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A word from the wise

By Mark Alexander
web posted March 16, 2009

As my regular readers know, it is customary for me to augment my advocacy for individual liberty, the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary and my promotion of free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values, with the enduring advice of erudite sages, both contemporary and historic.

However, I have a particular affinity for the wisdom of our Founders, those who put their lives and fortunes at acute risk by codifying and supporting our Declaration of Independence and its subordinate guidance, our Constitution.

In regard to the latter, let me be clear: I am not referring to the so-called "Living Constitution" as amended by executive licentiousness, congressional avarice and judicial diktat -- the one that politicians have adulterated almost beyond recognition.

Rather, I am referring to our lawful Constitution, that formidable document for which generations of American Patriots in armed service to our country have raised their right hands in solemn oath to "support and defend ... against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

Though Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid suffer their oaths while toasting Clos Du Mesnil champagne over foie gras hors d'oeuvres and imported tournedos, our uniformed American Patriots pledge their very lives in fulfillment of their oaths.

In fact, since our founding, more than 700,000 of our countrymen have been killed in defense of our Constitution, and millions more have suffered greatly in support of their sacred obligation. Thanks in total measure to their sacrifice, we still have an opportunity to restore our Constitution to its original standing, and reinstate its promise of liberty.

At this moment in our great nation's history, we face trying times and formidable enemies, both "foreign and domestic."

Indeed, in the words of Thomas Paine, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

On that note, I turn to just four of our Founders for their eternal wisdom in respect to the troubles of their day, and ours.

George Washington:

George Washington"We should never despair, our situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new exertions and proportion our efforts to the exigency of the times. ... The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. ... It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn. ... The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations. ... [T]he propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained."

John Adams:

"Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom. ... If we suffer [the minds of young people] to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives. ... The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families... How is it possible that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers? ... We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. ... The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People ... they may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. ... A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

Thomas Jefferson:

Thomas Jefferson"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys. ... The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife. ... We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. ... The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale. ... If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy. ... I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. ... The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. ... [A] wise and frugal government...shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. ... Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question."

James Madison:

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents... If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions. ... The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. ... There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

Those who do not understand our history -- mostly those identified as "liberal" in contemporary vernacular -- assume the words of our Founders are as antiquated as the Declaration and Constitution they created. However, students of history understand that both the threats our Founders confronted at the dawn of our nation, and their advice, have endured to this day.

Indeed, to paraphrase Santayana's aphorism, "They who do not know their history are destined to repeat it." ESR

Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.

 

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