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August 9, 2007

Teaching Americans how to be Americans again

Today’s Downsizer Dispatch . . .

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Quotes of the Day:

“A republic, if you can keep it.”
— Ben Franklin

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
— Benjamin Franklin

Subject: Who are we?

It seems to us that one of the most important tasks before us may be this . . .

We must teach Americans how to be Americans again.

What does it mean to be an American? It is not an ethnicity. We are made up of all kinds, from all places.

Is it a mere legalism, that we are all either born here or passed a test or swore an oath? Is this how we define ourselves — by our GPS coordinates at the time of our birth, or by a few magic words easily spoken but poorly lived?

We hope not.

We hope, instead, that is has something to do with what a few farmers did starting 231 years ago. We’re talking about those farmers who became FRAMERS, through the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. We’re talking about the ideas behind, and embodied in, those documents.

Those of America’s founding generation were unreasonable people. They rebelled and fought a war of independence for what to most Americans today would seem light and transient causes. The burdens and transgressions imposed upon us by our own government today are so much larger than what they faced then, and yet . . .

So many of us meekly consent, or even cheer-lead for the piling on of more and more transgressions and burdens.

  • Our taxes are so much higher than those the Founders opposed.
  • We have submitted to “taxation without representation” by permitting our rulers to rig the rules by which they are elected, thereby monopolizing power and hobbling representation.
  • Those who claim to represent us do not read their bills, write our laws, or cast individual votes on individual propositions. They give us representation in name only.
  • The Bill of Rights is being nibbled into non-existence, or even cut up in huge chunks.
  • The principles of the Declaration of Independence are forgotten or ignored.
  • The separations and checks and balances of the Constitution have become un-separated, un-checked, and un-balanced.

Are we glad America’s Founders did what they did then? If we approve of it for them in their time, why would we not approve of it for ourselves, now?

Asked what the Founders had given the country, Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Are we keeping it?

In another context, Franklin is supposed to have written (though he hid his identity): “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Are we trading liberty for security? Are we gaining security?

What do we deserve? Who are we? What do we want to be?

Would you have signed the Declaration of Independence, if given the chance? Would you have voted to ratify the Bill of Rights? The chance to do these things still lives. It lives in what you do when every new government transgression comes into public view.

Do you speak, or are you silent? Do you act, or are you passive? Do you comfort yourself that there is wisdom in apathy, or do you find wisdom where the Founders placed it, in a vigorous defense of fundamental, inalienable principles?

There are many still left who sneer at apathy and who live the ethic of principled action. As for the rest, it seems that we must teach them how to be Americans again.

In a government without representation we must make vigorous use of the one tool still left to us — the right to petition our government for a redress of grievances. This does not require the use of arms, or frozen Winters in Valley Forge. It only requires a few clicks of your mouse and strokes of your keyboard.

This must be done in a relentless, inescapable, resistance numbing way, until our rulers submit, become representatives again, and return to first principles.

As for those who have forgotten what it means to be an American, or who never knew, it is up to us to teach them, using the most powerful tool of persuasion known to humanity — mind enlightening repetition. It is up to us to grow to a size where we can make our message seen and heard by everyone, everywhere, every day.

Today, as always, we have the opportunity to be what Americans should be — aggressive defenders of fundamental, inalienable liberties.

Are you afraid of terrorism? If so, you have handed the terrorists victory. If not, then you can defeat terrorism instantly, by declaring your lack of fear, and telling Congress to not be afraid on your behalf. You can do that here.

Would you trade essential liberty for a false sense of temporary security? Would you trade away the 4th Amendment, and allow the federal government to spy on you in the name of chasing terrorists? If not, please tell your “representatives” to let the FISA modernization bill sunset in six months. If you have not done this yet, you can do so here.

Do you believe it is a fundamental to the act of representation that members of Congress should read the laws they impose on you? If so, and you have not recently asked Congress to pass the “Read the Bills Act,” you can do so here.

Yes, we are giving you choices this morning. Liberty is the freedom to choose. Use your liberty or lose it. Use it by choosing a way to petition Congress for a redress of grievances. Be relentless. Be inescapable. Be resistance-numbing. If you don’t like these choices you will find others on our home page.

Finally, the key to our future strength is growth driven by financing. If you want our message to be heard by everyone, everywhere, every day, and if you want the pressure we apply to Congress to become relentless, inescapable, and resistance numbing, please make a contribution to our work. You can do so here.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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