Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We hold the fate of America

On the eve of his inauguration, Abraham Lincoln addressed Governor Oliver Morton and the citizens of Indiana with these telling words:

In all the trying positions in which I shall be placed, and doubtless I shall be placed in many trying ones, my reliance will be placed upon you and the people of the United States - and I wish you to remember now and forever, that it is your business, and not mine; that if the union of these States, and the liberties of this people, shall be lost, it is but little to any one man of fifty-two years of age, but a great deal to the thirty millions of people who inhabit these United States, and to their posterity in all coming time. It is your business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty, for yourselves, and not for me. I desire that they shall be constitutionally preserved.

What say today's political class to this? It does not matter, what matters, as Lincoln remarked, is what we say - and do.

For more on Lincoln and our future, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Monday, August 8, 2011

America: Blessed by God

America: Blessed by God

George Washington perceptively commented in his First Inaugural Address:

"No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency..." 

Those that really know American history, no that this was no idle observation.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rancor: The Price of Freedom & Self-Government

"we have builded up a form of self-government and a social system which is peculiarly our own. It differs essentially from all others in the world. It is the American system. It is just as definite and positive a political and social system as has ever been developed on earth." Herbert Hoover.

Although Hoover is not a particularly popular icon today, his understanding that America has a unique system - based on a foundation of self-government - is undeniably correct. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, America's system rests on the "consent of the governed." This consent is a key component of our First Principle of the Social Compact

This is why we allow protests - even those we despise; why we vote for our political leaders; why we allow initiatives, recalls, and referenda; and why public opinion is so important in public decision making. This is in striking contrast to many regimes on earth, where speech is oppressed; leaders are imposed; laws cannot be challenged; and public opinion is irrelevant.

We have been - and continue to face - a heated public dialogue (perhaps rancor is the better word) about many public issues, but it is the price we pay for our freedom.

For more about the Social Compact, visit America's Survival Guide and Patriot Week

Friday, August 5, 2011

Free Speech: Cherish, Don't Cheapen It

In his famous dissent in Abrams v United States, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote that "the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes can be safely carried out.  That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution."

Patriot Week celebrates the First Principle of unalienable rights - and the freedom of speech and press are some of our most cherished unalienable rights.

Today, this sentiment seems to be accepted as law, but under assault in practice.  Too often political commentators engage in ad hominenattacks and character assassination.  The demonization of those on the other side of political disputes is so commonplace, that it hardly is noticed.

Stated another way, although freedom of speech and press are precious rights, they have been cheapened and weakened by today's corrosive atmosphere.  When is the last time we had a serious political debate invoking the higher principles - the better angels - of our nature?

But Justice Holmes is correct - it is the competition of ideas - in a free marketplace - in which the best public policy and ideas can be derived - and attacking the messengers does nothing but corrupt and denigrate the quality of the debate - to the detriment of all.

For more about Patriot Week, visit Patriot Week.  For more about our how our liberty is at risk, visit America's Survival Guide

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Education, Linchpin of Freedom

"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles Jarvis, 1820.
This sentiment expressed by Jefferson is as true today as it was at the dawn of our experiment in liberty. In light of the multitude of crises that are facing our nation, many have taken the attitude that only expert elites can save us from ourselves; and others question whether the people have the fortitude to preserve our freedoms. 

If such a attitudes and doubts have validity, it is because we as a nation have done such a poor job in educating ourselves about the foundation of our freedoms. As Jefferson explained, the solution is not shut the people out, but to ensure they are well grounded in our First Principles and history.  And only then can we expect that our freedoms will be sure.

For more on our educational crisis and how to combat it, see America's Survival Guide.  For more about Jefferson and our First Principles, visit Patriot Week.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

JFK: Rights from the Hand of God

In his Inaugural Address, John F. Kennedy eloquently explained America's First Principle of unalienable rights:

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe - the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

In all the clamor, passion, and heat of current politics, when is that last time we heard that sentiment?  Rarely if at all.  Yet, if we believe anything else, we are doomed to arbitrary whims of politicians to control our most fundamental rights.  This is not the American understanding.  JFK had it right.   Let's remember it or everything we believe in is at risk.

Monday, July 25, 2011

America: Land of Equality

In his seminal, A Defense of the American Constitutions, John Adams wrote:

"In every country we have found a variety of orders with very great distinction. In America there are different orders of offices, but none of men. Out of office, all men are the same species and of one blood; there is neither a greater nor lesser nobility."
Indeed, at the time of the American Revolution, America was alone in the world in rejecting nobility, hereditary advantages, and distinctions embedded in the law.  The Founders believed that "all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights . . . ." This great equality under the law allows those who prove their worth - through the "content of their character" as Martin Luther King Jr. would say - to excel regardless of their original station in life.  This is a First Principle that is worth remembering, cherishing, and fighting for.

For more about the First Principle of equality, visit www.PatriotWeek.org and Americas Survival Guide.