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Judging from our current relative prosperity, it might be difficult for some to imagine that during the period of the Revolutionary War, there were many people who disagreed with becoming an independent country. There were some who believed that America’s connection with Britain would be instrumental in securing the country’s happiness. Yes, America did reap some benefit from the relationship, but I certainly do not have to provide much evidence to assert that the benefits received from Britain were nothing that America couldn’t supply on Her own. Add to this the many offences of King George, and the only motivation to be found for the nay-sayers is fear.

People were rightly concerned about upsetting the world superpower, but praise God that there were men courageous enough to stand up to the European bully. Praise God for Thomas Paine who awoke a fearful continent of men from a sleep of cowardice. Rather than paraphrase and water down poignancy, I would like to furnish some of Paine’s exact words on the subject of those who didn’t support separation:

“We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty.”

“This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster.”

“… All those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation [are] interested men who are not to be trusted; weak men who cannot see; prejudiced men who will not see; and a certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent than all the other three.”

I have a personal appreciation for brute honesty when it is necessary. I have a similar appreciation for observations made generations ago that still hold true today; this reinforces the reality that human nature does not change. The last of those three quotes really hits home for some of my observations on the pre-Tea-Party GOP. In particular, that well-received ‘reaching across the aisle’ behavior exhibited by the Republicans in the past 30 or so years has greatly weakened the credibility of the Republican Party, and weakened the country as a result. The Democrats were able to slowly work in their policies inch-by-inch, completely undetected by the average citizen.

Somehow, being described as ‘moderate’ became a good thing. Admittedly, this isn’t always bad, but when charged with securing individual liberty, it’s best to be uncompromising. I’d make a wager that any erosion of freedom eventually results in an overwhelming loss unless fought. For an example of this phenomenon, please see the 16th amendment in your copy of the U.S. Constitution (keep in mind that the income tax imposed by the amendment began at 1% with an individual income of the 2008 equivalent of $64,000).

In the 1994 Congressional campaign, the GOP developed a contract with America, promising to return to conservative ideals. 16 years later, after being plagued by many of the same problems, the Republicans of the 112th Congress wrote a similar pledge to America in 2010 to center themselves on their ideals once more. So far, I think the Republicans of the 112th Congress have been doing very well. They are showing that they are making good on their promises to cut spending by introducing weekly bills to slowly starve the federal beast.

In wake of the budget crisis temporarily resolved just last night, I earnestly would have looked forward to a temporary government shutdown. I think it would have served as a fine example that the sky would not fall on America, and perhaps that the country isn’t nearly as helpless and dependent as many people perceive. Regardless, the Republicans made some head-way in resolving the budget problem. Although there was more than a bit of compromise involved and they ended up with about half of the cuts they wanted, it certainly seems like a step in the right direction. I believe there are two states of mind in compromise, one in which you get trampled, and one in which you fight. I’m fighting my cynical nature and will call the budget compromise a gain since the Republicans do appear to be fighting.

I also believe there are three end results to compromise: a negative compromise in which one party ends up with an overall loss, a positive compromise in which there is an overall gain, and an ugly middle ground, where both parties appear to be very busy, and both parties wind up with mediocre results. Giving in to my cynicism a bit, I think that last result appears as if it could go on forever.

I’m elated that there are some in Congress who agree. To quote Georgia Republican Representative Tom Price, “With an agreement to keep the government open and then fully fund government for the remainder of the fiscal year, we will now hopefully be able to move beyond this current debate. We need to move forward and get to work on the much larger debate over how to cut trillions, not billions, in government spending and help make our economy more competitive.”

It clearly does not take long for a body of people to return to the same compromising, destructive behavior, and there is unimaginable difficulty on the road to returning to the uncompromising ideals of the foundations of this country. This is what power wielded without accountability leads to; Paine warned of this. Let us pray that the Tea Party remains strong to keep our representatives in check. In earnest, I wish it weren’t necessary to have an organization such as the Tea Party at all. Truth be told, if not for the decline in Judeo-Christian ideals in the past few generations, I believe the act of holding public officials’ feet to the fire would be left to a much larger group of interested individuals: every one!

I must admit, our current situation is not Congress’s fault. We the people compromised on our principles and political involvement long before we could begin to blame Congress.

Could it be true that the KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) concept was conceived in 1776? Perhaps earlier?

Mr. Thomas Paine certainly made no compromise when explaining the woes of complex government. He writes, “I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature… that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered.” He continues to remark on the ineffective English Constitution. When it was instituted, it was a step in the right direction for human rights, but at the time of Paine’s writing it was incapable of delivering its promises.

I decided to read the English Constitution that Paine refers to myself, but I was unable to find a single, exhaustive document. What I found was that the operative documents of the UK, England, and Scotland are referred to as ‘unwritten constitutions’. Also described as ‘partly unwritten, wholly uncodified’. To this day, England’s (and the UK’s) constitution is based on largely unwritten rules which serve as the shaky foundation for various treaties and acts which bind the United Kingdom together. Can a populace truly have confidence in an arrangement like this? Can they count on consistency of law? How can it set clear bounds to limit the abuse of power? Perhaps those in power prefer the ambiguity. (I was able to find a document which resembles a constitution, and apparently took effect in August of 2004 [more on this subject in the YouTube clip at the bottom of this post]).

What a novel idea for a country’s instruction manual to be found all in one place.

I can liken the UK’s lack of a single, definitive document for their government to a professional sporting event where all the teams play by different rules. Since no definitive rulebook exists, the referees would be made to invent rules on the spot to promote fair competition, and would likely be unable to enforce their impromptu rules effectively. Neither the teams, nor the fans would be able to count on the rules remaining consistent as the referees may not be able to agree, and the fundamental play of the sport would be subject to their whims and could change at any time. It might be fun to watch the incoherent gaggle run around on the field for a while, and hope for the occasional fight to break out, but the fans who exchange their money for the promise of competitive show will eventually lose interest and likely find other outlets for their entertainment.

My analogy assumes free will, of course. In reality, the people of the UK (the fans) have no choice but to endure watching the nonsensical play on the field, since the government (the team owners) operates on coercion. The UK lacks a single, core rulebook to keep those team owners and refs in check.

The only concession Paine makes in favor of absolute rule is its simplicity. If there is a problem, the people know exactly what the problem is, and can easily determine the remedy – though I imagine that executing the remedy is another matter. He continues to remark about the English Constitution, “… the constitution of England is so exceedingly complex, that the nation may suffer for years together without being able to discover in which part the fault lies… every political physician will advise a different medicine.”

I note some similarities in the English constitution with our current state of affairs. I may actually have to give more credit to the Brits in this regard. Their state has never made any direct promises in regard to the foundational rules of their government, so the haphazard nature of their laws and treaties are a natural result. Our current situation is the result of seeds of hypocrisy methodically planted in our culture decade after decade so that now, our Congress is able to pass laws with ease that our constitution was written expressly for the states to mitigate. At least the Brits have remained consistent in their inconsistency.

Execution of power was envisioned like this by the framers of the U.S. Constitution:

Declaration Model for Federalism

Framers' intention for power. The more surface area in the triangle, the more power is granted to that part of government. Note that the federal government is not contained in the triangle, but was intended to oversee the matters between the states. Each triangle is a separate state.

We now live in a model that looks something like this:

Modern Model

Like the above model, the more surface area, the more power is exercised

Of course, you don’t have to agree. You don’t have to acknowledge the purpose for the tenth amendment in the U.S. Constitution was expressly written to limit the power of the government from instituting whatever laws our elect see fit. You don’t have to recognize that for the first time, beginning in 1913 with the advent of the progressive era and the passing of the 16th amendment, our constitution began to increase the size and power of the government, and contravened the very principle of the document completely. You don’t have to agree with U.S. Representative John Hostettler’s (R-IN) observation that, “The Internal Revenue Code and regulations add up to one million words and is nearly seven times the length of the Bible.” And of course, you don’t have to agree with my logical conclusion that between the government and the people, the people surely aren’t benefiting from this complex governance that our founding documents were written to prevent.

I’d sure be surprised if someone came to a different conclusion based on the evidence. My liberal friends, I await your observations.

We’ve been given a tremendous gift in our founding documents. A gift that may be long forgotten but is still in effect! As I write this, the state of Idaho is considering an official refusal to adopt the Affordable Care Act (aka. ‘ObamaCare’). My hope is that this exercise of the tenth amendment results in a snowball effect that takes our nation by storm.

In our current day, it’s exactly as Paine observed. Political physicians of every sort – namely, modern liberals, or ‘progressives’ – are prescribing different medications for the problems in our country. Invariably, all of these narcotics seem to result in increasing the size of the federal government.  We’ve already been given the only medicine that’s been proven to work: less medicine, more exercise (less external government, more personal responsibility). It’s been done before, and it can be done again.

Let’s go, America! The Constitution was written to establish the tranquil garden of limited government. As ‘we the people’, it’s our job to keep the hedges trimmed to keep our government manageable. Though I fear the overgrowth is so prolific now, we may have to burn the fields down and start over.

 

I leave you with a couple of YouTube clips that made a serious impact on me a couple of years ago. It seems that sometimes, the best observations are made by outsiders. The following is a speech given in Colorado by Daniel Hannan, a conservative MEP (Member of European Parliament), regarding our constitution. If you don’t feel like watching the full 15 minutes, watch the first clip starting at 6:53.

And please, leave your thoughts in the comments section!