These past three and a half years have been an education for the average American. We've seen and experienced things not too many of us have seen or experienced before. I won't bore you with the details. You're well aware of them: an economy in shambles, oppressive laws and regulations that encroach on our once-sacred freedoms, the sacrifice of our sovereignty to international, unelected and unaccountable institutions, the list is large and growing.
The flaw in my psychological makeup is seeking to find the origin of a problem. It served me well in my former life in the world of manufacturing. Mistakes are costly to a company and being able to spot them and fix them as soon as possible is a skill that marks a successful organization. The further upstream in the production process you can catch a problem, the less expensive it is.
You can also take that same principle and apply it to life. This is what your parents meant when they (hopefully) told you that "Life is hard. It's even harder when you're stupid. Don't be stupid." Far from a personal dig, this advice was meant to save you a lot of trouble and heartache by thinking before you act.
As in life, you can also apply this principle to government. Our Founders wanted their fellow citizens to avoid the mistakes others had made. They wanted for us what they wanted for themselves: the freedom to live life to the fullest in harmony with others according to an agreed-upon legal foundation.
It was a simple idea. It was also the exact opposite of the way governments had ruled for millenia. Additionally, this idea runs counter to human nature, for no one who has power will ever give up that power willingly. This is pretty much the reason for every war that has ever been fought.
To quote the great warrior-poet Tom Petty, everybody's got to fight to be free.
As you might have guessed, this idea of self-rule wasn't very popular to the world's ruling elite. It wasn't long after our emergence as a country that we were met with anti-Americanism. Then, as now, I'm certain that there were many Americans who couldn't understand why anyone would oppose the simple notion of self-determination, free from needless and often nonsensical constraint. Is it perfect? No, but it's headed in that direction as much as humanly possible.
We established a government for ourselves where average citizens took hold of the reigns of power for a while, then returned to their homes and families to live under the laws that they had made. We were to form a more perfect union where governmental interference in everyday life was held to the minimum necessary to maintain order. Laws were clear, easy to understand and based upon morals that had served humanity well for many generations.
Then something began to change. The worst of human nature managed, as it always seems to, to infiltrate and corrupt the good. The unscrupulous found themselves drawn to the power, prestige and money of politics.
Flash forward to today. The idea of self-governance on both the personal and national stage is again under attack by those who crave power. This fatal flaw in human nature has given us the government we now so richly deserve and all the easily avoidable problems contained in it.
Pause for a few moments and think about what we want in life: a happy family, a fulfilling job, enough money to pay the bills with some left over to enjoy life and time with our loved ones, and security so we can plan a future consistent with these goals.
That's not so unreasonable, is it? There's no wish to harm others, no desire to deprive anyone else of the things we would have for ourselves. We merely want an opportunity for a decent life lived humbly, with respect for God and others.
You are probably surprised to discover the forces arrayed to prevent you from doing just that today.
Pause once more and think of the things we could have if we had the type of government that our Founders had originally envisioned for us: a sensible government that lived within its fiscal means and that didn't spend more than it took in. A strong military to defend our shores. A legal system where everyone was treated identically and fairly. A society where unity in the common values of brotherhood and good will were celebrated, not scorned.
There are many good things we could have, but don't.
Our government has become disconnected from our wishes. Our rights are no longer defended. Our Constitution is no longer even recognized as the basis for our laws. Those whom we send to Washington to act in our place have someone else's ideas in mind, not ours. When we stand up for the values, traditions and principles of Christianity and our Founders, we are reviled and cursed, called "radical" and "throwbacks." We are expected to do what we're told, think what we're told to think without question, shut up and pay our "fair share." We're basically told we aren't smart enough to live our own lives in our own way, so someone else will do our thinking for us while wrapped in a flag. We're treated like an enemy while the real enemy is treated as a poor, misunderstood future friend who just needs a hug.
Laws are written that cannot be understood without expensive oracles to decipher them, so you're never quite sure if you're legal or not. Once-clear principles of behavior that were widely recognized as being the core values that produced intelligent children and responsible adults within a stable family structure are now criticized as "old-fashioned" to be replaced with the pop-culture, cotton-candy, psychological theory-of-the-day. Absolute truths, we're told, like consistency, are hobgoblins borne of feeble minds.
All these things (and a lot more) raise a question: will we truly take our country back, or will we continue to allow ourselves to continue in our not-too-well-managed decline?
Or will we prove ourselves to truly be the exception to the world?