I remember when I was but a wee lad on his way towards adulthood my father once told me that when I became eligible to vote, but chose not to do so, I would lose the right to bitch about the state of the country. He said this was because since I was not participating in the process of choosing who would be making the laws I would lose the right to bitch about what laws they passed. During that period of my life politics was the furthest thing from my mind; yet in 1976 when I finally reached the age which allowed me to vote, I did so; and I haven’t missed an election since.
This is not to say I was a wise voter, far from it; I pretty much just went down the list of candidates and put a check mark next to whoever had an R next to their name. My reasoning back then was that one Republican was as good as another, and they were all better than anything the Democrats had to offer. Looking back I still can’t believe I was that naive.
I continued this pattern for many years, simply voting along party lines and then going back to my life ignoring what the people I voted for were actually doing once elected; much like most continue to do today. My idea of patriotism was to stand behind my country, and my government, no matter what…blind loyalty if you will.
Then something changed. I don’t know why it happened, but it was like a switch had been flipped, turning on a sudden thirst for knowledge. I suddenly stopped taking for granted that everything I had been, and was currently being told about politics and our government was the absolute truth. I decided to seek out the real truth for myself. I dove into books and scoured the internet for documents, speeches, and quotes relating to the founding of this country. It was strange; after years of not giving these subjects any thought whatsoever they had suddenly become an overwhelming obsession. Thus began my journey for the truth; and if there is one thing I have learned on this journey it is this; if you start a journey like this then you had best be ready for where it takes you.
The thing about the truth is that it is not politically correct; it cares nothing about your feelings or your sensitivities. If you are one who is offended easily then the truth may not be for you because the truth is often offensive; especially after being told half truths and outright lies for most of your life. The truth can rock your world; it can cause you to question everything you have ever believed in; at least that is what it did for me. That is why I have chosen to no longer vote; because it is futile, a ruse, the sole purpose of which if to allow us to participate in choosing those who seek to enslave us.
When I first began learning the truth I was ecstatic, I wanted to share with everyone the things I was learning. If you are in to science fiction, or rock music, I felt like the character in the Rush song 2112 who discovers a guitar and takes it to the priests, or the character in Ayn Rand’s Anthem who discovers a light bulb and takes it to the World Council of Scholars. I believed, as did these fictional characters, that people would be overjoyed to learn the things I had learned. Boy was I wrong! That is why the first Matrix movie speaks to me more than many others, particularly when Morpheus tells Neo, “You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.”
You know, it is somewhat funny that I can get a respectable number of people to agree with me when I say that our government no longer adheres to the Constitution; however the moment I begin talking about how their political party is no better than the other one they become outraged; as if I am insulting their mother. Their loyalty to a political party takes precedent over any consideration for how well the members of that party adhere to what the document which created our system of government says. Therefore, a brief history of political parties is in order; you know, just to clear up some misconceptions.
Today, right now in 2015 there are two main political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats; or as some people call them, conservatives and liberals. People believe that there is this vast difference between them and that ‘their’ party has the answers, or plan, that will set America back on its feet again. So we flip flop, back and forth, between Republicans being in control and Democrats being in control, and yet people fail to see that things never really get any better. Why is that? Could it be because neither of the two primary political parties adheres to the principles which made this country great in the first place?
Did you know that when the Constitution was written there were no real political parties in America; there were only those who supported the Constitution; the Federalists, (which is a misnomer and a subject for another article in and of itself), and those who opposed the Constitution; the anti-Federalists.
Most of our Founders were opposed to the idea of having distinct parties; dividing the country along partisan lines. George Washington, the first President under the Constitution, stated, “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
John Adams, our second President, said this about political parties, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”
Then there was this, by Thomas Jefferson, our third President, “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”
Nonetheless, political parties sprang into existence almost as soon as our Constitution went into effect. The very first parties were the Federalists, who believed in a loose interpretation of the restrictions of the power granted government by the Constitution. Their opposition was the Democratic-Republicans who believed in a more literal interpretation of the Constitution, leaving the powers not specifically granted government by the Constitution to the States, or to the people…in other words, a strict interpretation of what the 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
A little bit of side history; at the time the Constitution was written many States wanted an Amendment added to the Constitution which said that the powers not EXPRESSLY delegated to the United States by the Constitution would be retained by the States or the people. But James Madison fought against including the word expressly because it would limit the power of his baby, the new central government. In fact, in Madison’s original proposal to the Constitutional Convention he declared that the government they were in the process of creating should have an absolute veto over all laws passed by the States. Madison wanted this new government to be superior to, and above those in the States.
Lucky for us wiser heads prevailed and Madison didn’t get what he wanted; at least not till the Civil War when Lincoln assaulted the States and their right to break the compact which bound them to the Union, then later the ratification of the 17th Amendment which took the States completely out of the operation of the federal government.
I find it funny that thirty five years after our Constitution went into effect, Madison’s friend, Thomas Jefferson, wrote to William Giles, “I see,…and with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides with which the federal branch of our government is advancing towards the usurpation of all the rights reserved to the States, and the consolidation in itself of all powers, foreign and domestic; and that, too, by constructions which, if legitimate, leave no limits to their power…”
But I digress, so getting back to political parties, the very first parties in this country were not divided along the lines the current parties of today are; no they were divided upon a strict or a loose interpretation of the powers granted the government by the Constitution.
In today’s political arena nary a one of the candidates running for office makes mention of their desire to adhere to a strict interpretation of what the Constitution says; and if they do mention it they merely pay it lip service. It reminds me of a passage in the book of Matthew where Jesus says, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
Our failing as a nation is not due to choosing which candidate is best for America; no, our failing is that we have placed party over principle and fail to see that neither of the two political parties have any desire, or intention, to adhere to the limits the document which created our government places upon that government.
We are more concerned with how that government can help us, provide for us, keep us safe from supposed enemies…and ourselves; and we vote accordingly. We have forgotten John F. Kennedy’s words, “…ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
There is more to patriotism, being an American, than simply going to the polls every couple of years and voting for the candidate you best believe will do what the country needs. No, being an American, being a patriot means standing up for the ideals and the beliefs enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, “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… 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.”
Two hundred thirty years ago when James Madison stood on the floor of the Virginia Assembly arguing in favor of the Constitution he said, “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.”
At least Madison got that part right, these encroachments upon our freedom have been gradual, but of late it seems as though they have been occurring much more frequently. It is almost as if government realizes there has been a shift in how the public supports the things they do, or possibly it is just that they are eager to get to the end game; the complete enslavement of us all.
That is why I have been repeating this quote by Learned Hand, wherein he says, “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.”
The fate, the future, of this country lies in our hands, not the hands of the people we vote for. Unlike many, who believe that their sole responsibility is to choose from a gaggle of candidates, (none of which have any inclination to uphold the oath of office they take to support and defend the Constitution), I will fight for the principles upon which this country was founded upon before I will ever support any political party and the men and women who have prostituted their souls just so they can be among those that rule over us.
There’s something else, something Thomas Jefferson said, that if you would simply step back from your party loyalty you might see with more clarity. Jefferson writes, “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.”
You should pay heed to the words of Daniel Webster, who said, “There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.” Unless you personally take a stand for your liberty all you do by voting is select who will rule over you. This goes equally for State elections because the political parties hold just as much sway and influence over elections in the States as they do in the federal government; the only difference is the State elections do not draw the attention of the people as much as do a presidential election.
No, Learned Hand was right, liberty must lie in the hearts of all of us for it to survive; and unfortunately it does not. To quote an ancient toast, “To us and those like us…so damn few left.” Yet that does not mean I will give up the fight; as Winston Churchill once said, “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”
So sorry Dad, I chose to no longer participate in my own enslavement. I will make my stand for liberty and let the cards fall where they will.