Part II of Bruce Cavendar's insightful article, "Principles, Power, and Precincts".
Part II, Principles and Power
Are principles still important today or have they become mostly unnecessary in our “post-modern” society? One congressman unwittingly summed up the problem of ignorance about principles when he stated that “the Constitution is 100 years old”, attempting to imply irrelevancy.
As an engineer with four decades under my belt, I have seen principles obeyed and principles abrogated. Consider this question: Would you trust an unprincipled engineer to design your jetliner wings, river bridge or electric transmission lines over your head? I have seen these handled correctly as well as the fatal aftermath of rare failures of all three. The bottom line is that when principles are ignored, people inescapably endure disaster, pain and death. Read that last line again.
Principles related to economic, legal and political systems are only different from the prior example by the scale which disaster, pain and death can reach. This is why that there is no more important educational process than to understand the different types of political systems and their consequences.
The book (and audiobook), The Five Thousand Year Leap, speaks to how the observance of the principles of natural law allowed the United States to produce achievements in two hundred years that had not been made in five thousand. To go from axes to chain saws, voodoo to magnetic resonance imaging and ox carts to space ships is inarguably the greatest leap in civilization in 5000 years … and worth studying thoroughly. The deeply reasoned philosophy and processes that the Founders and State Legislators of the time worked a miracle unheard of in human history. I cannot recommend this book/audiobook more strongly to every person that loves their current life in the USA and has the desire to see their children enjoy the personal freedom and liberty that is not diminished or destroyed. What country and system of government would you move to if for some reason the freedoms, liberty and economic opportunities of the USA were no longer available here. To deny that the United States could sink back to third world status in healthcare alone would be a gross failure of imagination.
The book enumerates 28 principles that are responsible for the success of the United States. The first three are especially important right now to our Country's health and survival.
Principle 1: The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.
Principle 2: A free people cannot survive under a republican constitution unless they remain virtuous and morally strong.
Principle 3: The most promising method of securing a virtuous people is to elect virtuous leaders.
Simply put, without the Rule of Law, free people that do not choose to exercise moral behavior by selecting virtuous leaders, must become slaves to the tyrant with the biggest fist and largest gun.
We only need to look back to the 1960s and study what happened to citizens during Chairman Mao's “Cultural Revolution” to see a modern example of what our Founder's spent so much time to avoid by investing the power in the People through a three branch, 'limited' government with checks and balances rather than a monarch or dictator. Mao's famous statement … “That all Political Power comes from the barrel of a gun” is an apt confirmation of a tyrant's desire to rule over slaves unable to challenge even their slightest whim. Narcissism and the desire to enslave others is a fault of human nature … which is also as timeless as natural law.
It is interesting to note that most of today's high level leaders in China came of age during Mao's central micromanaging control, purges and genocide. They saw first hand the destruction and death of those that were summarily deemed 'politically unacceptable' (politically incorrect?) The horrific suffering, though largely unacknowledged, is clearly not lost on them today. The Chinese are not to be underestimated. They are beginning to study in depth how long lived countries deal with change through reform rather than revolution. That link to the article in The Guardian, gives insight into Chinese Universities that are now studying the writings of Edmund Burke, Alexis de Tocqueville among others of our Founders' time that advocate for reform over time, but admonishes against pushing citizens to revolution that brings unnecessary mayhem and death to a country. Consider our direction right now.
A couple years back, I had lunch with a very respected businessman and past Chairman of a local political party. After discussing numerous political problems, he summed up the situation with a single quote: “Direction is more important than speed.”
People living today in the USA have never seen revolution on our soil and largely believe it cannot happen. What has always been, will always be. This is normalcy bias. It is dangerous and totally illogical to believe as impossible. The educational system certainly is not the same as several decades ago, along with entitlements, debt, militarization of the police, invasions of privacy among others.
In terms of personal freedom, Mainland Chinese are still far, far worse off than citizens of the USA, but they are moving in the right direction. Business, science, technology, education and governance. We are not.
Direction truly is more important than speed.
So what can we do? The answer lies in the first three principles above.
ONE: We must study and understand why moral behavior is a prerequisite to our nations' survival.
TWO: We must demand of ourselves a return to competent, virtuous and moral behavior.
THREE: We must publicly and soundly rebuke those that believe they are above our national, state and local laws and can abrogate them at will (this includes the bylaws of our political parties).
If we cannot understand these principles, take them to heart and put them into practice we risk losing the benefit of the 5000 Year Leap that we received on a silver platter from our forebears. Returning to the misery of third world status is the judgment we face from immutable Natural Law should we choose to disobey. We must recognize evil for what it is and treat it so. The Unprincipled are actively destroying our nation.
A number of years back we spoke with a wise, very well respected Legislator who was a Rutherford County native. They quietly believed that reform was critical, but couldn't take a stand for personal reasons. Their explanation of how the local political culture worked proved to be an excellent insight. Historically, there was a very small group of folks that viewed themselves as community 'leaders' who operate in the 'best interests' of the people and everyone else essentially acquiesced under that leadership. This group was unelected and nontransparent. The system worked relatively to the benefit of the County during the time when it was more rural and genteel, but as land values skyrocketed and large sums of money came to the County, a shift occurred from benevolence to self benefit. Despite the strong facade of Democrats vs Republicans in the county, there is a small number of 'leaders' whose 'party loyalty' quietly fell second to their economic benefit. This kind of structure is neither transparent to the public nor surprising when considered, but the takeaway is that its easy for a neophyte in political waters to be bitten at an inopportune time if they are unaware of the situation they are dealing with. Money talks, cliques form, plans are hatched. It is a negative, but it can and must be dealt with.
In the past five years there have been numerous instances of support by members of one party for another that has more to do with connections, business relationships or quid pro quo support for future circumstances. Some very subtle and some laughably obvious. A few that publicly speak the loudest about the importance of party loyalty are the worse offenders and have zero reticence about destroying their internal party structure over a single issue that benefits themselves or their clique. Ugly, but true. Deal with it, get over it. It is not going to go away by itself.
After only being involved for a short period, it became clear to me that the vast majority of middle class citizens are deeply disaffected with local political parties. Over time, even “Disaffected” didn't really come close to describing it. Most expressed their distress with words I will not use here. Even worse, what I wasn't to discover until a few years later was that the thinking middle class is not really wanted in the process by those who are very entrenched. Frankly, “unwelcome” would be the polite term that I would use here to describe the efforts by people with 'special interests'. Put yourself in the position of being a very small number of people that want to exercise significant political power. Maybe that power makes you a lot of money. Especially so long as people don't look too closely at what you are doing. Would they welcome a large cadre of folks looking in-depth at their budgets, decisions and always sniffing for conflicts of interest in their conduct of the People's business?
The answer is “not only no”.
Having 40 hours a week to dig into this, I became far more involved than simply voting in the Precinct Process. When I objected to bylaws being abrogated, I was blocked out. When special interest forces manipulated to reverse valid votes, my protests were ignored. Even though I was just a single vote, that was threatening enough to certain special interests to send me a 'message' by shooting our car windows out. (The same day a close friend that worked with me politically also had a car window shot out.) Additionally, I was approached twice by different 'ladies' that held out the possibility of a 'personal liaison' (not the way they expressed it). It doesn't take an IQ of 200 to recognize a blatant attempt at political manipulation, but I was at first taken aback at the cowardice and raw evil that was actually at work behind the scenes. This was a wake up call for someone trying to see the good in all people. The few in the opposition that would do this showed just exactly what they were made of. Pure Evil. This only redoubled my determination to root out the worst of those that are corrupting our system and literally making war on the Middle Class.
To be honest, at first I kept these indiscretions quiet, as I thought them an embarrassment to the organization. I certainly didn't like to talk about them. It was ugly. When I saw others run into dicey situations, most just threw up their hands and quit. Good people really don't want to be anywhere near those kinds of activities. Then one day it hit me. The steady stream of bad behavior, dirty tricks, etc. was not random, but clearly intentional. Maybe they are even funded. Think about it. If your special interest clique is very small in number, is it easier to sell the idea that your clique should get to call all the shots to a very large number of people or would it be easier to just keep the party organization in the state of extreme weakness by constant disruption to where it cannot be effective against you? Would there be any real surprise that those that believe 'the ends-justify-any-means' would choose that?
I have been called every name in the book from “Nutjob” to “Anti-Capitalist”. The irony of the situation is that all the vitrol sent my way was a result of just calling for obedience to the Rule of Law (and bylaws) and basic principled behavior. (“Nutjob” was a fun term of endearment, but “Anti-Capitalist” was the most hilarious after I spent twenty years allocating capital for large projects in a Fortune 100 company, among others, before retiring to Rutherford County.)
While this juvenile behavior is ugly and needs dealt with, there are even worse concerns. I was researching a budget question in a state office in Nashville and one of the meeting attendants was a legislator. I stopped him alone in a quiet hallway to ask about a current bill that would strip Constitutionally elected County Officers of handling citizens' money and setup an unelected official in their place. I was not ready for his response. This legislator looked at me and said “I think we need to do away with the Constitutional Officers and have them appointed by the County Mayor.” Stunned, my job dropped. His plan was even worse than what the bill would do. All I could say was “Why?”. He just pointed out to the street many stories below us. He said … and I quote … “The People are too stupid to elect someone smart enough to do the job.” I was at once struck with the pure, absolute arrogance of this legislator's disregard of those that trusted and elected him. Secondly, I was struck by the fact that if his logic carried, then he was incompetent to fulfill his duties by his own admission. I was heartbroken as I had deep trust in this person that was just completely shattered. I was angry with myself for not vetting him better for my support. Clearly we had elected an unknowledgeable, unprincipled legislator that was in favor of writing a bill that would take away power from the People's Constitutionally Elected Officers and concentrate it in unelected hands. Like the old movie, Catch-22, it made me think we need to more carefully screen those that just can't wait to get into office. On the way home, all I could think about was the fact that this legislator had taken “The Oath” to support and defend the Constitution. I have been disappointed in people before, but I never, ever in the entire world expected to be let down so badly by someone that previously acted like they would always defend the People. (This bill failed, but I am confident it will be back.)
So why am I telling you this? As discouraging as it is, it is instructive for what we need to do and where we need to go. We must understand the ground we are on and what we are fighting for.
First, we need to strengthen ourselves. We are in a fight for what is right. We must become determined and impervious to our enemy's ploy of “being-as-bad-as-they-want-to-be” to simply scare us out of the game. Evil wins when we give up.
Second, we need to recognize this is a long term battle and understand our enemies. I have scratched my head over and over when “Republicans” denigrate the “Tea Party”. If you make up a list of things that people in both of these groups historically hold as principles, it is almost an exact match. Constitutional Rights, free markets for business, uniform commercial code, equality for all. However, when you judge people by their actions, many Republicans in government today are committed to gaining and retaining power-at-any-price. The recent election in Mississippi where 'Republican' members joined in league with Democrats to defeat Republicans with Founders' Principles exposes their complete disloyalty to their Party's principles. This is far from the virtuous expectations that the Founding Fathers demanded in their time. Remember what happens to your airplane, bridge or power lines when you ignore principles? This is not just political positioning, this is treachery.
I find it interesting to note that those 'Republicans' who scream the loudest against the “Tea Party” do not even realize that it was their own unprincipled activities that spurred the outrage that got the “Tea Party” in their face to begin with. The 'Unprincipled' created the 'Tea Party'. If they had not abrogated their responsibilities and the law, I certainly would have stuck to the activities I had planned for retirement rather than focus my resources on fighting with them.
We live in interesting times. Socialist/Communists on the Left still want all the means of production to be property of the State (at their diktat of course) and seek to waste and destroy as much capital as they can in the process. A portion of the Large Business Community on the Right refuses to obey the discipline of free markets and seek government grants, loans, protections, subsidies, long tax free holidays, restrictions on their competitors, etc to give them big buck advantages and special treatment.
The Progressive/Socialist/Communist bloc is stronger, strategically smarter and more emboldened than ever. Each time they get away with breaking the law, it only makes them try something even bigger. Crony Capitalists (Crapitalists), also willing to embrace any evil or antisocial behavior, are traitors that have abandoned their traditional positions of defending the Rule of Law, Free Markets, Freedom and Liberty. Anything goes to get what they want. Only getting caught is deemed bad. Even though the time frame for their harm to show up is longer, those that have abandoned our Founder's Principles are no less treacherous than the narcissistic Benedict Arnold at Fort Ticonderoga. Clearly, these are the Bad Guys now. I regard them as worse than Marxists. At least Marxists understand hanging and tell you to your face that they will hang you given a chance. Crapitalists' actions are setting up the Middle Class, and ultimately even their own businesses, for destruction … much to the glee of the Progressive/Socialist/Communists that wish to disempower the USA through destruction of our Rule of Law, de-industrialization, skyrocketing energy costs and destruction of our kid's future. Khomeini executed clueless Leftists that helped him into power. Present day Crapitalists should expect no less.
If we fail to act against this evil, we are giving our tacit sanction and approval to their actions.
Not to act, is to act.