Letter: Bill Clinton has a Puritan streak

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The Independent Online
JONATHAN Raban's excellent article 'The making of the President' (6 September) referred to Bill CLinton's proposal for a 'new covenant . . . that will repair the damaged bond between the people and their government'. But he did not point out the sinister implications of the phrase.

As every American used to know, the Puritan colonist John Winthrop characterised the theocratic foundation of America itself as a 'new covenant' with God. According to Winthrop, God made the laws and the colonists kept them. God founded a society in which some were rich, some poor, some were rulers and some were ruled. The proto- Americans accepted their lot and the colony prospered. Of course, if anyone stepped out of line, indulged in a little carnality or set about making a few bucks on the side, God wiped him or her out. No more covenant; no more America.

Let's face it, every American knows that obedience and subjection went out with the revolution, poverty is inherently anti-American and the sins of the flesh and the market are constitutional rights. An appeal to the rhetoric of the pre-democratic Puritans to lend credence to a godless 'liberal' ticket is made all the more sinister, however, when it comes from a man who has generated career capital from executing his state's transgressors. From Arkansas where it was governor-as- God, Mr Clinton is attempting to sell government-as-God. Neither reflects well on him or his party.

Linnie Blake

King's College, Cambridge

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