We Have Forgotten Who We Are

Time indeed changes manners and notions, and so far we must expect institutions to bend to them. But time produces also corruption of principles, and against this it is the duty of good citizens to be ever on the watch, and if the gangrene is to prevail at last, let the day be kept off as long as possible. Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane (1821)

Let’s be honest, America has lost its way, it has forgotten who and what it is. People today blame one political party or the other for the problems this country currently faces, while others blame the gridlock between the two parties for our problems. If you want the truth, neither of those two reasons are the real problem for all the problems in America today.

Think about it, we have what’s known as a representative form of government. It is not a democracy where the majority gets what they want all the time. It is not a dictatorship or an oligarchy were one man, or a small group of men, decide what is best for the country and their will is supreme. Under our system we choose candidates to represent the people in the management of the government. At the time it was established the states also had a say in the federal government by way of their choosing the members of the Senate. But that balance of power was shifted when they tinkered with the system by ratifying the 17th Amendment, giving the power of electing Senators to the people.

So now the system truly is representative of the people who inhabit this land due to the fact that we choose the president; we choose members to the House of Representatives; and we choose the Senators to represent our states.

The key word in all this is represent. One of the definitions for the word represent is to express or explain what is happening or what people think. So if our government is disjointed and dysfunctional it is because we as a people are disjointed and dysfunctional. In that, our government truly is a mirror held up to the people it represents.

Our nation’s name, lest you forgot, is the United States of America, the key word being United. United does not simply mean that we share a common border with our neighboring states and that we have a common government to manage the affairs of this union of states. No, united means far more than that.

In Federalist Number 2, future Supreme Court Justice John Jay would write, “With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”

This is what they meant when they called us these United States of America. We are anything but that now. Just look at all the issues that divide us; not only politically, but socially, and due to our heritages as well. We are a nation divided and fragmented, and if you put aside the fact that our government has been bought and paid for by powerful men behind the scenes who dictate what it will and will not do, it is a reflection of how divided we really are.

You see, John Jay also said in Federalist 2, “This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.”

But that is what we are if you really think about it, a bunch of people living under the same roof arguing over what we think is best for the country, without ever having taken the time to study what our Founders plan for government says is the nature and purpose of our government. Is it then, any wonder, that our system is so screwed up?

At one point in our nation’s history a group of states decided that the government no longer served the purpose for which it was established. They decided to do what the Declaration of Independence says was their right, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Slavery was not the issue during the Civil War, or as I prefer to call it, the War of Northern Aggression. It was the right of the states to dissolve the compact which bound them to the union when they felt the union was no longer serving the purpose for which it was established.

Abraham Lincoln saw it differently. He raised troops to force the Confederacy to abandon their secessionist movement. The country, divided now between the North and South, went to war. Over half a million men died and Abraham Lincoln got his wish that this union should be perpetual, that the states had no right to dissolve the compact which bound them together.

In that respect we are forever united, unless once again we face another Civil War fought by those standing up for their rights, and the federal government which would seek, by force, to impose its will upon us. But we are far from united on principle and beliefs as to what our government is, and is not, supposed to do.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, most people in this country could care less about what their government is doing. Unless their taxes were to go up drastically, or some benefit that they are receiving is suddenly cut off, most people could care less what happens in Washington D.C., or their state capitals for that matter. I know people who can name the entire offensive and defensive lines of their favorite football team, but they can’t name who is Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, Secretary of State, or even the Vice President. What does that tell you about where people’s priorities are? Do you honestly think that people such as these are going to research legislation that Congress is proposing? Do you honestly believe that these people will compare whether any of the programs and agencies government establishes are within the specifically enumerated powers granted government by the Constitution? Me neither.

So we get what Jefferson feared, a corruption of principles and our government is merely a reflection of that. I could go on and on about which principles have been corrupted; how we are no longer self-reliant, how our views on the right of self-defense have changed, but it wouldn’t do any good, people don’t care.

If people cared they wouldn’t be flying. These TSA searches at the airports are clear cut violations of the 4th Amendment, which states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” For a search, such as those being performed at airports across the country, to take place there must be a reason why they are performed. The agency must present evidence to a judge stating that there is reason to believe that the person being searched is guilty of a crime. The judge must issue a warrant stating where the search will take place and what they are looking for. The person being searched must be presented with the warrant.

When people go through these searches they are surrendering their 4th Amendment right. If every single person boarding a flight asked to see the warrant which authorized these searches what could they do? If every person refused to fly until these searches were halted, what would they do?

It does not matter that by these searches they may prevent one person from smuggling a bomb onto a plane. The loss of life would be horrible, but you simply cannot suspend people’s rights due to the belief that by doing so you are making the world a safer place.

Ben Franklin once said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Former Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren also said, “It would indeed by ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of the liberties…which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile.”

These violations of our rights by those who claim to be doing so to fight terror are just the latest in a long string of violations of our rights and liberty. They are tolerated because we tolerate them. Remember, our government is supposed to be representative, so if it does something we don’t like we vote them out of office or demand that they halt their usurpations of power and infringements upon our rights.

None of these happen because we have forgotten what this country once stood for. We have forsaken the principles of the men who established it and we have become corrupt, disjointed, and dysfunctional. Our government is merely a reflection of the people. I hope you like what you see.

If you are serious about changing the course our country is currently taking, I suggest you take a long hard look at your views and beliefs. That may require you to question the things you have believed in for years, if not your entire life. But if you want to see America return to its former glory then it must be done. Or else nothing is going to change. We will continue to vote for candidates based upon our own flawed belief systems.

About Br'er Rabbit

I'm just one person out of millions of others. The only thing different about me is that I don't walk around with my head up my ass.
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