The Problem: Fat and Sassy
Many of our so-called “political leaders” are concerned about the obesity of individuals out there in the public. They seem intent on saving them from their own “misbehavior”. Yet, the governments that these folks operate are so morbidly obese in their own right that they are close to death—which for a government would be akin to going bankrupt and disappearing. But the politicians who are so eager to govern people’s personal choices are not taking any action on the size of government. Why? Well, because it doesn’t feel good and the solutions required involve hard, unpopular decisions. Here’s an example: Mayor Bloomberg of NYC decided to restrict sizes of soft drinks sold in the city. He could have spent that time and energy assuring that the city was ready for a natural disaster, not to mention a man-made financial crisis caused by debt and overindulgence created by his honor himself. It doesn’t take the benefit of post-hurricane hindsight to know which would have been a better use of his time and influence.
Who did this? We the People, that’s who. We elected these folks. Plato tried to warn us that, “One of the penalties of not participating in politics is that you will be governed by your inferiors.” No one can deny that voting without knowledge of the issues or candidates (or for one’s own immediate gain) is the same as not truly participating at all. And right now, that lack of true participation could signify the end of the American Dream. Who would be accountable, forced to accept the consequences of this abdication of citizen responsibility? It would be us: me and mine, you and your kids, etc. It most certainly would not be Bloomberg and the politicians that have helped bring us to this point. They have, as usual, made themselves immune.
An Election Looms
Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 6, 2012, is a general election day. How can you try to avoid being governed by your inferiors? We at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii think that the proper way for that is to vote based on principle instead of political party. But before we try to navigate toward that goal (principle) we need to know where we are right now. That seems clear as discussed above (governed by inferiors). The final step is to figure out how we got to this point. This “greatest nation on God’s green earth” did not navigate all the way here with inferiors at the helm. Thus, we should find what went wrong; either where it all started or along the way.
The Declaration Of Independence
July 4, 1776 is our national birthday. The 56 signers of The Declaration of Independence included Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration firmly established the purpose of the nation and the vision for the future. It is replete with principle. The Constitution sits upon it, affirming it as the foundation for the nation. There are no political parties mentioned in the Declaration. Nor is there any left, right, conservative, progressive, libertarian, socialist etc. Mentioned instead were Despotism and Tyranny, rejected irrevocably. Only two directions for government action or planning were mentioned: Either people were to be free to reach UP toward individual liberty, autonomy, responsibility, creativity, productivity, accountability etc or, in the alternative, forced DOWN into bigger, more intrusive, more demanding, all powerful and all-encompassing government. They rejected DOWN and embraced UP.
Ratified in 1787, the Constitution’s preamble starts with three all-important words; “We the People……”. Then it goes on to severely restrict federal government action, referring back to the states and the people for jurisdiction and authority. It is quite apparent that the Founders had great concern that the federal government would get too big and too intrusive. As my friend, the late Ralph Smeed of Caldwell, Idaho, used to say, “the bigger government gets, the smaller you get.”
From There To Here
From 1787 to about 1900, the USA grew, prospered, clarified and made stronger some significant principles (e.g. as in the Civil War), following the outlines established by the Founders. Then, somehow, from 1900 to the present, a malady took root and became stronger and more compelling. Instead of each individual being a self-governing “maker” of his or her place in life, a concept that one could become a “taker” took root. Concurrently, political parties became more powerful. They began to see their job as winning elections for profit, rather like saying, “the bigger government gets, the bigger we and our elected officials get.” But, what about concern and respect for We the People as expressed in those founding documents? In answer, they seemed to say, “Oh, we can buy them off; they carry no principles to the ballot box, they mostly want to take, and be dependent on us.”
What Goes Around, Comes Around
Knowing where we are and how we got here is empowering. Those of us who share the Founders’ love of individual liberty can now plan our election strategy and begin the journey. Our destination is UP; we unequivocally want to avoid moving DOWN. We will evaluate candidates and proposals on ballots on the basis of principle, not party. Our mental compass will be set on UP, and any deviation from that will trigger an alarm that warns of a DOWN danger so that we can prepare for counter-action. That will return us to First Principles, where our nation started with 56 pledging in ’76, “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor,” to uphold ideas of consequence.
A Couple Of Afterthoughts
It is important to keep reminding yourself that we did not get to this point overnight—so we cannot expect positive change be effected with just one vote/law/election/etc. The change to allowing principles to guide us will take time to seep back into society. We at GRIH are looking to the 250th birthday of our nation in 2026 to see significant change. That will take lots of work, lots of dedication, and lots of money.
In addition, DOWN is an easy direction for elected officials; they love it. Small “DOWN” decisions happen all the time—they create another government department or position, thereby putting us on the slippery downward slope (picture a DOWN escalator) to new laws, more staff, and a bigger and more intrusive government. Once the precedent has been set, expansion is a cakewalk. Moving UP politically, is, on the other hand, very difficult. There is no UP escalator for UPWARD bills that would limit the size and scope of government. Each effort to do so is a separate battle unto itself. There isn’t even an UP stairway and there is little chance there ever will be. So, the UPWARD folks have to climb UP the DOWN escalator to get the work done. The message: Freedom is not free. The struggle is hard but victory is sweet!
Now Go Vote—– Upward!
Richard Rowland is the President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Views expressed in this column are intended to promote creative thought, educate, and, we hope, prompt comment. Accordingly, thoughts expressed do not necessarily reflect the official position of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii or the author.
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