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The real thing

By Nancy Salvato
web posted May 6, 2013

As a child, I really enjoyed candy and gum. Admittedly, I occasionally wax nostalgic about Marathon Bars, Bub's Daddy Green Apple bubble gum, Regal Crown Sours, Swiss Colony Whiskey Sours, and Red Hot Dollars. Sadly, these products are no longer available – even in specialty stores. And this is not only because the items from my childhood are no longer marketed. Candy that has withstood the test of time has gone through many incarnations. Gum does not have the same texture and I find it tiring to chew. So much of what is sold as chocolate does not pass my personal taste test. Unless I can find a good Belgium chocolate retailer, I may as well find a good pastry shop to satisfy my sweets craving because what is being passed off as chocolate is awful. I have to qualify my generalization because Snickers and Hershey kisses still give a person a lot of bang for their buck, though they are not premium items. Unfortunately, children of today will never know the meaning of candy as defined in my formative years. It is not just candy that has gone through a negative transformation, though.

In the five decades that I can categorize my lifetime, we've stopped referring to our system of government as a constitutional republic and instead speak of it as a democracy –with no consideration of the fact that our Framers despised democracy. As Walter Williams explains so succinctly in Are We A Republic Or A Democracy?

The word democracy appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution -- two most fundamental documents of our nation. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." Moreover, let's ask ourselves: Does our pledge of allegiance to the flag say to "the democracy for which it stands," or does it say to "the republic for which it stands"? Or do we sing "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"

Why does it matter? It matters a great deal. William's continues…

So what's the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is a protector of rights.

The Framers understood that they could not expect a population made up of different ethnic groups and belief systems to merge their ideas and opinions into one common faith. James Madison famously explained that the variety of factions could unite on the idea that our government was limited and existed to protect and defend their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Furthermore, that because there were so many different groups, they would balance each other out. Only if one group's rights were infringed was the government expected to respond. The government role was never to assign a set of politically correct beliefs.

To be honest, I no longer believe that my freedoms are protected. This is because the very citizen who ordains and establishes our constitution and is expected to have the capacity to govern as well as be governed, in neither capacity understands the history, economics, nor philosophy considered during the writing of our rule of law. A populace that understood this idea would never expect our government to legislate beliefs but would understand that people are to be considered equally under our system of justice.

If those expected to have the capacity to be ruled and rule actually understood the rule of law, they would be granted standing to demand that candidates for president be properly vetted according to Article II, Sec I of the U.S. Constitution. There would be an expectation that our legislators understand and follow the outline for government explained in Article I…in particular, section 7.

The "Sequester" was crafted and pushed by the White House and a bipartisan group of senators and representatives voted on it and passed it into law. How can a law originate in the Executive Branch? The fiscal cliff agreement to fund government originated in the Senate even though all budget bills are to begin in the House.

Those expected to rule and be ruled should understand the president takes an oath to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. President Obama has allowed Attorney General Eric Holder to abuse the power of his office to dismiss a case of voter intimidation. The jury is out as to whether Janet Napolitano is lying or just completely incompetent, yet she still holds her appointment. Certainly, I feel less safe from the threat of terrorism under her watch.

Like candy, freedom no longer tastes or feels the same as it did when I was a child. Once my generation passes, I wonder if anyone will recognize that what passes for the freedoms for which the colonists so bravely fought, is not the real thing. ESR

Nancy Salvato is the Director of Education and the Constitutional Literacy Program for Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan 501 (C) (3) research and educational project whose mission is to re-introduce the American public to the basic elements of our constitutional heritage while providing non-partisan, fact-based information on relevant socio-political issues important to our country. She also serves as a Senior Editor for The New Media Journal. Copyright ©2013 Nancy Salvato

 

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