I grew up envious of the Founders and patriots of the American Revolution. They had set in motion a country the likes of which the world had never seen before; the course of a land where individual liberty and justice might reign supreme. They had done all the heavy lifting, I thought. They’d had all the fun and kept all the glory. What was to become of a boy who had the soul of a patriot and the the spirit of revolution in his heart? I thought I had been born at least two centuries too late and my spirit would die wasted and unexpressed.
Luckily (or unluckily), as a young man and revolutionary, I grew to learn the struggle for liberty and justice is a fight which has no end. I was back in business. American limited government in the late 20th Century was dying a slow, death-by-a-thousand-cuts all around me and Americans, grown fat on prosperity, had little interest in getting off the couch to fight the slight government encroachments that would accumulate slowly and insidiously into vast oversight of their lives. Perhaps, eventually, we would need a second American Revolution after all. It all depended how much government would grow and how much liberty they would leave for the individual. I once asked my father, “How much government is too much, and when is revolt a justified response to its tyranny?” “Violent response,” he told me, “is only justified when you are no longer permitted to use your voice to address grievances.” The Founder’s First Amendment was still quite robust after two centuries (Man those guys were good). I cast aside all hope of ever becoming a revolutionary.
Decades later, I can still recall those fantasies of mine as a young man, visions of myself, storming up the steps to the United States Capitol in a tattered shirt to the crescendo of the theme from Rocky; an oversized Betsy Ross Flag in one arm rippling in the light of sunset, while the swats of the other arm cast aside agents of authoritarian government dozens of feet through the air with the ease of a superman. How very romanticized? How vane an imagination?
Watching, on January 6th, 2021, as those cherished old flags, borrowed from the American Revolution, poured up the steps of and into the United States Capitol, I felt nothing resembling romanticism, nor pride, nor patriotism. All I felt was an abject disgust. I watched as protesters rioted against the machinations of our Constitutional Republic that had worked so nobly for over two hundred years. How warped and misguided had this mob of insurgents become to believe their actions in anyway represented American patriotism?
Had the mob been protesting the repeal of any of the Bill of Rights, I would have been with them. Had the mob rioted against our federalist system, and the dissolution of the legislatures of the 50 states, I would have been with them. Had the President been a man of principled reason, who endlessly fought for peace, free-markets, individual liberty, natural rights, and our American Constitutional Republic against rising totalitarianism, I would have been at the vanguard of the mob.
What were they fighting for? They fought for a president who wanted to end our forever-wars, but curiously appointed all manner of war hawks into his administration. They fought for a Xenophobe who allowed families to be torn apart at our borders and placed in cages. They fought for a President who presided over increased spending, deficits, debt and growth in government. They defended a President who, by my count, held in contempt and ignored some or all of the First, Second, Fifth, Tenth, and Twelfth Amendments to the Constitution. He had no respect for, or was ignorant of, the separation of powers laid out in the first three articles of the Constitution he took a vow to uphold. What right did his supporters have usurping the symbols of the American Revolution to defend a man who held such contempt for the hard fought ideals of the Founding Fathers?
The answer is simple. They had no right.
It is not my aim to belittle the nearly 75 million people who voted for our outgoing President. Its my belief the vast majority of them are NOT his admirers, but rather abhorred the philosophy of his opponent. (Similarly, I believe many of those who voted for our incoming President aren’t particularly enamored by him either, and chose to vote NOT for him, but against the outgoing President. To wit: the incoming President primaried for decades before even Democrats wanted him as their nominee?) It is not my wish, either, to belittle the vast majority of those who protested peacefully at the Capitol. It is well within their rights as Americans. My problem is with those who turned violent and destructive as a first, and not last, resort. (Not to mention their choice of target. I mean, there was a perfectly good IRS building down the street.) These were not patriots, they were a cult fomented in hate and fear by a budding authoritarian with a boundless ego and, ironically, deep down, an unfaced knowledge that he is small and afraid. Like a cornered animal, his fear makes him unstable. He must be removed from and banned from holding any future Federal office.
This sad event in American history is only one of many recent events that show a growing gulf between political ideologies. The Left and Right always had their differences, but in past times had been ideologically much closer to one another. After all the debate was done, we were all still Americans. However, in addition to the Capitol Hill Riot, in recent years we’ve witnesses an attempted mass assassination of Republican members of Congress, a largely non-violent but lengthy seizure of the Wisconsin State Capitol, Alt-right violence in response to statue removal, protestors beating at the doors of the Supreme Court to disrupt the nomination of Justice Kavanaugh, and all manner of public intimidation of politicians and their families in restaurants, the streets and even their private homes.
Why are we heading in the wrong direction? What took us off track? How do we get back to feeling that America is big enough and strong enough to handle the wide-ranging views of her vast citizenry?
First, both sides must be assured that their life and livelihoods cannot be threatened simply because their political opponents are in power. This is why America thrived in comparison to the rest of the world for so long. Its belief in limited government. George Washington said, “Government, like fire, is a useful servant but fearful master.” The more all encompassing government becomes, the more fearful it is to lose control of it. When government regulates how and what you are taught, who teaches you, how and what food you can eat, who your doctor is, where you work, how you’re paid, where you live, who you can and cannot marry, and even how you choose to relax, it is too big. With so much at stake, how can people not be open to implementing violence at the thought of losing the handle on it all.
Who the President is should be no big deal. Hell, there were times in American history when the average American could probably not even tell you who the sitting President was, so little effect did it have on their daily life. Milliard Fillmore, anyone? John Tyler? Our Federal government was, and should be again, very weak. Keep people in charge of making the decisions they feel are best for them in their own lives and they won’t lash out against those who wish to use government to forcefully impose their own moral and economic dogmas. Thomas Jefferson said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.”
Our country is not lost. There is still time to save it. Government, however, cannot be the answer to our differences. Government IS force. It is a monopoly. In the private arena, if I dislike a store, I don’t have to work or shop there. I can go somewhere else. We have no choice with government. It must work for us all. To make that possible, it must be as wide and basic as possible to fit all of our 300 million plus points of view.
The stakes of government power are far too high. We must lower the stakes by cutting and limiting the power.
And, for the record, those Congressmen and Congresswomen on the Left, and who clutched their pearls to the cameras at the disgrace of the day, can spare me their crocodile tears for the affront to the hallowed halls of the U.S Capitol building. It was, indeed, an affront, but so is the fact that members of Congress from both parties have treated the building as a rank whorehouse for centuries, forsaking their constituent’s liberty by selling themselves and their office’s powers to the highest bidder. I have no room here to add a list of Progressives who promoted violence last summer and should likewise be removed from office.
Government cannot continue to gain control of an ever increasing portion of our lives. How communists can think its a good idea for the individual to live for the state and be controlled in all he does, will never cease to confound me. We must begin turning away from such evil doctrines and move back to our magnificent roots of individual liberty. If we don’t change course, then maybe one day in the future I may still get my chance to run up those Capitol steps in the fading daylight, flag unfurled, muscles rippling through tattered shirt and die a true patriots death.