Third Party & Independents Archives

A July 4th Reminder - Patriotism

The founding fathers of the American Constitution and Bill of Rights would be very concerned by what passes for Patriotism today. The “Love It or Leave It” ‘patriots’ who declare that any who speak against the actions of the American government are at least unpatriotic or even traitors know little about their own country’s history.

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!” —Benjamin Franklin—

The founding fathers had no love for government, not even our own. They assumed that power corrupts and that government is inherently a powerful force. Their lack of faith in politicians and government in general is to be found everywhere in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as well as many of their well documented quotes as Ben Franklin’s above.

“Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” — George Washington

This is precisely why they protected individual rights against government in the Bill of Rights and constructed the checks and balances between the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. The founding fathers knew there would be abuses of power by officials in power. This is why they lay such great oversight responsibility in the congress, since, congress was supposed to be the champion of the people’s causes.

The founding fathers could not then foresee the Congress placing political party power protection ahead of the people’s causes as has occurred far too often today. Had they foreseen it, they certainly would have devised a protection against political parties’ influence in government as well.

For the founding fathers patriotism was not toward government, but, toward the union of people under the banner of freedom from oppressive government, and justice for abuses of governmental power.

“Never trust a government that doesn’t trust its own citizens with guns.”

“When government fears the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny.”-- Thomas Jefferson --

Those today who claim to be patriots while deriding any who challenge the actions and motives of political leaders are foolish. They should take note of Ben Franklin’s lesson:

“It is the fist responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

It was to the people of the colonies who were willing to sacrifice their property and lives for freedom from tyranny and for self-determination that their patriotism was directed. Today, as then, our patriotism should be directed toward our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and to our brave soldiers who are willing to make the sacrifice to defend our rights to freedom and self-determination.

But, we are foolish to direct our patriotism toward leaders in government who put our young troops in harm’s way. We are foolish to fail in vigilance while politicians make loud promises then stealthily and secretly reverse those promises with their actions.

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." --James Madison--

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Our allegiance is to what the flag stands for. That is one nation guided by just laws which preserve and protect the liberty for all. Our Flag stands for administering justice to those who abridge those liberties for personal gain or profit. And that includes our politicians, who place the protection of their power above the interests of the public at large as King George did.

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." --Thomas Jefferson--

Patriotism! Our founding fathers knew what it meant. I hope millions of Americans will not let hot dogs and fire works and beer interfere with their rediscovery of what American Patriotism was originally all about.

Posted by David R. Remer at July 4, 2003 02:17 AM