“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”
~John F. Kennedy~
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance
and conscientious stupidity.”
~Martin Luther King Jr.~
If you want my honest opinion, (and I know that many people don’t), I feel that the biggest problem in America, as it pertains to politics and our system of government, is the simple fact that people do not know, nor do they care to know, why our system of government was created. It is far easier for most to continue believing that, although our government from time to time violated the Constitution, if fundamentally is doing the job it was established to do.
At the core of this problem is the basic fact that in a representative form of government, such as ours, those we elect are accountable to us, (the people), and that we are responsible for keeping those we elect in line as it pertains to violations of the Constitution. It is far easier to believe that our government is authorized to do all the things it currently does than it is to spend hours educating themselves on the finer points of our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
In 1822 James Madison wrote, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” Although some don’t come out and say it to my face, I know that I often anger some people when I make the comment that the American public is fundamentally ignorant when it comes to knowing their country’s history and understanding how their system of government is supposed to function.
I have acquaintances on both sides of the political aisle; Democrats and Republicans, and I can recall times that they have applauded me when I criticized the actions of our government when the party they oppose is in control, yet become angered when I criticize the actions of our government when their party is running the show. What this shows me is that people place more importance upon party than they do upon principle. When people do this it releases them from the responsibility of knowing what principles this country was founded upon, and then working to ensure that those principles continue to thrive in America.
I can’t count the times people have told me that our Founders could not have foreseen the advances made in society, and that therefore the Constitution must be interpreted differently now in comparison to how it was interpreted when it was written. Pardon the vulgarity, but that is utter bullshit, and it shows that people don’t know the first thing about what our Constitution is.
I know that facts and evidence don’t mean much to a great many people today, but to those of you who believe our Constitution is a living document that must change with the times, I have a few facts that prove that YOU’RE WRONG!!!
When George Washington refused a 3rd term as president and decided to retire from public life, he wrote a lengthy letter to be circulated in the papers throughout the nation. This was to become our nation’s first Presidential Farewell Address. In his letter President Washington said, “If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”
Then, in 1866, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Ex parte Milligan, which in part declared that, “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of men than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism.”
Finally, in more recent times, the recently deceased former Justice, Antonin Scalia, said the following, “The Constitution is not a living organism. It is a legal document, and it says what it says and doesn’t say what it doesn’t say.”
Our Constitution is a legal document, a charter of sorts, between the people and the States which comprise this Union to form a system of government to act on their behalf. It bestows upon that government certain specific powers; with each branch of the government having distinct and separate functions and spheres of authority. As the Supreme Law of the Land, it is binding upon both our government and the citizenry as it pertains to what they can ask their government to do on their behalf.
Although the Constitution is binding upon all, it does provide an avenue by which it can be modified, or amended, if enough people believe that changes need to be made to it. However, until those changes are formally accepted by a 3/4 majority of the States, no act of the federal government can exceed the specific powers given them without being considered a crime.
America does not have a democracy, no matter how many times you have been told we do; we have a Republic where the people elect representatives to enact the laws of the nation, while these representatives are limited by a law which governs what laws they may enact upon the entities they represent. Because the majority of the people want laws to be passed which violate the Constitution is not justification for them to be enacted; or what’s the use in even having a Constitution which clearly outlines the powers our government shall exercise?
This is why an in depth study of our nation’s history; particularly the arguments both for and against ratification of the Constitution should be required before any child can graduate from high school; and more importantly, before they be allowed to exercise the right to vote. How can anyone honestly say that they are making informed decisions when they don’t know, or at least don’t care, what the Constitution, or our Founders say are the powers given government, or the purpose for which it was established? Yet vote these people do…in droves…and all for party over principle.
The government we have today is far more oppressive than the one which our Founders took up arms to free themselves from. The boundaries which separate the powers our federal government was instituted to exercise, and those which would remain the responsibility of the States have been torn down and now all federal law, however repugnant, or how far it exceeds the specific powers granted government, reign supreme.
The government we have today micromanages and regulates almost every aspect of our lives; from the production and sale of goods to how much water your toilet uses when you flush it. That is not what our Founders had in mind when they presented the finished Constitution to the States for their consideration!
This micromanaging of our lives stifles freedom; makes sheep of us all. As Alexis de Tocqueville explains in his book Democracy in America, “After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”
I don’t know, do people think that if our representatives aren’t passing some law to make our lives better or to keep us safer they aren’t earning the money we pay them; that is why we accept all these new laws which only end up depriving us of more of our freedom? One would think that after nearly 230 years our government would have passed every law conceivable in support of the few specific powers granted them; but that seems not to be the case as they continue to pass law after law; many of which are so incomprehensible it takes an entire team of lawyers to decipher them.
In 1788 James Madison spoke of that exact scenario, “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what is will be tomorrow.” (Source: Federalist 62)
I don’t know about you, but even as accustomed as I have become to reading the documents pertaining to the founding of our nation, I still get a headache trying to figure out what the pieces of legislation our government passes actually say. Whether this is intentional, to discourage people from trying to find out how corrupt their lawmakers are, or whether the laws they have passed have become so complicated, and amended so many times that this is the only way they can do things, is beyond me. All I know is that making sense of a single piece of legislation is damned near impossible.
Not only do most people continue to put their trust and faith in a government that routinely violates the law which governs what it can and cannot do, but we also support those who enforce these unconstitutional laws upon the general citizenry. Not only that, we denigrate and condemn those whose sole crime is the asserting of their rights. It has gotten to the point where when one tries to be free, and I mean truly free, they are found to be guilty of violating the law.
It is a sad statement about society that the exercise of a person’s rights is now considered a crime. People forget that Jefferson once said that law is often but the tyrants will, especially when it violates the right of the individual.
I truly believe that people wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they didn’t have big government watching over them all the time. Yet were government to limit its acts to the specific powers granted it by the Constitution it would be one I might finally be willing to throw my support behind.
But that would mean that people need to assume the responsibility for their own lives; their own decisions, and the consequences of their actions; and not seek to place the blame upon society when they fail, or screw up. But that’s exactly how Jefferson described ‘good’ government, “…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…”
And it wasn’t that long ago that another president expressed similar sentiments. On January 20, 1961, the newly elected President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy said the following during his Inaugural Address, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
What a novel concept; stop asking your government, the country, or society for that matter, to do things for you, and start accepting sole responsibility for your lives. Or, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.”
It is unfortunate that, in today’s society, one who expresses sentiments such as those is considered cold and uncaring. Expecting people to assume responsibility these days is politically incorrect; and that applies equally to accepting responsibility for their ignorance. To me it is pretty simple, if our government is screwed up then it is the fault of the people who voted for the people who screwed things up. If these people screwed things up so badly, why are there over 200 of them who have served more than ten years in Congress? If they screw things up so badly why do we keep re-electing them; and more importantly, why don’t we hold them to the specific powers outline by our Constitution.
Ah, that’s right, because nobody knows, nor do they care, what the Constitution says or means.
And that my friends, is the very definition of ignorance. Yet, Isaac Asimov once warned, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” And it is simply impossible to hold an intelligent conversation with people when one side refuses to accept, or provide any kind of factual evidence to support their position.
So go on, keep voting for your Republicans and Democrats, if that’s what makes you happy. Just don’t ask me to participate in the fraud of voting for any of the charlatans posing as candidates for office; I refuse to participate in their game anymore. Do those who own a football stadium care who wins the game being played inside? No, as long as they sell plenty of tickets to the game they don’t care who wins. The same goes for our elections, those who really control things in America don’t care who wins, as long as enough people continue to believe that their votes matter and that they can effect real change by swapping out a few bad apples from time to time.
Einstein described y’all best when he said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
But that’s okay, you’re not gonna believe a damned thing I see, your indoctrination into servitude has been too successful. As Dresden James said, “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.”
So you tell me, who is the crazy person, me for trying to expose the lies, or you for continuing to believe them?