There is currently in the United States a great movement the basis of which is to place principles above party. There is great wisdom in this, which reflects a yearning many Americans have felt for decades. For all those who share this view, the great question of our age must be: what principles?
The “Tea Party” claims that the great gift of our Founding Fathers was to craft a constitution in the 18th century that provides us with a process to solve problems facing us in the 21st century, but their demands are too often more-of-the-same, or empty. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement is in a position to give voice to the demands that the American People have for genuine reform.
The following is offered as a framework for presenting out demands to the nation.
The Founding Fathers also understood that within each person is a spark of the divine, which is why Providence reveals itself not through the old European belief in the divine right of kings, but rather through democracy. The power and righteousness of the Republic thus depends on the power and righteousness of self-governing individuals. In the middle of the 19th century this nation was torn apart and healed together over the very question of whether “government of the people, by the people, for the people” would long endure on this continent.
We believe that the greatest threat to the independent individual, and ultimately to the system of government left to us by our Founding Fathers, emerged only fifteen years after the “new birth of freedom” President Lincoln called upon us to commemorate and defend. We speak of the growth of “combinations” or “trusts” that concentrated such power in the hands o so few that they could monopolize and thus destroy free markets, and undermines the political power of the individuals upon whom the vigor of the Republic depends.
These 19th century trusts have today their equivalent in those corporations that party leaders, Democrat and Republican alike, tell us are “too big to fail.” Because they are too big to fail our tax-dollars are used to save them from their own incompetence, at the same time that they buy political influence from leaders we elect.
We have long known that these corporations thrive on so-called free-trade that enables them to invest in industries and employ people in the third world, even as factories close in the United States and more and more citizens find it harder and harder to find decent work. We must accept that much of the blame is ours to bear. For during this same period cheap imports from third world countries have allowed us to distract ourselves by buying bigger televisions and a host of other treats, often on credit. The values of thrift we learned from our parents or more often from our grandparents (values that hearken back to the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin) seem dispensable. But his is not just an economic crisis; it is a moral and spiritual one.
In order to confront these problems honestly, and reclaim a heritage that is more valuable than ever, however cheapened by contemporary politics, we propose the following basic principles:
- The bottom line must be that votes count, not dollars, The more people pay to politicians, political parties, and political action committees, the more influence they have over our government – and the less power voters have. The solution: restore the power of voters by restoring the influence of the common taxpayer. The men who organized the original tea-party were making the point that there can be no taxation without representation, but this implies the converse: effective representation requires taxation. These are bitter words to individuals who enjoy luxuries by going into debt, just as our own government has gone into debt, but it expresses a simple truth our grandparents knew: we get what we pay for. When government depends on the taxes paid by voters rather than loans from bankers (especially foreign bankers), the will of the citizen will be restored as the foundation of our democracy.
- The Founding Fathers knew that a great threat to democracy is the influence of special interests. Too often decisions are made in the Congress by one representative making deals with another representative based on the narrowest of self-interests – the “pork” ends up overwhelming otherwise important legislation. America is a great country and different Americans have different images of what makes and keeps America great – but these images are corrupted when calculated in terms of dollars and cents. The solution is to restore a notion of the national interest in Congress based on compromises made in good faith. We must expect or leaders to make compromises, but they should serve to balance the diverse values of Americans rather than the different prices given different votes.
Rule of Law
- Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness mean nothing if Americans do not enjoy equal protections under the law. We must demand that our Courts do what Congress cannot: ensure that laws support the rights of all Americans, equally.
- Crimes are not wars. The national government must defend us from attacks from other nations, and to this end we have the finest armed forces in the world. But it does damage to our military and to the men and women who serve it, when it is used to other ends. And it does damage to our own laws, when we fear that they cannot be applied to any and all who violate them.
A Strong National Government. The power of the national government should be limited only by the right of states, and by the rights of all citizens. But it must defend us against foreign powers that threaten the freedom of states and individuals. Today, global markets dominated by multinational corporations operate far removed from the informed decisions of individual buyers and sellers. This is an assault on the virtue of individuals and threatens the stability of the nation. If we are to embrace free trade, it must be truly free, and not be rigged to favor an elite few who in effect monopolize certain markets and thus undermine free trade. Corporations that operate on a global scale cannot be allowed to have more power than our government, or even than our citizenry. No company can be allowed to exist, that is “too big to fail;” such companies by definition are immune from the natural forces of the marketplace and threaten national society. A truly free market, and a truly free nation, and ultimately the prosperity of the nation and its citizens, depends on breaking such companies into smaller ones that would restore the free market.
Limit the Power of the Executive. Ensure that wars are declared only, as the Constitution states, by an Act of Congress in response to attacks from other nations; that we have an honest account of the financial costs of war and that we the people determine an acceptable plan to pay for any war; that the burden of service is borne by the citizenry of a free republic (i.e. no back-door draft or an abuse of stop-loss).
Support States’ Rights According the Second Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Although Article II of the Constitution allows the Executive Branch to Federalize and command state militias, we interpret this amendment as meant to protect state militias from the abuse of such power. The principal role of the militia is to secure the freedom of its respective state. Although state militias may be called upon to Federal service, they should be used to support Federal troops and never be used as a substitute for Federal troops