A Time for Choosing
Dan Riehl posts a quote from Reagan’s A Time for Choosing, the end of which reads:
“This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
“I know how I and many of my friends would answer that. But I’m not one-hundred percent confident I can answer that question for a growing portion of America today, including among some of our youngest voters. Do they still teach the American Revolution straight up in public schools today? I hope so, but, again, I’m just not sure.
I wish I was sure. And I hope to be pleasantly surprised.”
I wish I was as cautiously optimistic as Riehl seems to be about the “growing portion of America today.” If he’s not “one-hundred percent confident,” I’d say that I’m confident that at about 60-70% of our youngest voters wouldn’t agree with Reagan’s sentiment, and I fear that that number is only going to climb higher as more and more Americans emerge from our liberal-dominated educational system.
I went to school in a suburban, largely conservative enclave in Northern New Jersey, and this was 15-20 years ago, and even then we didn’t study the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights or the Constitution in any depth. We learned the basics, about George Washington and King George, a few major battles, the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere. We also were taught that some of our Founding Fathers were slave owners, that Crispus Attucks died for an emerging country that didn’t recognize him as a man and later, that Thomas Jefferson fathered a child with one of his slaves.
I was taught the bare minimum about the actual ideals for which so many early Americans fought, sacrificed and died. Individual liberties, the right to live your life free from government oppression, the strict controls put on the power of the executive and legislative branches and the purposeful curtailing of the power of the federal government.
At no point in my education do I even remember being told to read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, and certainly not to memorize or recite either one. Schoolchildren are not asked to read and appreciate the perfect beauty of these lines:
“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.”
It would not be too much to ask of schools that they require students to study and understand these simple, powerful ideas – particularly “consent of the governed” – and the preceeding phrase “That to secure these rights…”. Our government was created for the sole purpose of securing our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Beyond that, we can (and should) be left to fend for ourselves. Consequently, as is laid out in the following lines, if a government, “any Form of Government” gets in the way of that pursuit, we have the right and the duty to take back our freedoms.
“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.”
Our government is not some inviolate entity. But these days it is revered as some untouchable body, but one that is beyond help and repair. Witness the recent comments re the various spending bills, that “earmarks are just part of the process.” Earmarks and wasteful spending do not have to be “just part of the process.” Corruption should not be inevitable. Our country was set up with the idea that the system of government is controlled by the people, and exists to protect our basic rights, nothing more.
A key part of the process of returning our country to its freedom-loving roots is to educate our children as to what our Founding Fathers actually had in mind when they brought America into being. Health care is not a “right.” Abortions are not a “right.” Marriage to anyone you want is not a “right.” Freedom from being offended is not a “right.” And the government should not be involved in any of these discussions. But children coming up through our educational system would never know that.
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