A short time ago someone prefaced their comments on one of my articles with, “The problem with all you Republicans is…” and they then went on to provide a laundry lists of things they felt were the problem with those who aligned themselves with the Republican Party. The problem is, I’m not a Republican. This person, who shall remain nameless, is a self-admitted liberal, and it seems that anytime they encounter someone whose beliefs run counter to theirs they lump them all into a single category: Republicans.
Had this person’s brain been functioning at 100% they would have known that I don’t consider myself to be either Democrat or Republican. I suppose if you really want to slap a label on me, Libertarian is about as close as you’re going to get as far as labels go. Yet even Libertarianism suffers from the left/right division which plagues the two primary political parties in this country.
Libertarians place liberty as their guiding principle in all their political and social decisions; yet among Libertarians there are those who believe that capitalism and private ownership of property is actually detrimental to liberty. Therefore these left leaning Libertarians advocate for a system in which nobody owns anything; that everything is owned and managed by the collective; which is actually what pure communism is.
I have never been one who has fit in to any single category or group; I was a loner in school who never belonged to the jocks, the burnouts, or the nerds who spent their time buried in books in the library or in science labs. Maybe that is why it is easier for me to not need a group, a political party to tie my horse to. In any case, I think that when people join a group, or at least claim an affinity towards a certain group, they tend to lose a bit of their individuality; they start to take on a group mindset. What I mean by that is they let the group begin to dictate what they believe and what they don’t believe.
So, when someone claims an affiliation with either the Republican or Democratic Party, instead of examining facts based solely on their own merit they tend to echo, or mirror their particular party platforms; developing a herd mentality.
Did you know that today, April 13th is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday? In honor of Jefferson I would like to share a quote from him on this whole idea of belonging to groups or political parties. In an 1789 letter to Francis Hopkinson, Jefferson states, “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.”
Those are pretty strong words; saying that if he could not go to Heaven without being part of a party he would not go at all. But there’s more to it than just that; he also makes reference to what I was just discussing; that when a person belongs to a group or party they begin to think in Groupthink; which causes them to lose their individuality. This Groupthink mentality places the collective belief above all else; including facts; making open and honest debate upon the issues next to impossible. You can’t break through the barrier of Groupthink when discussing the issues when they have forsaken reason and have allowed others to dictate what they themselves believe. That is why those belonging to groups, or parties, tend to hurl insults at each other, and call each other names; like how those on the right call those on the left Libtards and Snowflakes.
Now I’m not saying those on the left are guiltless; not with their crusade to remake and revise our nation’s history to fit their perverted agenda of turning America into a Socialist country; even though history has proven that every experiment in Socialism has failed. No, those on the left are as close minded and guilty of Groupthink as are those on the right.
What this means for liberty in America is that we have two political party entities which control the thinking of a very large segment of society; thereby allowing them, and not the Constitution and Bill of Rights, to dictate what powers our government should exercise and what goals it should pursue.
I used to have a friend who stopped speaking to me in 2008 after I began sending him my articles and material supporting Ron Paul for President. This friend was someone I’d spent many a night drinking beer and playing pool with in strip clubs across the Florida panhandle; yet he allowed his political party ideology to blind him to the fact that our government was overstepping its just authority and engaging in wars that were not justified. It came to a head when he was hired by the TSA, (Transportation Safety Administration) as an airport screener. When I began denouncing the Patriot Act, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and his employer, the TSA, he shut off all communication with me and I haven’t heard from him since.
Heck, I have had some pretty heated debates with my own brother about the same issues which has cost me friends. I find it funny how two people, growing up under the same roof, can have such wide differences of opinion on what our government should and shouldn’t be doing. If party ideology can cause riffs in family ties, and cause you to lose close friends, imagine what it can do when total strangers attempt to engage in any kind of serious debate upon the issues. It’s no wonder people in America can’t agree with each other on damned near anything.
I do not belong to any political party; having registered as an independent many years ago. Since then I have come to the belief that our system is so corrupt and broken that it is futile to hold out any hope that it can be repaired at the voting booth.
Therefore, for someone to call me a Republican is ludicrous; for I’m NOT a Republican. When people call me a Republican it only tells me that the things I’ve said and written haven’t registered with them; for if they had they would know that I’m anything but a Republican. Libertarian comes close, but with the divisions among those who call themselves Libertarians, even that does not come close to describing who and what I am.
I guess the word that best describes me is PATRIOT. I can almost hear the cries of outrage from people, “But I’m a patriot too.” Are you…really? You see, your definition of patriotism and mine are probably worlds apart. You might define patriotism as supporting your country, or your government; as paying your taxes faithfully and supporting the troops whenever they are sent to fight in America’s wars; and for obeying the law to the best of your ability.
But that’s not my definition of patriotism. My definition is one who cherishes the principles upon which this country was originally founded, and who will fight, to the death if required, to defend and sustain those principles. My definition of a patriot is one who cherishes liberty above all else; above comfort, above security, above wealth, and even above friends and family if needs be.
It is said that Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, once said, “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.”
Yet America was built on the back of patriots; off their blood, sweat and tears. It was not the meek and timid who fought for America’s independence; it was the patriots who cherished liberty above life itself who risked their all for the cause they believed in. That right there is my definition of patriotism; and from what I have seen the patriots in this country are few and far between.
America was built upon the backs and labors of patriots, and it was the cause of liberty that drove them to risk their very lives. It was this cause which led Patrick Henry to say, “Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings-give us that precious jewel, and you can take everything else.”
Liberty, according to Jefferson, is defined as “… unobstructed action according to our will: but rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.”
While some may agree with me up to this point, this is where the crowd thins out dramatically. I don’t believe patriotism entails obeying whatever laws our government passes simply because they say we must obey them. You see, Jefferson did not end his quote there, he also said, “I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’; because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.” (Source: Letter to Isaac Tiffany, April 4, 1819)
It was patriotism which caused our Founders to support and defend the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence. It was patriotism which led those who opposed the proposed constitution to demand that a Bill of Rights be included to protect the liberty all governments should strive to secure for the governed. It was patriotism which caused a portion of the country to secede from the Union when they saw that its system of government had become as tyrannical and oppressive as the one their ancestors had fought a revolution to free themselves from.
So you see, I’m not a Republican, I’m a patriot; and I’m growing awful weary of your, (both left and right) attacks upon my liberty. There is a tool one can use to measure the extent to which a person understands, or at least values liberty. If their beliefs do not impose any restrictions upon the actions of others, or impose any burdens of taxation to fund the programs they support, then there is a good chance they value liberty as much as I do.
But, if you think that your will should dictate what others can and cannot do, say, write, or display; if you think that your will should be all that is required for our government to take from the bread of our earnings and distribute it to others in the form of social programs, subsidies, and benefits, then there is a good chance that liberty means nothing to you.
That litmus test crosses political party boundaries and covers both the Republicans and Democrats. That is why I stress that party over principle has taken over in American politics today; because party ideology has replaced a defense of the liberty our country was founded to secure for all.
Our Founders, were they alive today, would be shaking their heads in sadness over for what we allow our government to do to the liberty they fought so valiantly to secure. I’m certain they would be asking themselves why they bothered when the people of this country valued liberty so little that they would allow it to be taken from the people with nary a whimper of protest.
These true patriots from our history would be asking, “Where are the patriots today; those who are willing to stand up to this tyranny and restore the liberty we fought to secure for them?” Instead, all they would see are Republicans and Democrats arguing over how best to violate the Constitution and destroy the liberty America was built to secure for them.
George Washington was right, “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.”
I don’t need a political party to tell me what things our government can and cannot do, I have a brain of my own and am willing to devote the time and effort required to learn that on my own from the writings of those who actually participated in the Founding of this country. I don’t need a bunch of hacks and corrupt career politicians to tell me what to believe and what to support or oppose; I am a free man and will either live free or die trying to regain the freedom the rest of you sheep are allowing government to deprive you of.
NOTE: Written in honor of Thomas Jefferson, who was born on this day in 1743; Author of our Declaration of Independence, our nation’s 3rd President, and a man who understood and supported liberty probably more than those of his own time, and certainly more than the average American today.
I’m sorry Mr. Jefferson if we have disappointed you as a nation.