“Today we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life. –John F. Kennedy
Newsflash: There’s a recession on.
You’ve heard? Really? That’s odd. I haven’t read about it anywhere—that’s why I felt compelled to write this article.
Oh, THAT recession? No, no. Of course I’ve heard about the economic recession. I was talking about America’s democratic recession.
Slowly, but surely, we are losing our liberties in this country and the saddest part is not that they are being taken from us but that we’re giving them away. Americans are being duped into believing all is well when, in fact, we’re slowly poisoning ourselves.
Most of us are hard on smokers. They have the audacity to sue the tobacco companies when everyone—and I mean everyone– knows smoking will kill you. It’s not that smoking “may” kill you. It’s that smoking “will” kill you. (Unless you cheat lung cancer by serendipitously falling victim to death by misadventure or an unfortunate encounter with gravity.)
My judgmental attitude knows one limitation: if someone started smoking in the 1940s or 1950s and heard the radio ads in which doctors said smoking was ok, then perhaps their habit started under false pretenses and I’m able to muster a modicum of sympathy.
Click here for an example.
We’re being told the same garbage today by our politicians–Democrats and Republicans alike—about how to address America’s troubles. “Four out of five federal legislators say Washington has all the answers to your problems.”
There should be a warning on the sleeve of every Congressman’s suit: WARNING: MAY CAUSE THE DEMISE OF THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE.
Like the more publicized economic recession, our democratic recession is happening because we have taken a detrimental and prolonged hiatus from making sufficient investments in maintaining our liberty.
Over the last few decades Americans began to spend more than they saved. We took economic growth for granted and placed our trust in ever increasing stock and real estate values creating artificial economic security based on risky collateral.
Likewise, we have taken America’s freedoms for granted. We have allowed our liberties to be slowly usurped by a federal government that arrogantly believes it can solve America’s woes and sees precious little evidence in the behavior of its citizens to believe that the people can solve their own problems.
South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint has recently written a book called SAVING FREEDOM in which he writes, “Many Americans want out of this abusive marriage with the federal government. And they are willing to fight and sacrifice to end their dependence on empty political promises.” Oh that I believed that. Most Americans will tell you that they want smaller government, but heaven forbid government shrinks THEIR programs.
If we were genuinely outraged and felt truly threatened, as we are and do with regards to the American economy, we would evaluate the preponderance of liberty in lives (or lack thereof) the way we have scrutinized our budgets. Many Americans have looked at their finances and been shocked to see $80 a month spent at Starbucks, $120 a month for lunches, $150 a month in foodstuffs yet uneaten in the pantry. Americans have weeded the chaff from our expenditures and discovered fiscal discipline. Our covetous nature got the best of prudent fiscal policy and today we are doing what must be done to save our homes and retirement funds and college savings accounts.
It has taken an enormously painful recession to rock us from or fiscal torpor and force introspection. What will an equally painful democratic recession look like? What events will have to transpire before we feel that our freedoms are as threatened as we feel our finances are today? Where is the tipping point in public perception?
Ronald Reagan, in his speech endorsing Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Presidential campaign, said that “….this is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives better for us than we can plan them ourselves.”
America’s problem is that it’s easier to work around the impediments the federal government puts in our way. Changing the system is unbelievably difficult, nay impossible, for the single citizen. It is far easier to simply make small, incremental adjustments to our own lives and habits in order to accomplish what we want to accomplish in spite of governmental intrusion.
But for the frog in the frying pan the water is nearly boiling. Incrementally, the American experiment in government by the people and for the people is being slowly eroded.
I don’t believe there is a single Congressman, Senator or Executive Branch employee who is actively pursuing the demise of this country. They are first stuck in a position in which their self interest is achieved by giving the people what they want; and second they are left with few alternatives, save to expand the federal government, because there is scant evidence that the people will do for themselves.
The American belief in small government doesn’t presuppose that there isn’t work to be done; rather it presupposes that the work that needs doing shouldn’t be done by the federal government. Where are the citizens stepping forward to tell Washington, “We don’t need your help, we can do it ourselves?” Instead we look for one new government program after another to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves.
We blame the government for its socialist trends, but we elected our representatives. How many of these politicians are in serious jeopardy of not being re-elected? Re-election rewards their behavior. We keep saying “no” but our actions in the voting booth don’t substantiate that message.
We are giving back the liberties our forefathers fought to provide and maintain. Will it take a significant and blatant attack on American Democracy to allow us to see clearly the weakening of our Constitution?
We will not see clearly until a leader emerges who MAKES us see. Culture change requires a change from leadership. Without leaders who are willing to demonstrate self-sacrifice and who can champion a return to America’s core values I doubt we will be able to make the sacrifices necessary to preserve America’s heritage.
I’m not one who believes that Ronald Reagan did no wrong and was the embodiment of conservatism. I believe that he, like so many others, ran exciting, liberating campaigns espousing all that is good about America but who capitulated to the pragmatic concerns of the office and relinquished the authority that elected him in the first place (see George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign as well).
However, Reagan provided a neat summary (albeit in 1964) of where we are today. “Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor’s fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can’t socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.”