From the time we’re old enough to understand words we are taught obedience; we are taught to listen to our parents, follow the rules in school, and most importantly, obey the law. Well at least the way I was raised; looking at the kids these days and I have no idea what kind of respect for authority they are being taught. The point I’m trying to make is that by the time we reach adulthood it has been drummed into our heads to obey the law and have respect for those who write and enforce it.
The problem with that is that they are humans too, and human beings can be bad…very bad. Therefore it is quite possible that since laws are written and enforced by men there is a chance, a good chance, that the laws they write might also be bad, and be enforced by bad men who abuse their authority.
A long time ago, when the fate of this system of government was still being decided by the States, James Madison wrote the following, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Of course Madison then went on to explain how he felt his proposed Constitution solved that problem, but the point he makes in that quote remains valid.
If good men are chosen to write and enforce the laws then we can be pretty certain that good laws will be enacted and the people will be content with their system of government. However, if bad people get into power, then bad laws will be written, or simply imposed, and the people will suffer under tyranny and oppression. Being allowed to vote for those who hold the political power in a society does not diminish this; as history proves. Adolf Hitler was elected in a full democratic election; and look how that ended up for the German people.
We, as voters, are the gatekeepers to good government. If we vote for good people, then we’ll get good government. But, if we vote for bad people, or people who are easily corrupted, then we’ll get bad government. How we vote is based upon what our expectations of government are. What I mean by that is what you think government should be doing determines the outcome of who you decide to cast your votes for.
In America today there are two options that have any real chance of getting elected; either a Republican candidate or a Democratic candidate. Those who vote for a 3rd party candidate, or don’t vote at all, are constantly told that they are wasting their vote, or helping the ‘other’ guy get elected. The problem with that is that the direction, or policy, of government is dependent upon the platform of the political party of the candidate who wins an election.
Why is that a problem Neal? Well, it’s a problem because the platforms of both political parties are not in accordance with the purpose for which governments are supposed to be instituted among men; at least according to the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence states that the purpose for which governments are instituted among men is to secure to them the blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, in today’s society, and this applies to both political parties, the pursuit of happiness has been misinterpreted to mean the guarantee of happiness; and that it is governments job to secure that happiness for them. Now I don’t know if Ben Franklin actually said this, but the sentiment is true as far as I’m concerned, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
In his first Inaugural Address Thomas Jefferson described ‘good’ government as follows: Still one thing more, fellow-citizens — 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 this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
Can you picture anyone getting elected today running on a platform that said government wasn’t going to do anything for them? The closest thing we’ve had to a candidate like that in my lifetime was Ron Paul, and look how he was treated by both sides of the political spectrum. Trump may have gotten elected because he came across as such a candidate, but he played to the unspoken fears of the GOP like a concert violinist plays a Stradivarius. But under Trump have any of your lost rights and liberty been restored to you? Under Trump have any of the unconstitutional laws passed by his predecessors been revoked or repealed?
But Trump has boosted the economy Neal; he has created lots of new jobs. Well good for him, but is that the function of government – to create jobs? In 1788 Patrick Henry explained the purpose government should serve, “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.”
That sentiment was still held by those we elected to the presidency as late as 1784 when President James Garfield said, “It is not part of the functions of the national government to find employment for people — and if we were to appropriate a hundred millions for this purpose, we should be taxing forty millions of people to keep a few thousand employed.”
But attitudes change and people allow government to assume powers it was never intended it possess. Jefferson warned of this flaw in mankind in a letter to Spencer Roane written in 1821, “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.”
Do you know what gangrene is? Gangrene is when body tissue dies and is often caused by injury or infection. Do you know what the treatment is once gangrene has set in; it is typically treated by amputating the affected area; cutting it off and removing it before it can spread to other parts of the body.
Gangrene has infected our entire system, from top to bottom, and voting in new candidates every so often is not going to alter the fact that government no longer serves the purpose for which governments are supposed to serve; especially when the voters are ignorant of what that purpose is.
Yet the Declaration of Independence offers a solution, “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.”
Yet once a system becomes corrupt, once tyrants gain control of that system, they are not likely to surrender their power without a fight. Just look at the Civil War if you don’t believe me. Over half a million people died in a war which was fought over the question of whether one segment of the country had the right to revoke its consent to being governed by the government established by the Constitution, and allowed 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.”
If you look back in history the authority of government was typically enforced by a standing army. In Colonial America that standing army consisted of British Redcoats, and those who rebelled against that authority are today hailed as patriots and heroes. We even have a holiday dedicated to honoring their deeds and actions; July 4th. Yet today those who rebel against the established authority are called all manner of names; criminals, anarchists, domestic terrorists, just to name a few.
Patrick Henry warned that under this new Constitution we would have a standing army, “A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny… ” But then Henry posed a serious question, one which, even 200 some odd years has yet to be answered, “… and how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders?”
Henry may have been warning about the Constitution’s provision for a full time army to be authorized for a period of two years, but today that standing army he warned about comes in the form of a multitude of ‘law enforcement’ officers and agents. This standing army consists of agents working directly for the government under the direction and jurisdiction of the Department of Justice; agencies such as the BATF, the FBI, and the DEA, just to name a few. At the same time we have local law enforcement whose job is also to impose the execrable commands of tyranny.
Do any of these law enforcers ever question the laws they are enforcing; whether they be constitutional or not? Not if they want to keep their jobs they don’t. They are of the same mentality as the average person, they just follow the orders given them by their superiors in government; the only problem being that they have been given the authority by society to use force to impose those orders upon others.
Herein lies the crux of the problem. We are raised to follow orders, obey the law; but what if the law no longer serves its intended purpose? What happens if the law, as Bastiat wrote becomes preverted, “The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!”
If the law is supposed to secure our liberty, but it doesn’t, and those who enforce these laws punish, often brutally, for resisting their authority, does that not make both those who write the laws and those enforce them tyrants?
Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Even the best of governments eventually devolve into oppressive government; if given enough time. To believe that ours, with all its wonderful checks and balances couldn’t evolve into a tyrannical government is naive at best, if not outright dangerous. I think we’re already there, and I think it’s only going to get worse unless people wake up; and do it quickly.
I don’t know if this is due to the fact that everyone carries a mobile recording device, (smarthphone) around in their pocket, and I don’t know if it is representative of every cop wearing a badge and a uniform, but I’ve seen an increasing number of videos of police abusing their power; sometimes leading to the death of someone who wasn’t doing anything other than questioning why they were hassling them.
Just the other day I say a video in which 5 SWAT team members from the Albuquerque police gunned down a homeless guy in front of a bus stop for reaching for his waist band where apparently he had a bb gun tucked inside his pants. Sure he had a weapon, and sure those officers may have feared for their lives, but they had fully automatic weapons leveled at him the moment they arrived, and they could have shot to wound, not shot to kill. So those 5 officers get to go home to their families and some poor homeless guy gets buried in a potter’s field somewhere.
Is that American Justice these days? That’s the kind of thing you’d expect to hear in a dictatorial state like Nazi Germany or Soviet era Russia; you question authority you die.
We should have seen this coming, after all we’ve had plenty of warning signs. Look at Waco for crying out loud; the government amassed a small army of federal and local law enforcers against the Branch Davidians, and then mounted an assault upon their compound that led to the death of 76 people; including 20 children and two pregnant women.
Were any of those involved in this massacre ever punished? Was the Attorney General, Janet Reno, who gave the go ahead for the assault ever brought up on charges of mass murder? Was the President, Bill Clinton, under whose authority the Justice Department acted?
What about Ruby Ridge, which was just Waco on a smaller scale? For crying out loud an FBI sniper killed an unarmed pregnant woman holding her infant child in her arms, and he was never sent to prison for his crime.
Is that the kind of government you really want to live under, let alone support?
The problem is that most people look at government from such a narrow perspective that they can’t see how tyrannical and oppressive it’s become. All people do is look to see if government is fulfilling their expectations of it, not whether it is leaving them free to regulate our own pursuits of industry and happiness.
Our government does so much that it was never authorized to do by the few powers delegated it by the Constitution; some of which are in direct violations of the restrictions imposed upon government by the Bill of Rights. Yet government goes without punishment for these violations, and the people keep voting for more of the same.
The sad thing is, is that Charles Austin Beard was right, “You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence.”
If the defense of our liberty is the purpose for which governments are supposed to serve, why is it that those who seek to exercise that liberty are the ones labeled as criminals, and not the government that seeks to restrict it? Have our values and principles become so corrupted that the exercise of liberty is now treated as a crime? If you believe patriotism is defending this system, both those who write the laws and those who enforce them upon us, then I’m saddened to be called your countryman, and sickened by the ignorance and apathy of a people who submit to that king of tyranny without an ounce of opposition.
I see what has happened, and how it happened, but I just can’t get others to see it as well. De Tocqueville explained how we have gone from being the land of the free to the land of the slaves in his book Democracy in America: Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?
Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things; it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.
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.
We live in a prison in which the walls are all the rules and regulations that restrict our liberty, and the prison guards are those charged with enforcing those laws upon us. You may not see the walls, but they’re there; you may not realize that you are in a prison until you come too close to that thing called liberty, then you will feel it firsthand when the enforcers come to put you back in your place as an obedient little citizen, or kill you if you resist them.
That’s the world we live in and we are kept ignorant of the reality of it by a wide variety of entertainment. We have social media where we can post images of our lives, we have year round sporting events like the gladiatorial games of old, we have concerts and casinos where we can go and take our minds off reality for awhile.
The problem is, nobody really returns to reality, for the lives they live are a construct, a fiction in which they are the slaves and government is the master. They just believe their voice matters because they are given the vote.
It’s a well designed prison and the walls are only kept in place because the people refuse to educate themselves. In fact they not only refuse to educate themselves, they shun and attack those who attempt to bring knowledge to them. As Morpheus tells Neo in the Matrix, “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
It is also why Jack Nicholson was right in his role as George Hanson in the film Easy Rider. When Billy, played by Dennis Hopper asks what’s wrong with freedom, that’s what it’s all about, George replies, “Oh, yeah, that’s right. That’s what’s it’s all about, all right. But talkin’ about it and bein’ it, that’s two different things. I mean, it’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don’t ever tell anybody that they’re not free, ’cause then they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they’re gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em.”
Freedom does scare people, especially those who control the system. For if freedom were to take hold and spread the people would have no need for government, and out of self-preservation the government seeks to stifle freedom. Those who depend upon the system for something, be it their sustenance or their security, will oppose freedom, because they think those who live outside the established rules governing our behavior are a threat to them.
The sad thing is, we don’t pose any threat to anyone, except of course those who wish to keep us enslaved. I don’t want anything from any of you, I can provide for my own needs and wants. Is it too much to ask to leave me be and let me live my life as I choose without your beliefs and ideologies being forced upon me under the shield of law?
I’m no threat to any of you, but as long as you continue to support this system that enslaves us all, you’re certainly a threat to me. This system that we have today is not what those who took up their arms and resisted the tyranny of King George would have wanted. The sooner you realize that the sooner we’ll be able to fix what is wrong in this country; if it can be fixed that is.
In closing I’d like to quote the final paragraph of Etienne de la Boetie’s book The Politics of Obedience, as it provides a warning to all, “Let us therefore learn while there is yet time, let us learn to do good. Let us raise our eyes to Heaven for the sake of our honor, for the very love of virtue, or, to speak wisely, for the love and praise of God Almighty, who is the infallible witness of our deeds and the just judge of our faults. As for me, I truly believe I am right, since there is nothing so contrary to a generous and loving God as tyranny — I believe He has reserved, in a separate spot in Hell, some very special punishment for tyrants and their accomplices.”