WASHINGTON, July 7, 2012 — Yet another 4th of July has come and gone. Most people spend this celebration of independence with family or friends watching fireworks, throwing a party, or grilling some burgers. We often forget about the brave men who revolted against Great Britain and declared the independence that we celebrate. Worse, we forget what our Founding Fathers truly believed with regard to freedom and liberty. Would statesmen like Washington or Jefferson be as respected as they are if they were alive today? Would they even be electable?
Although we respect and admire our Founding Fathers, we no longer hold true to their vision and the founding principles that are the backbone of this country. In his farewell address Washington stated, “the Constitution which at any time exists, til changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.”
Does this sound like the Republicans, who convinced us to support the USA Patriot Act, which completely disregards the fourth amendment of our Constitution? It certainly doesn’t sound like the Democrats, who turned our admittedly flawed healthcare system into an even worse government-run monopoly. Ironically, politicians with Washington’s views would have a difficult time getting elected to public office.
Benjamin Franklin would probably be ostracized today for his political opinions. “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Neither Democrats or Republicans believe this (some even think that his love of liberty would make Franklin a terrorist); both Parties passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. In a country that has accepted drones flying over its own skies, Franklin’s words give a very strong reminder of the freedoms that citizens should demand from their government.
War was often warned against by our founders. James Madison, the father of the Constitution, warned: “Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.” Unfortunately, even though he helped craft the Constitution, Madison has been ignored in modern day politics. Both major parties have clamored for war and inflated defense budgets. This is certainly not the foreign policy of our Founding Fathers, who preached that we must go to war cautiously.
Perhaps one of the most ignored Founding Fathers is none other than our third President, Thomas Jefferson. He warned of central banking and debt, “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] … will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” Republicans and Democrats have both been guilty of ignoring him on this. Other than Ron Paul’s annual Audit the Fed bill, which until recently received little to no attention, there is almost no concern over the Federal Reserve from the Congress, the Obama administration, or the courts. Jefferson’s prescient words have been almost completely ignored by modern America.
It isn’t just politicians who have forgotten the message of freedom and liberty; the American people have forgotten as well. The American public has greatly lowered its standards for those running for public office. Through our elected representatives, it is easy to see that liberty is no longer the primary objective of voters. In fact, it might not even make the top five. American voters have become content with choosing between the lesser of two evils, and sacrificing liberty in return for safety and security.
The United States is facing a true identity crisis. Will we still promote individualism and civil liberties, or do we no longer believe in these values? It is not up to politicians and public officials to change their policies. This will not happen unless liberty once again becomes the primary goal of America and her citizens.
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