Although it does not happen with the frequency that it used to, from time to time I am still asked what can be done to fix the problems in this country. Maybe I’m not asked as frequently as I used to be is because people did not like the answer I gave them; not very much.
I may be wrong, but I feel that before any change for the better can be effected, the first thing that has to happen is an overwhelming majority of the people of this country are going to have to shed their ignorance; which means spending a great deal of time studying what the States understood our government’s powers to be under the Constitution.
I can’t count the conversations I’ve had where people have told me that the Constitution is too complicated for them to understand; so they leave it up to politicians, lawyers and the courts to decide what it means. If you want my honest opinion, that is just an alibi for laziness on the part of the person saying it. It is either that, or our educational system has truly failed to provide you with an education that allows you to understand the founding documents of this country. It quite possibly be a little of both; but I lean more towards laziness than a poor education; as one can always overcome ignorance by effort and study.
Besides, the Supreme Court itself once said, “The Constitution was written to be understood by the voters; its words and phrases were used in their normal and ordinary, as distinguished from technical meaning; where the intention is clear, there is no room for construction, and no excuse for interpolation or addition.” But that was back in 1816 before the people had all these forms of entertainment to distract them from the things that really mattered.
It’s like James Madison said in a letter to W.T. Barry in 1822, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” If the people of a nation are not willing to spend the time overcoming their ignorance, then there isn’t much hope that they would be willing to take the steps needed to fix all the problems this country faces.
I am constantly reminded by some of the quote by Samuel Adams which states, “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” The flaw with that, at least today, is that there has to be some form of kindling in people’s minds for a brush fire to be ignited; meaning that people have to be willing to cast aside their feelings and form their opinions based solely upon logic and reasoning; and I simply don’t see a whole lot of that happening.
Take those who staunchly support our current President and decry all the efforts to block his agenda for America as an example. Now I’m not singling these people out, I could very well have used those who stood behind Obama as an example; it’s just that I like to keep things current if at all possible. Now Trump may honestly have America’s best interest at heart, but the fact remains that everything he proposes to do, except possibly the stricter enforcement of our immigration laws, increases the power held by our government. These people who say that Congress is obstructing the President’s plans don’t seem to realize that the Executive has no authority to enact law; that is the purpose for which we have a Congress. He may make suggestions to them, but they are under no obligation to act upon those suggestions. Besides, don’t you think our government has enough power already?
I think it’s rather funny that people voted for Trump because, to them, he represented a different kind of Republican viewpoint; with his drain the swamp rhetoric. Yet when they had the opportunity to elect the closest thing to a Thomas Jefferson this country has seen in years, they rejected him as unelectable; and yes, I’m talking about Ron Paul. Could that possibly be because Paul did not promise to do things that would make their lives better; that he only promised to govern according to the Constitution? Could it be that the GOP faithful allowed the political pundits to guide their decision making process instead of the Republican voters comparing what the candidates were campaigning upon versus what the Constitution says are the powers given our government.
Like I said, I’m not picking on the Republicans; I’m simply showing how people aren’t using logic, reasoning, and a strict adherence to the Constitutional limitations upon government in their choices of who to vote for. The Democrats can almost be forgiven, but the Republicans like to call themselves conservative; and conservative is a relative thing; it all depends upon what is being compared to something. If the Republicans are compared to the Democrats, well possibly they are more conservative. But if you compare the Republican Party Platform to the Constitution, they are far from conservative; in fact they are quite liberal.
You see, if you truly want to fix this country, the process by which that must occur is a multi-stage process; and beginning to use your mind and think from a purely constitutional viewpoint is just the first step.
But I have come to the conclusion that people are fundamentally lazy, that they want to be able to choose one candidate to place all their hopes and dreams upon; then go back to their lives; only speaking out when others oppose their candidate. I think a big part of that comes from our ‘instant’ lifestyle these days. We have instant messaging, microwaveable dinners, and stories that begin and end within a half hour on TV. We want instant results, and that simply is not going to happen; after all, the damage that has been done to our Constitution, to our liberty, did not happen overnight; it has been going on for at least a century and a half. The cure is not going to come any faster; but as they always say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and if you want to fix this country you are going to have to take that first step by becoming educated.
If expecting the people of this country to become informed is a difficult proposition, hoping that they will take the next step to recovery is even harder. If people are unable to see that the cause of most of our problems stems from the federal government’s refusal to adhere to the limits upon its powers, how can they be expected to stop looking to that same entity for the answer to all our problems? But if people really want to restore America to her former greatness they are going to have to start thinking locally and stop putting all their eggs in the selection of a President.
A good first step for that would be to repeal the 17th Amendment and restore the selection of Senators to the State Legislatures; returning to the States their say in what laws are passed by the federal government. But even that has a flaw; the same political parties which dominate politics at the national level also dominate politics at the State level as well. If we can’t wean ourselves from these political party alliances, then it doesn’t matter what we do, things aren’t going to change. If we want to fix things, we are going to have to choose, for State Representatives, those who will truly support and defend the Constitution; not those who will support their party’s platform. And let me tell you, in a State such as mine, (California) that is next to impossible when it is predominantly Democrat. That is exactly why education must be the first step; for without a thorough and comprehensive education on the Constitution, the people of any State are simply not capable of making intelligent decisions at either the State or federal level.
Even if all this were to happen, the federal government holds a powerful coercive tool that they are not afraid of using if a State threatens their authority; the power to withhold federal funding. Just the other day I was reading an article that talked about how much federal funding the State of California receives per year; and the number is astronomical. According to this article, entitled: California Today: Are We Getting Our Federal Taxes’ Worth, the State of California got $368 billion in federal funding in the year 2015; or $9,500 per resident.
If the States truly want to regain their sovereignty and independence from federal authority, they are going to have to wean themselves from the federal teat and become self-reliant. Yet inevitably when I watch the news and see a natural disaster occur, the first thing I hear is how the governor of some State has declared a state of emergency; which opens the doorway for federal assistance. Look at what happens after every major hurricane or other natural disaster, the States cry for FEMA to come in and provide assistance. If the States want to exercise their sovereignty by nullifying federal laws which are blatantly unconstitutional, they have to first stop depending upon federal assistance for their very survival; especially every time something bad happens.
Even all this may not be enough to save this country. There is something about power that, once someone gets power over someone else, they are reluctant to surrender that power back to those they stole it from. King George III certainly did not want to restore the Colonists to their status as freemen, free of his oppressive rule, and Abraham Lincoln certainly didn’t want to allow the Southern States to sever the ties which bound them to the federal government either.
So it may very well be that if we truly want to fix this country then we are going to have to fight for the liberty our system of government was established to safeguard and secure for us. But for that to happen we must reach a tipping point where people care more about the loss of their liberty than they do their comfort; more than they do for the outcome of some sporting event; more than they do for some trending post on Facebook; more than they do for their very lives. Did not Patrick Henry say, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Maybe we won’t fix America until there has been a third revolution; the second having been lost when Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse.
Our first revolution did not simply begin when the Kings men tried to take their guns at Lexington and Concord; it had been brewing for quite some time before that even happened. As John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson, “As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular. What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected … before a drop of blood was shed.”
Nonetheless, Thomas Jefferson once wrote the following in a letter to William Smith, “What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
History is full of recollections of times when a people rose up and attempted to shake off the shackles tyrants had placed upon them; sometimes successful, sometimes not. But before any revolution can take place, the people must first come to the realization that their government has become tyrannical; which leads me back to the first step, becoming informed.
Which also leads me to the Madison quote I used earlier, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” So long as the people choose to remain ignorant, they will be unable to see that the government they choose to place so much faith in has become a tyrant, and so long as that is the status quo; nothing is going to change.