The Constitution of the United States of America, in it's Preamble, lists six goals of those who wrote it. One of these goals is to "promote the general Welfare." Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution vests all legislative powers in a Congress, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The most important phrase in the Preamble, however, consists of the first three words: "we the People." With these three words, the framers of the Constitution clearly meant that the nation was to be ruled by the people, not a king, not a dictator, and not the Congress or the courts. Unfortunately, we the people have gone missing.
It can be argued the the general welfare is not being promoted in the year 2011. Instead, the members of the House and Senate spend most of their time promoting their political parties and political agendas. We the People are nowhere to be found. Oh yes, we "elect" the members of the House and Senate, but the reality is that big money decides these elections. We the People have been replaced by powerful corporations, unions, political action committees and individuals of the wealthy class. The general welfare of the powerful is being promoted at the expense of We the People.
The present battle over the debt ceiling being waged by the two political parties is really the continuation of a war of political philosophies that has raged for decades. The Democrats generally agree that "promoting the general welfare" includes providing for those who can't provide for themselves, using entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. This side also sees that education and health care are the responsibilities of government. The Republicans generally agree that government should be lean and mean, with controlled spending funded by low taxes. The various social services should be either eliminated or scaled way back, and to hell with They the People who can't make it on their own. And, by the way, leave corporations and wealthy people alone so they can do business as usual (their good work will trickle down and help everyone).
The reality of 2011 is that the Congress of the United States of America is a dysfunctional entity that is not fulfilling it's sole purpose for being: carrying out the duties assigned to it by the Constitution of the United States of America. The other reality of 2011 is that We the People are not of a unified mind or opinion regarding what the general welfare should be. And so we drift out of control with inept and bickering politicians at the helm of the ship of state. We are basically out of control.
I don't know what we the people can or should do. Perhaps we need our own Tahrir Square, but I don't think there is a single, unifying cause that will bring us there. I hate the feeling of being adrift, and I hate the feeling of helplessness. I'm comfortable enough in my middle class-ness that I could simply ignore the conditions around me and enjoy my remaining years; but I can't accept that so many other people in this country (I'll save the rest of the world for another post) are truly suffering unnecessarily. I want a "more perfect Union" that truly "promotes the general Welfare." I just don't know how we the People can make it happen.