Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why I don't want to see a revolution

I'm all for States rights. I'm glad Texas is standing up for itself, and I hope other states follow suit.

I don't want to see a revolution, though. It's not the usual, "What is your pistol going to do against a tank or F-18 fighter?" I have answers, actually, but more importantly, I think the military is very likely to hold its oath to uphold the Constitution in higher regard than any obligation to support politicians violating the Constitution.

My worry is that there's no way we could do it well. There are some massive differences between the citizenry today and the citizenry in the 1770's. The colonists in the 1700's were largely literate through reading of the Bible. While I don't think you have to be a Bible reader to make a good citizen, that means they were steeped in the Judeo-Christian traditions that included personal responsibility, moral accountability, and solving societal problems at the lowest possible organizational unit of society. Much like early Anglo-Saxon government, the Jewish tradition was to take disputes to the leader of a family first, small community next, group of communities next, and anything that couldn't be solved at those levels would be solved by the nation, or representative of the nation. Nobody expected a President to step in and pay for their mortgage. That would have been unthinkable and repugnant. After the Constitution was established, common people discussed it in every day language so regularly that Alexis de Tocqueville remarked on it in his works. Despite a lack of public education in the early United States, the people were nevertheless educated about their rights and government.

Even more important was the nation's leadership. The founders of the nation and authors of the Constitution were well-educated in government theory from ancient Greek government to their present, and read philosophy. They recognized the need to carefully limit the rights and powers of government to prevent those in love with power from abusing the citizenry. They were careful to make the individual the source of all rights and powers, and the government subject to him, not vice versa. This was done based on a study of human nature, not some contemporary theory of government of the 1700's.

I fear the people of the United States aren't well educated with regard to their Constitution and government. I fear leaders aren't enlightened, and don't understand the principles with which the founders were so well acquainted. In fact, the actions and statements of both bear out my fears.

We can't have another revolution, because we're not sufficiently educated and moral to reorganize the nation in as thoughtful a manner as the founders did. The violence wouldn't be limited to reformation, but would be directed generally at anyone the media didn't like.

There is legitimate concern that the government is working to suppress conservative thought through the Department of Homeland Security. That concern appears to be very valid. Even with the frightening specter of fascism (yes, it's a liberal phenomenon) looming, I still think revolution is a bad idea. This is something we must fix through conversation, organization, and voting.

The job won't be done with the tea parties that will take place tomorrow. Make sure to make friends, get contact information, and start discussion groups. Many citizens of the 1700's were self-educated. It's important for us to follow in their footsteps, and learn more about our founding, our Constitution and government theory so we can peacefully guide our nation back to the unique and very successful system the founders constructed.

1 comment:

Bryan T. said...

Andy, you said this: I fear the people of the United States aren't well educated with regard to their Constitution and government. I fear leaders aren't enlightened, and don't understand the principles with which the founders were so well acquainted. In fact, the actions and statements of both bear out my fears.

As do I. As a person who, until a year ago, didn't have any education about our Constitution and government, I have to say you're dead on. THIS is the true problem us "on the right" or Republicans or Conservatives or Libertarians are going to have to contend with.

I hate to say it, but you were so right in you saying that things are different from the 1700's. Money, social status and popularity seem to dominate our government these days. If anyone doubts this claim, just look at how our president got elected. And look at how this stupid bill got passed . . . no one can say that money, power, political standing and press played no part.

Folks, this country is better than this. We were founded because we did something no one else had and has ever done . . . and what were the results? The greatest country, most prosperous country, the most influential country to be founded . . and we did it in under 200 years.

I seem to recall a commercial on radio and TV that said "millions of customers can't be wrong". Well, let me augment and update that: Millions of voices can't be wrong. We weren't founded by accident. As I told Andy this evening in a chat: It's not the system that is broken, it's the people.

This is going to be a tough road to hoe, but we've been here before. Thanks Andy.