A nation of laws or of men: It’s our choice
By Marilyn Snyder
Americans are the most blessed people on earth and in history. No people anywhere anytime have enjoyed the level of prosperity and security that is commonplace throughout our 50 states. I recognized this truth by the time I was 10.
Oh, we wrangle and bicker amongst ourselves like siblings, but as a people, we figuratively kiss the ground after a trip to a third-world country, realizing how fortunate we really are.
What is so easily forgotten is the “why” and the “how” of our bounteous nation.
Our forefathers and foremothers lucked out big time when they landed on this new soil. Unbound by many of the previous constrictions of monarchial societies, they starved and struggled and forged their way into a new independent society that chose to throw off their old-world connections.
As each generation became more “American,” these new citizens wanted something new — a federal republic, a representational democracy. They sought a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” These independent people demanded control of the government, not the other way around.
Obviously they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, but it was not an easy achievement.
The “how” is one of the world’s great success stories. The three-tiered government of legislative, executive and judicial branches with the built-in checks and balances was as graceful an accomplishment as Pavlova dancing a ballet.
Here the power would reside with the people. Here the people would determine their leaders. Here the people would hold their local government accountable without a central government telling them how to live their daily lives.
It worked well for 200 years because we had a set of laws written on parchment and engraved in our hearts, making our freedom possible — the American Constitution which limited government.
One of the most amazing features of our Constitution was that it was a document of “no”s. Most of the provisions have a phrase like “shall pass no bill,” “shall pass no law,” and so on. This effectively restrained government so the people could rule.
We Tea Party Patriots strongly believe that our constitutionally limited government means power resides with the people and not with the government. The Constitution has been the supreme law of the land during all of America’s existence. That’s why you often hear the phrase: a nation of laws.
So what’s the issue here? Isn’t this still the case?
Let’s look at just one issue that has struck fear in the hearts of most Americans. Recently a low-level government contract employee revealed to the world that every Verizon customer had their calls collected and monitored by the National Security Agency. Except that it wasn’t just Verizon and it wasn’t just phone calls. Every email is also collected and stored. Then we learned that every text that you, the innocent American, send is also being collected and stored.
So let’s go back to our supreme law. It absolutely forbids spying on you — the everyday citizen — with no cause.
The Fourth Amendment reads, “No warrant shall be issued by the courts unless it is based on probable cause … and describes the peculiarity of the place to be searched and the person or things to be seized.”
Every one of your phone calls, emails and texts are being seized by the National Security Administration. There is no probable cause. There is no “peculiar” place that is being searched other than the electronic documents of every single citizen⁄resident⁄occupant of this country.
There is no personal liberty for you, your children, your neighbors and friends, when a government agency is scrutinizing your every phone call, email and text.
As a people, we should be shouting down the doors of Congress demanding an end to a program that is antithetical to our Constitution.
That will take more than a little spine but, to loosely quote Ben Franklin: Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor will they deserve, either one.
As an American, I deserve freedom. So do you.
It’s time to return to a government of, by and for the people — not for security at the expense of our nation of laws.
Blessed, yes. Spineless — I hope not.
Redlands Tea Party Cabinet Member
August 13, 2013