I’m a pretty avid reader and every once in awhile I will read something that just jumps out and slaps me in the face. Most of the time it is when I’m reading the writings of men who have been dead for a very long time. However Monday morning I was making my way through the usual web-pages I visit and I ran across an article by Michael Gaddy on The Federal Observer. When I finished reading it I felt as if he had dug down and read my mind as his thoughts mirrored my thoughts to a T.
I won’t quote from Mr. Gaddy’s article as I think you should read it for yourself, but I will steal the quote from George Carlin that he prefaces his article with, “Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public.”
I keep telling people that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the Supreme Law of the Land and that all elected officials are bound by oath to uphold them. But if the people do not understand what those documents say, or don’t care what they say, then what is to hold these elected officials back from breaking the law by overstepping the bounds imposed upon them by the Constitution?
Most of you have probably watched a dvd at some point in your life. At the very beginning of them there is an FBI warning that states, “Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.” Now think about that, copyright infringement is protected by the Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, which states, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
So, it is within the power of government to impose fines upon people who violate the copyright laws enacted by government. But what agency, or law imposes fines and jail time for politicians who violate the other Articles and Clauses of the Constitution?
You see, the government can enact whatever laws they seem to think are in our best interests and they have all these agencies at their disposal to enforce these laws upon us, regardless of their legality. We violate the tax codes and the IRS comes after us. We consume drugs which the government has declared illegal and the DEA comes after us. We buy or sell guns that the government has declared illegal and the ATF comes after us. And it’s not just federal agencies who enforce these unconstitutional laws, it is also the various law enforcement branches across the nation. Local cops also enforce these laws regardless of the fact that many of the laws they enforce are clear cut violations of the Constitution or infringements upon our rights. So, what are we to do if we want to restore America to the limited government as outlined by the Constitution? Before I begin to discuss this let me tell you that I don’t have an answer. I can only explain how bad it has gotten and why there may be no solution to the problem.
I know many, if not most people in this country believe that we are a democracy, where 51% of the people are all it takes for government to have permission to enact laws, but that is not the way it was designed. Sure for Congress to pass a law it took a majority to do so, as it took a majority of the voters to select the people who were to represent them in this system of government. But the difference between our system, a Republic, and a democracy, was that under our system those chosen by us to enact laws had restrictions placed upon them regarding what they could, and could not, enact laws about. But it all rested upon we the people holding our elected officials to these restrictions. If they overstepped their authority and we did not hold them accountable then the fault lies with us, not them.
To understand what has gone wrong in America requires that we understand basic human nature. For far too many, logic and rational thought are not the guiding forces in their lives. Instead they rely upon emotions to guide them; anger and fear far too often cloud the reasoning process and allow for our representatives to play upon these emotions to pass laws which clearly violate the limits imposed upon them by the Constitution.
In 1850 Frederic Bastiat wrote a brilliant treatise entitled The Law in which he outlined the purpose for, and how the law becomes perverted. The following quotes are taken from the very beginning of Bastiat’s treatise and give a hint as to what I meant when I talked about basic human nature, “If every person has the right to defend—even by force—his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right—its reason for existing, its lawfulness—is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force—for the same reason—cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.
But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.
Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.
But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man—in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain.”
Unlike the immigrants who flock to this country today to partake of the many benefits this country has to offer, the first immigrants came to America only to seek a chance to establish a life with the freedom that our country had to offer. Even the millions who passed through Ellis Island came here only for the chance to succeed, they did not come here with their hands out seeking handouts. The simple truth is that for much of our nation’s history we grew into an economic powerhouse, with a strong middle class because of the self-reliance of the people who came here.
By a show of hands I wonder how many people could say that they are self-reliant, that they have never taken any kind of benefit or subsidy? As Bastiat said, people have this tendency to live at the expense of others. This Scotsman named Alexander Fraser Tytler summed it all up when he said, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.”
I have witnessed an awakening of some sorts over the past few years, but has it been enough to alter our nation’s course, or is it too little too late? Take for instance the Tea Party movement, a good concept but what good has it done? I suppose the idea was to spread the word of limited government as outlined by our Constitution, but that’s all it’s done. We still have to face that fact that even if we spread the word, the vast majority of the people in this country still hold on to the two party system or the belief that their government can do whatever the majority ask it to. Without a majority of the people voting for Tea Party candidates the end effect is that the corruption in government will continue and, most likely, continue to grow.
Then there is the 10th Amendment movement and the idea of the States nullifying federal laws. That was tried long ago by John C. Calhoun in 1833 and it didn’t go over too well then. It was tried again when the South tried to secede from the Union and we all know how THAT turned out. Again for the states to nullify any federal law would require that the state legislatures and the respective governors were to have more concern for upholding their oaths of office and support and defend the Constitution than they do to the party machination which got them into office. On top of all that it would require that the people of the various states would also support such actions by their state officials, and if they don’t expect their federal representatives to uphold their oath to support and defend the Constitution, what makes you think they will expect their state representatives to do so?
And then there is much talk of adding amendments to the Constitution to further restrict the actions of our federal government. This was discussed in depth in a book by Mark Levin, and also in Michael Gaddy’s article found on the Federal Observer. The Bill of Rights prohibits any laws which infringe upon our right to bear arms, and also protects us from unwarranted intrusions upon ourselves and our property, yet the federal government STILL violates these amendments. So what makes you think that they will obey any NEW amendments added to the Constitution. It is the same argument I hear from pro-Second Amendment enthusiasts in that by their very nature criminals will not obey gun laws, so what good are more laws going to do when it comes to reducing crime? If our government does not obey the amendments already in place, what makes you think they’ll obey any new ones?
And finally there is the 3% movement whose basic belief is that it only took 3% to overthrow the British and it would only take 3% to get rid of the corruption in our government today. That may very well be true, it might only take 3% to actively stand up against government to force them into obeying the limits imposed upon them by the Constitution. But there is a fault with this belief as well. In 1776 the people who inhabited the original 13 colonies were pretty much all self-sufficient and did not rely upon government benefits and subsidies to survive. If, and this is a BIG IF, they were successful in putting government back in its place…what then? What of the millions of people whose existence depended upon government handouts? And this goes for farmers who get government subsidies, companies who rely upon government grants and contracts. What would happen if suddenly all their funds stopped coming?
Like it or not, America is a different creature today than it was when our system of government was established. I’m reminded of the scene in the movie Robin Hood with Russell Crowe where Godfrey meets with Philipp of France and Phillip tells him that under King Richard England is a different creature than under John.
The spirit that existed in America in1776, and 1789 has long since departed and we are a different people. Sure there are some, myself included, who still believe in the principles upon which this country was founded, but we are pathetically outnumbered and like it or not the majority will continue to get what it wants and deserves from government.
If we hope to restore America we have to change the mindset of the people who inhabit this country, that is our only hope. A few Tea Party candidates scattered here and there aren’t going to do a damn thing. And as long as our elected representatives have the backing of the majority, they will give them the type laws they ask and expect from government. Even if there were an uprising and we forcibly removed, and imprisoned those traitors in our nation’s capital, who would replace them, and of what quality would they be?
It all boils down to what Carlin said, “Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public.”
So that is why I haven’t written anything lately. I can’t see wasting my time and effort to convince a people who simply refuse to accept that possibly they are to blame for all that is wrong with this country. I have not stopped loving my country, or hoping that things get better, but I am a realist and I simply don’t see it happening…not with the quality of people who currently inhabit it anyway.
Maybe I’m only seeing a small portion of the people, and that it does not truly represent the mindset of the rest of the people in this country. But until I see people, en masse, refusing to obey these unconstitutional laws I can only assume that the people support them. As long as I see these agencies and law enforcement officers enforcing these unconstitutional laws, I can only assume that they will continue to simply follow orders without regard to their oaths to support and defend the Constitution.
It will only change when the people, in sufficient numbers, demand that it change. And I don’t see it happening quickly enough. And the clock is ticking and time is quickly running out. So, I don’t see any fairy tale endings in our future. I only see more of the same, with things getting progressively worse.
Call me a pessimist if you insist, but I consider myself a practical realist and I am preparing for the worst. If you were wise, you would be doing the same.