Thursday, September 29, 2011

The burning issue

We face many issues in national politics today. Building our economic base to employ our people, resolving our foreign wars, maintaining value in our currency, ensuring access to health care, and ensuring the stability of Social Security and Medicare, are just a few of them. We hear debates between candidates that offer many approaches to these and other issues.

However, all of these discussions boil down to one burning issue. Its resolution will determine how, and how well, the others will be addressed. It is this: Do we have the confidence to govern ourselves?
Those who have that confidence favor local solutions, personal responsibility, defense at home, and entrepreneurship. They share Thomas Jefferson's vision of a nation of farmers and artisans, living perhaps more modestly, but in harmonious and spiritually satisfying relationships with God and their neighbors. They want to enjoy the wealth that they have created through their own efforts. They want charity to come from the heart as they cheerfully give of their bounty. Jeffersonians seek impartial justice. They seek the highest expression of human creativity and service.  They are willing to accept the risks of financial insecurity in exchange for the blessings of liberty.

Those who lack that confidence favor top-down solutions, collectivism, empire-building and corporate investment. They share Alexander Hamilton's vision of a wealthy and powerful nation that builds on the sacrifices of its people.  They find that religion and tradition hinder progress. Their notion of charity is doling out money from the government as it confiscates the work of others. Hamiltonians seek a perversion of justice that favors their friends. They seek productivity and a strong bottom line above everything else, and condition the people to accept the loss of liberty in the name of personal security.

This burning issue has been with us since 1787. In the early years of the Republic, the clash between the Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian visions provided a creative tension that helped build the nation. When Andrew Jackson shut down the Bank of the United States, the Jeffersonians prevailed, but only for a generation. Abraham Lincoln's crusade to "save the Union" supposedly resolved the issue for all time, as the Hamiltonians gained, and continue to hold, the upper hand.

Today, we see where Hamiltonian corporatism has taken us. The federal government has nearly destroyed the initiative of the people and the states to solve their own problems. It has confiscated the wealth of its people in taxes and destroyed the desire to create new business opportunities. American manufacturing has become a faint memory of the past, as its jobs and money have been exported to other lands. The Hamiltonians have built a "nanny state" that has even turned many of our adults into spoiled children living as its dependents; instead of the productive, contributing people God meant us to be. It has brought us to economic ruin. The near future is likely to bring poverty for the majority, hyperinflation, slavery to the state, mass frustration, and revolution.

The differences between Democrat and Republican, "conservative" and "liberal" are no longer relevant. Both Republicans and Democrats are Hamiltonians. The Jeffersonians have been relegated to minor parties, Tea Parties, media obscurity; and being informed by their self-appointed betters that they and their Presidential candidate, Ron Paul, are "wingnuts" unworthy of being reported in the media, let alone enjoying a place at the table.

The Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian visions are utterly incompatible. Those who would harmonize the two positions might as well try to make a compromise between good and evil. The only people who benefit from a powerful national government are bankers, the military-industrial and medical-insurance complexes, and the politicians they can buy in Washington. The rest of us not only suffer financially, we suffer from the wasteful loss of lives in wars that have nothing to do with defense, and everything to do with greed.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. Every election in the last sixty years has replayed the same struggle. Yet, regardless of which party has been in power, the result has been the same: more power and more money to Washington, less freedom and less opportunity for us. We keep hoping against hope that things will be better after the next election. We should have learned by now that elections alone cannot fix a corrupt system.

Can we cure our own insanity? Right now, we can work with our state legislators to defend our interest through nullification and secession, but this opportunity will not last long. We can assert the self-confidence to rule ourselves and to cultivate the virtues we need to maintain a free society. Or we can settle for the tyrant who promises security, even after he begins to jail and murder us by the tens of thousands. Do not say it cannot happen here. We are human. We have known for thousands of years that our actions will eventually bring predictable consequences. The laws of human behavior do not respect "American exceptionalism."

This is the burning issue: do we have the confidence to rule ourselves? Its resolution will determine how, and how well, the others will be addressed.

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