AMERICA 101 Introduction: What You Don’t Know…Is Destroying Us!

Independence Hall (Photo credit: Ronen Perry)

Independence Hall (Photo credit: Ronen Perry)


Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant…and a fearful master.– George Washington

Have you ever asked yourself why people in other lands have left their homes, families and friends, risked everything, including their very lives, to come to this country? Would you do that? Only if you had no influence or control over your life, were condemned to poverty and deprivation and oppression…but that’s something Americans can’t comprehend, because freedom is…just “there.” In more than two-thirds of the world today, that’s not the case, so people risk everything to have the freedoms we take for granted and so cavalierly ignore.

In the past half-century public education has failed miserably in its mission of educating our citizens. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of American history. It’s not just that most Americans can’t identify their congressional representative or senators, it’s that they simply don’t see the relevance of politics to their lives. There has never been a more dangerous outlook than that. Four centuries before Christ, Athenian statesman Pericles said “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”

Our Founders established a democratic republic, which puts the power of government into the hands of “we, the people,” rather than a small group of elites (royalty, military strongmen, the wealthy, et al). Checks and balances were established to prevent individuals or any branch of government (Executive, i.e., the president; Legislative, i.e., the Congress; or Judicial, i.e., the Supreme Court) from usurping that power from the people. Yet, because we’re mostly “not into politics,” the American people have foolishly given up that power, willingly abdicating responsibility for self-government to “hired guns” called politicians.

That’s called an oligarchy, the rule of the many by the few, based on wealth, family name, military might, etc. It’s not exactly the same thing as royalty (e.g., Great Britain), but closer to the Soviet Union model, where a “vanguard” of elites dictated every area of life for the millions of oppressed and poverty stricken masses. The results of rule of the many by the few are always the same: the rulers garner wealth, more power and prestige to themselves; and because a free people are a threat to those things (i.e., they can decide to vote them out of office), the rulers inevitably pass greater and greater restrictions and onerous laws designed to prevent the people from taking that power and privilege away. Doesn’t sound like the America the Founders established, does it? It’s not…it’s the America our sloth and ignorance have allowed the self-centered and power-hungry to create, and in our name!

The Founders established majority rule as the foundation for government, but the rights of the minority (we’re talking numbers here, not race) are protected by the rule of law established by the Constitution, which guarantees that everyone has equal rights bestowed by God, and not given by men in government. But where is majority rule today? Over 84% of Americans profess to be Christian, but Congress has banned God, prayer and the Bible from the public arena. How is that “representative” government? Do any of you think it’s a good thing that our nation is $16 trillion in debt? Then why does our Congress simply keep adding to that debt, rather than taking steps to reduce spending and the multitude of regulations that force businesses to go “offshore,” so we lose their tax revenue, etc.? Over fifty years after the last of the Jim Crowe laws were overturned, is it right for the government to take money from the majority and spend hundreds of billions on special programs for a small group, based on their skin color? Does perhaps two to three per cent of the population really deserve special rights, “hate crime” legislation and other dispensations and recognition, simply based on what they prefer sexually?

The nation is upside down; it’s now minorities rule…but without that guarantee of protecting the rights of the majority. This has all come from that small group of people in the Congress. You know, the ones who are supposed to represent our interests and that of the nation? They have taken it upon themselves to be the arbiters and judges of what’s right and just and “fair” in this country, regardless of how many people disagree with them…and even if their decisions are contrary to the Constitution they took an oath to uphold.

Yes, but we still have the right and freedom to vote them out of office, you say? Technically, that’s true. But because most of us don’t bother to research candidates or issues, we’re reduced to a Pavlovian reaction to the right words, the right appearance, the right causes, all carefully manipulated by those who have their own political power and careers in mind, instead of your rights and freedoms. The Constitutional right to bear arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, is now apparently prey to politicians pandering for votes from those too ignorant to realize the significance of that right. It’s not a matter of what you believe to be right; it’s a matter of those elected officials fulfilling their oath of office, which specifically requires them to “support and defend the Constitution.” If they won’t fulfill that publicly taken oath, what else won’t they do? More importantly, what else will they do that’s detrimental to our interests and freedoms, and those of our children and grandchildren?

This essay is the introduction to a continuing series of essays that are intended to provide a basic understanding about what made the United States of America different from every other country in the history of mankind. It will cover our foundational principles, from the Founding Fathers’ perspective, and explain why those principles were, and are, so crucial to our continued liberty, prosperity and national strength. Jefferson said that a nation cannot be both “ignorant and free,” and our political ignorance is indeed costing us our freedoms. It is my fervent hope that these essays will awaken Americans to the dangers we face today, not from China or N. Korea or others, but from what our Founders saw as the greatest threat to our freedoms…our own government.

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Formerly a liberal and an atheist, Paul E. Scates served as a Marine in Vietnam and is a lifelong student of American history, politics and culture. A former contributor to national website, he writes his staunchly independent Conservative and informed Christian commentary for his fellow ordinary, working Americans, the “we, the people” who are ultimately responsible for preserving our Constitutional liberties.
Paul E. Scates
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