Taking Our Country Back, Part 2

The reactions I’ve gotten to my Tea Party speech are varied. Some people seem to think I was saying we should all be good little Republicans and vote for whomever “they” put on the ballot. One person actually thought I was advocating taking up arms against our government. (Not sure how he got that…)

Let me clarify my intent. If we truly want to take our country back, and restore it to the Republic that our founding fathers intended, we need to do it within the framework established by our founding fathers. That means we do it by voting. Voting alone is not sufficent, however. We need to get actively involved.

Setting aside wishful thinking, and acknowledging the reality of our two-party system, if we want to effect change in our government, we need to control one of the two major parties. The Democrat Party has already been spoken for by socialists; we’re not going to get much traction there. The Republican Party was originally founded on the same principles on which the Tea Party movement is founded. It seems reasonable to believe we have a chance of restoring that party to its true, legitimate roots.

I believe the Republican Party has betrayed the principles on which it was founded, and has been betraying them for years. I’m by no means suggesting that conservatives should fall in with the party line. I’m saying the opposite. Conservatives should be the ones defining the party line. The party line (platform) is formulated by the members who actively participate as PCPs and delegates. It’s very easy to become a PCP, and the PCPs elect the delegates. If we want to take back the party, we have to do it from within. That means registering Republican and working as grass roots activists within the party to rebuild it from the ground up.

As individuals, whether it makes more sense to register Republican or third party depends on the goals we want to achieve. If our goal is to find other idealistic people who all agree with us, we’re more likely to achieve that goal in a third party, because it’s a smaller, more narrowly focused group. If our goal is to actually change our government, and truly take our country back, the very quality that makes third parties effective in achieving the first goal makes them unable to achieve the second. We need massive numbers to achieve change in government.

If we can concede that we will always have some differences, but work together on the common goals that are most important to all of us, we can stop this country’s slide toward socialism and actually turn it around. But it takes a willingness to focus on the core goals that unite us (small government, less regulation, lower taxes) and a willingness to set aside (at least temporarily) the issues that divide us. And it takes a willingness to commit some of our time and energy to the worthwhile effort of taking our country back.

The idea of taking up arms against our government seems to have an appeal to some people. As a realist, I’m very much aware that, no matter how many weapons we might stockpile, we cannot outgun the mightiest military the world has ever known. Military technology has come a long way since 1776. In fact, the government wouldn’t even need to send in the military to quell a rebellion today. They could just shut down the power grid. That’s reality.

I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t stockpile weapons. I’m just saying it won’t help us save our nation. However, if it should come to pass that we do actually lose our country, then a stockpile of weapons could come in very handy. But, by that point, our nation would already be irretrievably lost, along with the ideals and principles upon which it was founded. I hope and pray it never comes to that.

Rise Up and Take a Stand


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Freedom is Not a Pendulum

The periodic swings from one party to the other in control of our government often give rise to the analogy of a pendulum. A pendulum swings from one side to the other, always passing through the equilibrium position at its center. This flawed analogy leads to the illusion that our country’s political swings from left to right also pass through a stable center that is fixed and permanent.

History belies that illusion. Throughout the history of civilization, there has never been a government that did not eventually come to an end, either through defeat in war or corrosion from within. The Roman Republic lasted 500 years before it gave way to the Roman Empire, and that too collapsed after a few hundred more years. Ancient history? Yes, indeed. But the rate of social, political, industrial, technological, and cultural changes on the global scale have accelerated, not decelerated, from ancient to modern times. Change happens much more rapidly than it used to.

We think of our government, and our nation, as permanent and impervious to destruction from without or within. That is a comfortable, but naive and historically insupportable, perspective. This country has only existed for a couple of hundred years. It will not exist forever. It too, like all other governments and nations, will someday decline or be overthrown by an enemy. Most of us cannot conceive of the demise of our country and the way of life we’ve taken for granted from birth, so we don’t believe such a thing could happen, — at least not in our lifetimes. But nobody ever realizes they’re living in a historically significant period until it reaches the tipping point and cataclysmic change is suddenly thrust upon them.

In spite of the dire, and oft-repeated, warnings of our founding fathers, the size and scope of our government has continually increased from the founding of our nation until now. For the first hundred and fifty years, the expansion was slow and gradual, with each incremental transfer of power to centralized authority a result of prolonged deliberation and strenuous debate. In the last half century, government expansion has accelerated dramatically, and continues to accelerate at an unprecedented rate. The president and Congress now sign bills into law without even bothering to read them!

Along with the increasing momentum of government expansion, we’ve also seen a pronounced trend toward more and more socialist programs and policies. By that, I mean state control of production and distribution, and increasing regulation of industry and of individual rights. The “pendulum” may still swing to one side or the other, but the center point is moving, and it’s moving ever more rapidly. We are straying further and further from the principles on which our founding fathers established this nation. When government takes power away from the people to determine what’s in their best interests, that power does not swing back to the people, like a pendulum. The balance of power is permanently shifted from the people to the government, making it easier for government to usurp even more power in the future.

History informs us that the decline and fall of our nation will eventually come to pass. But history doesn’t tell us when or how. We are on a trajectory toward the termination of the greatest and most successful experiment in freedom the world has ever known. We could stand back and idly watch it slip away and, afterward, wonder where it went. Or we could wake up and start waking up our friends and neighbors, and impress upon them what is at stake.

In his farewell address on March 4, 1837, Andrew Jackson said:

But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government.

We, the people, may have it within our power to stave off the inevitable expiration of our nation by exchanging complacency for vigilance, and apathy for involvement. How long we can maintain it is unknown. But it rests with us to at least pass it on to the next generation. What happens after that is up to them.


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Liberty. Freedom. Independence.

I always get Independence Day and Thanksgiving confused. Not because I can’t tell a turkey from a firecracker, but because every Independence Day I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

I am proud to be an American. I love this country. I’m grateful for the fundamental freedoms, not granted by our government, but recognized by our government as inalienable, and protected by our Constitution. I’m grateful to our founding fathers, who came up with the idea of a nation dedicated to the preservation of individual rights and liberties, and persevered to establish that nation. And I am immensely grateful to all the men and women in our armed forces who have sacrificed their lives upholding those principles, and to those who continue to put their lives on the line day after day to defend our freedoms and the way of life we take for granted.

This is the greatest country on earth. Not because of the land, though it is a beautiful country and abundant with natural resources, not because of the people, because there are good and bad people everywhere, but because of the principles set forth by our founding fathers that define this nation. Liberty. Freedom. Independence. Those are three of my favorite words.

I am proud to be an American. I love this country. And I give thanks for the good fortune of having been born here and for the privilege of being an American citizen.

God bless America! God bless America! God bless America!

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What is Conservatism?

To me, conservatism is about believing in the principles on which this country was founded. Those principles are grounded, not in the unlimited powers of government to regulate every aspect of our lives, but in our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Everyone understands what’s meant by life and liberty, but the pursuit of happiness clause is not always clear to people. The government doesn’t guarantee anybody’s happiness. But what it does guarantee is that each of us has the right to pursue whatever happiness may mean to us, as individuals, in whatever way we see fit, as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of anybody else. That’s a powerful concept.

What makes this country unique among all nations is the fact that our founding fathers believed so strongly in individualism that they placed the rights of the individual above the rights of the collective society, or the “common good.” From its inception, this country was founded on the precepts of individual freedom and individual responsibility. As an American, you have the freedom to live your life however you choose to live it. But the corollary of that freedom is that you also have to take responsibility for your life, and the choices you make, and the consequences of those choices.

It’s not the role of the government to protect you from yourself, or from your own bad choices, poor judgment, or ignorance. That’s up to you. It’s also not up to the government to provide you with basic necessities, like food, shelter, medical care, employment, recreation, or anything else, save the protection of your individual rights. All those are your responsibility to provide for yourself and your dependents. But, by the same token, neither does the government have the right to take away what is yours to provide those things for others.

The concept of private property is fundamental to the realization of individual freedom. What you earn by the fruits of your labor, your mind, your creativity, talents, and the skills you’ve worked to develop, belongs to you and you alone. You may choose to share what’s yours with whomever you want, but that, too, is up to you. It’s not up to the government to take what you earn and redistribute it to those who can’t, or won’t, or don’t earn.

Our founding fathers recognized that, to maximize individual freedom, you have to limit the powers of government. The only truly legitimate role of the government is to protect your rights from being infringed upon by others. Quite simply, the purpose of government is to protect me from you, and you from me, and both of us from a common enemy. Locally, that means law enforcement and criminal justice. Nationally, that means a strong military. I support both.

I’m not against all taxation. I recognize that you don’t get something for nothing. The protection of my rights as a citizen, and our national sovereignty, is worth a lot to me. And I’m willing to pay for that. But I’m not willing to pay for everything else anybody wants that they can’t afford to pay for themselves. If you want something of value, you have to provide value in return. Just because you can’t afford something, doesn’t give you the right to take it out of my pocket. Nobody owes you anything, except what you earn.

The other fundamental building block of a free society is the free market. Some people confuse the phrase “free market” with “big business.” Those two concepts are orthogonal. A free market simply means that every transaction is entered into by the free will of the participants, with no coercion. A free market transaction is always win-win because, if either party doesn’t believe he’s getting more value than what he’s exchanging for it, he can walk away from the transaction. When the government imposes subsidies, tariffs, price controls, quotas, or other regulatory constraints upon the free market, it only serves to circumvent the free will of the people to choose how best to spend the money we earn, under the premise that the government knows what’s best for us better than we do.

The basic building blocks of freedom are free will, free markets, private property, and limited government. And that’s what conservatism in America is about.


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