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A Nation of Laws or of Men

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