Perhaps a better title for this post would be “An Apology for America.” I mean this in the ancient sense of an apology–a reasoned defense or explanation. In the first couple of centuries of Christianity, there were great theologians who addressed tracts to their fellow Romans as an attempt to explain the nature of their emerging faith. Known as “the apologists,” their work was to reach out to the wider community with important explanations and clarifications regarding their doctrines and activities.
In this sense, dear fellow citizen, I consider myself an apologist for the Constitution. I am not alone in this, and I am glad to see that more and more of us are emerging. I suspect we would all agree that if our nation had been taking its Constitution seriously, we would not–we could not–find ourselves in our present situation.
This apology is not addressed to the political elites, but to the American citizen of every other stripe whose work it is not to lead the nation or make strategic political decisions, but to produce, to earn, to rear children, and to survive. While doing so you struggle against the storms and challenges not only of society but of nature as well. There are physical struggles to face, taxes to be paid, children to be educated, illnesses to be faced, and mouths around the dinner table that demand to be fed.
There is work of every type to be done. Trucks must be driven so that food and fuel are delivered. Shelves must be stocked, teachers must be trained, children must be delivered to schools, and coffee needs to be delivered tableside. All of these tasks and more must be done millions of times each day in the large and small communities that make our nation what it is. It is understandable if you find it difficult to keep abreast of the political news, or if you find yourself unsure of just what your political leaders are deciding about your future and your freedom.
But some of us are waking from our sleep. More of us have to do the same. We must rise from the night of political ignorance. We must refuse to give trust and cooperation to the political elites who play the tune of the Pied Piper and who dance before us toward a horizon that is destined to leave us all with less economic and personal freedom, more difficult livelihood, and even harder financial futures.
Only you, dear citizen, can change the future. You must realize now, before it’s too late, that there is no national or international Utopia. Government cannot be all things to all people. Even if it could, it would be unadvisable to give it the necessary power to accomplish such a goal. Yet this is how too many of us have acted. We have willingly sacrificed freedom in search of personal security against the unpredictability of life.
The federal government has grown beyond the limitations placed upon it by our Founders and our Constitution. It is we who are responsible for this. As citizen watchmen we have failed, perhaps understandably, to refuse that government’s continuing encroachments upon our freedoms and our dignity. Politicians and citizens are now co-dependents in a dangerous game of national destruction: we demand more comforts and services from government and the politcians guarantee their own success and enrichment by providing us with our demands.
This sad and mutually self-centered relationship brings us to our current state of affairs:
-we are overburdened with debt,
-our leaders think we can end the debt crisis by spending more, not less
-unemployment is at record numbers
-federal regulations are beyond counting
-the tax system is too complicated
-inflation is eating away our earnings
-government involvement is increasing the cost of healthcare and insurance
-corporations and manufacturers are leaving our shores
-legislators legally act upon inside information for financial gain
-almost half of us pay no federal income tax
-utility costs rise regularly due to excessive regulation by government
-most employers are unsure of the future and hesitant to hire or expand
-government picks corporate and industrial winners and losers based upon whether or not those entities will assist the ruling party
-laws are passed that are not fully understood or even completely studied
-the courts increasingly overreach their authority
-those few leaders advocating financial restraint are demonized
-the Constitution is ignored by self-serving politicians
-political elites pick and choose the parts of the law by which they’ll abide
-political party affiliation takes priority over national concerns
-those arguing for limited government are called “extremists”
-private property rights are defiled for the sake of increased property taxes
-economic success is no longer a virtue but an excuse for more taxation
-our borders are not secure
-what “feels good” is more important than wisdom and study
-our leaders do just about any damned thing they please while drawing salaries and receiving benefits that are far beyond what most citizens can ever imagine possible.
We have a crisis. The crisis is unchecked power. “Power tends to corrupt,” said Acton, and “absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.”
This is the point where we find ourselves. We are on the verge of ceding absolute power to our federal leaders. Who ever imagined an America where cities would have to declare “food sovereignty,” or a country where congressional representatives actually limit us in the types of lightbulbs we use? Who could have thought before now that by his own authority the President could insert his will into contractual relationships between businesses and persons?
“It’s not that bad,” you may say. The same has always been said in history by those who could not–or would not–recognize the threat because it came gradually, in increments. What would John Adams have said if the King of England had demanded that home fires be extinguished in cold weather so as to prevent global warming? What would Thomas Jefferson have said if told by royal bureaucrats what type of candles to burn? How would Martha Washington react if she were groped for the sake of security before being allowed to board a stagecoach?
In this open letter I lay blame plainly and directly upon ourselves. It is we, the citizenry, who have allowed this to happen–albeit without the intention of allowing it. Still, it has happened. Will it continue or will we demand our liberties? How much governmental power is enough? What amount of taxation is sufficient? When will the regulation book be large enough? How high will inflation, debt, and unemployment go before we demand a change of course?
The problem at hand did not begin with the current presidency. It will not end just because a new presidency is inaugurated. More is needed. Much more.
How long will the Constitution be ignored? Why is it trampled under foot? How long before the spark becomes a flame and the nation’s citizens recognize that exchanging liberty for security eventually leads to the demise of both?