In past articles I have opined that were any of our nation’s Founding Fathers alive today they could not get elected because their political views are incompatible with the existing views on the issues held by an overwhelming majority of the American people. America is divided now, more than ever before, along the two party paradigm with those on one side calling themselves liberals, or Democrats, and those on the so-called conservative side calling themselves Republicans.
Had anyone taken the time to study the evolution of political parties in America they would have discovered that, at one point in our nation’s history, the Republicans would have been considered the liberals, while the Democrats were the more traditional conservatives. Back when that was the case the meaning of conservatism and liberalism was closer to what I define the terms than it is today. Back then conservatism was a strict adherence to the balance of power between the general government and the State authority, and a strict adherence to the defined powers of the general government found within the Constitution. Liberalism, on the other hand, was a sliding scale of how far the other side sought to stray from the principles contained in our Declaration of Independence, and upon which our Constitution was established.
I get the distinct impression today that a great many people think that to participate in the political process in America you MUST belong to one of the two primary political parties in this country. In speaking with people I sense that they believe that if you are an independent, then your views are irrelevant.
Since the election of Donald Trump last November, those on the left have stepped up their attacks upon those on the political right; both verbally and physically, in the form of violence against anyone who supports Trump. Is this what the left’s vision of democracy is; they are free to say anything they want, but if someone voices an opposing opinion they will attack them verbally and physically?
Although the left has taken these attacks upon ‘so-called’ conservatives to a whole new level, those on the right are not without guilt either. I recall when Ron Paul made his bids for the presidency how they circled the wagons against him and attempted to belittle both him, and those who supported him. The mainstream media on both sides worked to ensure that he got as little air time as possible; effectively blockading him and preventing the American people from hearing his message of limited government.
I remember when Paul ran for president in 08; I contacted Republican Party offices at the local, State, and national levels in an effort to obtain campaign material, such as placards, flyers, and other items to support his bid for the presidency. In each instance I was told that the GOP did not endorse Ron Paul and that if I wanted to find materials to support his campaign, I would have to contact the Paul campaign office directly.
It was at this point in my political education that I began to cement my views that there was no real difference between the two political parties. The Republicans would rather a Democrat won than allow someone with Libertarian views on government win. The same thing occurred in the recent election; the only difference is that Trump had enough money of his own that he did not require the support of the GOP machinery to get his message out to the people. I’m not saying I support Trump, I don’t. I’m just saying that the two parties will both work together to ensure that anyone who isn’t carefully vetted does not get an equal and fair amount of time to share their message with the American people.
I’m very curious to see what happens in 2020 when we have our next presidential election. Although there are those who still steadfastly stand behind Trump, I don’t think he’ll have the same groundswell of support that he did last time around. It will be interesting to see the parade of candidates the Republicans provide for the people to choose from, and whether the people will continue to voice their disdain for business as usual Republicans by voting for an independent, or take the likely alternative; a vote for the lesser of two evils.
People have become so conditioned into believing that if you do not vote for either a Republican or a Democrat you are wasting your vote. Yet in 1789 Thomas Jefferson said, “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.”
Thomas Jefferson is probably my favorite Founding Father; followed by Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry. It is truly sad that a great many of our nation’s youth don’t even know who Jefferson was; let alone that he was the primary author of our Declaration of Independence, our third President, a governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a former Secretary of State in George Washington’s cabinet.
I know I have mentioned this before, but in 1962 President John Fitzgerald Kennedy hosted 49 Nobel Prize winners at the White House. While they were being entertained by the President he offhandedly commented, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Jefferson was not alone among our Founders when it came to knowledge, but it is my belief that he stood above the others as far as his overall knowledge of all things; be it science, literature, architecture, and political philosophy. James Madison, our 4th President, and so called Father of our Constitution, referred to Jefferson as a ‘walking library.’
Are you aware that when the British burnt our nation’s capital during the War of 1812 that Jefferson’s personal library of books was the largest personal collection of books in the country? After the fire which destroyed the Library of Congress, Jefferson sold over 6,000 volumes to them to replace what had been lost; and that was not his entire collection of books!
Of all the delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress, it was upon Jefferson’s shoulders that the heavy burden of writing a declaration stating the Colonies reasons for seeking independence fell. Jefferson chose his words carefully and ended up writing, not only a document declaring America’s independence from England, but a masterpiece regarding the rights of man and the relationship between man and government. The idea the government derives its powers from the consent of the governed was revolutionary in its thinking at the time; yet Jefferson would later declare that he only wrote what was commonly accepted amongst the Colonists.
It simply boggles my mind that the beliefs of a man like Jefferson as they pertain to a wide spectrum of issues would be ignored by the people of this country today. How he felt about our rights, about State’s rights, about the dangers of the Judiciary, and a whole host of other subjects are as foreign to most people in this country as is the ability to speak Greek. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Jefferson could also read books written in 7 languages.
Yet were Thomas Jefferson alive today, and running for president, he couldn’t get a fair shake on FOX News or CNN; and the vast majority of Americans would not vote for him because, to the voters, his ideas would either be too radical, or too archaic. What does that say about America and its voters that the author of our Declaration of Independence would not be taken seriously as a candidate for president in 2017?
Yet there is something Jefferson said in one of the many letters he would write that bears consideration. In an 1821 letter to Spencer Roane, Jefferson wrote, “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 does not matter if you align yourself with the Republicans or the Democrats, the real problem in America is not that one party or the other has held power in government for too long. The real problem is a complete, and utter corruption of the principles upon which this country, and our system of government was founded.
I don’t care who you vote for, how good their intentions are, government has strayed so far from the original intent, amassed so much unauthorized power, that it has become a poisoned well that will resist any attempt to limit its power and return it to its original purposes.
I am frequently asked what we can do to fix our broken government. People do not like it when I say before we can fix our broken government we have to fix our broken ideas as to the purpose our government exists. You see, Jefferson defined good government as, “…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…” But people don’t want to hear that answer, they want a magic pill, a new law, or something else that will relieve them of the responsibility for their safety, their security, their success. Yet that is not what liberty is all about. Liberty means you have the right to pursue happiness, not that government will provide it for you if you fail to find it on your own.
In a speech delivered way back in 1944, Judge Learned Hand said, “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, 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.”
If you want to fix what is wrong with America, don’t look to government for the answers; look inwards, for the problem cannot be solved by giving government more power, it can only be solved when we take back the power we have allowed government to usurp and begin acting like Americans again.