06 Dec 2011
- Last Updated on Monday, 19 December 2011 15:46
- Published Date
by Vernon Burns
When ask to write for the Alabama Political Reporter, starting with its first edition, besides feeling very honored, I felt inadequate in the light of the monumental challenges we face as a nation. How could I, just an old guy, a husband, a father and a grandfather, but one who knows he has lived the American dream, say or do anything to help our or state or country. As a lover of our national history, I had only to look back to the ideas set forth in founding this republic for the guidance we all need.
I find much of this guidance, “the sum of good government,” in the last two paragraphs of President Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address, given March 4, 1801. I have been tasked with writing a series of essays exploring Thomas Jefferson’s views on good government line by line.
Here Jefferson simply but elegantly states, “It is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government… equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state of persuasion, religious or political….”
“Equal and exact justice to all men….” With this statement President Jefferson is reaffirming what he wrote in the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal.” This is the bedrock principle of our Republic.
Yet, it has been overlooked in the past centuries’ rush to make all men equal by other means.
The impossible utopian ideal of men, in this world living in perfection, has been, is being, and will be tried in the future.
The results are always the same, failure.
Utopia, for all, requires the destruction of the individual, the total obliteration-by the state-of his plans, his hopes, his dreams for himself and his family.
This example and many others demonstrate that the individual’s “pursuit of happiness” must, in the end, be totally controlled by some form of government for the greater good.
This is utopian socialism.
How then did we, the citizens of a nation founded on the declaration that all men (every individual man, women and child) are created equal, come to this place?
The founding principles of our government are based on the truth not whim that “all” are endowed by our creator (not other men or any form of government), with certain unalienable rights that among these (among not all but, the most basic) are life, liberty, and the pursuit (your individual pursuit with no guarantee from government or your fellow citizens) of happiness.
How far we have we, as a nation, strayed from these founding truths?
When did we come to accept the utopian socialist worldview?
How have “we the people,” who declared and fought for our independence and established our constitution for a nation of individual liberty based on laws not men, lost our way? When did the great nation, that fought a terrible war to right a wrong and insure the protections of our constitution were extended to all men equally, decide, for the greater good, men can not be treated equally?
Jefferson after enumerating such principles of our democratic republic prophetically said, “These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety.”
We, as citizens and as patriots, must now, as Jefferson said, “retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety.”
I fear we must do this with all haste or the road may vanish forever.
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