Hope, History, and Hard Work
Although I usually devote this column to ways that the grassroots can organize, indulge me as this entry will be something of a departure. Sometimes, you just have to take a step back and look at what we are trying to accomplish. Earlier today, I took a step back from doing campaign work for a little while to read about our own roots. With all the challenges we face, I thought that inspiration might come from learning about the Constitutional Convention and the challenges that those men faced in their day and how they relate to us.
The men who wrote the Constitution had varied interests, contrasting viewpoints, and distinctive personalities. Heading into the Convention, they had no idea what to expect, but they shared one common belief. They did not necessarily know what was right, but they certainly knew something had gone wrong. The strength of the states made the central government so weak that it had basically ceased to function precipitating doubt over whether this union could survive. There were many more questions than answers and no one knew what to expect from a gathering. However, they knew that something must happen or this great experiment would fail.
The sanction given for this Convention was certainly not broad. Most states seemed to expect that there would be some amendment of the existing Articles of Confederation, of the way things had been, and that this would be sufficient. However, the people who gathered in Philadelphia in 1786 came to see things differently. Conservative in temperament, they became the least likely of radicals and came together to make something new, something unexpected, something where nobody knew what the final product would be. Their efforts and their struggle overthrew conventional wisdom, and against long odds, they managed to get all the states with their various interests to ratify this one document: the Constitution.
Our challenge is not so different than theirs. Our government is broken. Where their government failed for being too weak, our government has become too strong. Our executive has far exceeded the authority intended the office, and our legislature has shown itself unwilling to oppose this transgression. The judiciary remains silent as this all happens under their watch. Echoing the fears of Washington, parties now rule the day instead of the principle of better service to this nation. We have come to an age where one votes simply based on a color, red or blue, and for no nobler reason than to deny power to an opponent. Cynicism and apathy pervade the electorate. Money and influence strangle the halls of power, and the people languish.
We find ourselves then, as unlikely allies, in an unlikely campaign. As Americans, driven by principle and faith in one another, we gather in the belief that we are entitled to something better. Like those who came before us, we do not agree on everything, or even on most things, but as patriots we know that change is needed. We agree that people must have their liberty, protecting the fundamental act of having a choice and a voice in their lives. We agree that the conflux of regulation, media monopolization, and powerful entrenched interests serve as a formidable barrier preventing the average citizen from becoming involved in politics. In this campaign, we agree on one other thing: this must change and that no one else besides us will see this happen.
Ron Paul is many things to many people, but he recognizes that he is part of a much larger message. It is a statement of hope, that we the people can and should govern our own lives, and that any government that dictates how we must live instead of protecting our essential liberty has another name: tyranny. People shy from using words like that in this age, but when the government takes your money, disrespects your rights, and purports to tell you how to live in your own supposed best interest, there can be no other description. Whether we are conscious of this fact or not, it is this intuitive understanding that motivates us all and drives us to do what people would have us believe is impossible.
In our long history as a nation, whenever Americans have stood together and spoken in one voice, we have shown our strength, courage, and virtue. This does not happen through the exercise of force, but rather through restraint and sound judgment. Our greatness does not derive from what we impose upon others, but upon how we defend our inalienable rights of liberty, property, and prosperity. We respect those same rights for others that we claim as essential to ourselves. United, as we have become in this campaign, we have the power and the passion to make a difference and confront the corrupted system that currently holds power. In so doing, we take back what is rightfully ours: control of our own destiny as a nation of free people. That is what is at stake, and that is why we must win.
It has been done before. It can be done again. The rest is up to us.