Just out of curiosity I looked up the definition for American in the dictionary. Webster’s defines it as: a native or inhabitant of the U.S. : a U.S. citizen. Is that all there is to it, just taking up space on U.S. soil is all that is required for one to be considered an American? Is all that is needed to call oneself an American is to possess a piece of paper; either a birth certificate, a passport, or a naturalization certificate, and you are considered an American…through and through?
Then, out of curiosity, I did a web search for the legal definition of the word American. I did not get any hits for that specific query. I did, however, get numerous hits for American citizens or citizenship. One of the sites it took me to provided the following definition for an American citizen, “Those who, under the Constitution and laws of the United States, or of a particular community or of a foreign country, owe allegiance and are entitled to enjoyment of all Civil Rights that Accrue to those who qualify for that status.”
I don’t know, that still doesn’t seem to sufficiently describe what I feel it means to be an American. I guess the best way to explain it is by giving my definition for American. I believe being an American means, one who has attained citizenship status; either by birth or naturalization AND supports and defends the core principles upon which America was founded.
Do you consider yourself a true American simply because you work, do your best not to break any laws, pay your taxes and vote? Do you consider yourself American simply because you fly the flag on national holidays, stand behind your government, support the troops, and stand behind law enforcement?
I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but as far as I’m concerned that doesn’t cut it; not for me anyways. You see, I like to add clarifiers to those things. Take for instance trying not to break any laws; I feel that for laws to be worthy of me attempting not to break them they must be in conformity with the reason laws are supposed to be instituted; to protect your rights from being violated. How does it hurt YOUR rights if I don’t wear a seatbelt or a motorcycle helmet, or if I choose to smoke marijuana instead of drinking a few beers in the comfort of my home?
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Francis Gilmer, once said that law is often but the tyrants will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual. Therefore, if government passes a law which violates my rights as an individual, no matter how loud the public clamor for such a law is, I believe I need not obey it, simply because it is unconstitutional from the get go.
If my position is valid, then it also stands to reason that those who enforce such laws are acting in cahoots with those who pass these unconstitutional laws, and are also tyrants.
I think that being an American means standing for the basic values contained in our Founding documents, and those expressed by our Founders themselves in their writings. It doesn’t mean participating in the fraud which is our elections when both parties are guilty of offering candidates who have no intention of adhering to the limitations imposed upon them by the Constitution.
It cracks me up that there is all this uproar over whether Trump was, or was not, involved in this alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. What cracks me up is that if he was somehow involved in all these alleged crimes it only means that he got caught while all the other criminals in D.C. are getting away with all the crimes they commit. You see, I view them all as criminals, and to complain that our precious election process was tampered with, or violated, is a huge joke to me. The two political parties have been tampering with the process for years by not allowing anyone who even remotely stands the chance of repealing the programs they have enacted from getting elected. Just look at how the GOP treated Ron Paul and how the Democrats treated Bernie Sanders. Yet you Trump haters are crying about how he may have fraudulently won the election while there are 535 other criminals going without anyone even looking into the crimes they are guilty of.
I keep hearing from so many of these people who consider themselves Americans that we must be tolerant of other views and beliefs. Yet where is their tolerance for my beliefs and values? Where, may I ask is their tolerance for facts and the truth, versus the sugar coated lies they have been spoon fed since their birth?
This whole idea that we should stand behind our government en masse, waving the banner of patriotism sickens me to no end. Patriotism is not blind support for your government, the policies it enacts, nor is it blind support for the wars it decides to involve itself in. Patriotism is standing behind the principles upon which this Republic was founded.
Let me put it to you this way; I will support my government only to the extent it supports the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I will support those who enforce the laws our government passes, or fight in the wars it sends them off to only to the extent that those laws, or wars, are in accordance with the powers originally granted government; not those they have assumed for themselves by construction of the terms found within the Constitution.
I believe that one of the basic principles this country was founded upon is found in the Declaration of Independence, where it states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
That statement begins with one simple word–WE. I cannot say that what those who affixed their signatures to that document believed are the same as what the people of America believe today; otherwise we wouldn’t be in the mess we are. I say that because the Declaration goes on to say that the truths Jefferson was about to say are self-evident; meaning they need no demonstration or explanation; and again that is not the case with most people I encounter. In fact, most people I encounter refuse to even consider that the things Jefferson speaks of may be, in fact, true.
Jefferson then says that all men are created equal. Although Jefferson was a slave owner, which would seem to disprove that he actually believed what he was writing, many people fail to understand that in his original draft of the Declaration, Jefferson condemned slavery and laid the guilt for it at the feet of King George III. Jefferson also worked towards abolishing it in his home State of Virginia. Jefferson, although slavery existed at the time, was a firm believer in the basic principle that all men ARE created equal. He didn’t say that, at that point in American history all men are treated equally. There is a distinction, and one which is overlooked by those who criticize him and call him a hypocrite for saying that, yet owning slaves.
Next Jefferson writes that our rights are derived not from government, not from society, but from our Creator, or God. Two years prior to his having been chosen to be the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote something entitled A Summary View of the Rights of British America, wherein he states, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
I think I’ve clearly proven that our Founders, or at least the one responsible for our Declaration of Independence, believed that our rights come not from man or government, but from God, and therefore neither man nor government can restrict or violate them, at least not without being found guilty of violating Natural Law.
Now we get to the meat and potatoes of things. Next up Jefferson says, ” with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” Life is, I would hope, self explanatory. Liberty is word which encompasses all your rights, such as the freedom of speech, the right to keep and bear arms, and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Then we get to something most people have forgotten, the right to pursue happiness. Does Jefferson say achieve happiness? No, he does not; only that you have the right to pursue it. It has been said that the Constitution only gives you the right to pursue happiness, that you have to catch it yourself. Although falsely attributed to Ben Franklin, Jefferson did say something similar in his first Inaugural Address, “…a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”
It isn’t now, nor was it ever, the purpose of government to provide things which directly benefitted or aided the people who inhabit this land. Anything which takes money from the public treasury and distributes it in the form of grants, subsidies, welfare, or any other form of government payout, was deemed, by Jefferson, to be beyond the scope of powers given government.
Self reliance was what our Founders felt was the key to happiness. James Madison, the purported Father of our Constitution, once said, “The class of citizens who provide at once their own food and their own raiment, may be viewed as the most truly independent and happy. They are more: they are the best basis of public liberty, and the strongest bulwark of public safety. It follows, that the greater the proportion of this class to the whole society, the more free, the more independent, and the more happy must be the society itself.”
Years later, Theodore Roosevelt would say, “If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.”
Those beliefs are no longer considered politically correct. In today’s modern tolerant and feel good about yourself world, society is responsible for providing for the needs of all those who suffer or have failed to achieve happiness and security. But that was not what our Founders envisioned, and it is not what our Constitution authorizes our government to do.
How many people do you know who go to work and then put in the minimal amount of work required to keep their job or earn their pay? I can list dozens myself, and when they are told that they must do what their job title expects them to do they get upset and say “But that’s too hard ” or “That’s too much work.” And the problem is that we have become so tolerant of laziness and substandard performance that, more often than not, nothing is done to make people do what is expected of them to earn their pay. Is it any wonder we have a society which expects government to support them when they fail to achieve success or happiness?
Then we get to the crux of why our government was established, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” Government, and this goes for government at all levels, is supposed to work tirelessly to protect these basic rights, not to diminish or obliterate them. Yet that’s what government has done and nobody, aside from a few outspoken radicals such as myself, seem to care. Nobody cares that their right to defend themselves has been limited by laws saying when, where, and under what circumstances force can be used to protect oneself or one’s property.
In his Second Treatise on Civil Governments, John Locke expresses the right to defend oneself as follows, “And hence it is, that he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power, does thereby put himself into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a declaration of a design upon his life: for I have reason to conclude, that he who would get me into his power without my consent, would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it; for no body can desire to have me in his absolute power, unless it be to compel me by force to that which is against the right of my freedom, i.e. make me a slave. … This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life, any farther than, by the use of force, so to get him in his power, as to take away his money, or what he pleases, from him; because using force, where he has no right, to get me into his power, let his pretence be what it will, I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my liberty, would not, when he had me in his power, take away every thing else. And therefore it is lawful for me to treat him as one who has put himself into a state of war with me, i.e. kill him if I can; for to that hazard does he justly expose himself, whoever introduces a state of war, and is aggressor in it.”
No government can limit or restrict that fundamental right. Nor can they restrict my speech by making certain speech ‘hate speech’, nor can they invade my privacy for the overall public welfare to keep us safe from terrorists. These are fundamental rights that government is supposed to be protecting, not violating at will. Yet do I hear a massive outcry of public disapproval? No. In fact, when Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which our government spies upon us he was called a traitor and forced to flee the country, eventually seeking exile in Russia.
And finally we get to the closing comment of the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
I don’t know, it seems like common sense to me that for a people to know when a government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established they must first understand those reasons why it was established. How can a people do that when they do not understand what powers the Constitution authorizes the government to exercise, or the purpose for which each of the rights protected by the Bill of Rights were written? Yet ignorance is the byword of most Americans today; they are more concerned with seeking entertainment than they are enlightenment. Most people believe that their political party has the right agenda for America; never realizing, or at least not caring, that both have strayed from Constitutional principles.
Then Jefferson says that it is the right of people to alter or abolish any government which becomes destructive of the ends for which governments are established. This was the justification for their declaring independence from England, and it was the same justification used by the 11 Southern States when they seceded from the Union in 1861. Their reasons for deciding why the government had become destructive of the ends for which it was instituted is irrelevant; it was their right to leave the Union and form a new system which would suit their needs. And the government, led by Abraham Lincoln denied them that right; taking the nation to war and forever obliterating the principle which led to the establishment of America as a free and independent nation.
But honestly, if you want to know what it means to be an American, I believe it means, first understanding what Jefferson meant when he wrote those epic words. Secondly, and possibly more important, it means living your life, and structuring your beliefs upon those principles.
I hear a great deal of talk among many of my fellow Californians about seceding from the Union. Unfortunately their reasons for wanting to secede are all wrong. Sure, I may not particularly care for Trump, but California has become a cesspool of liberal socialist ideology that goes against everything men like Thomas Jefferson believed in. Californians want to secede because they want to push California closer to their Utopian Dream of a Socialist paradise where all are promised success and a comfortable life. They fail the realize that never in the history of man has socialism succeeded in achieving its goals of providing true equality for all; there is always one class which rises above the others who enforces the socialist ideology upon those below it.
The fact is, socialism restricts individual liberty and creates slaves; slaves of the people whose work and the fruit of their labors is taken and given to those less fortunate or in need. Socialism always collapses under this burden it imposes upon those who produce.
I know what I have just said will upset some, especially those much younger than I. But those are my thoughts on what it means to be an American; upholding the beliefs expressed by Jefferson in that one small paragraph. And from what I’ve seen, there is but a small percentage of people living in the U.S. who meet the criteria of what I require before one considers themselves an American.
A real American would defend their liberty to the death, not allow it to be stripped from them to provide them security or comfort. In 1771 Samuel Adams wrote something that, in my opinion, applies even more so today than it did when he originally wrote it, “The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.”
All I can say is, if you say you are an American, than start acting like one and stop supporting candidates who campaign for things the Constitution does not authorize them to do; stop sitting idly by while your rights are taken from you; start educating yourself as to what the Constitution authorizes the government to do, and what the Bill of Rights prohibits it from doing.
Until you do that you are not Americans, you are nothing better than a herd of sheep being led around by the noses by liars and thieves.