Moments after being sworn in as the first president of these States United under the new Constitution, George Washington stated, “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” I’m going to be blunt, does that mean anything at all to you, or as Andy Dufresne asks the warden in The Shawshank Redemption, “Are you obtuse?” In case you’re not aware, obtuse means slow to understand something.
For nearly two decades now I have been writing these little missives, [articles], and I have yet to see that they have had any real affect on the way people think. I don’t do this for pleasure, and I certainly am not profiting from it. I do it because for some reason I am able to see beyond the lies that I have been told by everyone from my school teachers to the news media and our elected public servants. For some reason I have been blessed, or cursed depending upon how you look at it, with the ability to think for myself. I can listen to a news broadcast, or a speech delivered by some two bit hack politician, and detect the lies and bullshit that others readily accept as truth, without ever stopping to think about it.
I also do this because, even though our country is in a shitty state right now, I still love it. I write these missives because, aside from a few others I know, most people can’t see the end result of their ignorance and apathy when it comes to how much power they allow their government to amass, and the resulting loss of their rights and liberty. I write these missives, repeating the same basic premises over and over, trying different approaches, in the hopes of rekindling that spirit of resistance to tyranny that led our Founders to seek independence from England and establish a system of government which would best prevent that same tyranny from ever happening here in America.
So far I have been unsuccessful in achieving my goal. I don’t know, is it me, or are the people of this country truly that apathetic and brain dead that they cannot comprehend the basic principles upon which this republic was founded? I could honestly care less about what you do with your personal time. If you want to plant tulips, read fiction novels, or spend your time watching television, that is perfectly acceptable to me. What I cannot understand is how whatever it is you do with your spare time can take precedence over the future of your country, and more importantly, the erosion of your liberty. That is unfathomable to me.
In drafting our Constitution the delegates who attended the convention in Philadelphia had to struggle with two things. First they had to create a system that was strong enough to overcome the faults within the Articles of Confederation. Then they had to find a way to protect the rights of the States, and of the people.
That right there is where most people in this country get it wrong. Most people believe that the purpose for government is to do things for them, to provide things for them, when in truth the reason government exists is to manage the general affairs of the nation, while protecting our rights and leaving us alone to improve our lot in life.
In a speech delivered to the Virginia Convention in December of 1829, James Madison stated, “It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated.”
So, how to create a system which overcame the flaws in the Articles of Confederation, and served the purpose which Madison referred to above? It was no easy task the intricate balance of powers, the checks each branch placed upon the others to ensure no one branch obtained too much power. Yet for the system to work as designed it was essential that the people be knowledgeable about it. As Madison would say in Federalist 51, “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Yet today, right here and now in America, people are less concerned with how well their government is protecting their rights in comparison to how many benefits it is providing for them.
In 1788 and 1789 the legislatures of Kentucky and Virginia adopted resolutions in response to President Adams signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts which they felt were a direct violation of the powers granted government by the Constitution. In Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Kentucky Resolution he states, “Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force…” (my emphasis)
Jefferson went on to say, “…the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers…” Think about that. The government created by this compact, [the Constitution], was not the final judge of the powers delegated to itself. This includes those black robed thieves, otherwise known as the Supreme Court, who have legislated from the bench to dictate what laws are constitutional, and what rights we may enjoy, and to what extent.
Well then, if the government is not the final judge of the powers granted it, who is? Why, that would be the unspoken of fourth branch of government…the people. It all ties back in to what Washington said, that the experiment was entrusted to us. It was our job to remain informed regarding how our system was supposed to function, it was our job to ensure that only honest and virtuous people were elected to office, and yes, it was our job to stand up and disobey laws which we felt violated the Constitution. For our system to function efficiently it was up to the people. That is why Jefferson, in his Notes on Virginia, said the following about government, ” It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.” It is why nearly 50 years later he would write, “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.” It is why James Madison would state at the Ratifying Convention in Virginia, “Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks — no form of government can render us secure. To suppose liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.”
It was up to us to keep our government in line, to ensure that our liberties were passed on from generation to generation. And you know what? We fucked up. It didn’t happen all at once, that would have been too obvious, too much for the people to accept, and would have led to revolt. Instead it happened a bit at a time, a little whittling away at our rights here, a little expansion of governmental powers there. But it has been consistent and steady since at least as far back as the Civil War, probably even further back than that.
In a speech given in 1788 James Madison declared, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” Years earlier, in his Summary View of the Rights of British America, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers (administrators) too plainly proves a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing us to slavery.”
These gradual and silent encroachments have been going on for so long that we have become accustomed to them and consider them to be business as usual from our government. But that does not make them right. If you would only read what the Founders said about the powers granted government, read the Federalist Papers where they describe this system, and the anti-Federalist Papers where men opposed to the system describe how they feared it would turn out, you may learn something and realized that you have been duped, led like a fool to your own destruction.
For instance, anti-Federalist known as Brutus wrote the following in 1788, “I can scarcely contemplate a greater calamity that could befall this nation, than to be loaded with a debt exceeding their ability ever to discharge.” That means that his greatest fear was that our country might one day end up so deep in debt that we could never hope to repay it. How close does that sound to our current situation when we have an $18 trillion debt, which is $2 trillion more than the Gross Domestic Product of the United States? That means we owe more in debt than this entire country is worth!
It sounds like Brutus’s worst fear has come true. Add to the unsustainable borrowing and spending that our government is doing, the fact that our rights and our liberties are being stripped from us in the name of public safety or the war on terror, and very little remains of the republic that our Founders created over 200 years ago.
How many laws has our government passed which penalize us for doing things they say we should not do? In 1782 Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” While this was in reference to laws requiring, or restricting religious beliefs, the first part of the quote is also worth paying attention to; The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. Does my not wearing a seat belt or a motorcycle helmet hurt anyone? How many laws can you count that you can be penalized for violating, yet hurt no one if you do?
Consider this as well, in 1785 James Madison wrote, “The preservation of a free government requires, not merely that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained, but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great barrier which defends the rights of the people.” Yet government continues to pass laws that do just that, overlap the barrier which defends our rights. Gun control laws, TSA searches of our persons at airports, NSA surveillance of our communications. I could go on and on, but the government no longer protects our rights, it violates them.
And we allow this because?
Samuel Adams once said, “If the liberties of America are ever compleatly ruined, of which in my opinion there is now the utmost danger, it will in all probability be the consequence of a mistaken notion of prudence, which leads men to acquiesce in measures of the most destructive tendency for the sake of present ease.”
Adams completed his quote by saying, “The tragedy of American freedom, it is to be feared, is nearly compleated. A tyranny seems to be at the very door. It is to little purpose, then, to go about coolly to rehearse the gradual steps that have been taken, the means that have been used, and the instruments employed to encompass the ruin of the public liberty. We know them and we detest them. But what will this avail, if we have not courage and resolution to prevent the completion of their system?”
Although he was speaking of the ruin of public liberty by laws enacted by Parliament and the Crown, he may as well have been talking about America today where we allow our rights to be trampled upon in the name of safety, and our government to expand its scope of powers for the general welfare of the people.
History does repeat itself, and if you were capable of opening your eyes to it you would see it happening right here, right now, in the land of the free. But you are too unwilling to spend the time needed to educate yourself, and to then apply what you have learned in the selection of men and women to represent you. You hold on to the failed two party paradigm that we must accept either a Democrat or a Republican and that any other choice is a choice for the other guy.
Not standing up for what is right is the corruption of principles which Jefferson warned us about. We have been misled into believing that we have a choice between conservatives and liberals and that is all we have. When the truth is that although the two parties may sound different, upon closer examination you would see that both parties are guilty of expanding government and diminishing your rights.
But this is all information I have spoken of before, and nobody seems to be able to get it. So I ask, what the hell am I doing trying to inform a people who no longer care? Am I wasting my time and efforts? I’m not saying I intend to give up on my country, that is far from the case. I am saying that I am giving up on the America people ever caring enough to do what needs to be done to change the course this country is on.
I will write, or speak, until my dying breath. I am just not holding said breath until the people understand what I have been trying to tell them. From what I can see, that is what is known as a lost cause. I will continue to feel this way until you, the people of this country, prove otherwise, until you prove to me that you finally get it and realize that our system isn’t broken, it is just that you have asked too much from the people you elect and it is your fault that it no longer functions as it was supposed to.
In closing I would like to leave you with the following quote by Samuel Adams, “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.”
And if you don’t know what infamy means, it means disgrace. So, if you choose to remain uninformed, ignorant and apathetic, the resulting collapse of our nation will bring disgrace to you. I have tried to warn you, but you would not listen. So don’t come crying to me when it all falls apart and you are seeking someone to blame. I would ask that when that day does come you find the closest mirror and take a look at the person responsible.