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Our Founding Fathers Got it Right

*The following was my opening monologue to start my internet radio show “Gillespie” airing Tuesdays at 7pm on FTRradio.com.  In case you miss the show I will be posting these here every Wednesday following the Tuesday show.*

“Government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.” That’s a quote from former President Ronald Reagan that was part of the popular YouTube video entitled “Those Voices Don’t Speak for the Rest of Us “ that has been circulated this past week. It’s an extremely powerful clip that seems to express what it is we as conservatives truly believe, in contrast to the beliefs of the modern Democratic Party. You can view this clip in its entirety here.

The Founding Fathers of this nation are revered by many of us for a very simple and powerful reason: They got it right. Think about that for a second. Here was a group of men, some very well educated and connected, others not so much of either. Not a single one was perfect. Thomas Jefferson wrote beautiful words about all men being created equal while keeping a number of them in slavery himself. The history of western civilization is littered with the remnants of many countries who weren’t so fortunate. Of societies who were hell-bent on overthrowing their colonial masters yet failed to build the critical foundations to ensure long-term survival and growth for their own nations.

Yet, here in this country, we got it right. The men who put this nation in motion knew their history and were intimate with the writings of Plato and Locke, and of Burke and Newton. They understood that everything hinged upon the concept of “rights”, a term now used so loosely as to make it completely irrelevant. They’d lived under the tyranny of a King and a Parliament who seemed to feel that a “right” was something that could be either granted or taken away at will.

To return to John Locke for a second, he believed that the relationship between the state and its citizens took the form of a ‘contract,’ whereby the governed agreed to surrender certain freedoms they enjoyed under the state of nature in exchange for the order and protection provided by a state, exercised according to the rule of law. But, the key part of that phrase is the last part: “according to the rule of law.”

That simply means that we surrender certain freedoms to our government in order to have our inalienable rights guaranteed, as long as our government operates under a strict guideline of rules. In our case, those rules are written down on a document we call The Constitution of The United States.

Let me put it another way. Like many of you, I am the father of young children. My wife and I have rules in our house for our children to follow. They know what we expect and what the consequences are. Our children rely on us for protection and for their basic needs. But, what would happen if my wife and I decided to constantly change the rules as well as the consequences for breaking them? Most of us understand that our children would lose the feeling of security that they now have and it would certainly affect their attitudes, behavior and probably how successful they will be in later life. All because they would become worried that they no longer understand the rules of our under which they live.

Does that sound anything like what is going in on America right now? We have literally tens of millions of Americans who are very afraid. They’ve lost their feelings of certainty regarding what America is. They’re not sure what their government is going to do next or how that might affect their own lives. We see this fear all around us, and many on the left are confused and responding with anger of their own.

Just as the tendency of young children is to stretch boundaries in order to grow, it is the natural tendencies of all governments to continually grow. This problem becomes magnified when fewer and fewer people “pay in” to the system and thus have a vested interest in how their money is spent. Or, how Thomas Jefferson put it:

“Our democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

Or, even better, as Benjamin Franklin said: When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”

As you can clearly see, our Founding Fathers saw the dangers ahead, and they attempted to put into place a system to try to avoid the collapse they all feared would happen. They instituted a strict framework of rules that were intended to ensure the long-term health of their “grand experiment”. Not surprisingly, the foundation has been rotting for nearly 200 years, but for most of that time the decay was so slow and gradual that most of us never noticed.

Fast forward to today and we can see before us exactly what it was our Founding Fathers feared. We have two competing systems of belief in this country, a system that believes that freedom was the greatest gift that God has bestowed upon us, and a system that believes freedom is but a mere speed bump on the road to the promised land that is the socialist utopia. It isn’t a coincidence that Friedrich Hayek’s classic bestseller was entitled “The Road to Serfdom”, for I believe that serfdom is exactly what our friends on the left intend if that means they can also attain their cherished goal of equality.

Let me leave you with this quote from famous 20th Century Socialist Norman Thomas who said:

The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of ‘liberalism,’ they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

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