By Alex BalesTwo hundred and twenty-five years ago, 55 of the most brilliant men in our history signed a document that would be ratified as the Constitution of the newly United States. It had been a long and stifling summer. The great American statesman Benjamin Franklin, now 81, exited Independence Hall. Encountering a woman on the Philadelphia street, he was reportedly asked, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”
Franklin replied famously, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Today, our republic is hanging by a thread, virtually lost. Many blame the current administration, one party, or even one politician. The truth is, our genius framework has been taking a slow, fatal beating for a century. Our unique characteristic feature of limited government has been abandoned. Our currency is controlled and manipulated through paper notes by a central bank, triggering and prolonging booms and busts, while our current economic slump has been blamed on a non-existent free market. Decades of irresponsible, impossible promises by our elected leaders have brought us a national debt equal to more than 100 percent of GDP. The American worker toils a significant portion of the year just to pay the interest on this unsustainable amount. Future generations are already enslaved by our reckless debt from the day they are born.
Our foreign policy of military adventurism never changes significantly, no matter who is in power. We’ve failed to heed the warnings of our wise third president, Thomas Jefferson: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.”
The paranoid mindset our permanent state of war has created has resulted in an alarming erosion of our civil liberties. We must undertake invasive and inappropriate groping to travel. American citizens can now be detained indefinitely without trial if suspected of terrorism-related crimes. American citizens — even American children — can be assassinated at the mere request of our president. We forgot the warning of Dr. Franklin: “Those who would sacrifice liberty of security deserve neither liberty nor security.”
All the while, most Americans, including LGBT people, are more concerned with the really important news. You know, about how the owner of a chain of restaurants I’d never even heard of thinks gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry — despite him having almost no political significance whatsoever. Americans, including the LGBT community, are sadly unaware of the alarming facts of the true state of our union.
Will our country someday restore itself to our founding principles of individual liberty and limited government? The prospects are dim, but I’ve seen encouraging signs in the last few years. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have befriended so many patriotic Americans through my involvement in the Tea Party movement of 2010 and Ron Paul’s presidential run this year. The energy of millions of concerned Americans is truly beautiful and inspiring.
I believe the best way to affect change is by working within our electoral system. The Tea Party and the Ron Paul Revolution have both used the existing Republican Party to their advantage as a vehicle for change. Both groups have significantly altered discourse in Washington. They have made the future more favorable to liberty.
Dr. Murray Rothbard was one of the greatest libertarian thinkers of all time, authoring hundreds of books on economics, history, and philosophy. He was also an anarcho-capitalist, about as radical anti-state as possible. But he realized the importance of participating in electoral politics in winning minds to the cause of liberty, writing, “I see no other conceivable strategy for the achievement of liberty than political action.”
The survival of our union will be preserved only if we abandon the notion that government is there to solve all of our problems. Government power can best be described in one word: force. Force and coercion are not the solution to our problems. Free people run a society much more efficiently than bureaucrats 3,000 miles away. We must do all we can to limit government power. Working within our electoral system has proven to be an effective way to change our course. Having a “kiss-in” at a Chick-Fil-A achieves nothing but further resentment and divide.
LGBT issues and other minority rights are important, but they are a part of individual rights. As Ayn Rand said, “The tiniest minority on earth is the individual.” Rights aren’t rights because a government decides to bestow them on us. Rights come by virtue of our birth, from our humanity. Abraham Lincoln’s entire navy-clad army did nothing to defeat racism. The lingering problems of race relations were left unaffected until the segregationist Jim Crow laws of the South were repealed. Blacks and whites were then able to interact through commerce and free exchange. It was capitalism, not government, that defeated racism. I believe anti-gay attitudes will die out naturally, apart from government interference. But before that occurs, we must fight for the rights of all Americans, protected by our Constitution. If the Constitution is abandoned and the rights of all Americans cease to be protected, the LGBT community may have been nothing more than “useful idiots” on a road to serfdom.
If you’re concerned about the direction we’re moving in there is a simple solution. Stop complaining. Get off the couch. Donate your time and money to your favorite candidate. Walk your precinct for them, or make calls for them. Run for office yourself! Read a book on Austrian economics, “objectivism,” or American history. Loan the book to a friend or family member. Remember, it’s just your future that’s at stake. Don’t fiddle while Rome burns.
I keep the words of Dr. Paul in mind: “May future generations look back on our work and say that these were men and women who, in a moment of great crisis, stood up to the politicians, the opinion-molders, and the establishment, and saved their country.”
Alex Bales is a life-long Keizer resident currently attending Chemeketa Community College in hopes of transferring to Willamette University to pursue a degree in economics.