Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rome is Burning

Edmund Burke once said, “Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” We find ourselves at a crossroads in America. Is this the beginning of the end of the government set up by our Founders?

I've been reading a book called Preserving Democracy by Elgin L. Hushbeck, Jr., and it's been quite educational.  The chapter about the rise and fall of the Roman Republic describes events that are alarmingly similar to those we see in our country today.

The Romans were pretty wise people. They set up a form of representative government with similarities to our own American republic. In the Roman Republic, citizens were governed by two consuls (which were elected annually by the people) and a senate. They developed a complex constitution that focused on separation of powers and checks and balances.  Theoretically, since each elected consul could only hold office for one year, this would preclude any one individual from having too much power over their fellow citizens.  There were ongoing struggles inside the Roman Republic between the patricians (aristocracy) and plebs (ordinary citizens) that resulted in an erosion of the power held by the aristocracy and an erosion of the checks and balances within the government that held the Roman Republic intact.  Over time, the system could not be maintained as the rule of law was replaced by the rule of man, and the Republic crumbled as Julius Caesar assumed power. The intricacies of the government of the Roman Republic are too complex to fully describe here, so I would recommend doing some research online or reading Hushbeck's book to learn more.

So what happened in the Roman Republic that caused its collapse?  What can we learn from their mistakes? Here are a few of the key factors that led to the demise of their form of representative government. We would be wise to learn the lessons of Roman Republic and return to the government laid out by our Founders in our Constitution.

The Ruling Elite and Birth of Populism

The aristocracy in Rome held most of the highest offices in the land. The senate was comprised of elites exclusively, and although the plebs had a voice in government, their power had been quite limited in reality. For the most part, order and peace were maintained for a long while in Rome, but slave labor used by the elites was driving plebs off the land and into the cities because they could not compete with the wealthy land owners for jobs. Unfortunately, even in the cities much of the work was being done by slaves leaving plebs with few jobs. In order to deal with the lack of jobs held by the plebs the rulers in the Roman Republic set about attempting to solve the problem by making numerous promises to them. The focus on the law was replaced by a focus on individual politicians. Populism was born as those voting began choosing leaders who would promise solutions to problems, even if those promises were not in accordance with tradition or law, and even if those promises would never be realized.

Moral Decline

As the politicians worked to curry favor with those voting, the immorality among the citizens and government was on the rise. The sexual immorality that existed inside the Roman Empire is legendary, but it got its start during the Roman Republic. The slaughter of slaves for entertainment was common as the leaders entertained the masses to appease a growing number of citizens who were out of work and out of hope. Children were not valued in the culture of Rome and reports of abuse were common. Some Romans believed themselves divine while others worshiped Greek gods, but their forms of religion did not translate into personal morality or responsibility. Marriage was on the decline and cruel treatment of slaves was pervasive in Rome.

Rapid Expansion and Mob Rule

Military conquest was a hallmark of Roman society. As wars were waged, the Republic expanded in size and the defeated enemies were turned into slaves. As the Republic grew in size and population... the infighting within the government grew. Senators used partisan politics to keep power within the elite class, while the populists looked to the lower classes for support. This divided the people and classes into warring factions. For nearly 100 years, the climate was anything but civil. As time went on, the Roman citizens began to elect leaders who would put an end to many laws and traditions, in spite of the fact that this erosion would inevitably lead to the loss of their voice in government entirely in the Roman Empire. The politicians would not be truthful with the people because doing so would lead to certain defeat (sometimes death!). The mob was in control, if you could call it that.

What are the parallels?

The elite run this country. The number of people in power that are wealthy and very well educated far out-number ordinary citizens.

Immorality is on the rise. Over 54 million babies have been aborted in America since 1973.  Marriage is on the decline as couples choose to cohabitate or post-pone marriage.  Homosexuality is becoming more accepted and Biblical principles are rarely a guiding force in crafting public policy or in the personal behaviors of our citizens today.

Mob rule is showing up at Occupy Wall Street events as police are faced with an ever increasing number of violent protesters who destroy public and private property. Politicians promise voters the moon to get elected and then fail to deliver on those promises. Those casting the votes are kept in the dark about how the government is really operating, and more voters now support policies and programs that rob them of their tax dollars and their liberty.  Additionally, the very programs that are intended to help the poor are creating an ever increasing underclass of people who are dependent on these government programs.

The rule of law is being replaced by rule of man as our president issues executive orders and unilaterally decides which laws will be enforced.  Our Department of Justice is suing a record number of states because they are passing laws that do not conform to the ideology of the ruling party. This usurpation of power conflicts with the sovereignty of the states as laid out in our Constitution.

The Solution

The Tea Party rose up in America in reaction to Obama's Affordable Care Act. The size, scope, and expense of this new government program (dubbed Obamacare) is unprecedented in American history. These grassroots conservatives began to realize the tyranny of the elite was robbing us of our most basic rights. Tea Party conservatives have begun educating themselves and teaching others about the workings within our government; they have begun the work to restore our nation to the principles laid out by our Founders in the Constitution.

The fact that these ordinary citizens are not rising up to request benefits from the government is unprecedented as well. Unlike the mob rule in Rome, these citizens are wanting less government assistance and more personal responsibility. Most of those involved in the Tea Party movement are common citizens without wealth or power.  They realize that if we don't stem the tide of government spending, we may not have an America left for our children. The only solution to our problems in America is for the citizens of this country to turn back to God who gave us life and liberty ... and to do the job entrusted to us by our Founding Fathers. We must assume personal responsibility for our actions and for our nations problems. We must choose leaders and support policies that hold to Constitutional principles. We must insist our leaders value the sovereignty and liberty of the individual, even if that means losing some of the comforts of government assistance that have been put in place over the years.

The solution is not easy. Convincing people to give up benefits they enjoy will be a long struggle, but it is a battle we must win if we want to avoid the same fate as the Roman Republic.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

News you can trust?

The last few days I have been analyzing the news coverage of the massacre at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight at a theater in Aurora, Colorado and it has occurred to me, conservatives are under assault by the mainstream media like never before. We have been and will probably continue to be the target of malicious lies and rumors by those who have a liberal ideology. The bias by the mainstream media against conservatives is not a new phenomenon, but I would offer that the wholesale attacks that are now taking place are much more widespread and have risen to a whole new level. Quite frankly, it is frightening.

On Thursday, July 19, 2012, in Aurora, CO James Eagan Holmes walked into a movie theater dressed in protective clothing, set off smoke or gas canisters and shot into the audience with multiple firearms, killing 12 people and injuring 58. Hundreds of reports of this incident are circulating on the internet, so I will not go into more detail here. 

What concerns me about this incident (besides the despicable nature of the crime itself) is the shockingly bad judgement of those in the media reporting on the event, who in their zeal to target conservatives and promote their liberal agendas began putting out the following 'reports'...

Brian Ross of ABC News wins the prize for worst offender.

On the Saturday version of the NBC Today show Michael Isikoff filed a report: "the powerful National Rifle Association has blocked any move for stricter gun laws," and that people will have to settle for "beefed-up security and greater vigilance," as if the NRA were preventing people from being safer.

The Associated Press, once thought of as a bastion for unvarnished truth, puts out this piece filled with language that clearly illuminates a liberal mindset:

Calls for gun control stir little support
WASHINGTON (AP) — Gun control advocates sputter at their own impotence. The National Rifle Association is politically ascendant. And Barack Obama's White House pledges to safeguard the Second Amendment in its first official response to the deaths of at least 12 people in a mass shooting at a new Batman movie screening in suburban Denver.
Once, every highly publicized outbreak of gun violence produced strong calls from Democrats and a few Republicans for tougher controls on firearms.
Now those pleas are muted, a political paradox that's grown more pronounced in an era scarred by Columbine, Virginia Tech, the wounding of a congresswoman and now the shooting in a suburban movie theater where carnage is expected on-screen only.
"We don't want sympathy. We want action," Dan Gross, president of the Brady campaign said Friday.
CNN's Piers Morgan dedicated a good portion of his Friday program to promoting his gun-control ideology:

And this is what constitutes journalism today? I am not so bothered by the fact that these individuals and organizations have a particular point of view that differs from my own, but it is alarming that they are planting seeds in the mind of the public suggesting this is the only viewpoint that is viable. Most concerning is that these news outlets allow a story that the killer in Aurora was a crazy right-wing tea party member, a story that was put out there to disparage conservatives. How many individuals saw the subsequent retraction and apology by ABC? I doubt most viewers ever saw that .. and the idea remains that conservatives, particularly tea-party conservatives, are deranged killers. We saw a similar rush to judgement in the Gabby Giffords shooting by liberal media outlets.

The lesson from this story is .. you can't trust the mainstream media. We must be on our guard and diligent in sharing the conservative viewpoint to the public, because we now know we can not trust the mainstream media to hold to any reasonable standard of journalistic integrity. As Sean Hannity has been saying for quite some time now: "Journalism, as we once knew it, is dead"

Monday, July 9, 2012

Time to step out of our comfort zone

As I ponder the situation we find ourselves in today, I am amazed just how status-quo-ish the whole world seems to be about looming crises. We go on about our daily business and push down all those nagging worries about deficits, national security, terrorism and the general decline in our cultural values and think that somehow it will all be figured out someday .. some way. But, is that really true? The only problem with that philosophy is that rarely does improvement happen in anything related to human endeavors without at least a few strong-willed individuals stepping out of their comfort zone to take on established practices. Let's take a step back in time to some pivotal points in our history and examine how the behaviors and attitudes of individuals made a positive difference in the course of human events.

Boston Tea Party

The colonists in America had a real distrust of the British government. Colonists felt the Brits were too far removed to fairly govern them, they made no real attempt to seek their consent or opinions, but the final straw was the British Parliament began taxing them excessively for tea. The British wanted to raise additional tax revenues by directly taxing the citizens of the new world, but they weren't interested in giving them any sort of representation in government. The Boston Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement among the colonies in America against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament. The colonists objected to the Tea Act for a variety of reasons, but especially because they believed that it violated their right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives. Protesters had successfully prevented the unloading of taxed tea in other colonies, but in Boston, Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to Britain. He apparently didn't expect that the protestors would choose to destroy the tea. 

The Boston Tea Party was a key event in the growth of the American Revolution.  These brave individuals who destroyed the tea on that fateful day took the first step in the process that would result in the birth of this nation. 


Would we have ever seen an end to slavery if there weren't brave individuals willing to take on the political and economic forces of the day? I was born and raised in Mississippi, so it pains me to say that my ancestors did a very bad thing by owning and trading slaves. I am not aware of any specific people in my family line who directly participated in this horrible practice, but most assuredly, slavery touched many of them in some way back in the day. The plantation owners had a pretty sweet deal with very low cost labor to work in their fields.. they lived in luxury as their slaves did the hard work of cultivating and harvesting their crops. The system was maintained for a very long time because it was the backbone of the agricultural and economic structure of the south, and losing slaves would put an end to the lifestyles of those wealthy plantation owners. But very brave people stood up against slavery at great danger to themselves in many instances. Some of those people include: 
  • Abigail Adams - Spoke out against the practice of slavery and wrote letters to Congress
  • Harriet Tubman - Helped many slaves escape from slavery as a part of the Underground Railroad.  She risked her life to help many slaves escape to freedom in the North and Canada
  • John Wesley (Methodist Minister) - in 1774, he wrote a tract called "Thoughts on Slavery" that went into four editions in two years. In it, he attacked the Slave Trade and the slave-trader with considerable passion and proposed a boycott of slave-produced sugar and rum.
  • Hannah More - an educator, writer and social reformer. She was also known for her writings on abolition and for encouraging women to join the anti-slavery movement.
  • Joseph Sturge - secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society in Birmingham in 1826. He thought the London leadership too cautious and argued for greater public agitation. "The people", he said, "must emancipate the slaves for the Government never will."
This is a very short list of the people who participated in the movement to free the slaves.  You can read about many more of these people at The Abolition Project

Civil Rights

Rosa Parks was a black woman on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama where the seats were all taken. When additional white passengers got onto the bus the 'whites only' sign was moved back and Rosa Parks seat was now in the newly assigned 'whites only' section.  It was customary for blacks to give up their seats to white passengers, but Rosa remained in her seat insisting she didn't think she should have to move. She was charged with a crime and her case made its way to the Supreme Court. This simple act by one woman started a bus boycott -- black residents of Montgomery continued the boycott for 381 days, at considerable personal sacrifice. This boycott dealt a major financial blow to the bus companies. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that the segregation laws  allowing 'whites only' sections on buses were unconstitutional.  

Here is what Rosa Parks had to say about her decision to remain in her seat:
I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became
This act of courage by one woman was the beginning of the end of segregation.

Cold War

When the Soviet Union was at the height of it's power, the world was in a perpetual state of fear wondering when the war to end all wars would begin. Countries were busy building up their nuclear arsenals and a lot of heated talk between those countries behind the iron curtain and the free world was ongoing. Nothing really seemed to halt the escalation of the threats by the Soviet Union against our country, so we built nuclear fall-out shelters and the status-quo of believing there would one day be a nuclear holocaust was fixed in the minds of most Americans. I was a child during most of this, but even I recall thinking that the end of this world would probably come at the hands of the Soviet Union. I wasn't aware of all the details, of course, but it just seemed all the 'grown-ups' had pretty much given up the idea we could or should find a way to stop the Soviet threat.  Then along came Ronald Reagan, and all of that changed. 

Reagan was fearless in the face of the Soviet threat. He began negotiations with Soviet leaders in spite of dire warnings by his advisers. His idea for a nuclear defense shield (and it was only an idea, it never was developed) actually put the Soviets on the defense for the first time. Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Soviet Union, met with Reagan and not only did the two get along, they became friends. The events that transpired as a result of Reagan's negotiations with Gorbachev are too numerous to list here, but essentially, Reagan was the catalyst that caused the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The vision and courage of one man, brought down one of the world's greatest super-powers.

It is time for us to step out of our comfort zone. We may not have the political savvy of a Ronald Reagan, but every citizen of this country that really values freedom has what it takes to stand up for the principles that built this nation. We don't have to just accept the norms being forced on us by a godless Hollywood or liberal government. We have a right to be heard and represented. It may mean sacrificing a little personal comfort, but is that really so much to give up? It is time to speak loudly and often and fight back against forces that would turn this country into a failed socialist state. Too many people have worked too hard and many have died to give us this great country. It is simply unacceptable for us to lay down and allow it to be taken away from us without a fight.