by David T. Bruce
The American Revolution resulted from the efforts of the British government to subject the colonists to taxes and commerce polices that would help the government pay for the costs associated with the funding of the French and Indian War. These taxes and policies were an attempt to raise revenue by taxing colonists for such items as legal documents and tea. When the colonists objected, boycotted and revolted, the British government sought to take away the rights and privileges once afforded to the colonists. The two sides went to war. The colonists had the fortitude to say what the government was doing was wrong, and following a yearlong struggle, the colonists sent the British home. The United States was born of these events.
Comparable to many countries in the world, we have prospered as a nation. The United States has the largest economy and one of the highest incomes per capita. Compared to other nations, we lag behind in terms of health care with the highest obesity rate in the world and a mortality rate that does not even rank in the top 20.
During the Bush/Cheney administration, our nation became one that condoned torture, wire-tapping, and racial profiling. Were we to ask for a show of hands from individuals to determine who would support the aforementioned behaviors, few would do so. However, by our show of apathy, almost all of us are guilty as charged. As citizens, we have watched while justifications for war were concocted; we have silently stood witness as unemployment and inflation have increased at the same time as the salaries of government officials and corporate CEOs did the same.
Those that dared to speak out against improprieties at the beginning of the Bush/Cheney administration were often labeled unpatriotic. Those who disagreed with the wars in the Middle East were told love our country or leave it. What has changed in more than 225 years? Where is our outrage over a government that systematically chips away at the freedoms the original colonists fought to secure?
The colonists loved their new home; they fought and died to acquire the rights we now enjoy, rights that we seldom take advantage of for fear of being labeled unpatriotic. To stand up for the rights of an individual is to be patriotic. To bring attention to behaviors of government officials that go beyond the boundaries established by the Constitution is patriotic. We – the people – govern, and while anarchy is not desired, we, as citizens, have every right to defend our rights from those who might impede them, whether the perpetrators are foreign or domestic.
During the 2008 election year, many Americans spoke out against the policies of the Bush/Cheney administration by electing Barack Obama. As poignant and noteworthy this national epiphany was, a measure of frustration remains in that we, as a collective group, did not voice our opinions sooner. Some of us may have indeed been fearful. Others may have believed they had no choice. Still others may have looked the other way, lost in their day-to-day routines. For whatever the reason, we the people have been negligent in upholding our end of the Constitution. We have a right – and a duty – to speak out. When we become fearful of doing so, we need to take a long look at our leaders and how they govern. We need to reestablish jurisdiction over our elected officials.
Physical attacks – a literal revolution on the scale of the American Revolution – are certainly not the answer. Yet like those colonists willing to sacrifice their lives for what they believed was wrong, we must be able to sacrifice a part of us (whether that be a lifestyle change, time, or money) to change what we believe is wrong. We cannot continue to watch our government make ludicrous, expensive decisions on our behalf and then beg forgiveness and ask for our vote later. For the love of our country, we must speak out.
To love our country does not mean that we should follow our leaders as the country loses respect around the world. To love our country does not mean that we should remain silent as the government and business leaders of our country lead us to financial ruin. We must practice tough love. We should not have to leave because we disagree. We should hold our leaders accountable, make them pay for their choices, and send them packing when they don’t do their jobs.