Saturday, May 31, 2014

Samuel Adams: the fire of American freedom

A central driving force exists in every movement. The force for independence in colonial America was centered in Samuel Adams of Boston, known as the Fire of the American Revolution.
The break with Great Britain that created the United States of America first began 250 years ago this week. Samuel Adams manned the rostrum of Boston’s Faneuil Hall on May 24, 1764. He gave instructions to Massachusetts delegates who would attend its provincial legislature, the Court of Massachusetts Bay. His instructions brought into focus America’s resistance to the British, who were ignoring their own colonial charters with the American colonies.

English rule of America in the 1700s was largely a hands-off matter. There was little supervision from the British. The colonies, with their individual adaptations, mostly ruled themselves through governing councils. The British sporadically collected tariffs and import duties, but because they were lax in doing so few took them seriously. Smuggling by American merchants was a respectable enterprise.
The situation changed in 1764. The British Parliament broke its own charter rules with the colonies. It implemented new taxes, and, what was worse, began to enforce them. The French and Indian War, fought on American soil, had been expensive. The British reasoned that the war had helped the colonies so they could help pay for it, and the Stamp Tax was born. Samuel Adams said no; this violated constitutional charters between England and the colonies. His message was, “We have a charter. Follow it!” If the colonies did not stop this infringement of their charter rights, he reasoned, where would British taxation stop?
Adams was firm. He was the patriot conscience -- unyielding and steady in a political crisis. He was a benign, gentle man until it was time to thunder for the rights of his countrymen. He was immersed in colonial politics; he instinctively understood the process, and could brush off personal insults that brought down lesser men.
It would be another decade, however, before Samuel and his younger cousin, John Adams, pushed for a permanent break from Britain. Meanwhile, he challenged the British bully. Over time, that vision drove him toward liberty.
Samuel (never Sam!) was a deeply religious man with unquestioned integrity. There is no indication that he ever acted from personal ambition or self-interest. He was Harvard educated and upper middle class and knew most of Boston’s fifteen thousand citizens by name, trade and politics. He treated them all the same.
For twelve years, Adams challenged every infringement to the Massachusetts charter. He never let the issue rest. Like a bulldog unwilling to let go, he wearied three successive governors and railed at every injustice. When the colonists grew tired of the harangue and would have given up, he fanned the flame of resistance. He recruited those who could aid in the cause and helped unite all the colonies in coordinated action.
Speech wasn’t enough, so Adams wrote extensively, as well. As was common at the time, he wrote his stern, well-reasoned essays under assumed names. His articles frequently graced the weekly four-page colonial newspapers, especially the patriotic Boston Gazette. These papers were carried to England, where they encouraged American sympathizers in influential British circles.
Samuel was part of the two congresses that preceded the Declaration of Independence. He encouraged fellow delegates to consider a permanent break with England. He kept no journal and destroyed personal papers to protect anyone mentioned from British charges of treason if they were captured. He chose to not participate in the Constitutional Convention in 1787, fearing its outcome, and at first opposed the new Constitution. Midway in the ratification process, he changed his opinion and swung his influence toward ratification for Massachusetts.
Adams was the vortex of rebellion against tyranny. Two hundred and fifty years later, we could use his passion, persistence and political savvy as we again face a government gone rogue. He would surely defend the law of the land and of God -- the Constitution drafted by his patriot friends. His courage, and that of other unyielding patriots, is sorely needed.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Senator's Remarks: Gay Marriage Trend Inevitable?

Utah’s senator Orrin Hatch did the traditional family no favor when he announced, ahead of the anticipated federal court ruling on gay marriage, that legalization of the practice was inevitable. The headline on our local paper today, May 29, read “Hatch: Gay Marriage will become law”.
Two reasons why he should have held his tongue come to mind. The first is based on the principle of hope: the belief we all need to carry with us that right will come to pass. We never give up hope. As the saying goes, it’s never over until the lady sings. We always give room for the belief that ultimately morality will prevail. I personally resent this hopeless philosophy.

The second, and more serious reason, is the message that this opinion sends to judges, who rule too often on what people expect and supposedly want, rather than on what is correct.

The replacement of our law with humanist ideas has been gradual but unrelenting for nearly two centuries. Originally the law, as judged by the Supreme Court, was determined by our founding document, the Constitution. The courts, however, no longer use the Constitution as the basis to validate law. That appropriate legal standard was abandoned long ago, much to our detriment and sadness.

Precedent law, which took the place of constitutional law, was the standard for a century or more. It was based on what other judges had ruled. All that was needed to begin the “kill” of a freedom or right was one judge and one ruling. That ruling then became the precedent for more. This was a serious “hit” on our rights and freedoms.

Today, we don’t even go by precedent law. Judges rule on political agendas and cronyism—according to the way society is going at the moment. What’s popular? What does it appear that everyone wants? How can I push the social agenda? That puts us at the mercy of every wretched, inappropriate, uneducaated whim of the public.

That’s why Senator Hatch’s remarks are so damaging—he is, in effect, telling judges what society expects. He’s saying, “Hey, we know we’re going to get this; we expect it.”

Senator Hatch is irresponsible and I am offended by his ”reality”. I’ve been angry at his progressive ideas for the last 20 years, and this one doesn’t help. He doesn’t represent me, or most of those I know and care about. He doesn’t represent my politics or morality or work ethic or integrity base or……I could go on.
He defends the judges who kicked Utah in the stomach over the marriage issue. Of course he does….he recommended both men for the judgeship. 

Hatch says the judges had to rule in favor of gay marriage because of the Supreme Court ruling. Did he miss something? The court ruled that marriage is a state matter. And that makes it OK for a federal judge to wipe out our state’s constitutional amendment? Where have you been, Senator?

We need our congressional representatives to stick with the state and its laws and rights. The judges who ruled against our amendment to protect the family were outside their boundaries and cannot cancel state amendments. That’s against the Constitution. Defend it, Hatch!

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Good Summer Read: Democracy in America .

I’ve been rereading Democracy in America by Alexis de Toqueville, published in 1825. It’s an eye opener—you would think something that ancient would be outdated. It isn’t. His mind fascinates me—he saw so many things about America and Americans that I would never think of. I feel like I’ve been dipped in “smarts” every time I read.

The Democracy part of the title has always confused me. I think we use the word differently today than they did in the early 1800s. Today we view democracy, one of the three main forms of government, as dangerous--politicians can “buy” the public. (The other two are a monarchy—rule by one, and an oligarchy—rule by a few--always the wealthy and important. None of the three give the best deal to ordinary people.)

As de Toqueville used the term democracy, it meant majority self-rule. The two definitions aren’t the same.

Majority self-rule means we govern ourselves according to what the majority wants. This can be done in different ways, one of which is to elect representatives to act for us, which is the American way. The elected level between us and government gives us safety and prevents mischief. If the representatives remain honest and true to their task, we really get sound government out of this arrangement.

A pure democracy also meets the self-rule by majority criteria. Under a pure democracy, however, everyone must speak. That never works. Imagine the disaster if every single citizen had to vote on every law, be at every city council meeting, traffic court, and department meeting. That wouldn’t last for long.

Ancient Greece tried pure democracy and it survived for only 60 years or so--their Golden Age under Pericles the Great. Those who had to work for a living quit showing up for the vote. After awhile only the wealthy, who had others to do their work, attended. They drafted laws to get what they wanted and then bought off the people to make it happen. Democracy tumbled, as a pure democracy always does.

The Founders worked all three major types of government into our system: a president for the monarchy, a Senate for the oligarchy, and the House of Representatives for all the people. It  worked well. Still, everything was based on the majority. Without that, a minority rules—a few, who get what they want, and we would not be equal.

We’ve messed it up pretty badly. Part of the reason is that we have redefined equality. We say that everyone deserves the same everything. It’s impossible.

The only fair equality is that we can keep what we earn or what is given to us. We are equal before the law, in the courts, and in God-given rights. Government can’t make everything equal. Equality means that you get according to what you do and are given.


A last word about Alexis de Toqueville: he was young, French, and a nobleman’s son who came to America in 1823 with a friend and left 9 months later. He was smart and paid attention. After he got home he spent years writing about what he learned in America, putting the information into two books.

It’s amazing how clearly de Toqueville caught our national personality. It can be confusing, however, until you understand about democracy and the equality part.

If you want a great summer read, try the abridged version—try the original only if you have time on your hands! I can never read more than a few pages at a time because I have to stop and put the pieces together with what I already know. Democracy in America is amazing! Try it!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Checklist of Tools for Freedom

I’ve been rereading Alexis de Toqueville’s Democracy in America. It’s as powerful the second time as it was the first. I can only read a few pages at a time—the information is so powerful that I have to think a good bit on what I read. It’s like constitution vitamins on steroids!

Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de tocqueville cropped.jpg Democracy in America Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville title page.jpg
Born 29 July 1805
Paris, France
Died 16 April 1859 (aged 53)
Cannes, France
Era 19th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
Religion Roman Catholicism
School Liberalism
Main interests History, Political philosophy

Richard Heffner, in his introduction to the work, identifies tools that free men can create to strengthen their “ancient freedoms”. His list is sobering. We can turn it into a check list.

 First, we need an independent press—a voice to appeal to the whole nation. Ours isn’t telling us the truth and twists the facts to favor the left. We come close to flunking this one, with only a few exceptions.

Second, we need decentralization to diminish authority—or divide it, as the founders stated it.  Not doing too well on this one, either. The federal government has become obese.

Third, we need local self-government. We still have some of that. We need to strengthen it and get involved.

Fourth, we need a sense of responsibility and self-importance—the good kind, that keeps us from drifting into the faceless crowd of apathy. We have a lot of apathy, but more people are waking up. I’m hopeful.

Fifth, we need a forthright legal profession and judiciary to uphold our other tools. We flunk that one hard, although there are honest men left in the judiciary.

Sixth, we need groups of citizens to guard always our freedoms and rights; who understand that their freedoms mean nothing if all of us don’t have those freedoms. I’m aware of many of those groups. We need to connect and unify our message. There are enough of us, but we are isolated and duplicating each other.

We can create these tools. There is a natural tendency to drift toward tyranny, but we don’t have to submit to that drift. We can fight, we can hold the line, we can regain ground we lost. We have lots of freedoms still left—enough to set us to work.

Let’s get on with it! Pick an area and lend your efforts. Many hands make light work………..  Pam