Broken Government: A Call to Action
By A. J. MacDonald, Jr. © 2010
(This essay is also included in a book I wrote (in 2010), which can be downloaded free at Scribd here.)
The government of the United States of America is broken—our next election will solve nothing. This paper is a follow-up to an earlier paper I wrote (Political Musings, October 2009) in which I outlined the structure of revolution regarding large, powerful governmental orders (e.g., the U. S., Russia, China, Iran). In that paper I pointed out the fact that, due to the powers of these governmental orders and their police state tactics, it is impossible for the people to attempt a violent, revolutionary overthrow of these orders. This paper is a call to non-violent action which, regardless of what I’ve just said about violent revolutions, is the proper, first step in any revolutionary movement. That having been said, I believe that non-violent action is the only hope the people have to restore, reform, and fix the broken governments which now rule over them.
I also pointed out, in the same paper, the importance of using traditional symbolic imagery in order for any revolutionary movement to be successful. This imagery, alone, is meaningless; it must symbolize the philosophical concepts upon which the governmental order was founded, which must also be the same philosophical concepts upon which the (successful) revolutionary movement is based and desires to see restored.
In the United States of America the fundamental philosophical concept upon which our liberties and freedoms rest is natural law. This natural law foundation along with the natural law-based right of the people to resist their broken governments is the traditional basis upon which all of western civilization rests:
“[A]ccording to Thomas [Aquinas], he [the ruler] may not take private property beyond what public need requires, though strictly speaking property is an institution of Human rather than Natural law. Above all, the rulership of one man over another must not take away the free moral agency of the subject. No man is bound to obedience in all respects and even the soul of the slave is free (a doctrine Aristotle would hardly have understood). It is for this reason that the resistance of tyranny is not only a right but a duty.” (George H. Sabine, A History of Political Theory, Third Edition (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1937, 1950, 1961; 1965) pp. 255-256)
This natural law principle is the philosophical anchor of American political theory. This is why the leftist/Marxist style sort of revolution could never be realized in the United States, as it has in other countries. As I’ve said elsewhere, any successful revolution is the U. S. must be premised upon our individual right to private property and liberty and the premise itself is based upon natural law.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a believer in natural law and natural law was the philosophical basis of his successful, non-violent, social liberation movement. When Dr. King was jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, he wrote a letter to his fellow clergymen—those who disagreed with King’s non-violent protest tactics—explaining to them why it was proper for Christians to disobey unjust laws. Dr. King told them:
“One may ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the Brat to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”.
Dr. King went on to ask:
“How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distort the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.”
Dr. King’s non-violent revolutionary movement had a sound philosophical basis: the individual’s right—by virtue of their humanity—to private property and liberty, which has been the basis of Western civilization and law for centuries, and this is why the movement was ultimately successful. Any revolutionary movement for the liberty of the oppressed peoples in America, if it’s to be successful, must be based upon these two fundamental concepts, which are themselves based upon natural law: private property and individual liberty.
As I’ve said elsewhere, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was a dreamer; a dreamer who undoubtedly believed in natural law. In the U. S., natural law theory has slowly been replaced by the theories of legal positivism and legal realism. In short, natural law theorists believe that a moral standard is built into the natural world by the Creator and that humankind therefore has moral standards that are universal for all peoples and in all cultures. The advocates of legal realism and positive law believe that there are no moral standards built into the natural world and that humankind therefore has no universal moral standard that is valid for all peoples and in all cultures.
Thank God for someone like Dr. King, who held America’s feet to the fires of its natural law-based legal documents: The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King told Americans that:
“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . . Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
Dr. King was absolutely correct; and the American people’s non-violent movement to restore our government must be based upon our government’s traditional documents: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution which, themselves, are based (philosophically) upon natural law.
Listen to the Founders of the United States of America, in their own words, which are taken from the Declaration of Independence, and ask yourselves this question: “What philosophical and legal basis did they have for resisting—and ultimately replacing—the tyrannical, broken government of England?
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Did you notice the philosophical and legal basis upon which the Founders based their revolution? The philosophical and legal basis they used to “dissolve the political bands”? The philosophical and legal basis of their revolution was to base that revolution upon “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. The Declaration goes on to say that the people have been “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. This is the philosophical and legal foundation upon which our rights, as American citizens, rest. Our rights—to life, liberty and happiness—are given to us by our Creator; not by our government (or by anyone else). And this philosophical and legal foundation is one of natural law.
The Founders went on to say “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Governments are instituted in order to protect the rights of the people and our government derives its authority from the people themselves. And when the government becomes destructive—rather than protective—of the people’s rights it is “the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”.
We, as the people, have every right—a God-given right—to alter or abolish our government when it has become destructive of our rights and when it endangers our safety.
The question, now, is: does this “Broken Government: A Call to Action” meet the Founder’s requirements, which are found in the Declaration of Independence?
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
The Founders (wisely) tell us that we should not change our government “for light and transient causes” because the people “are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed”; however, “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
This is the condition in which we—the people of the United States of America—now find ourselves. We have suffered under a very long train of abuses and usurpation, the intent of our (federal) government being to reduce us under absolute despotism, and it is the right of the people—the duty of the people—to “right themselves”, “to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security”.
What we need in American today are New Guards who can insure our future security. These New Guards will be those who know, understand and respect the U. S. Constitution and they will be those who know, understand and respect the warning that was given to us by our Founding Father, George Washington, who said, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world” and by so doing will truly ensure the safety of the American people.
It “is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish [a government that has become destructive of the rights of the people and has jeopardized their safety], and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”.
So what is the “long train of abuses” under which we, the people, now suffer? My question is: where do we begin? If the Founders believed they were suffering then, under British rule, what in God’s name would they think of the tyrannical sufferings we now endure at the hands of the very government which they once instituted? I think they would be perplexed and dismayed that we had not, long ago, thrown off and righted ourselves. In short, they would be sorely disappointed with us for putting up with as much as we have put up with for so long now. Benjamin Franklin would no doubt remind us that, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Gross over-taxation, a federal government that has become bloated beyond all measure (including federal workers who are receiving six-figure salaries, raises and bonuses in the midst of the current recession/depression!), and, most importantly, the abrogation of our constitutional rights, namely:
Our First Amendment rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Our Fourth Amendment rights: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”.
Our Fifth Amendment rights: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation”.
Our Tenth Amendment rights: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”.
Our Fourteenth Amendment rights: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.
This brief overview consists of only a few examples of the various and sundry abridgements of our rights and liberties. The people of the United States of America have been suffering under this oppression of liberty for quite some time now. Our broken government, with its so-called “War on Terror”, has unleashed an entirely new assault upon our liberties and freedoms and has raised these abuses and abridgements to an all time high in which no citizen can feel protected by law knowing that, if the government wishes to do so, they are at the mercy of a government that imagines itself to be at war with its citizens—all of whom are considered suspect, unless proven innocent—and imagines that the United States of America itself is a battlefield.
The current “War on Terror” situation is intolerable; it is the end of justice and the rule of law in America as we have known it—despite the (normal, everyday?!) infringements of our rights and liberties, many of which were enumerated above.
Since then-president Bush declared, after 9/11, that the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were “acts of war” rather than the “terrorist attacks” that they were, this nation has been destroying our rights, suspecting everyone, and is careening—like a drunk driver, with the America people in the back seat of the car—toward inevitable destruction at the hands of our (and Israel’s) enemies (Iran, Russia, and China) in a haughty, misconceived plan to dominate the Middle East and control its oil reserves.
Let’s be quite candid here and admit to ourselves that our government considers us all to be terrorists . . . until we can prove that we are not. Do you think I am exaggerating? Lets me ask you this: when any of us goes to the airport, are we not suspected to be terrorists? We’ve all heard the ridiculous stories of old women—American citizens—who were told to remove their shoes before they could board their flight; or, even worse: a four-year old child with leg braces whose father was told by the TSA that he had to remove his child’s leg braces before they could board their flight.
In the name of the “War on Terror” we have seen the suspension of due process and the rule of law, kidnapping, torture, warrantless eavesdropping, spying, and even the authorized assassination of U. S. citizens.
Our government is broken and it “is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish [our government when it has become destructive of the rights of the people and jeopardized our safety], and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect [our] Safety and Happiness”.
There is one—and only one—solution to our current (crisis) situation: the people must descend—en masse—upon Washington and engage in massive, non-violent anti-government protests until we get the major reforms, foreign policy course reversals, and the regime change (i.e., the current politicians of both political parties) that we so desperately need. Unfortunately, most of people I speak to about this tell me that Americans will never mobilize to engage in this sort of massive non-violent anti-government protest, which would be similar to the protests we’ve witnessed in Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, and—most recently— in Iran, in order to fix our broken government. But this is the only way for us—the people—to ensure the restoration of our rights and our safety. Are we supposed to imagine that the Czechs, the Ukrainians, and the Iranians are more courageous than are the Americans? Is this true? Has it actually come to this? Have we really become that apathetic? If we have, then we certainly don’t deserve to be free peoples; we deserve the continued diminishment of our rights and freedoms and we deserve to have our safety and our happiness further jeopardized.
But I refuse to believe this about the American people. I think the people have simply grown accustomed to having their rights diminished— very slowly but very surely—over time and that, as of now, the people simply fail to realize just how dangerous the current (crisis) situation actually is: the “leaders” of our broken government in Washington are fools who, in the name of the “War on Terror”, are leading us headlong into World War III, which is a war that we will not—and cannot—win.
If the American people don’t care about the loss of their rights and their freedoms will they perhaps care about the all-to-real possibility that they will lose their lives as the result of a nuclear attack by China?
The fact of the matter is that current U. S. foreign policy is not only wrong-headed it is wrong, or morally evil. The U. S. is guilty of war crimes; crimes which violate the Geneva Convention and, since the U. S. supports Israel, the U. S. is also guilty of Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian peoples. Not to mention the fact that NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), whose explicit purpose has always been defensive, is now—and has been, since the war in Yugoslavia during the 1990’s— being used as an offensive force. This is an explicit—and dangerous—breach of the Russian peoples trust on the part of NATO. The Russians, for good reason, have always feared that we would renege on our agreement and use NATO as an offensive force, which we are now doing in Afghanistan. The Russians were right to doubt the word of the United States and the rest of the NATO member states, because we lied to them.
Do the American people care about the many innocent peoples who are being killed and maimed and who are suffering the unimaginable losses of homes and loved ones at the hands of our military and NATO? These atrocities are being committed in our name. And if we, the people, fail to change our brutal government into a government that is compassionate, we will bear the guilt of our (nationally committed) crimes against humanity. Do the American people care enough to put a stop to it? To do what is right as opposed to what is wrong? To do that which is good as opposed to doing that which is evil?
I hope that we do because, if we don’t, we are not worth saving; we deserve to be punished. And I can assure you that the Creator-God—from whom our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness derive—will allow our enemies to triumph over us.
“The resistance of tyranny is not only a right but a duty”