We Are No Longer "Americans"

Jim Robert
February 25, 2003

America, land of the free, home of the brave, well sort of. America, land of the kept, home of the comfortable, would be more appropriate. People who call themselves Americans now believe that: the Government is there to protect us, guide us, and tell us what to do, because only government knows what's best for us. Americans have become a nation of sheep, following their shepherd into the unknown, not looking beyond their noses to see what lies ahead as they follow down the winding path. I will not get into an argument about liberal and conservative agendas, both have their good and bad, both are polarizing this country into the third world without even knowing it, both are irrelevant to the Constitution of the United States. We are no longer "Americans", freedom loving, fiercely independent, self sufficient, innovative, and responsible.

What happened to the Patriots? I am not talking about the flag waving quasi patriot that we all see on TV, waving our flags, and wailing "Remember September 11th". I am talking about the Patriot who is a true lover of Liberty and Freedom, who doesn't shed a tear for the sheep crying, "you might offend me". Where are our Jefferson's, our Adams', our Hancock's, our Franklin's, our Jay's, our Washington's? I don't believe that they exist anymore. I believe that if they were to come forth from history, they would cry at the weakness and stupidity of the citizenry, they would loath us for the deaths of their friends and family, who so valiantly died for our freedoms. They would ask you on the street, pleading for an answer, where is the Constitution? Why are you not fighting for it? Why are you so afraid? Why do you let your leaders hold you under their thumb? They would see us as cowardly, childlike creatures that deserve pity, not freedom and liberty.

Our founding fathers as they are now called, founded the greatest nation on the face of the earth, guided by our unalienable rights, guided by principle, guided by virtue, things unheard of in this society. We elect criminals to public post, we allow our police and public agencies to run unfettered through our lives, we cower at the faintest hint of conflict with our government, we fear ridicule from our neighbors who call us unpatriotic. Mark Twain said it best: "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot". Please do not confuse "Go USA", and "Go Bush" with actual patriotism. Patriotism is the virtue of one person, one person alone, making the choice to do the right thing, government be damned. Please do not confuse love of country with love of our elected officials, the two do not go hand in hand.

I want to know how many people out there actually know the United States Constitution? You know, the document enacted way back in 1789, the one that gives the government certain powers. I want to know how many of you have asked the candidate standing on your doorstep if they know the Constitution? I have read it, many times, and understand a majority of it as well. I have asked the candidates, and the answers I received were extremely discouraging. All of the candidates that I asked said; "Oh, yes, of course I have read it". I don't care if you have read it, I want to know if you understand it, and are you willing to abide by it, regardless of your personal beliefs, regardless of the public trend of the moment. Are there no honest candidates (or citizens) out there anymore?

I challenge you, as an "American", to read the United States Constitution, and to try to understand it. If you need help, consult the Federalist and/or the Anti-Federalist papers, both written by founding fathers to the citizenry explaining the pros and cons of such a detailed document. Then read from our founding fathers diaries and memoirs, and try to picture what they thought the Constitution meant. [The TYSK Library is an excellent starting point]

I recently attended a Civil War Weekend in Orwell, VT, on a day when local schools only were allowed. The grounds were covered in military reenactment encampments, both Federal and Confederate, giving brief seminars on their groups particular expertise. One loan Confederate re-enactor asked a simple question to a group of 6th to 8th graders (and their teachers), he asked if they knew which document outlines powers of federal government, states government, and the citizens. Not one student or teacher answered the question. There was uncomfortable silence, then I did, and the poor Confederate nearly fell over in astonishment. I spoke with him briefly after, and he said he had asked the same question for the past ten years, and at no time has any student ever answered the question correctly. This is sadly disheartening, and should be of major concern. The Constitution is a frame work for our Republican form of government. It outlines the powers of the Federal government, the States powers, and rights of the citizens. The Constitution is also a subjugate document to the Declaration of Independence. A fact that almost no citizen knows, and that those in government choose to ignore.

There is a recent push, at least in Vermont, debating whether schools should be teaching patriotism and public dissent. This is hog wash. Public dissent, and/or patriotism is a personal choice. It can not be taught. Patriotism is a feeling, and then an act, not a pre-programmed response. It is who you are. Public dissent is that same patriot, questioning the governments motives. Never mind the fact that teaching is in part pushing of the teachers beliefs (teachers whine all you want, informed people understand this), and who will create the curriculum, the Federal government? The State? The local school board? The PTA? I suggest instead to teach the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, word for word. Allow for open class discussion and debate. It is sad that most schools have a Model UN program, but not a Model Constitutional Convention program. Once you allow the children to read and understand the Constitution, let them formulate their own conclusions. Then each individual will have the knowledge needed to stand with, or against, the government on any given issue.

I want all of you once again to become an American, and accept the heritage that your founding fathers tried to establish in this country : honesty, integrity, self reliance, self responsibility, and rugged individualism. I beg of you, as a fellow citizen of the greatest country ever established, do not be hasty to disregard the lessons of our past, and do not be so eager to hand the reigns of government to foreign powers such as the UN. If you study the historical documents that frame our society, you will find that this country alone is the last bastion of relative freedom, although it is quietly slipping away with the gentle settling of the shackles of government encroachment.

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2 mar 2003