President Obama gave a commencement address at Ohio State University on May 5. What he said to the graduates was much more than a simple difference of opinion with his political opponents, it was antithetical to the Founders foundational principle of limited government. In other words, he did not just express a political opinion that was different from the Republicans, he directly disagreed with and attacked the Founders themselves. He expressed an opinion that the United States of America was founded on bad ideas that are simply wrong. Here is what he said…
"Unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They'll warn that tyranny [is] always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can't be trusted."
The statement itself is a little bit nonsensical and contradictory. The President equates big government with self-rule, which is a non sequitur. The only way you can say they are related is that as government grows and becomes more powerful, the less the people rule, and the more they are ruled. It's similar to another silly phrase the President likes to use, "We are the government." No, we are not the government, we are to be masters of the government and we are to control the government, but we are not the government. It is Orwellian. It tracks with calling government spending "investments," saying lower taxes "costs" the government (as if the government created the wealth and owns all money), or calling taxes "contributions." If your children talked in riddles like that you would probably take them to a doctor to see what is wrong with them.
Fifty years ago, any politician who attacked the Founders and their principle of limited government would have been rightly treated as a radical who was dangerous. Sadly, thanks to more than fifty years of systemic brainwashing by our public education system, such far left thinking is accepted as within he mainstream of public discourse.
Although the President has openly advocated redistribution of income, with this latest statement he has made it clear that he rejects the foundational principle that protects our freedom—limited government. I suppose it is to be expected of someone who sat in the church of Jeremiah Wright for more than 20 years hearing him say things like, "God D*** America") and citing "Frank" in his bio as someone who he greatly respected and learned from. "Frank" was, of course, Frank Marshall Davis, a sort of surrogate father who imbedded many radical ideas in the young Barry Obama. Davis was a card carrying member of the Communist Party USA. A photographic copy of his signed Communist Party membership card can be found in the book, The Communist, (© 2012, Threshold Editions/Mercury Ink, a division of Simon & Schuster) by Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College.
It is because we have tolerated the radical indoctrination of our children in our public schools that our nation is today on the brink of succumbing to ideas that lead directly to tyranny. President Obama may be well-intentioned, but he is simply wrong. And being wrong should not be confused with being stupid. Being wrong comes from believing things you have been taught as correct that are in fact, false.
The American experiment is so very unique in history. Never before, in the history of the world, has there been a nation like the United States of America. It is built upon a simple idea—freedom. But, the Founders understood that freedom did not exist throughout history. The norm was monarchs, dictators, tyrants, and other forms of centralized government that existed to benefit those in power.
What was it that made it possible for the American Founders to create an entirely new form of government? How did they create a country that was the envy of the world? What did they do to create a nation to which millions came to escape the tyranny of their homeland?
As a starting point, the Founders were well-read in history. Moreover, they had personally experienced unimaginable freedom as Americans. And make no mistake about it, although they were proud British subjects, they thought of themselves as Americans first. After all, the founding of America began in the early 1600's with the establishment of the first colonies in Virginia and in Massachusetts. By the time of the American Revolution there were generations of Americans going back more than 150 years. Americans were independent and self-reliant. Their commitment to faith and freedom can be traced to the Pilgrims and to men like John Winthrop who saw America as a shining city on a hill, a direct reference to Matthew 5:14.
Of course, even by the 1700s, it took weeks, even months for a ship to cross the Atlantic. Because of this, there was little interference by the distant English monarch into the lives of the colonists. This made it possible for the colonists to enjoy an extraordinary level of individual freedom. Even during the period leading up to the American Revolution, there was little interference, in terms of regulations and taxes, by the Crown. Another reason for the lack of interfere in the colonies was the fact that they were an important source of commerce that benefitted the British empire. It was because the men and women of the colonies had experienced such an unprecedented amount of freedom that they fiercely defended this right. This positive experience, combined with the sudden and unprecedented efforts to tax the colonists by King George III, shocked them. They had no representation in Parliament, they were trading almost exclusively with England, and now, they felt set upon by the Crown as simply a new source of tax revenue.
The American colonists understood quite clearly that the power to tax is the power to limit freedom. When their hard earned dollars were taken by the colonial government or by the Crown, their freedom was diminished. Instead of the earner deciding how, why, and when to spend his money, the British government would now seize a larger share of their dollars for its needs. To be sure, seize is not too strong a word. If the colonists did not pay the taxes they would be thrown in jail by men who carried guns. The same thing is true today. When you pay taxes, your personal freedom is diminished, it is shrunken. It's not a contribution freely given; taxes are seized at the point of a gun. If you don't pay them, you go to jail, and there's no get out of jail free card. Every dollar taken from you diminishes your freedom, i.e. your power, and conversely, it increases the power of those in government who spend it. The American Founders had a clear understanding of the danger posed by big, powerful government.
What did George Washington say about government? He said…
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
Thomas Jefferson had very strong opinions about centralized, powerful, government. The first one clearly applies to Obamacare and all the other government programs that give power to the politicians and bureaucrats in the guise of taking care of us.
"If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy."
Jefferson must have been one of the "voices" that President Obama was warning against listening to when he wrote the next two quotes.
"When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty."
"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."
Similar to Jefferson and Washington, John Adams understood the frailty of man and the danger of unlimited government, something our current President apparently sees no danger in at all.
"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."
Not to be outdone by Washington, Jefferson, and Adams, Patrick Henry, one of the most important and influential founders of the American Republic, had this to say about all-powerful government…
"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."
In a 2001 radio interview then Senator Barack Obama said …
"…the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. [It] says what the states can't do to you. Says what the federal government can't do to you, but doesn't say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf."
Is there any doubt that he rejects entirely the thinking and the wisdom of the Founders? He stands with those the Founders most feared, men who promised the people that if they would only surrender a little bit of their freedom to government, the government would take care of them. To that Benjamin Franklin would surely retort…
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
But where did the Founder's fear of government power come from beyond their personal experience and their reading of history? The most commonly read book in the colonies and the one book read the most by the founders was the Bible. Today, secular skeptics assert that the Founders were Deists, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. I believe this dispute can easily be laid to rest by Patrick Henry, perhaps the most underrated and unsung leader of the American Revolution. Henry played an essential role as Governor of Virginia, by far the largest colony at the time of the Revolution. He was critical to the success of the Revolution and to the new republic that was formed. His integrity was beyond challenge or doubt. This is what he said about the Founders…
"It can not be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!"
As Patrick Henry said, the Founders were grounded in the Christian faith, they had an understanding of Godly justice, and Godly love. Perhaps more important, they understood human nature. The Founders knew what it meant to both fear and love God. They feared God because they knew he was a just God, and they loved God because they were thankful for sending Jesus to save them from their sins. Because the Founders knew from the Old and New Testament that they were flawed mortals, they knew that men, when given too much power, would always be corrupted.
Anyone who has lived any length of time would have to be willfully blind to not understand that they are not perfect. Only a fool would claim to be perfect and beyond the temptation of corruption. How many people have you known throughout your life who were unable to handle wealth and power?
This is exactly what the Founders understood. They knew that the centralization of power in government would lead to tyranny. They knew that mortal men, no matter how well intentioned, when given too much power, would use it to their own benefit, not to the benefit of those they serve. And so it is today.
The fact is that the Christian faith of the Founders helped them to understand many things. As the pyramid nearby shows, the Founders realized that faith was the foundation of freedom. Without faith in God there can be no public virtue. Virtue manifests itself in compassion and self-restraint. Without public virtue, there is no compassion and no self-restraint. Without compassion, churches and associations would not take care of the poor and needy. And without self-restraint, liberty cannot exist, chaos ensues. As faith declines in society, morals decline, self-restraint declines, crime increases and government, of necessity, increases its police power to maintain order. As police power increases, individual freedom declines. That's why John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington and the other Founders felt so strongly about the need for public virtue. George Washington said…
"Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people. The general government . . . can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any despotic or oppresive form so long as there is any virtue in the body of the people."
Similarly, Benjamin Franklin said,
"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."
John Adams, who even the most ardent secularists concede was a Christian, said…
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net."
And, finally, the voice of the American Revolution, Patrick Henry, summed it up…
"Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles."
Sadly, our young President does not reverence freedom. He does not understand the nature of man. He is out-of-step with the men who created the most free, the greatest nation in the history of the world. Freedom is fragile; it is, as Ronald Reagan said, "Only one generation away from extinction."
Today, the future of freedom in the United States of America hangs in the balance. Valiant, wise, God-fearing Americans bequeathed to you and me a nation exceptional in the annals of history. It has its flaws and failures, but, in the end Americans have rallied to right wrongs, and to recapture public virtue. When the need arose they fought and died for freedom in the Revolutionary War, in the War of 1812, in the Civil War, in World War I, in World War II and in numerous other wars and skirmishes around the globe. Never seeking to gain territory or advantage, Americans have helped to rebuild those they defeated in war, and to come to the aid of those who have suffered from natural disasters. Americans have proven to be the most generous, the most compassionate, and the most caring people in the world.
Today as the tide of statism and public corruption rises, there is a countervailing groundswell of patriotism—men and women dedicated to the virtues and values of our Founding Fathers. The outcome is yet undecided. No doubt the result will be a close run thing. If freedom and virtue are to triumph, God will need to answer our prayers. In addition, we must be prepared to join the Founders in pledging our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to preserving the United States of America as the last great hope of freedom on the face of the earth.
You and I have enjoyed the blessings of freedom. Will our children and grandchildren and generations yet unborn also enjoy the blessings of living in the United States of America, or will it like all nations before it pass into the dustbin of history? Will you and I be members of the generation that failed the Founders? Will we go down in history like Esau who gave up his inheritance for a bowl of stew provided by the federal government?