The Current US Constitutional Struggle; A Canadian’s Perspective.
The United States battles an all out assault on its Constitution. Defenders naturally think they’re fighting for Americans, but in reality it’s for all freedom loving people. Defenders must not forget this. This is not to add to their burden, but to reinforce and encourage their efforts. John Adams knew the challenge.
“I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.”
Americans more than other people are willing to try something new. They were led to believe proposed changes were genuinely new. They are not. They’ve all been tried before and failed. Former Czech Republic President said in a New York speech I heard, that we had 70 years of communism, why would anyone want to go back to that?
Someone said to me the US is the last bastion of freedom. Wrong, it was the first and is still the only bastion of freedom. No other country has protection of free speech its number one priority, or the right to defend it number two. Everybody benefits from a system that defends individual liberty and opposes tyranny and totalitarianism.
This is not about the US being the World’s police force. It is about defending the idea of individual freedom. Americans understand this notion, but most in the world don’t. Recently China said it is time to de-Americanize the world. Sadly, that’s President Obama’s view. He sees the US as an Imperial power imposing its will on the world with economic and military supremacy. His plan is to resolve that false belief, by weakening the economy and curtailing the military with benign neglect. It’s time to heed Jefferson’s concern.
“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
because the natural progress is being aided and abetted.
The US Founding Fathers produced a masterpiece. It works because it has no illusions about the nature of people. George Washington said,
“We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.”
They knew some would attempt to ignore, bypass, and corrupt a free society. They understood the power of power; the corruption of power; and the power of corruption. They anticipated Lord Acton”s comment that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Alexander Hamilton said,
“A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired.”
James Madison expressed it this way.
“Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.”
Their system anticipated and tried to preclude demagoguery with the power of free speech.
The Fathers also understood that information and its dissemination is power and recognized the role of the media as the Fourth Estate. The US people and their constitution are being challenged as never before, best online casino partly because the media failed. It never was particularly good. As Jefferson wrote
“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.”
However he also said,
“The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being.”
The point is, an unhindered press is critical despite its flaws. James Madison explained
“It is better to leave some noxious branches to their luxuriant growth than by pruning them away, to injure the vigour of those yielding proper fruits.”
Now the Internet is replacing the media and its inadequate performance.
For the first time people have access to information and the ability to contribute ideas in discussions with large numbers of people. People quickly realized the value, openness and diversity of the Internet. It accelerated demise of the media already in progress because of their failure to act as the Founding Fathers envisioned.
Blog sites are the equivalent of Pamphlets in the Revolutionary War.1 They were the vehicle of people’s ideas, critical in achieving freedom and construction of the Constitution. Harry Emerson Fosdick said,
“Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.”
The Internet is an ideal vehicle for ordinary people.
Hopefully it will not reach the point Thomas Jefferson identified.
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Identifying the dangers and the degree of threats may be adequate. However, many are unaware of the threat because it is occurring from within. The antagonists breeched the walls of the city by fooling enough people to pull them in like a modern Trojan Horse.
The larger question is can the US achieve another first in freedom? It involves breaking the cycle identified in two quotations:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world”s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
“Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”
Now, vigilance, awareness and willingness by Americans to act is critical. As one who lacks freedom of speech or its protection in law my belief is in George Washington’s observations in a 1788 letter
“No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass.”
I hope the currrent generation of American’s prove Washington correct. Let people who ridicule, denigrate or even despise the US, consider a world with a different superpower, such as Russia, China or even the European Union, whose leaders impose their will on constrained and legally restricted citizens.
1.There is a “Check list of American revolutionary war pamphlets in the Newberry library”.
2.There is no agreement on the origin of these words. http://www.lorencollins.net/tytler.html
NB: This article is a very slightly modified version that appeared here.