Submitted by Mark J. Grant, author of Out of the Box,
“We the People”
Glorious words in many ways. They begin the preamble to the United States Constitution as America threw off the chains of tyranny and became a country. How much has been gained, how must lost, since those times when the citizens were dedicated to a common cause. The road has been long, no end in sight, and I rejoice in the continuation if sometimes not in a moment’s chosen path.
However it must be said that Americans are not the only “We the People” country on the planet. This declaration is to be found in democracies everywhere and should be cherished and praised as citizens of each nation get to make the choices appended to self-determination. The desires of the governed must always rule those who are governing and when the leadership fails in that recognition they should be replaced. When political leaders do not listen to the voice of their citizens they will be voted out if not tossed out. The United States, cast in stone some two hundred and thirty seven years since its founding, was not always such a safe bet. We have erred and lurched and struggled with our principles but still here, still beating the drum, still on our own two feet.
Recently one of the German politicians referenced two of the Italian largest vote getters as “clowns.” I reject the comment and I admonish Peer Steinbrueck for his inadequacy. What higher moral ground does he claim that supersedes the voice of the Italian people and I say, “None sir, and that you should be ashamed of yourself.”
I point all of this out this morning because there is change afoot on the Continent and to not take note of it may well be an expensive mistake. Business of late, business as usual, may not be the business of tomorrow as the citizens of various countries, not in open revolt or not in the streets, are beginning to wave a different banner and it is decidedly nationalistic and a potential new definition of just whom “We the People” are; in fact.
Recently, in poll after poll, the citizens of Germany, Britain and other countries in Europe are gathering around their own flags and seemingly rejecting the imposed commonality. I do not ignore the will of the people and when the politicians of various nations ignore their will then they may be replaced, not by rifles in the streets, but by peaceful votes in elections. The incessant pressures of either paying for the lifestyles of people in other nations or the demands of austerity for accepting foreign capital are driving sharp wedges in the grand scheme of Union in Europe.
I would not underestimate what is happening in Italy. It is a rejection, in my opinion, of not just corrupt practices in their own country but of having others govern them. It is a squared stance, I believe, staring directly at Brussels and Berlin telling them to mind their own business and to stop telling the Italians how to run their own country. I am not without sympathy for this position I assure you.
We have had the Arab Spring and perhaps the Italian Spring will be the wildcard of this year. When people discuss the imposed austerity measures and leave the discussion there they have not gone far enough in their thinking. I would say that the Italians, the Greeks, the Portuguese, the Spaniards do not wish to be German and may be getting tired of being told what to do by them while the British and the Dutch and others are having their patience worn thin by the demands out of Brussels and Berlin for their money. Even in Germany, as demonstrated by a recent poll, the people are getting tired of supporting other nations financially so as to exercise control. The grass grows thin upon the Continent.
The pledge of Mr. Draghi, always conditional upon the support of the European Union, may get diminished further if the nations of that Union do not give him support. Since all of the yields of European sovereign debt rely upon this promise then much could be lost if the promise cannot be kept. Southern Europe and Northern Europe may not be separated by an ocean but they are fathoms apart in tradition and mindset. Rome, whatever her inherent difficulties, has the capacity of leadership and just because there is a power vacuum for the moment in the Vatican and in their Parliament does not mean that they will not both be filled and perhaps with surprising results. The politicians of Europe may be ignoring Italy and the world’s investors are certainly ignoring Italy for the moment but the people of various nations, in my estimation, are not.
“We the People” may be in for a definitional change. The spark of the Italian elections may be the kindling for a much larger fire. I would not ignore the burning smell that is wafting through the air and I would not ignore the consequences of it.