Democracy in America

Democracy in America

Prior to the industrial revolution that began in the 18th century, the people of the world were largely divided into two groups, master and serf. The masters enjoyed opulent lifestyles for their time and the rest depended on the meager scraps left over. The modern middle class was the result of advances in technology that required skilled workers and more importantly, the Constitution of the United States. The great experiment called America was the first time in history where a nation based on individual liberty allowed the people to chart their own course, breaking from the ruler-servant model of the past.

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Our founding ideal that “all men are created equal” unleashed an environment where people believed that they could achieve better than their initial lot in life. Men no longer had to bow or divert their eyes away from those considered royalty. People of every social class could stand strait and speak to those outside that class as if they were talking to a peer. French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville recognized the uniqueness of the new Republic, highlighting this new form of society in his book “Democracy in America.” Additionally, he observed how fragile America’s newfound liberty could be in the hands of corrupt politicians and a populace becoming dependent on government sustenance.

Tocqueville worried that “if despotism were to take root in a modern democracy, it would be more dangerous than the oppression of the tyrants of the past who could only exert their influence on a small group of people at a time”. It is becoming clear that we are quickly moving to validate those fears as a relatively small group of officials in office are using their power to erase the gains of the last 250 years, threatening to divide America into a ruling class and that of the ruled.

The erosion of our system did not happen overnight.  Each new tax increase is sold on benefitting a needy cause. Every time civil liberty is diminished, it is said to be for the safety of the people. As one of America’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, said. “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Franklin knew that without constant vigilance to the principle of liberty, there would always be those in power willing to use fear as a basis of expanding their own power.

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security was born in the name of public safety. It has now grown into a behemoth that has American citizens raising their hands like criminals to enter an airport and being subjected to random pat downs without cause. Without explanation, the DHS along with the Border Patrol agents has expanded their programs to include vehicle checkpoints in the interior of our country, asking American drivers for their “papers” and the reason for their travel hundreds of miles from our borders.

Believing that these programs might make us “safer”, most Americans failed to see the long term effects of surrendering our fundamental rights enshrined in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, prohibiting unlawful search and seizure.  Little by little, these rights are being taken away. Once gone, they will be nearly impossible to recover.

Returning a nation to its founding principles is a complex and arduous task. Excessive taxation robs working individuals of an ever increasing percentage of what they make, requiring them to work longer to make a living and leaving little time for educating themselves on dangers of government expansion. Those who do understand the problem can find it difficult to dedicate their time to serious activism.

Few will argue that there are functions we both want and need government to perform but government programs creeping into the control of every aspect of our lives has long passed the fundamental charter of both Federal and State power.

Modern journalism has been reduced to 2-5 minute sound bites on any issue. Depending on the political leanings of the media outlet, the narrative is designed to curry favor with one political ideology or another rather than simply present the facts. It is not easy to blame people for being confused and misinformed, something that is not lost on political strategists who understand that an uninformed electorate can be used against us.

History will determine if it is too late to reverse the damage caused by politicians more interested in maintaining their current positions and the perks they enjoy from power than doing the much harder and controversial work of reigning in our out of control system of government. Any change will have to start with voters deciding that enough is enough. Unfortunately, many voters have become dependent on whatever scraps the government is willing to throw them in the form of entitlements and will vote for those promising the most.

Truth is a nonpartisan issue yet the pushback on anyone willing to stand up and expose the games our elected officials play with our tax dollars and liberties can be fast and brutal. Labels of racist, bigot, and extremist have become a kneejerk reaction against anyone daring to speak out in opposition to government excess and overreach.

Demanding accountability and removing those who do not defend the principles upon which our nation was founded is the ultimate solution. If we fail, future generations will never know the meaning of civil liberty and the concept of American exceptionalism will become something only read about in old history books. The real choice belongs to “we the people”, and requires a revival of virtuous patriotism, the character and will to stand up and fight and the perseverance needed for long term reform.

Or, we can accept our new society where government is the master and we are the slave. Will we make the right choice?

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