Seven and a half score (150) years ago, Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address, commemorating the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.
He closed his speech by saying:
“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Fast forward from 1863 to 2013 and consider a Fox News Poll released yesterday 10/3. The last question of the poll is disheartening: “In the United States, the people are supposed to be in charge of the government. What do you think is happening today?” Eighty-eight percent of those polled said “the government is in charge of the people.” Eight percent said the people are in charge of the government.
Set aside any passions you may have for the new healthcare law or the government shutdown for a moment and consider where “We the People” currently stand in our relationship with our federal government:
-It openly admits, in glaring contrast to the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment of Constitution, to a domestic spying program, with surveillance of American citizens’ web-browsing, email, and telephone calls.
-It has mortgaged the future of young Americans, amassing $17 TRILLION in debt and another $126 TRILLION in promises made to current tax payers with no realistic ability to pay them.
-It has hoarded an arsenal of billions of rounds of ammunition–more than would be needed for 24 Iraq Wars, and refuses to provide a justification for the purpose for such purchases. (With one purchasing official advocating a race war and still on paid leave…)
-It has, via the Internal Revenue Service, engaged in active harassment, tax audits, and discrimination against persons and organizations who do not agree with the current administration’s political views and policies.
-It has engaged in armed raids on private property, using heavily armed tactical agents at civilian agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
-it has enacted a complex, confiscatory, and redistributive scheme of federal taxation, spanning nearly 74,000 pages, ensuring that even honest, law-abiding citizens are guilty of some unintended offense.
-It has denied farmers operating on federally managed lands their proper allocation of water because of rabid adherence to an arbitrary environmental policy.
-It has engaged in surveillance of journalists, with a keen interest in those who do not support the current administration’s politics.
The list could go on and on and on. And as the details of the anti-constitutional Affordable Care Act become known, the government is going to assert more control than ever before over the supply and demand of medical services. To make matters worse, enforcement of the ACA will be overseen by the same agency that has a documented history of bias against the current administration’s political opponents.
All this begs the original question from the poll: Should the government be in charge of its citizens, or should the citizens be in charge of the government? Are Americans citizens, or are they subjects ruled by their betters from a dysfunctional and corrupt capital?
Reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, we know that the United States federal government was established for one purpose:
(Declaration of Independence): We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
(US Constitution): We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
It is time to remind government of their purpose. By calling, tweeting, “Facebooking”, and writing to your elected officials at all levels, by holding them accountable with your votes, and by speaking out against government injustice, we the people must retake our birthright of freedom and ensure that it is the government who works for us, and not we who work for them.
John Quincy Adams once remarked, “Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” And so we must. We must make good use of our freedom. We must do our part now to ensure “that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”