"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," wrote Thomas Jefferson. Our new nation substituted the top-down power structure of King George III's reign with a government elected by the people.
Unfortunately, after years of fighting a revolution, resentment smoldered. In 1812 it flared up into what was called "The Second War of Independence."
Recognizing that the claim "all men are created equal" rang hollow while four million Blacks were enslaved, a new political movement coalesced around the abolition of slavery in the United States, which every other industrialized nation had done nonviolently.
Unfortunately, America rewrote its social contract through the Civil War, and our nation's psyche still bears the scars from that violence today.
Wealth inequality in the 1930s triggered the election of FDR in 1932. His success with a "trickle-up" economy and the New Deal gave him a populist mandate in 1936, and his new social contract delivered the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, and brought an end to child labor in factories.
Unfortunately, racial inequality took a few steps back. The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act in 1937 laid the groundwork for the War on Drugs, and 1938's Fair Labor Standards Act specifically exempted farm workers and domestic helpers from its protections; occupations held disproportionately by people of color.
Frustration with growing wealth inequality, job loss through automation, and a widespread recognition of the inefficiency of the two-party system led to an unexpected outcome of the 2016 election: President Donald Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017 after campaigning to 'drain the swamp.'
Unfortunately, America has taken a few steps back since then; wealth inequality has increased, immigrants are demonized, and the flames of partisan politics burn brighter after a presidential impeachment.
Covid-19 is showing the cracks in our economy and exacerbating wealth equality. Can the Phoenix cycle produce a better social contract in 2020?
Thanks to the internet, people can communicate and collaborate instantaneously in a nation 3,000 miles wide. Unlike our founding fathers, who had to be in the same physical room to debate the social contract for our newborn nation, we can write a better one where all viewpoints can included.
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