constitution goes against our own societal evolution as a species that has been engrained in us generation after generation.
To expect humans to break away from rule by heredity or authoritarian tribal leaders and implement some form of democratic government in just 250 years is an impossibility. The rest of the world does not think like us and democracy is still new, unavailable to them, or they reject it due to the dogma of tribal and religious loyalties going back for millennia. This may explain why the Middle East can be volatile and why Europeans so easily give up any rights that we as Americans hold sacred such as freedom of speech and the right to bear arms.
If we want to spread freedom and prosperity we to need to stay out of other countries internal politics and wars and not force our principals and way of life on the world, but instead lead by example of how freedom can bring prosperity and economic security. In time, tribal and totalitarian governments will evolve into something resembling our own. Their citizens will demand it. Many already have. Examples abound of countries converting to democracy or a representative government since our Constitution was signed. France was the first and had many stops and starts, but eventually became a democracy. Germany became one the most powerful and influential countries in the world within a century and only after a relapse of authoritarian rule under Hitler. Other countries eventually followed after seeing the example of the prosperity of the United States and other democratic governments. They saw our freedom and what it led to and and wanted it. Many even bled for it just like our colonists did.
We cannot force freedom on the world through endless wars and trade embargos. How can you tell someone freedom is great while destroying their homes? Would you think that a foreign government is any better than your own when they have a gun pointed at your head while your own government already has one pointed at your heart? Instead, you might think it’s better to live the with the evil that you already know. What better way to export freedom and prosperity than through free trade? Would Cuba still be a communist country if there were no embargo? Would the Cuban people have seen the wealth and the jobs created in their own country through trade with the U.S. and brought down Castro decades ago? Very possibly.
The ideological differences between the US and the world is why we should not force our ideology and way of life on the world, but rather lead by example. We cannot save the world, but we can show them the way to save themselves. The U.S. is the most stable democratic republic in all of history and that has allowed us to innovate and grow an economy on a scale world has never seen before. This happened because the Constitution not only allows for our government to be “of the people, by the people, for the people” but protects our rights from the tyranny of the majority to allow us to be free and through that freedom comes prosperity and security. No other country on earth has had the experience with the freedoms we take for granted every day.
Our Constitution is anything but outdated and our government is unique and exceptional in the history of the world. True freedom and elected leaders are still dream or even an alien concept to many. Our form of government goes against 200,000 years of evolution and cannot be forced on anyone, they must want it and even be willing to bleed for it. If we really want to save the world, we can’t be the four horsemen of the apocalypse, we need to be that “Shining city on a hill” that Reagan spoke of.