Tuesday, July 17, 2007

America has Crashed - Time for a Reboot

The more I think about it, the more I think we need a “back to basics” vision for America today. America has forgotten its roots. We have become too deeply mired in the minutia of partisan politics and have lost sight of what America stands for – what it means to be American. We’ve suffer from a national myopia with all of our attention being devoted to non-issue “issues”, while our basic rights and freedoms and the very underpinnings of our society are continually eroded.

I look at both sides of the aisle today and I, quite frankly, don’t like what I see. I’m faced with a choice between a neo-conservative vision that tries to mix 19th Century imperialism with a global economy that hurts American workers and consumers and a liberal vision that seems to resemble nothing more than the American Socialist Party advocating a government dependent society where entitlements are the norm and no one has to work for anything. What’s worse, if I vote neo-conservative, I vote to invalidate half of the Bill of Rights, and if I vote liberal, I vote to invalidate the other half.

America was founded on the radical concept that human beings have certain inalienable rights – rights which can’t be taken away by a King – or even a democratically held referendum. Our Constitution affirms many of those rights by name. Note I say affirm, not grant. It is not the government of the United States that “grants” us these rights. The Framers saw these rights as basic and fundamental, and not subject to government regulation. Unfortunately, over the past 200 years, for reasons that I’m sure sounded good at the time, we the people have allowed the government to erode many of those rights until we're left with a nation where the Bill of Rights is under active attack by both ends of the political spectrum.

Freedom of speech is one of those endangered rights. The right tried to clamp down on it during the black days after September 11, 2001. No one could criticize the President without being branded a traitor or in league with terrorists. The “terrorist” became the red scare of the new century, and the specter of McCarthyism was raised once again. The left is not blameless here either. The entire doctrine of “Political Correctness” represents the greatest attempt to control thought through creation of acceptable speech codes in this nation’s history. Packaged as an attempt to ensure people’s feelings aren’t hurt, it does nothing to combat the actual marginalization of various groups in this country.

Freedom of religion is yet another endangered right. The left seems to be embarked on a crusade to ensure American public life is free FROM religion. They seem to have missed the whole bit about “free exercise” of religion being expressly affirmed by the Constitution. In a rhetorical backlash, the right seems to miss the boat as well in that they want to institutionalize one particular branch of Christianity. While I know the Constitution doesn’t expressly use the words “separation of Church and State”, both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison indicate in their writings that’s what First Amendment means – and I tend to trust those two on Constitutional matters.

The Second Amendment is perhaps the most misunderstood of all of the sections of the Bill of Rights, and unfortunately only a fraction of that misunderstanding is unintentional. There are many groups out there deliberately muddying the waters to achieve their own ends. Some of those ends are laudable – they want to see a reduction in violent crime. Others are not – they simply fear firearms or fear an armed populace. What the Framers actually feared was a strong central government with a strong military that could impose its will upon the nation – like the monarchies in Europe. The Framers were quite proud of the Second Amendment as they believed only in a free Society would a government not fear an armed population and that armed populace represented the ultimate check and balance against tyranny. So the concept on the left that the right to keep and bear arms is limited to the “militia”, which is modernly (and incorrectly) translated as the National Guard is flat wrong. The concept common even on the right that the Second Amendment refers to “hunting and sporting” purposes is also flat wrong. When only the government is armed, there is no Freedom. If you don’t believe me – think back to Tiananmen square.

In conclusion, our nation needs to politically reboot itself and get back to the business of looking after the rights and freedoms of its people rather than focusing on partisan non-issues. We don’t need an assault weapon ban to combat crime – we need to attack the causes of the poverty and joblessness that are the motives for that crime. We don’t need to provide amnesty to 12 million individuals who snuck over the border illegally, or see how fast we can ship our jobs to China, India, and Mexico, we need to foster industrial development at home and employ our own citizens. We don’t need to focus on “hate speech” and “political correctness”, we need to have a open and honest dialog. We need to let people offend others and be offended. That’s the only way real lasting progress will be made. Right now our “leaders” are trying to put new coats of paint on a rusting hulk and call the problems “solved”. Our nation deserves better. We as Americans must demand better.

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