Posts Tagged ‘right to vote’

Decision Time

November 2, 2010

Today is the day.  Election day.  Finally.  If you have not already voted early, today is the day for you to do so.  To vote.  It is a rare and wonderful right that we possess as citizens of a magnificent and exceptional country.  But in this election it is especially so.  Certainly each individual candidate has his or her own distinctive strengths and weaknesses, his or her own policies they seek to support or oppose.  And while those considerations should be given their due weight, try to put those aside for a moment and think about something much larger.  No matter the personal peculiarities of the contestants, and their specific policy views, the decisions we make about those whom we choose to send to Washington will have far-reaching consequences for the greater future of this country, and for your own future as well.   For this is a time to decide what kind of nation we want America to be. 

The Democrats, and their leader President Obama, have made the choice a very clear one from the start.  They believe that a large and expanding central government offers the best solutions to the problems we face as a nation.  Obama, himself, has repeatedly said that government—and only government—can adequately address the challenges we have before us.  On the other hand most Republicans—at least those who are truly conservative—see things the other way.  That individuals, living and acting for themselves and interacting with one another through free exchange, are best able to make their own decisions about their own lives.  Indeed, government, they argue, has proven itself capable of only getting in the way; and the larger and more intrusive government becomes, the more it gets in the way, or worse.  It is an age-old struggle: the freedom of the individual against the ever-encroaching power of the government. 

The “Progressive” ideology advanced by Obama, and his followers in Congress, maintains that America must always be moving forward—changing, transforming, progressing ever-closer toward becoming something, and that the power and machinery of government are to be fully utilized in that endeavor.   But becoming what?  Becoming what they see as their idea of the ultimate society.  It is a grand vision they have.  One in which the individual, and the choices allowed to the individual about his employment, his compensation, his finances, his health, where he lives, how he moves about, what he eats, what he drinks, the air he breathes, and even the very speech he utters, are all in one way or another, monitored, measured, influenced, controlled or compelled by government.  It is a vision of a nation and society where everyone pulls together in a common purpose and towards a common goal, a goal that is predetermined by government, or specifically by a small elite within government. 

And this goes to the prime difference between the ideology of Liberal-Progressivism, as embraced by the Democrats, and the conservative philosophy of Republicans and the Tea Party groups that are having such an influential role within the Republican Party and in this election.  And that difference is this: Progressives start with a vision—their vision—of what society should be and they seek, through government, to compel individuals to comply with that which is needed to bring about that utopian vision.  Conservatives, on the other hand, start with an understanding of individual human nature—its strengths and its weaknesses, its aspirations and its limitations—and upon that foundational understanding, they craft the rules upon which to build a successful government and society.

The Progressive belief in a common, top-driven, overriding principle of society has been tried before, in many nations and at many times throughout human history.  It has come forward in many guises, under many banners, called many different names, but it is always the same and it has always failed.  Indeed, it has done much worse than fail, it has destroyed; destroyed economies, destroyed societies, destroyed cultures, destroyed families and destroyed lives. 

History has shown us that great civilizations will rise and they will fall.  But to the extent that they have succeeded, it has always been because they have stayed true to their founding principles.  If they have failed, it is because they have strayed from them.  If our founding fathers were alive today, being the men they were, as champions of a limited, judicious and ethical government, knowledgeable as they were about human nature and the tragedies of human history, how do you think they would vote in this election?  How would they decide the question: what kind of nation do we want to be?

Related Posts:

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/10/30/a-republic-if-you-can-keep-it/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/to-be-american/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/coming-undone/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/why-you-don%e2%80%99t-have-a-right-to-healthcare/

 

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A Republic, If You Can Keep It

October 30, 2010

 

“Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature … If the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”

–James Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States, 1877

James Garfield

James Garfield was not one of our more distinguished presidents.  But then he didn’t have time to be: he was assassinated by a deranged individual in 1881, after serving only 200 days in office.  It would seem, however, that Garfield at least had a clear understanding of what was required of the nation if it were to continue to exist as a constitutional republic.

With that in mind, and with this all important mid-term election finally upon us, I thought it might be worth looking at some of the devious (not to say illegal) things our opponents have been up to lately.  And for those of you who might be first time readers to this blog, our opponents are the Democrats, the Liberals, the Progressives, or whatever the hell they choose to call themselves these days.  Let’s take a look at some key races.

In Nevada’s hotly contested Senate race, where Republican challenger Sharron Angle currently holds onto a slim lead over Democratic incumbent Harry Reid, otherwise known as the Progressive Prig of the Senate, the following chicanery has occurred:

  • Reid’s supporters have propped up a fake Tea Party candidate, Scott Ashjian, to siphon off votes that would otherwise go to Angle.  Of course Harry Reid himself denies all knowledge of any such thing. 1
  • Reid’s union thugs and other supporters are giving away free food and gift cards at early voting rallies, despite the fact that Nevada law expressly forbids such bribery.
  • The polls of at least one county in Nevada are controlled by Reid’s union supporters—the SEIU (Service Employees International Union)—and, not surprisingly, voters there have discovered that Reid’s name was automatically checked off on their ballots when they went to vote.  3

In Pennsylvania, where Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak are locked in a close Senate race, Democratic officials in the City of Philadelphia are literally handing out cash, otherwise known as “walking around money” or “street money” in order to buy votes.  Oh but don’t worry, it is a time-honored practice with roots in the corrupt politics of the nation’s inner-cities and involves campaigns actually making cash payouts to local political hacks and “community organizers” who then spread that money around to anyone who is willing to knock on doors and ratchet up voter turnout for Democratic candidates. 4

Turning to Arizona, the left-wing Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled against the state, striking down its law requiring proof of citizenship identification when residents are registering to vote thus making it much easier for illegal aliens, felons and others to fraudulently register and vote as though they were Arizona citizens. 5

Finally in Maryland, a state currently run by some of the most disgusting politicians in the country, Democratic officials are actually considering appealing a federal judge’s ruling that would extend the deadline for allowing absentee ballots for military personnel, currently serving on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be counted—a situation that was created by that state’s failure to timely comply with the law in the first place. 6

Now call me a rube, but it would seem to me that safeguarding the right to vote should be among the most basic, if not sacred, of duties for any who would involve themselves in the politics of this nation.  Without the integrity of that process—one so fundamental to any political system that purports to abide by democratic principles—the entire foundation upon which government rests must ultimately fragment and fall apart.

This country’s founders, like President James Garfield after them, understood that the nation they had formed would last only if its people were morally good and decent, and if those same qualities were reflected in the individuals the people chose to represent them.  As John Adams, considering the fragility of the newly created government, once wrote: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Perhaps even more to the point was Benjamin Franklin.  Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, a woman asked him what kind of government they had given the country.  Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Can we indeed.

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Notes:

Fn. 1: http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/2010/10/sharron-angle-builds-lead-on-harry-reid-in-nevada-race/

Fn. 2: http://www.rightpundits.com/?p=7539

Fn. 3: http://biggovernment.com/publius/2010/10/26/the-seiu-harry-reid-and-voting-problems/

Fn. 4: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/10/28/walking-money-alive-election/

Fn. 5: http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/arizona-looses-9th-circuit-court-voter-identification-requirement

Fn. 6: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/10/29/maryland-weighs-appeal-military-voters-win-extension-absentee-ballots/

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Related Posts:

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/decision-time/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/to-be-american/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/coming-undone/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/why-you-don%e2%80%99t-have-a-right-to-healthcare/

To Be American

July 4, 2010

I. What is it to be American?

What is it to be an American?  Is it to live at certain points on a map?  Is it to have the right to vote?  Is it to have the right to free speech?  Is it to have the strongest military?  Is it capitalism?  Is it George Washington?  Norman Rockwell?  William Faulkner?  Aaron Copland?  John Wayne?  Baseball?  Apple pie?  All of the above?  None of the above?  Or is it something much more?

II. America is an Idea

America is really an idea: an idea of liberty, or freedom.  It is an idea that recognizes man is born with certain rights which are inseparable from him.  It is an idea of a new nation.  A nation based on a form of government by the consent of the governed, founded on certain principles, and granted certain powers organized in such a way as to best secure those rights and liberties for the people it governs.  This idea of a new American nation is set out in two separate but interconnected documents: The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.  The Constitution flows from and is a natural outgrowth of the principles of the Declaration. 

III. The Vision of the Founders

The men who created and shaped these two documents, America’s founding fathers, were men of great vision but also men of practical common sense.  They truly believed they were putting forth self-evident truths, but they knew full well the radical departure they were taking from what must have seemed, at the time, the destined march of human history.  So when Thomas Jefferson put ink-dipped quill to paper, the Declaration of Independence, he knew, would be a fundamental rejection of all other forms of government extant at that time.  Most especially, the Founders of the new American nation were intent on differentiating and separating themselves (or dissolving all political bands) from the country that was their progenitor turned antagonist: Great Britain.

In taking this upon themselves, the Founders relied on the protection of Divine Providence and pledged to one another their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.  If they failed, they knew that their lives would be over, and that no future history would remember them for long.  Indeed, they and their cause would be a mere footnote to history: rebels who dared challenge the might of the British Empire and who were justly crushed by it.  But they did not fail.  Miraculously, they succeeded in their cause.  They prevailed, even though at times all seemed lost. 

The Founders knew, however, that it would not be enough to merely win.  They knew that if they were victorious over the British they could not simply substitute one kind of tyranny for another: one despotic ruler for another despotic ruler.  No, the form of government which they would need to create and put in place would have to be something quite different from the European model of a supreme centralized state authority as embodied in the personage of a king.  Indeed, so worried were they about this, that the first form of government they ratified, the Articles of Confederation, was hardly a government at all.  It was so removed from any central form of government that it resulted in near anarchy and was an utter failure.  So they tried again.  And this time they got the balance right.

The Founders envisioned and created a new and unique form of government.  They foresaw that if they put in place only that government which was absolutely necessary, such conditions would allow the maximum amount of liberty for the people.  They knew government could never deliver happiness to people and, if it ever tried, it would only create the opposite result.  Rather, they understood that if people were merely allowed to pursue their own happiness, that they would, and that in their own way they would find it.

They also foresaw that power in such a system of government would need to be diffuse.  They understood all too well that men were not to be trusted with power: that they were easily corrupted by it.  Hence, the form of government they would establish would have power so balanced and so spread throughout its various layers that no one individual or group of individuals could credibly accumulate and concentrate power and so pervert the system into tyranny. 

And so, the formulation of a system of government was created based on certain guaranteed liberties and certain checks and balances on power.  It was to be one that would be a bulwark against those unscrupulous individuals who crave power and would seek to use power to subvert liberty.

IV. American Exceptionalism

Alexis de Tocqueville

So unique was this new system of American government that people began to talk about it, and the concept of “American Exceptionalism” arose.  American Exceptionalism is something I have touched on several times before in these writings.  It is a philosophy that can be traced back to Alexis de Tocqueville, a French historian who in the 1830s travelled throughout the young American nation and was quite impressed by what he saw.  And no wonder. Coming from Europe where despotism was still entrenched, American democracy was a refreshing and remarkable experiment.  So inspired was he that he wrote about it.  His treatise, Democracy in America, is a major work on the early American nation, its government and society.  In it, he depicted America as having established a form of government that created a remarkable balance between individual liberty and the needs of the community.  In this, he saw the young American nation as truly unique in the world.  Indeed, it was exceptional.

V.  Abraham Lincoln and American Liberty

Abraham Lincoln also knew that America was a unique and exceptional nation.  Delivered in the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is a kind of testament and prayer in recognition of America’s unique position in the world.  At the time, the fate of this nation “conceived in liberty” must have seemed very much in doubt, and Lincoln obviously feared that this, the only beacon of liberty on earth, could very well be snuffed out.  On this July 4th, it is worth remembering his stirring and enduring words:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate…we can not consecrate…we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. –Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863.

The nation survived that ordeal, but both Lincoln, and the Founders before him, knew that this unique concept, this idea of liberty embodied in a nation, would be tested throughout its existence, as it had been during the Civil War.  And they knew it would be tested from without and from within.  The year following his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln made the following statement on liberty:

We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny.  –Abraham Lincoln, 1864

VI. Liberty and Tyranny Today

Lincoln’s quote on liberty and tyranny seems most prescient.  For in America today there are those who would call a thing liberty when it is really tyranny.  They are Americans who would do with other Americans and the product of other Americans’ labors as they please and all the while call that liberty.  Or compassion.  Or spreading the wealth.  Or social justice.  Or socialism.  But by whatever words they may call it, it has but one name: tyranny.

They are the ones Lincoln and the Founders forewarned us against.  They are the ones who would test liberty again and again and, if they could, take America away from what it was and remake her into something else.  They would use the power of the government as a tool to compel Americans to do what they think Americans should be doing with their lives.  They would use the power of government to compel Americans to embrace certain things and give up other things; to compel Americans to obey certain rules but dispense with other rules.  And they would call these actions the granting of “rights” and they would do so operating under the banner of liberty.  They would change, if they succeed, the very idea of America.  

And they are succeeding.  They are doing these things right now, and they are doing them from within.  There are leaders in America today who think it is government’s role and function to change people’s inclinations: to get them to do what they think they should do.  They seek to enact laws that purport to make certain groups or classes of people healthier and happier; or laws that are intended to make things more affordable, or safer, or cleaner, or easier, or more efficient; or laws designed to advance a particular cause or industry or private—but politically connected—entity within an industry.  In essence doling out happiness, to some.  And all at the expense of other people.  This stands diametrically against everything the Founders envisioned for this country.  And it is an anathema to the very idea of America.  Charity and compassion when compelled by governments, are neither charity nor compassion.  They are hoped-for handouts, that in turn become expected welfare, and that in turn become entitlements.

Most Americans today don’t think or probably even care much about all this stuff.  For them, it is just a bunch of politicians bickering, as usual.  But make no mistake: there is a war going on right now and right here in America.  Not a war fought with guns and bullets (at least not yet) but with ideas.  And the victor will determine the kind of nation we will be.  On the one side are those who believe the Founders got it right from the beginning.  That their formulation is one that works better than any other system ever has or ever could.  On the other side are those who think that the Founders’ views, while perhaps historically interesting, are to be seen as quaint and misguided, and in these modern times, certainly outdated.  They see the Founders as just a bunch of decrepit old white men who dressed funny and wore funny wigs and who just “wouldn’t get” what America is all about today.  They see America as having run its course, as being on the wrong side of history, as needing to be more like modern Europe or other nations of the world.  They see America as a country in desperate need of change, or even “fundamental transformation.”  There is no single idea or viewpoint that could be more wrong or more dangerous to this country’s existence than this one, for it takes aim at the very heart of what we are.

VII. Conclusion

What makes us exceptional, unique and unlike the other nations of the world, both past and present, is an idea.  An idea of liberty that binds us together as Americans.  We, as a nation, took a divergent path off of the historical road towards strong centralized government.  Yet, there are those who would have us return to that road and become more like other nations.  If we do, we will move further away from what we are meant to be: further away from what it means to be American.

The Founders bequeathed to us and made us stewards of a simple and elegant formula.  A way for a self-governing and self-reliant people to pursue happiness on earth.  For the Founders, it was their vision, their dream.  And to be American today is to have the great privilege to actually live this beautiful dream as a reality.  Now, why on earth would we ever want to change that?

Related posts on this topic:

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/coming-undone/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/america-r-i-p/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/why-you-don%e2%80%99t-have-a-right-to-healthcare/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/the-arrogance-of-hope-change-%e2%80%a6-or-else/

https://culturecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/glenn-beck%e2%80%99s-cpac-speech-tiger-woods-and-toilet-bowls-a-blackboard-and-brilliance/