Posts Tagged ‘We The People’

backstabbing If I may pull Shakespeare’s Henry V slightly out of context: “Once more into the breach, good friends, once more . . .”

As much as I love my country, certainly as much as I consider it a genuine blessing to be an American citizen, I am not alone in my utter repudiation of the election season. I will grant that it does have a certain element of entertainment to it—we Americans take measured delight in watching the mighty fall, or at least stumble.

Last night gave us the starting gun for the rush of the 2012 elections. Now we spend the next 11 months awash in political rancor and candidate sniping. Sadly, rather than seek a way to bring more respect to the process we seem to embrace it.

There was a time, some 250 years ago (roughly) when the ideal for selecting men for roles in the new federal government was to entreat the public to choose men of great public or community respect and admiration; men did not campaign for these positions, they were chosen by the constituents . . . by we the people.

These words of John Adams are perhaps far more relevant today than in his own time:

What is to become of an independant statesman, one who will bow the knee to no idol, who will worship nothing as a divinity but Truth, Virtue, and his country? I will tell you, he will be regarded more by posterity than those who worship hounds and horses; and although he will not make his own fortune, he will make the fortune of his country.

Does that really need any embellishment?

My underlying thought here was the ramping up of all the negative campaigning we’re about to be inundated with. So I thought I would break out a couple examples from our early history to illustrate that our modern mudslingers are in no way innovative in their sniping.

Thomas Jefferson on Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry was know as quite an orator. It was through one of his passionate speeches that he pursuaded the House of Burgesses to arm a militia in preparation for what was sure to become war with Britain. Before that time, however, Henry had married a wealthy woman and through a dowry acquired 300 acres and six slaves to run a small plantation. To remain solvent enough to run the place he took a few weeks to study law books then applied for a license to practice law.

Thomas Jefferson, genuinely admiring of Henry’s gift for oratorical persuasion, was less than enthused with the man’s legal acumen. “His judgement in other matters,” Jefferson wrote in a letter to fellow Virginian, James Madison, “was inaccurate; in matters of law it was not worth a copper: he was avaricious and rotten hearted. His two greatest passions were the love of money and of fame: but when these came into competition the former predominated. What we have to do is devoutly pray for his death.”

Zing! That’s pretty harsh, even by today’s standards. I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard it the first time.

John Adams and Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine did much, with his first pamphlet alone —Common Sense— but some of the ideals espoused didn’t sit well with John Adams, John Jay, and other influential founders. Adams, not one to let his pen lay idle, let flow his ink to express his lack of Paine-fandom: “What a poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass.”

“Crapulous” Man, what a great word!

Paine, having thoroughly lit into the British monarchy in his pamphlet, was certainly unafraid of Adams: “John was not born for immortality,” he wrote in response.

“The spissitude of the black liquor which is spread in such quantities by this writer,” Adams wrote of Paine, “prevents its daubing.” [in it’s closest contextual definition here, ‘daubing’ would likely mean “to paint unskillfully”]

Paine acerbicly retorted, “Some people talk of impeaching John Adams, but I am for softer measures. I would keep him to make fun of.”

That’s political bitch slapping, 18th century style. Paine would later be proven something of an early American political prophet. After George Washington’s election as our first formal President of the United States, Adams led the Senate in a lengthy debate over how to properly refer to the man who held the office of president. Washington himself, somewhat exasperated by the lengthy titles suggested by Adams, wisely suggested “Mister President,” thus avoiding any hint of monarchy in the brand new government. Adams wouldn’t fare well despite his truly well-intentioned efforts. The senators thus began referring to him as “His Rotundity.”

Almost makes current mudslinging seem tame by comparison.


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This post, I must confess, is self-serving; to what degree I can’t honestly say. Deep down, I think I want to have it saved for posterity, for my own future need to look back and see what at one time was upon my heart and mind.

Politics is a matter which we bitch about because it’s easy to do, but we are very quick to become bent about if our political sensibilities (now there is an oxymoron for ya) have been tampered with.

To that end I advise any who are of staunch political mind, unbending and draconian, to forego reading the missive below. Conversely, if you are the type who like a number of viewpoints, if you have an open mind, then please read on.

I had a completely new reader leave a nice long comment on one of my posts regarding the damaged flag that was flying in Mesa. We have traded a couple e-mails, and along the way she has mentioned that she attends meetings of the Red Moutain Patriots, a local Tea Party group. Part of what you will read below entails her conveyance of what I believe are the party’s ideals; I have not checked these against any official Tea Party dogma, but frankly I find that I almost seamlessly align myself with them. As I have stated a number of times before on this blog, I am a registered Independent. I try to vote for the individual I feel will most care for my country . . . not their party.

What you see below is my last reply to her which she called “eloquent.” While I’m not so sure about that I am — at least at this moment in time — certain of its convictions . . . my convictions.

"Grandma's Tea Party" - charcoal and pencil drawing by J.D. HillberryRarely have I ever practiced, nor involved myself, in political intrigue, nor the least manner of governmental politics. Assuredly there is some subconscious form of politics we play in our every day lives, if only the game of cat-and-mouse we necessarily employ in everyday relations. The sweat exuded from the labor of commonly defined ‘politics’ is a foul brew, laced with the stench of rotting lies and fetid, nauseating pretentions in the guise of truth.

Our counterfeit “leaders” bellow and bluster, thrust and parry, keeping their hands ever active under their cloaks, endlessly accepting tithings from special interests and foes of the people while facing the cameras with the practiced, hollow compassion of a freshly buried corpse. Upon the political stage all pretense of country is gone, reconstituted in a fervent passion of partisanship — unity only counts if it lines your pocket and consolidates power.

I believe it could be strongly argued that we, the people, have, for too long, actively abetted these usurpers, given them every device and means necessary to keep us at bay and themselves in control. We cannot consider ourselves blameless if we are to truly understand and respect the admonitions and just wisdom of our forefathers.

We have frittered away the true power vested in us, or at the very least allowed others around us to do so. We have allowed our students to leave public schools with scarcely the tiniest nugget of functional knowledge about American history, not to mention how such forces as a free market economy or genuine self-governing work.

As I read what I have written thus far it is obvious that I am profoundly frustrated, even heartbroken, that my country has sunk to the level we are at. As I have studied early American history it has become ever clearer to me that we are almost too far off the path tread by our earliest brothers and sisters. We are, I dare say, in some way aping the timeline of the Roman Empire, if only far more quickly.

And we all know how that story ended.

I can steadfastly get behind the codified principles you have listed:

We believe the Constitution to be the Supreme Law of the Land . . . Is there another? Has there ever been another, save for that of Providence which itself is written into the Constitution as clear and justified basis for the natural rights of all.

We stand for Limited Government . . . Jefferson stated “Government is best which governs least.” Government is “absolutely necessary” for very few things, and those are laid out and explained in the Federalist papers. Self-government was the initial concept and has since been something abdicated to those who have ceremoniously claimed it as a latent birthright, a power not bestowed by the people rather by the stain of big money.

We stand for Free Enterprise and Capitalism . . . Communism has failed miserably. Adam Smith and Karl Marx were on two opposing ends of the economic spectrum. I’m fairly certain China, South Korea, and Cuba won’t see the light in our lifetime, but it will happen eventually. As time has proven, free enterprise has consistently provided more opportunities for more people than any other form of economy. Mistakes made along the way were the mistakes of man, not of Nature.

We stand for Fiscal Responsibility . . . Where has this gone? It would seem fewer and fewer of our children are learning it.

We stand for State Sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution . . . States know best what works for their people, not the Federal government. I am of the mind that certain matters overlap, but those are few indeed.

We stand for Border Security first and laws that oppose illegal immigration . . . I welcome, with open arms, those who truly desire to be here; those who clamor to participate in what America is; those who want to love America as we do. I have no room in my heart for those who want to use her as a resource to advance their own corrupt governments or bleed us of resources because their own are long since surrendered to liars and cheats, despots and traitors. Amnesty is nota solution, not even an acceptable starting point for debate.

Now it seems that I am the one who has droned on. I am so glad you have come along and informed me of your equal love for our country, and that there are others who share your (our) passion.

What most people don’t realize is the power we have. Most believe that our power lies in our right to vote, but that’s only partly true. It is in our power to organize, to gather our collective voice, to move and remove, to needle the process, to assert ourselves within the framework of self-government that we truly bring our power to bear. But, as these folks in East Mesa are doing, we need to speak out, to gather and educate, to avail ourselves of the knowledge that others will freely share.

And once that’s done, we need to ask ourselves questions, not simply accept everything we’re told. Evaluate what’s been said, juxtapose expressed ideals against our own.

These folks are doing just that. Whether or not you agree with them (and there are plenty who don’t) you have to respect them for taking a stand and doing what’s right, even in the face of almost overwhelming adversity.

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US Flag waving inside map of the United StatesFlag Update: I drove by the Superstition Springs Post Office on the way home today and saw a new flag flying at full mast — that’s a sight that never gets old.

My thanks to those of you who read the previous two posts and showed support — a surprisingly deep well of support, actually. It was heartening to see that so many people feel so passionate about our flag.

I am encouraged to learn that many people are very aware of the basic rules of flag etiquette. The reaction to seeing her so damaged an still aloft was visceral, and rightly so. I can’t help but be curious as to how many people called about the violation, and even more curious to know what might have been said during those conversations.

I could bore you with a bullet-pointed list of rules, but there’s really only one rule that matters: Don’t underestimate American patriotism.

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At the start, a huge thank you to those who commented and showed your decisive support for our flag. I especially want to thank Mrs. Mandell for her lengthy but very helpful comment. Her comments nourish my hopes that more than sunshine patriots are alive and watching out there.

I stopped by the post office today, and quite honestly, expected to see the flag still flying in its dismal shape. What I didn’t expect to see what this:

Tattered flag at bottom of pole at Mesa post office

Day 2 — perhaps even more disgraceful than the first day

They still have not so much as removed the damaged flag from the pole. Now, if I am missing some element of flag display etiquette then please let me know, but I can’t imagine it calls for leaving the flag near the base of the flag pole.

Call me crazy.

As suggested, I have put in a call to the Mesa chapter of the American Legion and left a message. I have also tried to contact the Red Mountain Patriots.

Per Mrs. Mandell’s initial suggestion, I took the liberty of not dropping by personally, but I did call the main post office for the city of Mesa and spoke to a woman named Alice who knew precisely what I was calling about when I mentioned the Superstition Springs post office.

“Is this about the flag?”

“I’m not the only one, huh?”

“Not at all. I’ve had a few people call already. They are supposed to be on their way to change the flag. I told them it cannot be dragging on the ground.”

“As of when I went by a couple hours ago, it wasn’t touching the ground yet, but somebody lowered the flag and left it there.”

“Well, last I talked to them they said they were on their way.”

She was professional, not rude at all, but clearly took the matter seriously.

We shall see . . .

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The following is, to be fair, in antecedence of anticipated action by a local Post Office station; the post at the center of my attention, my chafed patriotism, is the Superstition Springs Post Office in East Mesa, Arizona. I’d list the address, but I’m not sure that’s completely necessary yet.

July is smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran desert’s monsoon season (did you know the word “monsoon” is Arabic for rain?). Last night we had a pretty solid monsoon storm, replete with strong winds and lots of rain. The winds that gust through during these storms can be surprisingly strong for an area as seemingly desolate as the desert. They have downed power lines and very large trees, even blown tiles and shingles off rooftops — point is, like storm winds most anywhere, they can do damage.

After work I had to drop off a copy of my book for someone who offered to review it for me. As I approached the post office I noticed something wasn’t right with the flag. I parked and climbed out of my vehicle and immediately looked up at it.

US Flag in front of Mesa Post Office Considering what a complete Gordian Knot our country is in (if you don’t know what a Gordian Knot is then substitute the phrase “cluster f—“) the appearance of this flag seemed stoicly metaphorical, a ringing visual indicment of just how badly misshapen our beloved country has become. Yet it is a simple matter to remedy in this situation. If we can’t collectively stand together and eviscerate our “leaders” for being the partisan jackasses they have proven to be, then we can, we should, we must — at a minimum — take pride in the one symbol which most represents us, perhaps most unifies us as brothers and sisters: the American flag.

Torn US Flag in front of Mesa Post Office

This poor specimen most likely took her thrashing last night during the storm. I am apalled that nobody at least took the flag down . . . that’s a mere matter of sheer respect. I showed up just before 1pm and she was still waving in the air, torn, punished by forces stronger than any of us. Just look at her.

If you don’t find yourself moved in some regard then perhaps you should take your Communist Party credentials and go someplace like China or Cuba where you will be welcomed openly.I understand the Middle East hates us too . . . perhaps you would fit in with them. I’ll give you heartless Pinkos one last chance to be a shocked as I was.

There was but one teller inside, and his English wasn’t exactly outstanding, so I didn’t attempt taking the issue up with him. He looked beaten down by his job, he didn’t need Mr. America poking a finger in his chest.

Instead, I called my parents first. I absolutely wanted to write a post about it, but before I went off half-cocked I thought it better to see what the best approach would be for contacting someone about this egregious disregard for American symbolism; they have both worked for the Postal Service for quite a long time — for once, I had an inside track on something!

Turns out my dad used to take care of matters like this when he traveled around the state and did maintenance inspections at various locations — this very thing is one of his deepest pet peeves. He told me he used to make the station managers keep three flags on hand at all times, so should one become soiled (or, helloooooo . . . damaged!) it could be swiftly replaced as befits our flag.

They advised me to call the station manager first, then if that didn’t achieve the desired result go straight to the Phoenix Postmaster.

I tried. I really did.

Seven different attempts to the offending post in Mesa resulted in sot so much as one person answering the phone. I queried Mr. Internet — the Great Oz of our time — to try and locate the contact number for a one Robert J Hurley, the Phoenix Postmaster sworn in in 2010, but unsurprisingly his number seems to be unavailable. How are the public supposed to be served if they can’t reach his office?

So I called ASK USPS and talked with a very nice lady who shared my affrontism about the flag’s condition, but all she could give me was the Teller Window number at the main office in Phoenix; a dead end.

Tried a few more searches, switched up my search terms, but still couldn’t find any contact info for Hurley. Back to ASK USPS and another sympathetic woman. This time I got the number for Consumer Affairs.

Another voice in accord with my own who promised to forward my discontent to the proper powers. “Give them a week to get it corrected” she said.

For me, her statement was unbelievable — for my parents, not so much. I texted them after I got off the phone and told them I thought it was a steaming load — not in those words, of course. I called the help line one last time and gave my contact info to yet another voice in agreement who assured me someone would be taking up my issue soon and would contact me.

So there you have it. I’ll post an update soon. This much I am sure of: one week won’t cut it for this American.

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Falling asleep in classNo, this isn’t about American Idol . . . sorry. If you’re already disinterested then I believe I can safely say you clearly fall into the collective dustbin of American freedom and liberty, the contents of which will soon be emptied into the wastebasket of history because nobody cares about it anymore.

My answer to the title of this post? I truly couldn’t care less.

Written below is my response to a post Joy Erickson had on her blog a couple days ago: Are History’s Lessons Being Neglected. (I tried posting this as a comment, Joy, but it wouldn’t show up!)

Her direct question to her readers was “Do you think history should take a back seat to math, and the science’s?” I didn’t address that question head on, choosing instead to reply to the comments instead. (oh, and I commented on Laura’s comment, too, but it didn’t show up either :^( )

Here was my comment:

If we don’t know our history, how can we possibly understand ourselves? Where will any country wind up if they have zero sense of their own posterity? History doesn’t repeat itself — individuals repeat the same mistakes made throughout history due to ignorance or sheer hubris; in our case we are in deep trouble mostly because of ignorance, a willful ignorance.

You can’t market history unless it’s in a souvenir shop stamped on coffee mugs, keychains, t-shirts, and other trinkets. A “culture” enamored with glitz and celebrity can hardly hope to stabilize its underpinnings of liberty unless prior lessons of history can be made commercially viable in the guise of American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, or Survivor.

I don’t disagree that learning history in school is boring; as it was for all of you so it was for me. Just as Em and Nikki have attested, I, too, now love history, but not because of what I learned in school. I read books, watched documentaries, visited Wasington D.C. and saw with my own aging eyes what God Himself blessed our founders with . . . the inviolable knowledge of Nature’s Law, of the blessings of Liberty.

I do what I can to teach my son these things because I know the school won’t do it properly. I don’t expect him to read all the books I have, but he has assumed — in his own reserved way — the same spirit of patriotism I keep warmed in my own heart. That slowly glowing ember will burn hotter somewhere down the road, and I hope he will pass it on.

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Question mark with US flag behind itAmerica has plenty of problems: state to state, north to south, sea to shining sea. I’m not divulging any state secrets, here. No need for a list of issues—plenty of other blogs and news outlets are only too happy to thrust them upon you.

I allude to something perhaps more sinister: a collectively accepted lapse in national attentioin and memory regarding our nation’s fundamental beginnings. Yet we all take great pride, a profoundly uncultivated zeal, in celebrating July 4th as our “Independence Day.”

Reveling in a glorious fireworks display is arguably an American rite-of-passage. We take for granted that at some point our children will be taught what the fireworks mean in their classrooms and history books. I wouldn’t wager so much as a dollar on that.

26% — that’s one in four — Americans don’t know what country we declared our independence from. I’m not a drinker, but these recent poll results give me reason to contemplate the necessity.

When asked when—what year—only 31 percent of adults younger than 30 said 1776, while 59 percent between 30 and 44 got the question right. Americans 45 to 59 were most likely to know the year: 75 percent got it correct. 65 percent of men got the answer right while only 52 percent of women did.

Here’s the stunner: 9% of college graduates were uncertain as to what country America declared her independece from; 2% of those graduates mentioned countries other than Great Britain.

Pathetic? Pathetic isn’t strong enough a word. It is entirely unsurprising, though. Had these two basic facts of our history been added to broadcasts of American Idol I’d bet those numbers would be much improved. Do I really need to spell it out? I think the indictment can be extracted without much effort.

Only 28% of Americans say they have read the Constitution, and 14 percent say they’ve read most of it. I will grant you that it’s not exactly a page turner and the language used is hard for us to assimilate today, but the resources available for learning about this incredibly important document are copious.

The results above come from a study conducted by the Center for the Constitution. They also revealed that respondents 18 to 24 years old claimed they understand the Constitution much less than older people; they also said the Constitution doesn’t affect them on a day-to-day basis. Wow. Really?

Need more proof that Americans are far more about hot dogs, burgers, and fireworks than knowing why we have this holiday?

42% of Americans attribute a Marxist slogan to James Madison. I’d be surprised if 10 oercent of them actually knew who James Madison was (here’s a gimme: he is considered to be the father of our Constitution, wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, and also served two terms as President in the early 1800’s). Madison was no communist.

The Bill of Rights Institute recently commissioned a new poll and their results do little to provide confidence in the fideltiy of American knowledge of their own country or principles. The communist slogan, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is thought by the aforementioned 42% to be part of our founding documents; 1 in 5 Americans think these very words are in the Bill of Rights!

Just for fun try strapping this on: 55 percent of Americans don’t recognize that education is not a First Amendment right. Staggering.


The founders believed education to be critical to the new nation’s success, but they didn’t write it into the Constitution. But they knew that an uneducated populace was surely a death blow to such a fragile political experiment as ours. John Adams wrote “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.” Wouldn’t he be dismally disappointed today.

That beer habit is looking better and better.

Every cake should have icing, and here’s mine: I have heard that every so often, say every 5-10 years, somebody takes the first paragraph from the Declaration of Independence, verbatim, and sends it around in the guise of a petition. Not surprisingly many of those presented with the opportunity to sign it regard the ersatz petition as subversive to America. I have searched and haven’t found hard proof of this, but given the above surveys it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to learn it was true.

In complete fairness I submit the obvious, that these polls and surveys are not conducted or given to all citizens—these are but representative samples of the populace. Given that, what does it say about the overal civic underpinnings of our citizenry? Frankly, not much.

For many July 4th is just another day off work, yet another paid holiday for civil servants, municipal workers, and bank employees. The capitalist machine gears up to sell barbeques, hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, soda, ice chests, and paper plates and napkins with patriotic motifs. I have yet to see any retail outlet selling framed copies of the Declaration of Independence, not so much as a t-shirt with a slogan like “1776 — We made Britain our bitch!” Lots of bald eagle and Liberty Bell knick-knacks and sparklers, though.

Where is the deep, resonant echo of our revolutionary past? Where is the reverence and idealogical spirit that instigated an event unrivaled in history? We stood up to what was then the world’s greatest, best trained military force and wore them down . . . with unquestionable help from, as George Washington said “the hand of Providence.”

What does it say about how debilitating political correctness has become that we allow someone to bring suit in court to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance; to remove “so help me God” from a sworn oath in court; to have blithely turned over all our leverage as knowlegable citizens to special interests and politicians who are far more interested in their own welfare than that of the country?

It’s one thing to stand up straight, chest out, and proudly declare “I am American.” But do you know what that means? Do you know the answers to the basic questions below:

Two of the original founding fathers died on the same day—July 4, 1826—within hours of one another, 50 years to the day which we publically proclaimed independence? (I’ve used both their names within this post)

What are the first ten amendments to the Consititution called? (it has been mention in this post too)

True or False: The Declaration of Independence begins “We the People . . .”

True or False: George Washington used the phrase “Four score and seven years ago” in his first inaugural address as President.

True or False: The Constititution of the United States begins “When in the course of human events . . .”

Some quick facts . . .
• The Second Continental Congress adopted a formal declaration of independence from the crown on July 2nd, 1776. Debate and alterations to the document ensued through the 3rd and the morning of the 4th. We officially became the United States of America on the 2nd of July.

• Thomas Jefferson was not the sole author of the DOI. He did do the bulk of the work, but John Adams and Benjamin Franklin had a lot to say about it. Franklin was responsible for the phrase “self-evident” in the opening paragraph.

• You might think Jefferson was the first signer of the declaration. It was actually John Hancock. The document was signed by most of the members on August 2. The last signature was applied five years later in 1781.

Every country has its sunshine patriots, as well as its zealots. The further we allow our history to fade into obscurity the weaker we become as a nation. Clad in the armor of facts and knowledge we can reclaim the power that has been siphoned from us for so long. We have long gained strength from the diaspora of other countries, helping them to use our truly exceptional freedoms to piece their dreams and families back together, to achieve in America what their country of birth actively denied them. We can regain global respect and admiration as we had in the early 19th century—but to do so we need to understand the precious value of the soil beneath our feet, not trample on it with utter disregard. We need each other more than we realize. Time may indeed make more converts than reason, but do we have that luxury anymore?

May God Himself visit tender mercy upon this land, and help us understand and appreciate the perfection in our imperfect union as the founding fathers did. May he imbue our youth with the tempest of patriotic love for country, and the elders with the accountability to teach them. May he provide us with the strength to keep our enemies at bay and our true brethren at heart.

And may God Bless the United States of America.

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But what about wearing your heart on your truck? This truck would epitomize that for me:
Truck painted with American flag and the Constitution

Did you catch the bald eagle perched in the passenger window?

Oh . . . don’t bother clicking the play icon in the middle, it’s just a screen capture. :^)

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Independence Hall looking up with statue and cloudsJanuary 2011 has already given us our first senseless tragedy, one which has played out upon the national stage not only because of its utter brutality but also due to its actions having been interwoven upon the loom of politics, perhaps a textbook example of what the Germans would call realpolitik.

As I understand it, the gunman in the Tucson, AZ shootings said he was set off because he didn’t like a congresswoman’s reply to his question “What is government if words have no meaning?”

I was asked for my thoughts on that very question, which I give below.

In the 1760’s, Parliament decided it was time for Americans—still subjects of the crown—to help with the cost of their defense. Boston merchants especially, had grown fat upon the largesse of natural resources around them without the onus of heavy taxation. Trade between the colonies and Britain had massive benefits on both sides of the Atlantic.

But American merchant-bankers and small shopkeepers were not the least bit keen on things like the Stamp Act, Coercive Acts, or the Tea Tax. Though in truth, the Tea Tax was notably insignificant, but the wealthy elite held all the power among the local political bodies and they exerted every means at their disposal to decry the taxes and feed the burning embers of treason and sedition.

The crown used its influence and legislative power in an attempt to raise revenues, chiefly to cover the ballooning cost of defending the colonies from insurgencies at their borders. What it wound up doing was raising the ire of those same merchant-bankers in the colonies—men with voices and pens dipped in the intellectual inkwells of Harvard and other prestigous institutions. These men used words to make impassioned pleas to Parliament . . . and to stir the unrest of the working class.

Government derives its power from ideas, from the abstraction of concepts kneaded by concerted thought and productive debate. When it fails to do so we are obligated, even duty bound, to do what is necessary to bring it in line with our wishes: “That when any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government … as to them shall seem more likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”

Winston Churchill once said “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other forms that have been tried.”

Greeks in Athens and Sparta had slightly different forms of democracy, but when Persia threated their freedoms they fought intensely to protect those ideals they cherished. King Xerxes tried every way possible to conquer the Greeks but learned the hard way that democracies don’t fight until a truce is signed—they fight until unconditional surrender. Not only was Persia defeated, but Xerxes’ actions resulted in unifying what had been, up to that time, a nation of individual city-states.

Democracies fight to protect ideals given form by words, but given meaning from something much closer to the heart.

Government is given its meaning, its very power, by the people. Words and politics are often deaf to each others ears, but it is upon the citizen to make its government an instrument to his or her benefit. It is a blessing of Providence, and of men devoted to a belief in Natural Rights and Liberties, that we can use words to elevate our own impassioned discourse, and to convey the full measure of our devotion or disenchantment.

Words clench at our throats and nourish our hearts; they arrest and attest; they badger and bind. Government can be an instrument of evil and wickedness, or it can be to a society’s credit and pride. But government will never give meaning to words, nor should words give pretense to instilling more worth to government than it deserves.

We owe it to ourselves, to our children, and to their children in perpetuity, to set forth the best words we can, to construct our ideals in a manner of positive consequence so that our government is reflective of our better angels, and therefore more deserving of God’s grace and blessings.

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Lady Liberty Aglow

The question was posed to my blog group “What does freedom mean to you?” Those who have read my blog long enough know of my penchant for things American, not the least of which are the ideals of liberty and freedom. So you might imagine my delight at seeing such a question posed.

America is, by its very nature, a melting pot. Neither I nor the rest of my country are as strong individually as we are collectively. To be an American doesn’t mean you are only caucasian, it means we are every race, creed, national origin, and even skin color you can think of. At our core though, all Americans are red, white, and blue. Each of us pursue our own dreams and desires, we live our lives largely on an individual basis, reaching out and embracing family and friends. Ask most of us what we really love and the responses you’ll get will run the gamut from materialistic to spiritual. It’s not unfair to say that each of us, deep down, reserves a small piece of real estate upon which we quietly nurture our love for our country, an ideal not indigenous to America alone.
Ask me if America (or our government) is perfect? I emphatically respond “No.”
Ask me if many things could be better? Naturally, I respond “Yes.”
Ask me what I think it means to be American? I say “For me it reduces down to two simple but powerful words: Freedom and Responsibility.”
I consider myself most fortunate, even blessed, to be an American. I enjoy, even take for granted, freedoms which people of other nations dream of or only read about in clandestine shadows and forbidden books. We have an immigration problem here because of what America is, not because as Americans we hate outsiders. The mere fact I can write this and speak my mind without fear of reprisal is because of our Constitution. That doesn’t mean I can be disrespectful just for the sake of speaking out; with powerful freedoms come equally powerful responsibilities. You can’t have one without the other.
Frankly, if you don’t like America then I and many of my American brothers and sisters wholeheartedly welcome and encourage you to leave. We don’t expect you to love everything about it, good and bad. Most of us don’t either. But we also try to work at becoming better people, better citizens . . . better Americans.
I take Liberty, to have and to hold. I will fade and pass eventually, but within my bloodline run the hopes and dreams of America.
Let Freedom ring.

Freedom, for many of us, means the ability to come and go as we please, to speak our minds, to travel, to exist within a certain framework of openess. For others it implies opportunity, perhaps to start over or simply acheive and excel more than possible before. In his book The Story of American Freedom, Eric Foner sums it up this way:

“Americans have sometimes believed they enjoy the greatest freedom of all—freedom from history. No people can escape from being bound, to some extent, by their past. But if history teaches anything it is that the definitions of freedom and of the community entitled to enjoy it, are never fixed or final.
We may not have it in our power, as Thomas Paine proclaimed in 1776, “to begin the world over again.” But we can decide for ourselves what freedom is.”

Men of great intelligence and passion took tremendous risks with their lives in the hopes that liberty would carry an infant nation, raise it above blueblood tyranny and respirate with the incendiary breath of righteousness. Wills of stone and hearts of kings carved away from English rule what “ought to be,” staving off a thrashing imperialistic beast. Are such men still among us?
Who now can see a million stars lying upon the water, and carefully, judiciously, ripple the water for the greater good and not self-interest—make good come from past mistakes, and one-by-one set the peoples’ victories to breathe in the velvet warmth of the midday sun?
Who will stand apart from the shrill voices of deception and answer honestly for every action?
At the root of all politics, of any movement of philosophy or philanthropy, sits the frailty of humanity. Its very nature an anathema as well as a gift. Amidst such documents of great intention and purpose should be men and women not only willing to exercise their humanity, but do so bereft of personal gain, save that of fulfilling a love of service to their country.
Perhaps our form of government isn’t the gold standard. It certainly isn’t perfect. On every issue, at every turn, stand opposing viewpoints and vehement exertions urging the behest of each one. Underneath it all should quietly but dependably beat the heart of a patriot. Never, not in our lifetimes, nor that of our children or their children in perpetuity, should any of us witness the dying gasp of freedom. It will always assuredly struggle and fight within itself, for out of that comes understanding. Unbridled it should never labor so, but raised with the discipline of proper loyalty it will prosper and mature.
Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, “Time makes more converts than Reason.” With a little help from Providence, Liberty will continue to hold her lamp aside the golden door, and we’ll be ever vigilant as we watch through the window of Time.

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