The Wars We Fight To Protect Freedom Have Lead Us To The Big Decline

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by Ed Mattson

 

 They are the issues that must be addressed if we are to turn our ship of state around. There are obligations that go with being a citizen in a free society, and to quote an old axiom, “freedom isn’t free”.

It is easy to take our liberties for granted. No place else on earth can you find a country in which its people grant specific powers to the government so that they may govern. In most countries their constitutions are based on the government granting certain freedoms to their people. The people may feel they are free, but a government which has the power to grant freedom to its citizens also has the power to take away specific freedoms. America is truly an experiment in government and was founded on the unique principal that all freedom comes from God. It is so stated in our earliest documents that lead to our nation’s formation.

Over the years many have tried to convince the citizenry that the Constitution of the United States is a living document, with interpretation bending with the times…Not true! The Founding fathers did not envision a Constitution that would be wishy-washy or simply a matter that the government in power can read into it what it wants. They were smart enough to understand that power given to any person or group of persons has the ability to corrupt and as so aptly put by Lord Acton when he said, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

A free country is government without secrecy

The Constitution can be changed as the needs of the country change by a procedure that was so unique that most have no idea of how it is suppose to work. There are specific checks and balances that would govern any such changes, and that the procedure would not be one that would be easy. In short, for those who do not understand the procedure, it is not as simple as everyone raising their hands to an idea when someone decides things need to be changed.

In a representative, democratic republic such as we have where our elected officials vote for those who elected them as their representatives, the first step in the process is to get the idea down on paper (draft the legislation in the form of a “Bill”). The Bill must then be passed by both houses of the legislature, by a two-thirds majority in each (a so-called super-majority). Once the bill has passed both houses, it goes on to the states. This is the route taken by all current amendments. Because of some long outstanding amendments, Congress will normally put a time limit (typically seven years to work its way through each state) for the bill to be approved as an amendment before it becomes enacted.

To show the difficulty of amending the Constitution, there have been only 17 times in which the process has been used in 237 years, but there are a total of 27 such amendments. The first ten came with the Constitution and are known as The Bill of Rights.

The second method prescribed is for a Constitutional Convention to be called by two-thirds of the legislatures of the States, and for that Convention to propose one or more amendments. These amendments are then sent to the states to be approved by three-fourths of the legislatures or conventions. This route has never been taken, and there is discussion in political circles about just how such a convention would be convened, and what kind of changes it would bring about. Many today are calling for such a Constitutional Convention, but they have no idea how such a procedure would affect the very freedoms we enjoy in this country.

Again, most people like “spur-of-the-moment” decisions that positively affect themselves, and most often never realize that there are consequences to everything we do in life. Our government has perpetually shielded them from the responsibility for their actions by insulating them with “government programs”…drop out of school…don’t worry, the government will find a social program to give you the barest of essentials on which to live. Abuse substances…don’t worry, the government will provide the tools so you can kick the habit. Smoke and get respiratory illness, don’t worry we’ll get you treated at a hospital even if you can’t pay for it. The examples are endless. We have the freedom to make these choices, but seldom want to bear responsibility for our choices.





To those hankering for a Constitutional Convention, I say you are opening a can of worms and from that open can, all freedoms that we currently enjoy become subject to the whims of those who may not have your best interests at heart. Remember, our freedoms are ordained from God and we give the government certain powers to protect and govern our country. The Constitution was made difficult to amend because the wisdom of those who wrote it knew there will always be those who wish to enforce their views on others. Lord Acton was brilliant in his thinking and fortunately we have a Constitution which protects us from ourselves, for as Lord Acton noted “The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. EVERY class is unfit to govern.”

The Constitution can be changed as the needs of the country change by a procedure that was so unique that most have no idea of how it is suppose to work. There are specific checks and balances that would govern any such changes, and that the procedure would not be one that would be easy. In short, for those who do not understand the procedure, it is not as simple as everyone raising their hands to an idea when someone decides things need to be changed.

In a representative, democratic republic such as we have where our elected officials vote for those who elected them as their representatives, the first step in the process is to get the idea down on paper (draft the legislation in the form of a “Bill”). The Bill must then be passed by both houses of the legislature, by a two-thirds majority in each (a so-called super-majority). Once the bill has passed both houses, it goes on to the states. This is the route taken by all current amendments. Because of some long outstanding amendments, Congress will normally put a time limit (typically seven years to work its way through each state) for the bill to be approved as an amendment before it becomes enacted.

To show the difficulty of amending the Constitution, there have been only 17 times in which the process has been used in 237 years, but there are a total of 27 such amendments. The first ten came with the Constitution and are known as The Bill of Rights.

The second method prescribed is for a Constitutional Convention to be called by two-thirds of the legislatures of the States, and for that Convention to propose one or more amendments. These amendments are then sent to the states to be approved by three-fourths of the legislatures or conventions. This route has never been taken, and there is discussion in political circles about just how such a convention would be convened, and what kind of changes it would bring about. Many today are calling for such a Constitutional Convention, but they have no idea how such a procedure would affect the very freedoms we enjoy in this country.

And that brings us to the point of fighting for what we believe, whether amongst ourselves or those who wish to enforce their will upon us. This dates back to our war of independence which gave birth to the nation. Some wars are inevitable if we truly believe in our freedom. There are those who call themselves pacifists and declare that no war can be justified. That thought is totally naive. To me it is like a country declaring itself neutral in a global conflict.

Can a country really be “neutral”? The answer is, not easily. Though 27 countries originally declared neutrality in World War II, only Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Vatican City and Switzerland were able to maintain neutrality over the course of the war, while Sweden, also declared neutrality but sometimes breached its nation’s neutrality in favor of Germany at one point and the Western Allies at another. Portugal and Spain, though neutral with fascist governments. had policies favoring Hitler’s Germany, and the Swiss became the haven for most of the Nazi loot stolen from those they subjugated. All the others neutral countries, ourside of Ireland, Portugal, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Vatican City were swallowed up in the war.

Patrick Henry - The perils of secrecy in government were know long before modern politics

Bullies, aka tyranny, like nothing better than to subjugate neutral countries knowing the effort will go unchallenged by the subjugated countries, and who will be there to stop the subjugation, the United Nations?

Can the Jainist, Quakers, Amish, Mennonite, really be free to be pacifists if there isn’t someone willing to die for their right to make that choice? I think the concept ofpacifism (including pacifist religion) is a word without meaning to most people. How would you reply to the question, “what would you do if you saw a rapist trying to violate your sister”? 99.9% or more of the pacifists, would honestly answer, “I’d try to get between them”, setting aside the neutral belief they profess. It defies believability to suppress the natural instinct most people have to fight for their loved ones if need be. Pacifists are lucky to live in a country like the United States, because we have brave volunteers willing to die for their right to practice pacifism.

Our country was founded on the basis of freedom…freedom for ourselves and freedom for others. Millions of our military personnel have died to keep us free and to insure the freedom of countries around the world. Wars are often fought against tyranny, yet some wars, because of the scoundrels of elected politicians, are fought not just for freedom but for goods and services that insure a free way of life. The first, fighting for freedom, makes sense to most everyone who has ever put on a uniform and picked up a gun to go fight. The latter, to fight for goods and services to insure our free way of life, is entering into a gray area which has become the center point of much controversy in recent decades.

World War II was a just war in the eyes of many, including myself. Not only were we attacked at Pearl Harbor, but the world needed to be protected from the likes of Adolph Hitler, who felt ethnic cleansing was the answer to create a master race. But to fight over oil, when we have enough petroleum reserves in this country to cover our needs the next 400 years without new finds that may be discovered, is simply a war that needs to be questioned.

America’s entry into World War II was a challenge to the American willingness to defend our freedom and the freedom of the world. It was our nation’s manufacturing and production capabilities, which enabled us to fight a war of two fronts thousands of miles apart, produce munitions, ships, planes, and vehicles not only for ourselves but to fulfill the needs of the Allies as well, that astounded our enemy and our partners as well. No other country could have produced so much, and then, by the end of the war, much of the collective debt accumulated was forgiven. Such is the nature of Americans.

It is unfortunate that not everyone paid attention to the resolve of the United States. Stalin, in his lust for power, took it upon himself to subjugate not only the Russian people, but each and every country his troops marched through fighting Hitler on the Eastern front, which were powerless to stop the formation of the Soviet Union. To the south of the Soviet Union, the Chinese Communists who had just freed itself from the grips of Japanese expansion, couldn’t wait to enforce it own brand of domination over its estimated 500 million people. Thus following World War II, the world entered into the Cold War, as the Soviets and the Chinese, formed a vale of governance and secrecy over their people.

We have seen The Big Decline in American since the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War. Two quotes which address secrecy in government, the likes of which have been employed by the Soviets, Chinese, and even in the US (under the guise of protecting ourselves from totalitarian rule), are self-explanatory and are at the root of the problems we face today.

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”
Patrick Henry

Author Details
Following his service in the Marine Corps Ed Mattson built a diverse career in business in both sales/marketing and management. He is a medical research specialist and published author. His latest book is Down on Main Street: Searching for American Exceptionalism Ed is currently Development Director of the National Guard Bureau of International Affairs-State Partnership Program, Fundraising Coordinator for the Warrior2Citizen Project, and Managing Partner of Center-Point Consultants in North Carolina. Mr. Mattson is a noted speaker and has addressed more than 3000 audiences in 42 states and 5 foreign countries. He has been awarded the Order of the Sword by American Cancer Society, is a Rotarian Paul Harris Fellow and appeared on more than 15 radio and television talk-shows.
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